Summary: What does it mean for the Church to be "full" and how can it be obtained?
THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST
ACT II: The Mystery of The Body Unveiled
2. THE BODY MADE FULL (Eph. 3:14-21)
Am I the only one, or has anyone else had their prayers to God interrupted by a wandering mind? Last week, we saw that even the Apostle Paul can be susceptible to distraction and that these distractions can sometimes even be divinely led and beneficial!
Last week we discovered how, in the middle of his letter to the Ephesian church, and after emphasizing the unity in Christ among believers achieved through Christ’s death and resurrection, Paul began to launch into a passionate, written prayer on their behalf. He began his prayer with an acknowledgment of his identify and role as a servant of Christ on behalf of the Gentiles. But, before he got any further, his mind began to wander as he realized that they may yet need a greater understanding of what he was praying for and why. As we studied last week, Paul then interrupted his own prayer and used the next 12 verses to clearly explain what had been a mystery but was now revealed by God – that all believers regardless of their past, nationality, race or gender are equally parts of God’s ’Body’ on earth, of which Christ is the ’head.’ That, in fact, each of the members of the local church is to see and conduct themselves as vital and integrated parts of One Body in Christ.
This morning, we will rejoin Paul in getting back to his prayer that God’s Body, the local church, would be “Full.”
THE WORD: READ EPHESIANS 3:14-21
A.) SOURCE OF THE BLESSING (vv. 14-15)
* The source of the blessing and the object of our glory is The Father - God Almighty!
“For this reason I bow my knees. . .”
* Paul is saying that since God is already doing this great work in and through us and has
already determined to transform all believers into new people who are inextricably knit
together, I submissively and passionately pray that God prepares and equips them for this great
task! This is especially needed in light of the inevitable obstruction and suffering that Paul has
already been subjected to and just encouraged the saints to persevere.
* It is so common for us to think of praying on our knees (even if we never do) and see others
doing so in pictures, but during this time it was quite uncommon.
* The normal Jewish position for prayer was standing. To kneel in prayer was to exhibit a
significant attitude of submission, humility, a recognition of one’s own limited stature, and
* Kneeling in prayer was generally reserved for extraordinary times and/or passion.
B.) PETITION FOR THE CHURCH TO HOLD THE “FULLNESS OF GOD” (vv. 16-19)
* From this beautiful, emotional posture of submissive prayer & adoration, Paul launches into
his petition for the church.
“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory. . . so you may be filled
with all the fullness of God.” (vv. 16a,19b)
* It is my conclusion/interpretation that Paul’s specific requests in vv. 16b-19a are all building
up to and inclusive of v. 19b. Thus, I would characterize it as one petition with several key
1. Filling From an Infinite Source (v.16a) “the riches of His glory”
* Paul’s petition is that we be filled from an unlimited, over-abounding source! Remember,
God does not give from his riches BUT according to the riches of His glory. Big difference.
These riches, like His glory are inexhaustible and without limit!
* A limited, earthly example of this would be the world-famous Pitch Lake in Trinidad. In, fact
this in the only known source of natural pitch in the world! It is a huge expanse of bubbling,
black pitch that appears to have a limited surface area but near limitless depth. It is said that
every major asphalt road in the world has been made with pitch from here. Further, it is said
that they could continue to pave the entire world for several more centuries before the pitch
may be exhausted. If you go to Pitch Lake, you can watch huge machines and vehicles
picking up tons of pitch at a time, and yet as soon as these tons are lifted out, more immediately
fills back in as if the Lake was never touched! For all of the supply of pitch that has been
removed over the last 200 yrs., there has been no apparent receding of the lake - pictures from
many years before look the same as the lake does today. Ultimately, we know it can eventually
be exhausted. BUT God’s riches are NEVER exhausted!
2. Strengthened For Fullness (vv. 16b-17a)
“strengthened with might”