The immeasurable riches which we have already experienced in Christ are not the limit of what God will do for us. He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think!” And it is His desire that He is praised, honored, worshiped and glorified through the church and Christ for ever and ever!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
Proper interpretation always emphasizes taking every passage with its context, both general and specific. With our passage today, the general context of course is the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians. The church in Ephesus had to deal daily with the overwhelming popularity of the goddess idol Artemis and the widely accepted belief in her reality and power. The immediate context is the prayer Paul is offering for the Ephesian believers. In it he is praying that God would give them far more than they had already experienced by being in Christ. He is concluding that prayer by assuring them that God is able to immeasurably more even than Paul was asking. And that the one true God is worthy of all praise (not Artemis) for what He has, is and will do through both Christ and the Church!
In the outline below I cover some of what is in the audio sermon you can listen to, plus insert some additional material not found in the sermon.
- In these first 3 chapters of Ephesians, Paul presents a comprehensive, amazing, revealing faith-building view of the Great Plan of God to redeem and reconcile mankind to Himself.
- While our nation is all wrapped up in national elections, a world-wide pandemic, and an uncertain future, relatively few people realize there is a far greater story being played out for their benefit and their eternal destiny!
- In telling this story, Paul repeatedly emphasizes that all that the Creator is doing is “to His glory.” (1:12,14; 3:16,21) This is not because God is an egomaniac, but rather it is that everything He does is because of His great love and grace, and for that He is worthy to be praised!
PAUL HAS PRAYED:
- In Ephesians 1:15-23:
- Have wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) – 1:17
- Have eyes of heart enlightened so that may know:
- The hope to which we have been called – 1:18
- The riches of His glorious inheritance for us – 1:18
- The immeasurable greatness of His power toward us – 1:19. It is the same kind of power He exerted when He raised Jesus from the dead, then seated Him at His own right hand and put all things under His feet.
- In Ephesians 3:14-21:
- Out of His riches he would strengthen us – 3:16
- Christ would dwell in our hearts by faith – 3:17
- Have the power to grasp how great is the love of Christ – 3:18
- May be filled to the full measure of the fullness of what God has for us – 3:19
OUR GOD IS ABLE TO DO:
- Having offered his prayer, Paul knows that God is able to do far more than all he has asked Him to do for these believers.
- And while Paul’s prayer expressed far more than most of us would think to pray for others, Paul assures the Ephesians that God is not just able to do immeasurably more than what he has prayed… He is able to do far more than all we could even imagine asking for!
- Paul’s expression, “immeasurably more than” (NIV) is also rendered “exceeding abundantly above” (KJV, ASV), “far more abundantly beyond” (NASB), or “far more abundantly than” (ESV).
- The Baker’s New Testament Commentary on this verse says in part,
- Literally he says, “Now to him — that is, to God Triune — who is able to do super-abundantly above all that we ask or imagine (or: think, conceive),” etc. In order to appreciate fully what is implied in these words it should be noted that Paul’s reasoning has taken the following steps: a. God is able to do all we ask him to do; b. he is even able to do all that we dare not ask but merely imagine; c. he can do more than this; d. far more; e. very far more. Moreover, the apostle immediately adds that he is not dealing with abstractions. The omnipotence which God reveals in answering prayer is not a figment of the imagination but is in line with (“according to”) that mighty operation of his power that is already at work “within us.”
- Gerald Paden in his book, Ephesians published by Sunset Institute Press says,
- He says in substance, “Father, we understand that you are not limited in your ability to help us. We understand that you are not limited in your disposition to provide grace for us, to lead us, and to help us through your providence. You are not limited by our ability to ask. You are not even limited in your ability to help us, by our ability to dream or imagine that you would be willing to help us. We believe that you are able to do far beyond what our faith would lead us to believe that you can do.” This is a prayer to an almighty God who is unlimited in His power and in His resources, and He is willing to use those powers and resources in measures that we would even be timid to ask for and in ways that we would be reluctant to even dream or imagine that He would be willing to do. Paul said, “We believe that you can use powers that escape our understanding of how powerful you are. In other words, your resources are totally at our disposition, and we are praying to you, Father, out of a deep faith that says that you can accomplish things that are far beyond our ability to ask or imagine. However, the beautiful thought is that you can accomplish those things through your power at work in us.”