Study Notes

Ephesians 3:14-21


Last Sunday morning, we were reminded that God called Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles. He taught them that they were fellow heirs to the heavenly inheritance, fellow members of the body of Christ, and fellow partakers of the promise. Now he says, "For this reason..."

3:14-16 Strengthened With Power Through His Spirit

Paul was the one who'd brought the gospel to many of the Gentiles. And because of this, he feels responsible to pray for their spiritual growth, maturity, and development. He was praying specifically for them to be strengthened with power through God's Spirit.

The power of the Holy Spirit is something which has been the subject of much misunderstanding and even fear among Christians. And yet, if we can manage to get rid of our preconceptions and misinformation, to get rid of our fear and trepidation, then we can agree to look at the subject biblically and objectively.

The Bible says that the source of power in the believer's life is the Holy Spirit. And so that power should not be anything to be afraid or embarrassed of. The prophet Micah said,

Micah 3:8 ...I am filled with power - With the Spirit of the LORD...

Jesus walked in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14), and promised the same thing to the disciples, saying,

Acts 1:8 " shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

And so the Holy Spirit's power can come upon us, filling us. And this power can manifest itself in either physical or spiritual ways.

Physically, we know that the virgin named Mary conceived Christ in her womb through the power of the Spirit, for the angel Gabriel promised her,

Luke 1:35 ..."The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God"

Jesus, too, through the physically-evidenced power of the Spirit, healed people.

Acts 10:38 "...God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil..."

And Paul told the Romans that Christ had accomplished visible signs and wonders through him "in the power of the Spirit" (Rom 15:19).

So it is evident that the power of the Spirit can accomplish miraculous things outwardly, physically. But the power of the Spirit can be inward as well, seemingling invisible, as that power performs miracles inside of us, in our inner man.

I am a sinner, corrupt and carnal. But God changes me inwardly through the power of the Spirit. That is nothing short of miraculous!

I am inundated by temptation. But the Lord empowers me to resist sin through the power of His Spirit. That is supernatural!

I get discouraged fall into doubt. But through the power of the Spirit, He instills hope in my heart (Rom. 15:13).

The power of the Spirit does these miraculous things inside of us, and that's what Paul was praying - that they would be strengthened inwardly, "in the inner man."

That is my prayer for each of us, because the outcome of that supernatural strengthening is so important. Paul tells us what that outcome is in the next three verses...

3:17-19 The Result Of Being Strengthened With Power

Paul is praying for them to be strengthened with the Spirit's power so that three things will happen:

1) so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith.

2) so that they can comprehend the love of Christ

3) so that they may be filled up to all the fulness of God

1) Christ's Indwelling

Now we know that when someone becomes a Christian, Jesus comes into their lives and hearts. Paul told the Corinthians,

2Cor. 13:5 you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you...?

And the Gentile Colossians were told that Christ was in them (Col. 1:27).

And so Paul's statement here has confused some people, who wonder if Christ is already in them, then why do they need to be strengthened with the power of the Spirit for Christ to dwell in their hearts?

The explanation is not obvious in English. The Greek word "kat-oy-KEH-o," which is here translated "dwell" literally means, "to be completely at home." It is an unfortunate but true statement that many Christians have invited Christ to be their Savior and then don't let Him feel at home. They essentially keep Him locked out. We have heard it preached many times that Jesus says,

Rev. 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me."

We often quote that as an evangelistic invitation, and yet Jesus said this to those in the church of Laodicea that needed to repent for their lukewarm walk!

When we are strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit, the first result is that Jesus dwells in our heart - settles into them like His own home.

2) Comprehend The Love Of Christ

Secondly, when we are strengthened by the power of the Spirit, we get rooted and grounded in love, which enables us to begin to comprehend the hugely vast love of Christ.

How can you possibly know something that surpasses knowledge? Indeed, it seems impossible. And yet, when we are strengthened by the power of the Spirit, our knowledge of God's love continues to grow. The more grounded we get in love, the more we learn about the love of Christ.

Through the power of the Spirit, I sacrificially love others, and I learn more about the love of God. Thus, my understanding increases, and the Scriptures that speak about God's love for me open up into even deeper meaning. For example, one of the first Scriptures that most people hear is John 3:16. It is so often quoted that most people think it is to basic to meditate on. But listen:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."

God loved the world enough to sacrifice His Son to death. Every time I consider that, it means more to me. It is an even more intense love than I imagined before. If I wasn't being strengthened by the power of the Spirit, I wouldn't be being rooted and grounded in love, and I would simply be saying, "Yup, John 3:16. Heard it before."

Filled Up To All The Fulness Of God

Thirdly, Paul desired the Ephesians (and us) to be filled up to all the fulness of God. How can I even begin to explain what the fulness of God is?

1Pet. 1:2 ...May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

Rom. 15:13 ...fill you with all joy and peace...

Eph. 5:18 ...filled with the Spirit,

Phil. 1:11 ...filled with the fruit of righteousness

Col. 1:9 ...filled with the knowledge of His will...

1Ths. 1:5 ... with full conviction...

Col. 4:12 ...fully assured...

2Cor. 9:12 ...fully supplying the needs of the saints...

The list goes on forever! Don't you desire to be strengthened with power through God's Spirit? Many people think that this is unattainable or impossible. "God would never give me all that. I'll never be able to be a Christian like that." But look at the very next verse...

3:20-21 Beyond All That We Ask

God is "able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think." Do you desire to be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit today? Listen to what Jesus said:

Luke 11:9-13 "...I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or {if} he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

If you desire that work of the Holy Spirit in your life today, ask God. He will give to you, because He is a loving Father.

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