God has a lot he could give us—if we’d ask.
God’s mystery, now revealed to the world through Paul, was that his kingdom includes gentiles. Previous generations weren’t aware of this—despite hints in the Old Testament—but now God wanted his church to make it crystal clear. The good news is for everyone. No exceptions. Jesus is Lord of all.
This, Paul explained, was why he was in chains.
On the contrary: The gentiles drove him to rejoice.
Ephesians 3.13-17 KWL
- 13 So I request you don’t despair over my suffering for you—which is in your honor.
- 14 It’s why I bend my knees to the Father,
- 15 for whom every “fatherland” in heaven and on earth is named.
- 16 So he could give you power from his glorious riches,
- make you strong in his Spirit in the person within,
- 17 and settle Christ in your hearts, planted and established through faith in love.
Christians tend to miss the importance of Paul bending his knees to the Father.
Every “fatherland,” Paul pointed out, is named for the Father. That’s a bit of Greek wordplay, which made it a little tricky to translate. Paul was comparing patír/“father” and patriá/“nation.” He correctly pointed out the word patriá comes from the word patír. Originally patriá meant “family,” and the
Nowadays we consider that idea racist—’cause it is. Especially in nations like the Roman Empire—and the United States—which are based on ideas and rights, not ancestry. Particularly in God’s kingdom, where everyone’s adopted,
Paul’s prayer was that the Ephesians could get power from God’s riches: God’s got more than enough power to do whatever we can ask or imagine. He invites us to tap it. We’ve just gotta trust him enough to start doing miracles.
And at the same time, Paul prayed the Ephesians would grow “in the person within.” Spiritual might, wielded by someone who lacks spiritual fruit, who lacks character, can quickly turn into nothing.
More of Paul’s request: So the Ephesians would know Christ’s love.
Ephesians 3.18-19 KWL
- 18 So you could be capable of grasping—with all the saints—
- what’s its nearness and farness, depth and height.
- 19 You could also know the knowledge-overwhelming love of Christ,
- so you could be filled with all God’s fullness.
Paul wasn’t describing four dimensions, but two. Plátos, short for pelatós, means “approachable”; míkos means “distance.” So that’d be how close Christ’s love is, and how far it extends. The
The reason he described Christ’s love with dimensions was ’cause he wanted the Ephesians to imagine it in real space. Not just think of love as an abstract idea, only to be found in our own brains. Think of it as an object in the real world. More: Put it in the real world. Stop internalizing it, and start doing it.
Of course, if love’s an object in the real world, how big should it be? Well, there you’re gonna get Christians trying to outdo one another in our descriptions. “Bigger than anything! Bigger than the universe!” Hyperbole like that. Which is fine; it should be big. Big enough to include everyone. Big enough to achieve big things.
He also prayed the Ephesians would “know the knowledge-overwhelming love of Christ.” You realize that’s a paradox. Know the unknowable? But hey, if we know it in part, that’s still really good.
Likewise being filled with God’s fullness: Also sorta impossible-sounding, since we’d expect God’s infinite fullness to burst any finite human, like a water balloon filled by a fire hydrant. But humans aren’t containers so much as sponges. The whole point of the Holy Spirit’s fruit is that his goodness doesn’t just fill us, but overflows, leaks into everyone around us, affects them, maybe produces good fruit in them too. Imagine how such Christians could affect their communities. Imagine how you could.
Praising our super-more-extraordinary God.
Here’s where Paul’s discussion wraps up about God’s plan of salvation. The next chapters of Ephesians are more about how God expects us to live, now that we’re saved. So in order to wrap that up, then switch topics, Paul capped it with a little bit of praise to the Father for all he’s done.
Ephesians 3.18-20 KWL
- 20 To the one more capable than anyone
- to do superabundantly whatever we ask or imagine, by the power operating in us:
- 21 Glory to him in the church, and in Christ Jesus,
- in all generations of the age and ages. Amen.
Plus a little reminder that God’s able to do yper-ek-perissú/“super-more-extraordinary.” It’s a word we only find in the bible, in Paul’s letters. Betcha he coined it. But how else can we describe almightiness?
And really, that’s always been a problem for us. We know God’s almighty, but we don’t entirely grasp just how almighty. We know he can do anything he wants. We just don’t realize how far this power extends. Imagine the grandest, mightiest thing God could do. (Like create the universe.) Well, almightiness means God can actually do greater than that. Twice as great. Twenty times as great. A billion times greater—and even though we fling the word “billions” around nowadays, we still struggle with that concept. Yet God’s more almighty than that.
So why don’t we see him doing such things among us? Well we could—if we stopped limiting him with our tiny finite ideas. God can do more than we ask or imagine. Let’s stop imagining, or asking for, such small things. Dream bigger.