Ephesians 3:20-21 20Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
These verses end Paul’s prayer begun in v. 14. They are often quoted by themselves, but they have a significant place in the context of the prayer. This ending shows Paul’s confidence that God can and will answer the prayer that the Ephesians would come to know more deeply and intimately the love of Christ and be transformed into the people God created them to be.
The opening statement in v. 20 is full of confidence that God is indeed able to do what he has promised in Christ Jesus. Everything in the letter up to this point has been abstract and highly theological. The second half of the letter will turn to practical matters faced by many churches of that time that also apply to our own time. What God has promised, God will do for those who put their faith in him. This prayer expresses confidence and hope in God’s grace.
God will do far more abundantly all things. The all things (panta) is undesignated in this verse but enhanced by the ask or think. In the context of this prayer, the focus has been upon knowing the love of Christ. This love is beyond our imagination. The “the breadth and length and height and depth” (v. 18) can never be reached. There is always so much more to discover and experience. Nothing can separate us from this love (Romans 8:37-38). Of course, God can do anything within his plan for us as we ask in prayer, but this benediction seems to be more narrowly focused upon knowing the love of Christ.
God able to do all of this because of his power at work within us. In Paul’s theology, this “power” comes through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the one who can help us experience this love. This is the very power that raised Jesus from the dead and brings new life to our dead spirits. Paul already mentioned the power of the Spirit in v. 16, so it is likely the “power” of v. 20 comes through the indwelling Spirit. Any experience of God’s power and presence will be mediated by God’s Spirit who is God’s presence with us.
Verse 21 is a final statement of confidence and praise for God’s power and presence in the lives of those who have submitted fully to the sovereignty of Jesus as Lord. Glory expresses the awesomeness of God’s presence and person. We were created to be in this glory but have fallen from it because of sin. This glory is expressed most vividly and completely in Christ Jesus, the Incarnated Son. The Son is at work in his church through the Spirit of the Son and Father. The same glory in Christ is also in the church. This is experienced in increasing degrees by those who walk with the Spirit and grow in the love of God in Christ. The church is a key topic in this letter. Paul’s ecclesiology is more than a Sunday morning worship time. The church as a universal people of God is an expression of what kingdom life is intended to be and will be when the new age of God’s kingdom comes in its fullness.
There is no ending to what God has started and planned in Christ. It is for all generations and forever and ever. To know the love of Christ is the eternal purposes and the very reason we have been created. God wants each human to come to know and experience this promise for by doing this, we will be who God created us to be. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.
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