Strengthened in Christ

Ephesians 3:14-21

For the second time so far in this letter, Paul pauses his flow of thought in order to pray for the Ephesian Christians. Once again, his prayer focus on the themes of knowledge and power, but whereas last time he prayer that they would know the greatness of God’s power that works for them, now he prayers that they have strength to know the love of God and the indwelling of Christ.

The prayer follows on from Paul’s explanation of the gospel, and particularly his unpacking of the one new man made in Christ of Jews and Gentiles. His introduction to the prayer picks up this theme, highlighting that it is from the Father that every family is named.

Paul’s first request is that they may be internally strengthened through the Holy Spirit. This is another way of asking that they be filled afresh with the Spirit and it is something that we should be continually asking God for, for ourselves and for others too. Three effects of this are picked out in the rest of this prayer:

(1) – The indwelling of Christ. We know that it is true that Christ dwells with all believers, and yet Paul here is asking for Spiritual strengthening so that Christ would well in their heats through faith and so that they could be filled with the fulness of God. This is about growth in relationship with God and the more we know and love him and are filled with the Spirit, the closer the intimacy of our relationship with Christ.

(2) – Knowledge of His Love. The love of God is something that can never be fully known (indeed, Paul says here that it ‘surpasses knowledge’). It can, however, be truly known and this is what Paul prays for. He knows that it is the love of God that has already rooted and grounded them in their faith and he prays for new strength to comprehend God’s love more in all its dimensions.

(3) – New expectation. As the prayer turns to doxology, Paul highlights God’s ability to do way more than we can imagine, and to do it according to his power at work in us. In light of this we cannot be pessimistic in our expectation of God’s work in our life but should raise the bar in what we ask and expect.

Some Key Points:

  • Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians to be filled with the Spirit that they may be even more indwelt by Christ.
  • One of the things the Spirit does is give us a new awareness of and appreciation of the love of God for us.
  • God is capable of more than we imagine and we can raise our expectations of what he will do and in through us.

Potential Applications:

  • Filling with the Spirit – As Paul prays for the Ephesians to be strengthened with power through the Spirit, so it would be good to respond by praying the same for people in the congregation. Perhaps offering to pray for people individually in a response time would be appropriate.
  • Delve Into God’s Love – As you paint a picture of God’s love, this may be overwhelming. A great response is to dwell on the love that he has for us and worship him in response.
  • New Expectation – Challenge those with low expectation of what God will do in their lives. He is capable of immeasurably more than all we hope or expect.