Welcome back to our study of Ephesians. Today we’re reading through Ephesians 3. If you aren’t caught up, you can find links to all the previous chapter studies by scrolling down to the “Browse Stories” side bar. Just select “bible study” from the drop-down menu and you’ll find everything you need there!
Let’s continue the journey: read Ephesians 3 here.
God’s Plan for Unity Among Believers
Paul begins with “For this reason…”. He’s picking up after describing the church as a building, with Christ as the cornerstone (see Ephesians 2). He has encouraged the Ephesians, saying they too are being built together as a church in this way. And so for this reason, Paul would continue…
But, being Paul, he sidetracks a bit first to remind the Ephesians of the ministry to which he has been called. In case they were confused or forgot, I guess. Anyway…
Here in this long aside is revealed God’s “marvelous plan for the Gentiles.” That is, God’s plan for believers who were not Jewish, descendants from Israel. This includes the believers in Ephesus. He says this is possible because now people are hearing the gospel and believing it as it is “revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy people and apostles.” (vs. 5). This unifies Jews and Gentiles alike as “heirs together…members together of one body…sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus” (vs. 6). Because of this, Paul’s mission has been to preach the gospel as a “servant of this gospel” “for the sake of you Gentiles” (vs. 1, 7). This was to assure the Ephesians that their share in God’s kingdom is authentic because of its divine origin (ESV Study Bible, 2266).
“For this reason…” Paul begins again in verse 7, finally picking up where he began his thought back in verse 1 before this long aside. Because the Gentiles are being built up in unity under Christ with other believers, he prays the prayer that follows in verses 16-21. He recognizes his audience in Ephesus as being included in the kingdom of God, not because of lineage or because they earned it, but because of the Spirit at work among them revealing God’s love for them. He prays the Spirit dwells among them so that Christ may dwell in their hearts.
And then, in verses 17b-19 we see what’s called a benediction: a blessing bestowed onto the Ephesians, calling on God’s power to let it be so among the people. It’s an invocation, a hopeful prayer of sorts, offered outwardly towards the people and also upwardly towards the One who has the power to do the actual blessing…that is, “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (vs.20). And because it is God at work among us, he gets the glory (vs. 21).
Established in Fullness
I’ve been reflecting a lot on this benediction. Listen to the specific things Paul prays for the Ephesians:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17b-19
To have the power to grasp the depth of the love of Jesus…to know his is a love that surpasses merely knowing…to be filled with the fullness of God…these aren’t small prayers. These are big, life-changing, faith-defining prayers.
And what is the springboard from which these faith-defining prayers can flow? The Gentiles—and the Jews—are “rooted and established in love” (vs 17), that is, the love of Christ. This love is foundational, firm, continuing this “cornerstone” idea even further. Maybe you’ve heard these lyrics sung in church before:
“On Christ the solid rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand.” (from The Solid Rock, Edward Mote, 1834).
His love is an unshakable foundation. When we are rooted and established in that kind of love, how much more strongly will we be unified with other believers rooted in the same foundation? And what might pour out of the church as as a result?
When we know the truth about ourselves (that we were dead), and we see the glory of God (who reveals himself to us), we can begin to understand how HUGE Christ’s love was when he died on the cross. Its unfathomable…it transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It not only saves us, but actually fills us. This is something Paul prays the believers would desire with every fiber of their being…the fullness of God (verse 19).
Think about how Paul has been describing God’s love for us up to this point: a “glorious inheritance” (Eph 1:18). The “riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7; 2:7). The “boundless riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8) and the “riches of his glory” (Eph 3:16). And of course, the “fullness of him who fills everything” (Eph. 1:23). Christ’s love is lavish, indulgent, limitless. Whereas the fleeting and unsustainable pleasures of this world leave us empty, the love of God—with Christ as our foundation—fills us, sustains us, completes us (The Jesus Bible, 1831).
Recall what Paul said back in chapter 1: Through the cross, God made Jesus head over all things for the church, “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:23). The church, unified in it’s need for Christ, for God’s glory, is the fullness of God. It is complete. If this Christ-unified and Christ-satisfied church is the fullness of him that fills everything, it is through this church that God fills the earth with his love and glory. All by the power of the Holy Spirit (vs. 16; also Eph. 2:18, 22). We will see in Chapter 4 that this is the foundation from which Paul will urge the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy” of this calling (Eph. 4:1).
For now, as you go through the next week or so, I urge you to intentionally reflect on this idea of God’s fullness. In fact, I’ll leave you with my own benediction of sorts: I pray that your eyes would be fixed on Jesus, and that his Spirit would move in you as you are reminded of the depth of his love for you. I pray that he would fill you in ways this world could never do, and that from that fullness you will become a light for his love and glory to the people around you.
For God’s love and glory,
Follow, Like, & Subscribe!
Enter your e-mail under “Never Miss A Post!” and be sure to like and follow The Messy Coffee Table on:
And please feel free to SHARE this post using the links below under “Share the Love”