Paul resumes to his prayer for the Ephesians saying, “For this reason I kneel before the Father”. Paul is referring to his former statement that he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles. Paul prays that the church will be strong to overcome resistance, why? Because they are becoming discouraged, Paul does not want the Ephesians to “lose heart” because of his sufferings.
Paul paints a picture for us; he is prostrating himself before God, on his knees with his head bowed to the ground, as one making obeisance and bringing a matter of utmost urgency to a powerful king. The usual position for Jewish prayer was standing; Paul wanted to convey the impression of God’s power by describing his position in prayer.
Paul’s writing to the church is turning their conventional wisdom on its head. Customarily a person in prison was a great disgrace to their family and community, Paul states clearly that it is not Rome that has control over his life, it is Christ Jesus who controls his situation. Plus the truth that is contrary to common thinking is that Paul’s suffering brings glory not shame to the church, specifically the glory of new believers being added to God’s family every day. Paul is conveying a voluntary act of obedience, he is in full submission to the will of God, knowing this could end in his death, with a reverence for the power of the LORD, allowing God’s will to work in his life whatever the consequences.
This reminds me of Paul’s writing about Christ in Philippians 2:5-11, “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! As a result God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father”.
Paul describes God as “the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”. God is the Creator of all groups of living beings and as the one who sovereignly gives each its individual ‘shape’ and role. In Hebrew tradition, for God to give creatures their names is not merely to provide them with a label, but to determine what they are.
All people are God’s creation but not all people are God’s children. John 1:12-13 affirms this saying, “But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name —he has given the right to become God’s children —children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God”. Romans 8:15 emphasizes the love, security, acceptance and provisions from our Heavenly Father to each of us. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’”. Led by the Spirit we are firstborn children of God, with full rights of inheritance, we are not slaves and we don’t live in fear. We can approach the throne of the King of Heaven with confidence and address Him as “Daddy”; this verse conveys a close personal relationship with our Creator.
“I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he will grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person”. Paul was praying for the believers in Ephesus and surrounding areas to be strong in the power of the Holy Spirit. Most students think of the “inner person” as the life of our soul, our heart or our inner thoughts. Some commentators suggest this phrase “inner man” should be render as a title, “Inner Man” as a title for Jesus the Messiah who dwells in our heart. Through faith, Christ Jesus dwells in believers’ heart, that is He takes up residence in our lives, we invite Him to be “at home” in every area of our life, not just a frequent visitor, but living daily with us as our King.
Paul writes often about the importance of prayer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 he writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. He often wrote that He was praying for the church and he also asked for the believers to pray for him as well. From his prison cell Paul encourages the church to pray for kings and all those in authority, with petitions, intercession and thanksgiving. He instructs us that we are to confess our sins in prayer and know that even when we cannot pray, because of our circumstances, that Spirit intercedes for us with words we cannot express in our grief and sufferings.
Paul prayed for the Ephesians “to be strengthened with power through His Spirit”. Paul wrote often about God’s power. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul records what Christ told him, “‘My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me”. In Philippians 4 he explains how he applied this truth in his life, “I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me”.
Paul continues explaining, that through the indwelling of Christ through faith you will be able to comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth and thus know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you will be filled up to all the fullness of God”. This amazing sentence is stated in the perfect tense, indicating past action and continuing results. Paul restates this same thought in Romans 8:35-39 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Paul wants the Ephesians to understand and experience God’s love and to be “filled up to all the fullness of God”. He echoes this same thought in Colossians 2:9-10, “For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority”. Paul concludes his prayer by praising God, “Now to Him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen”.