Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 3:14 - 3:19

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 3:14 - 3:19

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The apostle's petition for the Church, which includes an exhortation:

v. 14. for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

v. 15. of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

v. 16. that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His spirit in the inner man;

v. 17. that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

v. 18. may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

v. 19. and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

The apostle now resumes the thread of his discourse, which he interrupted after v. 1 to speak of the ministry of his apostleship: For this reason I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, after whom every family in heaven and earth is named. Because the Ephesian Christians have, by the labor of Paul, been added to the Church of Christ, because he is their teacher, their apostle, therefore he feels it his duty to bend his knees in prayer for these souls entrusted to his care. Luther expresses Paul's thoughts as follows: "I must lie here a prisoner and cannot be with yon nor help you in any other way, only that I can bend my knees, that is, with all humility and seriousness pray to God that He might give you, and work in you, what neither I nor any other person can do, even if I had my liberty and were with you always. " The God to whom Paul addresses his urgent intercession is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the true Father of every believer. Particularly, however, is He the Father after whom every generation, or family, of God's children, all people who through Christ Jesus have been reborn to a new spiritual life, is named. All the assemblies of the children of God, whether here on earth or in heaven, in the midst of the holy angels, bear their name from the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; they all stand in the same, in the equal relation of children to Him; they all form one great family, every member of which may ask and expect only the highest and richest of blessings from the Parent above.

In this sense Paul introduces the subject of his prayer: That He would grant you according to the wealth of His glory to be strengthened in might through His Spirit into the inner man. God has a wealth, a great amount, of excellence, majesty, and perfection; from His fullness we can always receive, and grace for grace, Joh_1:16. Paul boldly asks the measure of the gift of God's perfection which will bring into full play this inexhaustible wealth. For only thus can the Christians grow mightily in strength, in spiritual power, only thus, namely, through the working of His Spirit, can the new inner man, the regenerated self of the Christians, make progress in faith and in holiness. God's strengthening grace must be poured into the inner man day after day, the gift of His power must be directed toward this object without ceasing, otherwise the new spiritual life will soon become extinguished.

This idea is developed still further: That Christ may dwell through faith in your hearts. Not only the gifts and virtues of Christ, but the exalted Christ personally lives in the hearts of His believers, Gal_2:20. There is the most intimate, the most happy communion between Christ and the Christians, begun in conversion, but in need of daily growth and strengthening, for it is through faith that Christ dwells in the heart, and the loss of faith in the forgiveness of sins means the loss of Christ Himself. If Christ does not live in us, grow in us, day after day, His power will soon diminish and His picture fade away. But with Christ in the heart, there is steady progress: That you, firmly rooted and grounded in love, be fully able to comprehend with all the saints what the breadth and the length and the depth and the height is. Love is the proof and test of faith. If Christ lives in the heart by faith, then love toward God and love toward one's neighbor will follow as a matter of course. And with the growth of faith in the form of firm confidence, love will also take a firmer hold on the Christian; it will be set as solidly as a root takes hold of the ground from which it derives strength and life. Thus the condition is obtained which enables the believer fully to understand, to get a mental grasp of, what is the breadth and length and height and depth. ALL the saints should have this understanding, all the believers should grow in Christian knowledge. And in the connection in which the apostle here writes, he undoubtedly has in mind the Church with its immense dimensions. This building extends over the entire world from North to South, from East to West, through all periods of time until the last day; it includes the believers that are now sleeping in their graves, and reaches to the heavens, where its exalted Ruler sits at the right hand of God. The Church embraces the fullness of the elect, not only of Israel, but also of the Gentile world—a poor, small crew in the sight of men, but a mighty assembly before the omniscient eye of God.

And finally, Paul prays for the Christians that they might be strengthened: To know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. It is an incomprehensible, indescribable, immeasurable love by which Christ has founded the Church, by which He builds and extends it, a love which overcomes the hardest hearts, which influences even the greatest criminals, and always with the aim of building up the Church. This love is beyond the capacity of the human mind and intelligence, but the enlightened Christian will be able to get at least some idea of its extent and power, of its miraculous power in gaining lost sinners for Christ and the Church. And with the growth in this knowledge the hope and prayer of the apostle will finally be fulfilled, namely, that the Christians will be filled unto all the fullness of God, that this goal may be reached in them. It is a fullness of grace possessed and bestowed by God, the full measure of His gracious gifts to which the apostle has reference. Upon this measureless source the believers draw, increasing daily in virtues and blessings, as vessels of God's mercy; themselves the possessors of boundless love and expending freely therefrom to the praise and honor of God. Though this ideal fail of full realization in this life, it is worth striving for with untiring energy.