VERSE16-19:  In these verses there are 4 definite petitions which Paul makes on behalf of the Ephesian believers.

VERSE16:  Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesian
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man:”

“That He would grant you”
Literally:  “That He would give you.” Paul now tells the things for which he so earnestly prays in behalf of the Ephesian believers. There are really five petitions in this greatest of all Paul's prayers.  One petition has already been presented (1:16-23)–that they would be as one.

“according to the riches of His glory.”
Literally: “according to the riches of His glory.–According to the glorious abundance of His mercy, which are infinite.  See Phil. 4:19–“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”.   

      According to the measure of His own eternal fullness; God's infinite mercy and goodness being the measure according to which we are to be saved.  In giving alms it is a maxim that everyone should act according to his ability. It would be a disgrace to a king or a noble-man to give no more than a tradesman or a peasant. God acts up to the dignity of His infinite perfections; He gives according to the riches of His glory.
         Out of those stores of rich grace which can never be exhausted. The word “riches,” so often used by Paul, denotes abundance; and the idea here is, that the grace of God was inexhaustible and ample for all their wants. The riches of the grace of the Gospel, and the extent to which the soul of man may be saved here below, are most emphatically pointed out here.  Every word seems to have come immediately from heaven; laboring to convey ideas of infinite importance to mankind.  No paraphrase can do it justice, and few commentators seem to have entered into its spirit; perhaps deterred by its unparalleled sublimity.

         ACCORDING TO:  (kata)-that is, “in abundance consonant” to the riches of His glory; not “according to” the narrowness of our hearts. Col. 1:11, “Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power.”  Nowhere else does Paul sound such depths of spiritual emotion or rise to such heights of spiritual passion as here. The whole seems to be colored with “the riches of His glory.”

Notice that Paul prays, “according” to the riches of His glory (which are infinite; never ending), not out of His riches.  If God were to take it out of His riches, He would be like Mr. Rockefeller who used to give his caddy a dime tip. According to the measure of His own eternal fullness; God's infinite mercy and goodness being the measure according to which we are to be saved.  In giving alms it is a maxim that everyone should act according to His ability. 

“to be strengthened with might”
Literally:  “by {His}power to become mighty”–To be powerfully strengthened. That is, to give you abundant strength to bear trials; to perform your duties; to glorify His name.  That their spirits might be strengthened by God's spirit and endowed with the might of spiritual gift.  Here is petition #2.

         You have against you: many things;
1.       Many enemies, cunning and strong;
2.       Many trials; and these are too great for your natural strength.
3.       Many temptations, which no human power is able successfully to resist;
4.       Many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man.

 Therefore, you need strengthening from God; you must have might; and you must be strengthened everywhere, and every way fortified by that might; mightily and most effectually strengthened.  

        POWER:  (dunamei)–Appropriate to the succeeding phrase, “the inner man,” since it signifies faculty or virtue not necessarily displayed.  Paul adds dunamei with the Spirit.

“by His Spirit”
Literally:  “through His Spirit”–By the sovereign energy of the Holy Spirit.  This fountain of spiritual energy can alone supply the spiritual strength which is necessary for this spiritual work and conflict.  Paul prays that their spirits might be strengthened by God's spirit and endowed with the might of spiritual gifts.

“in the inner man.”      
Literally:  “in the inward man”–In the heart, the mind, the soul.

        INWARD MAN (esô)– Same expression in II Cor. 4:16–“For which cause we faint not, but though our outward man perish, yet the inward {man} is renewed day by day”

         This is in contrast with the outward (exôman). “For I delight in the Law of God after the Inward man” (Rom. 7:22). This does not apply to unbelievers, whose inward and outward man alike are carnal. But in believers, the “inner (new) man,” their true self, stands in contrast to their old man, which is attached to them as a body of death daily being mortified, but not their true self.     
         In the unregenerated (natural) man, his inward man is liable to fall under the power of sin (Rom. 7:23), but in the regenerate (saved; believer) the inward man needs a constant renewing and strengthening by the Spirit of God (see I Pet. 3:4).
         The body needs to be strengthened every day; also, in like manner the soul needs constant supplies of grace. Spirituality needs to be constantly fed, or it atrophies.  Every Christian needs grace given each day to enable him to bear trials, to resist temptation, to discharge his duty, to live a life of faith:
1.      That the believers might be strengthened with might (power) by His Spirit in the inner man (v. 16).
2.      That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith (v. 17).
         Christ has not come as a temporary Visitor.  He has come as a permanent Tenant by means of the Spirit to live in our lives.
3.      That the believers may know the dimensions of the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ (v. 18).
4.      That believers might be filled up to all the fullness of God (v. 19).

         Understand that every man is a compound (tricotomous), i.e., three-part being.  He has a body, a soul and a spirit.  However, the spirit of the unbeliever is dead.  It is not until he becomes a believer, (is born-again) that his spirit is brought to life (quickened)–“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ…” (2:5).  “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).
         The outward man is that alone which is seen and considered by men; the inward man is that which stands particularly in reference to God and eternity.  Likewise, the outward man is strengthened by earthly food, etc.; while the inward man is strengthened by spiritual and heavenly influences.  Knowledge, love, peace, and holiness, are the food of the inward man; or rather Jesus Christ Who is that Bread of Life which came down from heaven.   He that partakes of this bread shall live and be strengthened by it.  The soul must be as truly fed and nourished by heavenly food as the body by natural food.
         To put things simply, the inner man relates to the interior principle of spiritual life, which is the product of the power of the Holy Spirit, as Paul teaches us in 1:19–“And what {is} the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”  In II Cor. 4:16 Paul tells us, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, our inward {man} is renewed day by day.”  Such could not be referring to the unrenewed or unregenerated (unsaved; not born-again) person.  The inner being of the born-again believer is renewed day by day is the renewed person.

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,”

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”
Literally:  that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts”–This is the second petition. That they may so lay hold of Christ by faith that he will be to them a present Savior, in their hearts.

In this as well as in many other passages, and particularly that in 2:21, Paul compares the body or Church of true believers to a temple, which, like that of Solomon, is built up to be a habitation of God through the Spirit.

     “What?  Know ye not that your body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost {which is} in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own.”
     “For ye are bought with a price:  therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”
(I Cor. 6:19-20).

         Paul, having considered the Church at Ephesus completely formed, as to every external thing, prays that God may come down and dwell in it.  And as there could be no indwelling of God but by Christ, and no indwelling of Christ but by faith, he prays that they may have such faith in Christ, as shall keep them in constant possession of his love and presence.
         God, at the beginning, formed man to be His temple, and while in a state of purity He inhabited this temple; when the temple became defiled, God left it.  In the order of His eternal mercy, Christ, the repairer of the breach, comes to purify the temple, that it may again become a fit habitation for the blessed God.  This is what Paul points out to the believing Ephesians, in praying that Christ might in-tensely and constantly dwell in their hearts by faith: for the man's heart, which is not God's house, must be a hold of every foul and unclean spirit; as Satan and his angels will endeavor to fill what God does not.

         DWELL: (katoikêsai)–In your hearts. Expressions like this often occur in the Scriptures, where God is said to dwell in us, and we are said to be the temples of the Holy Ghost. 

        BY FAITH:  (dia tes pisteos)–Literally in Greek, “through the faith.” It is your faith that opens the door of the heart to Jesus (John 3:20). It is not enough that He be on the tongue, or flit through the brain: your heart (inner being) is His proper seat.

The inner being was a phrase by which the ancient Greeks understood three things:
1.       Human Reason
         Paul prayed that Christ should strengthen the reasoning (thought processes) of the Ephesian believers. 
         He prayed that Christ would give them the wisdom to have better discernment regarding right and wrong and so keep them pure and safe.
2.       Conscience
          Paul wished that the conscience of the believers would become more sensitive to right and wrong. 
          One can disregard his conscience for so long that it becomes dulled.
3.       Will
          Too often we may know what is wrong, and mean not to do it, but our will is not strong enough to back up our knowledge, and we go on and do the wrong things anyhow.

This strengthening of the inner being (the reason, the conscience and the will) comes when Christ takes up His permanent residence in a person.  The Greek word that Paul uses for will (katoikêsai), is the word used for permanent.

        “being rooted and grounded in love”
         Literally:  “having been rooted and having been founded in love”–Paul’s third petition relates to the love of Christ.       

         Here is a double metaphor (rooted) and (grounded)-one taken from agriculture, the other, from architecture.  Two images are combined to make the idea emphatic – that of a tree and that of a building; denoting what is both the starting-point and the support of the Christian's life.  See I Cor. 3:9 for this same double metaphor.  As trees, they are to be rooted in love.  This is the soil in which their souls are to grow; into the infinite love of God their souls by faith are to strike their roots.  It is from this love they derive all that nourishment which is essential for their full growth, till they have the mind in them that was in Jesus, or, as it is afterwards said, till they are filled with all the fullness of God. 
         As a building, their foundation is to be laid in this love.  God so loved the world, that “He gave His only begotten Son…”  This is the ground on which alone the soul, and all its hopes and expectations, can be safely founded.  This is a foundation that cannot be shaken; and it is from this alone that the doctrine of redemption flows to man, and from this alone has the soul its form and comeliness.  In this, as its proper soil, it grows.  on this, as its only foundation, it rests.       

    BEING ROOTED:  (errizômenoi)-Firmly established–as a tree is whose roots strike deep, and extend afar. The meaning is, that his love should be as firm in our hearts as a tree is in the soil, whose roots strike deep into the earth.

     GROUNDED: (tethemeliômenoi)literally: “founded,” as a building is on a foundation. The word is taken from architecture where a firm foundation is laid; and the meaning is, that he wished them to be as firm in the love of Christ, as a building is that rests on a solid basis.

    IN LOVE:  (en agapêi)–In love to the Redeemer–perhaps also in love to each other; and to all.  Love was the great principle of the true religion, and the apostle wished that they might be fully settled in that.

“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height,”

         “May be able to comprehend with all saints”
         Literally: “that you may be given strength to grasp with all the saints”–That all others with you may be able (literally: “fully able,”) to understand this.  It was Paul’s desire that others, as well as they, might appreciate the wonders of redemption.

      This constitutes the  of the petitions in this great prayer of Paul’s, Unless they were “rooted and grounded in love” (v. 17) and the “love of God shed abroad” in their hearts (Rom. 5:5), it would be impossible for them to comprehend the exceeding riches of the love of Christ. This is the climax of prayer, the point to which the other petitions tend. Indeed, from the beginning of the Epistle, he has been declaring what love Christ has shown for the Gentile world.

        MAY BE ABLE:  (exixchusête)–That they might be thoroughly able. From exi, intensive,” and iscuô, to be strong; to have full strength.” Signifies, by having been strengthened with might, by God's power.

        COMPREHEND: (katalabesthai)–Literally: “apprehend;” from kata, intensive,” and lambanô, “to take, catch, or seize on; to take hold of effectively.” This may be translated to read, “that you may fully catch, take in, and comprehend” this wonderful mystery of God. 

Through the strengthening of their inner man by means of the Spirit, through the indwelling of Christ in their hearts, the readers are to become established in love, and, having been established in love, are able to comprehend the greatness of the love of Christ. The mind must be rendered apt, and the soul invigorated, to take in and comprehend these mysteries. understand more and more of the inexhaustible, eternal love of Christ, the fullness of which infinitely transcends all finite comprehension.  Paul is praying that they may know the incomparable love of Christ to a lost world is a transcendent love; that the knowledge of it may be attained in some measure; that it is our duty to seek after it, and search into it; but, after all, we can never fully comprehend it with our finite minds..       

“what {is} the breadth and length and depth  and height”–
Literally:  “what {is} the breadth and length and depth and height”–Namely, the full dimensions of the spiritual temple, answering to “the fullness of God” (v. 19), to which the Church, according to its capacity, ought to correspond (compare 4:10, 13) as to “the fullness of Christ.”

        BREADTH:  (platos)–The “breadth” implies Christ's world-wide love, embracing all men.

        LENGTH:  (mêkos)–The “length,” denotes its being extended through all ages (v. 21).

        DEPTH:  (bathos)–The “depth,” (is in bathosphere) is its profound wisdom which no creature can fathom (Rom. 11:33);

        HEIGHT:  (hypsos)–The “height” is its being beyond the reach of any foe to deprive us of (4:8).

         Put these together an they refer to the whole of the vast mystery of free salvation in Christ for all, Gentile and Jew alike, of which Paul had been speaking (vv. 3-9), and of which he now prays they may have a fuller comprehension.  He prays that the Ephesians may comprehend what is the breadth, length, depth, and height, of the love of God, and the mysteries of the gospel; tell  us that we are not to content ourselves with just a superficial view of God's free love in Christ, but to make an accurate inspection into all the aspects of it. 
         We are to view it in its breadth, and extending to all ages, Jewish and Christian; in its length, as reaching from eternity to eternity; in its depth, as it stoops down to succor and relieve the vilest and the greatest, if penitent sinners; in its height, whereby it reaches up to heaven, and entitles us to the joy and felicity of the saints above. This love of God in Christ to a lost world, is so vast and boundless, so rich and matchless, exceeding not only our comprehension, but even our conceptions, that not only the natural man cannot understand it, but the renewed man also is unable to fathom it, but must daily endeavor to take dimensions of it.   The love of Christ surpassingly transcends the knowledge of the most illuminated believer; it surpasses natural knowledge, apostolic knowledge, yea, angelic knowledge.  

“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

“And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge”
Literally:  “And to know the surpassing knowledge and love of Christ”–Surpasses, exceeds. Note the paradox “to know … which passeth knowledge.” How can we know that which passes knowledge?  Paul implies that when he says “know.”

         Paul does not mean that we can adequately know; all we know is that God’s love exceeds far our knowledge of it, and with even our fresh accessions of knowledge hereafter, will still exceed them. Even as God's power exceeds our thoughts (v. 20).  The love of Christ towards us; the immensity of redeeming love. It is only by the love of Christ that we can know the love of God: the love of God to man induced Him to give Christ for man’s redemption; Christ's love to man induced Him to give His life's blood for man’s salvation.  The gift of Christ to man is the measure of God's love; the death of Christ for man is the measure of Christ's love.  “God so loved the world, etc.  Christ loved us, and gave Himself for us.  
         It is not merely the love that God showed to the Gentiles in calling them into His kingdom, which is here referred to; it is the love which is shown for the lost world in giving Himself to die. This love is often referred to in the New Testament, and is declared to surpass all other which has ever been evinced. To know this; to feel this; to have a lively sense of it, is one of the highest privileges of the Christian. Nothing will so much excite gratitude in our hearts; nothing will prompt us so much to a life of self-denial; nothing will make us so benevolent and so dead to the world.    

        TO KNOW:   (gnonai)–To know practically, through experience.           

        LOVE OF CHRIST:  (agapên tou Christou)–The love of Christ towards us; the immensity of redeeming love. I t is not merely the love which He showed for the Gentiles in calling them into His kingdom, that is being referred to here; it is the love which is shown for the lost world in giving Himself to die. This love is often referred to in the New Testament, and is declared to surpass all other which has ever been evinced.

         There seems to be a slight contradiction here in expressing a wish to know what cannot be known, or in a desire that they should understand that which cannot be understood. But it is the language of a man whose heart was full to overflowing. This is one of Paul's paradoxes, like I Tim. 5:6–“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” They could know something of the love of Christ, but we can never fully comprehended the infinite. But how can the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, be known?  Many have labored to reconcile this seeming contradiction.
           This defines the paradox.He had a deep sense of the love of Christ, and he expressed a wish that they should understand it. Suddenly he has such an apprehension of it, that he says it is indeed infinite. No one can attain to a full view of it. It had no limit. It was unlike anything which had ever been evinced before. It was love which led the Son of God to become incarnate; to leave the heavens; to be a man of sorrows; to be reviled and persecuted; to be put to death in the most shameful manner–ON A CROSS.  Who could understand that where else had there been anything like that? What was there with which to compare it? What was there by which it could be illustrated? And how could it be fully understood? Yet something of it might be seen, known, felt; and Paul desired that, as far as possible, they should understand that great love which the Lord Jesus had manifested for a dying world.

         We can acknowledge and approve of that which surpasses our comprehension.  But we cannot comprehend GOD; yet we can know that He is; approve of, love, adore, and serve Him.  In like manner, though we cannot comprehend, the immensity of the love of Christ, yet we know that He has loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood; and we approve of, and acknowledge, Him as our only Lord and Savior. In this sense we may be said to know the love of Christ that passes knowledge.

         It was this love which Christ had shown that impelled Paul to his own acts of love and self-denial. He gave himself to his great work, impelled by that love which Christ had shown; by the view of the ruined condition of man which that work furnished; and by a desire to emulate the Redeemer, and to possess the same spirit which he evinced.

“that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Literally:  “that you may be filled to all the fullness of God”–Of all the great sayings in this prayer, this is the greatest.  To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; but to be filled with all the fullness of God, utterly bewilders the sense and confounds the understanding.  How can finite man ever be filled with the infinite fullness of God?  Can you even fathom such?

         By the “fullness of God,” we are to understand all those gifts and graces which he has promised to bestow on man, and which he dispenses to the Church.  To be filled with all the fullness of God, is to have the whole soul filled with meekness, gentleness, goodness, love, justice, holiness, mercy, and truth.  And as what God fills, neither sin nor Satan can fill; consequently, it implies that the soul shall be emptied of sin, that sin shall neither have dominion over it, nor a being in it.  It is impossible for us to understand these words in a lower sense than this.  As there is no end to the merits of Christ, no bounds to the mercy and love of God, no limits to the improvability of the human soul, so there can be no bounds set to the saving influence which God will dispense to the heart of every believer.  We may ask, and we shall receive, and our joy shall be full.  Paul will have more to say about this “fullness” in chapter 5 (5:28-21), so we will cover this subject more then.
         So filled with His light, truth, love, holiness, and bliss, as to become in your measure like Him, and shine in the glory of His image forever. Faith in Christ is the means not only of justification, but of sanctification; rendering men steadfast and persevering in duty, enlarging their apprehensions of His love, and causing them to become more and more like Him, till they are complete in the perfect image of God.


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