Throughout the years, I have often prayed with great longing the same prayer that Paul prays in Ephesians 3:14-21 for the Ephesian believers. It truly ranks as one of the greatest prayers ever prayed, and if God were to do in us what Paul asks him to, we would be forever changed. Do you believe that God wants to answer Paul’s prayer for you? Trust him to do it! Not just in you, but in your spiritual family as well!
In the next several posts, I want to explore this prayer with you. I will not treat all of the exegetical questions that this passage presents (along with the scores of additional beautiful insights that a fuller study brings), but will try to give you a brief summary of what I think Paul is asking God to do for his beloved brethren at Ephesus, and by extension, for us as well. My prayer is that God will use this to bring you to a deeper experience of his love for you and to a deepening maturity in your walk with him.
Here is the prayer…
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It might be helpful to look first at where Paul is heading in this prayer and then see how he gets there. In this first post, we will look only at Paul’s “destination”, then in future posts, I will take up the steps that get us there.
Look forward to the end of verse 19 and you can see what the end result of Paul’s petition is: that we as believers might be “filled with all the fulness of God.” The “fulness of God” refers to the very nature of God that is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. The new life that God has implanted in us as regenerated sinners is nothing less than the very divine life that is in Jesus himself (see John 5:26). Jesus doesn’t just give us part of himself. He gives us his whole self. He gives us his fullness, Paul says.
When the Holy Spirit indwells us at our conversion, we become united with Jesus. Remember what Paul says of Jesus in Colossians 1:19 “…in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (cf. Col. 2:9). Because we have Jesus as the source of our life — and because the fullness of God dwells in Jesus — through our relationship with Christ, it is possible for us to be filled up with all the fullness of God!
This doesn’t happen all-at-once in our experience, however. As we mature in Christ, we begin to “partake” more and more of this glorious inheritance of God’s fullness that we have been given in Christ. That is why Paul is praying this prayer. He wants the Ephesians to experience this fullness that is already theirs by virtue of what Jesus has done for them in saving them.
That is also why the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4, “…(God) has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…” Note that Peter doesn’t say we “have become partakers,” but that we “may become.” We are already united with Christ so that all that he has is ours, but we are also progressively receiving from him more and more of his nature so that we become more and more like him in our experience.
I believe that one of the marks of a genuine Christian is a desire to be like Jesus. Praise God for a verse like Ephesians 3:19 which gives us hope that we can indeed achieve that by the grace of God. Praise God for his “great and precious promises” that fill us with hope that we can partake more and more of God’s own moral excellence. It is possible to be filled with all the fullness of God. Believe that! God wants you to experience this and that someday you will. Keep reading in future posts to discover from Paul’s prayer how we can be “filled with all the fullness of God.”