Ephesians 3:1,14-21 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What is the apostle’s prayer for the church? See Ephesians 3:14b-17a (printed below)

I kneel before the Father—(15) from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name—(16) and pray that he would grant you, in accordance with the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:14b-17a)

The apostles prayer is that “Christ may dwell in your heart.” Paul’s prayer is that the Christian would have a communion and fellowship with Christ that is experienced in the very center of our being—our heart: a deep, personal, intimate communion with Christ our Savior. The apostles’ desire is for us as Christians to experience the same intimacy that they themselves had with Christ (note 1 John 1:3;) and this is God’s own desire for us.

2. So that his request may be realized, what does Paul ask God the Father to do for the Christian? See Ephesians 3:16 (printed above under question #1)

In order that his request (expressed in verse 17a) may be realized, Paul prays that God the Father would grant that “you be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” The apostle’s desire and prayer is that God would strengthen us by infusing His divine power into us by His Holy Spirit so that we may be strengthened in order to handle the presence of Christ Note Revelation 1:10,12-13,17-18; a passage that describes the apostle John’s reaction to the presence of Christ.

3. What further request does the apostle make of God on behalf of the Christian? See Ephesians 3:17b-19 (printed below)

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, (18) may be fully able, together with all the saints, to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth—(19) indeed, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17b-19)

The apostle Paul continues his prayer by requesting of God the Father that we would be enabled to comprehend the dimensions of Christ’s great love. The apostle’s desire and prayer is that we may have a true estimation and appreciation of Christ’s love for us—that we might comprehend something of the wonder of the great and divine love. Rather than becoming “familiar” and indifferent to the love of Christ, we should become overwhelmed and overawed by His great love.

4. As the Christian experiences the love of Christ, what happens? See Ephesians 3:19b (printed above under question #3)

As we comprehend (and appreciate) and know (and experience) the love of Christ, we shall “be filled to all the fullness of God.” “God is love” (1 John 4:8); one of God’s great attributes is His desire to share Himself with us and to receive us into His fellowship. The more we grow in our relationship with Christ—the more we become “strong in spirit” (Luke 1:80)—the more we will come to experience the life of God. Notice that Paul prays that we may experience the love of Christ together with “all the saints.” In our communion with Christ there should be times and there will be times when the veil between heaven and earth is drawn back and we experience a portion of what awaits us in eternity (note again 1 Peter 1:8-9).

5. With what does the apostle Paul conclude this present passage? See Ephesians 3:20-21 (printed below)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, by means of the power that is at work in us, (21) to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The apostle Paul concludes his prayer with a doxology of praise to God. The theme of verses 20-21 is praise to God for His infinite ability to bestow spiritual blessing upon His people. God is more than able to answer the prayer the apostle has offered up in verses 14-19.