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Prayer for the Readers

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,

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14. For this cause—Resuming the thread of Eph 3:1, "For this cause." Because ye have such a standing in God's Church [Alford].

bow my knees—the proper attitude in humble prayer. Posture affects the mind, and is not therefore unimportant. See Paul's practice (Ac 20:36); and that of the Lord Himself on earth (Lu 22:41).

unto the Father—The oldest manuscripts omit "of our Lord Jesus Christ." But Vulgate and some very old authorities retain them: Eph 3:15, "From whom," in either case, refers to "the Father" (Patera), as "family" (patria, akin in sound and etymology) plainly refers to Him. Still the foundation of all sonship is in Jesus Christ.

15. the whole familyAlford, Middleton, and others translate, "every family": alluding to the several families in heaven and in earth supposed to exist [Theophylact, Æcumenius, in Suicer, 2.633], the apostle thus being supposed to imply that God, in His relation of Father to us His adopted children, is the great prototype of the paternal relation wherever found. But the idea that "the holy angels are bound up in spiritual families or compaternities," is nowhere else in Scripture referred to. And Ac 2:36, where the article is similarly omitted, and yet the translation is, "All the house of Israel," shows that in New Testament Greek the translation is justifiable, "all the family," or "the whole family": which accords with Scripture views, that angels and men, the saints militant and those with God, are one holy family joined under the one Father in Christ, the mediator between heaven and earth (Eph 1:10; Php 2:10). Hence angels are termed our "brethren" (Re 19:10), and "sons of God" by creation, as we are by adoption (Job 38:7). The Church is part of the grand family, or kingdom, which comprehends, besides men, the higher spiritual world, where the archetype, to the realization of which redeemed man is now tending, is already realized. This universal idea of the "kingdom" of God as one divine community, is presented to us in the Lord's Prayer. By sin men were estranged, not only from God, but from that higher spiritual world in which the kingdom of God is already realized. As Christ when He reconciled men to God, united them to one another in a divine community (joined to Himself, the one Head), breaking down the partition wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph 2:14), so also He joins them in communion with all those who have already attained that perfection in the kingdom of God, to which the Church on earth is aspiring (Col 1:20) [Neander].

is named—derives its origin and its name as sons of God. To be named, and to be, are one with God. To bear God's name is to belong to God as His own peculiar people (Nu 6:27; Isa 43:7; 44:5; Ro 9:25, 26).

16. according to—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."

byGreek, "through"; "by means of His Spirit."

in—The Greek implies, "infused into."

the inner man—(Eph 4:22, 24; 1Pe 3:4); "the hidden man of the heart." Not predicated of 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.

17. That—So that.

dwell—abidingly make His abode (Joh 14:23). Where the Spirit is there Christ is (Joh 14:16, 18).

by faithGreek, "through faith," which opens the door of the heart to Jesus (Joh 3:20). It is not enough that He be on the tongue, or flit through the brain: the heart is His proper seat [Calvin]. "You being rooted and grounded in love" (compare Eph 3:19), is in the Greek connected with this clause, not with the clause, "that ye may be able to comprehend." "Rooted" is an image from a tree; "grounded" (Greek, "founder," "having your foundations resting on"), from a building (compare Notes,, see on Eph 2:20,21; Col 1:23; 2:7). Contrast Mt 13:6, 21. "Love," the first-fruit of the Spirit, flowing from Christ's love realized in the soul, was to be the basis on which should rest their further comprehension of all the vastness of Christ's love.

18. May be able—even still further. Greek, "May be fully able."

breadth … length … depth … height—namely, the full dimensions of the spiritual temple, answering to "the fulness of God" (Eph 3:19), to which the Church, according to its capacity, ought to correspond (compare Eph 4:10, 13) as to "the fulness of Christ." The "breadth" implies Christ's world-wide love, embracing all men: the "length," its being extended through all ages (Eph 3:21); the "depth," its profound wisdom which no creature can fathom (Ro 11:33); the "height," its being beyond the reach of any foe to deprive us of (Eph 4:8) [Bengel]. I prefer to understand "the breadth," &c., to 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 (Eph 3:3-9), and of which he now prays they may have a fuller comprehension. As subsidiary to this, and the most essential part of it, he adds, "and to know the love of Christ" (Eph 3:19). Grotius understands depth and height of God's goodness raising us from the lowest depression to the greatest height.

19. passeth—surpasseth, exceeds. The paradox "to know … which passeth knowledge," implies that when he says "know," he does not mean that we can adequately know; all we know is, that His 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 (Eph 3:20).

filled with—rather, as Greek, "filled even unto all the fulness of God" (this is the grand goal), that is, filled, each according to your capacity, with the divine wisdom, knowledge, and love; "even as God is full," and as Christ who dwells in your hearts, hath "all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily" (Col 2:9).

20. unto him—contrasted with ourselves and our needs. Translate, "that is able above all things (what is above all things) to do exceeding abundantly above what we ask or (even) think": thought takes a wider range than prayers. The word, above, occurs thrice as often in Paul's writings, as in all the rest of the New Testament, showing the warm exuberance of Paul's spirit.

according to the power—the indwelling Spirit (Ro 8:26). He appeals to their and his experience.