A bible study series in Ephesians (Part 4)
- Summary: Lesson #4 in Ephesians addresses God’s eternal purpose, the Church’s grand role in that, the inward strengthening by the Holy Spirit, and unity both of the Spirit and of the faith.
[First read Ephesians 3:7-11]
Ephesians 3:10-11 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,  according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- ••  God’s “eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
- • This refers to all that Christ came to do, captured in brief summary form in verse 6.
• Notice that this was God’s “eternal purpose”, not just a backup plan added after man’s fall in Eden.
- ••  And this “manifold wisdom of God” is to be made known to others “through the church”, even to angels!
- • This is a thrilling declaration of the church’s high privilege to declare the things of God.
• Notice that, in context, the church is part of God’s eternal purpose, not just an afterthought or a “Plan B” added only after Israel fell short of God’s purposes, as some erroneously maintain.
• For reasons like these, I personally am totally a “church man”! I love the local church, and I love the worldwide Church that is made up of multitudes of believers (some estimate about two billion!) in millions of local churches.
3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being...
- •• Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon [Samson] in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands.
•• 1 Samuel 16:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
•• Luke 4:14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
•• Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...
•• Acts 10:38 ...how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power...
•• 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
•• Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being...
- • This power from God is, in the New Testament, a power that is within, “in your inner being”, where the Holy Spirit resides in the Christian.
• And the primary source of that Holy-Ghost power is via the baptism with the Holy Spirit — “...in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit....  you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you...” (Acts 1:5,8).
- • And when the Day of Pentecost came (Acts 2:1-4), as promised they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.
3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
- •• God is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” That is, our “vision” is probably too small, too low.
•• How does He do these remarkable things? — “...according to His power that is at work within us”.
- • Not in isolation far away in heaven, but “within us” is where God’s power works.
• It is “within us” because [vs. 17] “Christ ... dwell[s] in [our] hearts through faith.” And [vs. 16] we have “his Spirit in [our] inner being”.
- •• The result is ... “to [God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.”
- • God’s twofold instruments to bring Him glory are: (1) Christ Jesus and (2) the church! What an unspeakable honor that the church should be privileged, along with Jesus Christ Himself, to be the chosen vessels bringing honor to God.
[Read 4:1-2 = a call to live an honorable life]
4:3, 13 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace ... until we all reach unity in the faith.
- •• These verses spell out for us a worthy goal for right now (unity of the Spirit) and a goal to press forward towards (unity in the faith). There is certainly not unity in the faith as of this writing. However, the “until” of verse 13 to me strongly suggests that God is moving us towards that commendable goal. Meanwhile, finding unity of the Spirit with other believers now is a present-tense goal worthy of “every effort”.
- • To that end, for many years I have chosen to be involved in prayer meetings and lunch gatherings with other pastors. Although we don't yet see eye to eye on all doctrines, we are very committed to pursuing unity of the Spirit.
4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called —  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
- •• The key word? — “ONE”. Seven times in verse 4 alone! Verse 3 introduced the concept of unity that permeates the verses that follow.
- • Remember the context of an earlier portion of Ephesians — Jewish and Gentile believers becoming “one new man” in Christ (2:15).
• One Holy Spirit, who brings us together in one common hope as that one body of Christ.
• One Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we believe (“one faith”), and in whose name we are baptized.
• One God the Father over Jew and Gentile alike.
• In these three verses we have a strong revelation of the Holy Trinity, of the triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- • For a few additional illustrations of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) see also 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, Matthew 28:19, and 2 Corinthians 13:14.
This bible study is continued in Highlights from Ephesians #5.
The beginning lesson in this series is Highlights from Ephesians #1.
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©2001, James H. Feeney.
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