Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe                                              Date: 7/25/17


Lesson 15: The Immensity of God’s Resources (Ephesians 3:20-21)


Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV)

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.



This is without a doubt the best known and most frequently used benediction.  It comes after contemplating a marvelous spiritual experience; it is no wonder Paul burst forth in a doxology, a fitting benediction for such a prayer.  Note again the Trinitarian emphasis in this benediction: Paul prays to God the Father, concerning the indwelling power of God the Spirit, made available through God the Son.


Perhaps the best way for us to grasp some of the greatness of this doxology is to look at it in outline form:


Now unto Him that is

able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask

or think

according to the power that worketh in us,

unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus

throughout all ages

world without end.



20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,


“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly,”

This is the conclusion of the apostle's prayer, in which the power of God is celebrated, a perfection which is essential to God, and is very large and extensive; it reaches to all things, to everything that He wills, which is His actual or directive power; and to more things than he has willed, which is his absolute power; and to all things that have been, are, or shall be, and to things impossible with men; though there are some things which God cannot do, such as that which is contrary to His nature, inconsistent with His will, His decrees and purposes, which imply a contradiction, and are foreign to truth; so, for Him to do such things would be the same as denying Himself.


Paul seems to want to use every word at his disposal to convey to us the enormity of God’s power as it exists in Jesus Christ.  He has ended each of the two previous chapters with praise to God for His great victory in Christ.  He tells us that Christ’s power is so great He arose from the dead and ascended far above all (Ephesians 1:19-23).  He teaches us that His power is so great He has reconciled Jews and Gentiles to each other, and to God; and that He is now building a temple to the eternal Glory of God (Ephesians 2:19-22).  But in the paragraph before us, Paul shares the exciting truth that this far above all power is available to us!  It is even “above all that we ask or think.” In other words, the power of Christ, like the love of Christ, is beyond human understanding or measurement.  And this is just the kind of power you and I need if we are to walk and war in victory.


“above all that we ask or think”;

He can do more than men ask for, as he did for Solomon: God knows what we want before we ask, and He has made provisions for His people before they ask for them. We never could (or, never would) ask for some of these things, and we should never have asked for others, if He had not provided them. And without the Spirit of God we do not know what to ask for, or the right way to ask for it. This provides great encouragement for the people of God―to go to God and ask for things we want, and then for Him to provided them; and He can also do more than we can think, imagine, or conceive in our minds.


“According to the power that worketh in us”

He is speaking either (1), of that “power” that is in all believers, meaning the Spirit of God, who is the finger and power of God, who begins, and carries on, and will finish the work of grace in them, and this is an evidence of the exceeding greatness of the power of God; or (2), of that “power” which is in the apostles in particular, preparing and equipping them for their work, and then making them successful in it. This is yet another proof and demonstration of the abundant power of God, and shows what He can do if he pleases.


The word “power” is again dunamis, which we met back in Ephesians 3:7; and “working” is energeia (energy) found in Ephesians 1:11, 19; 2:2; 3:7; and 4:16.  Some power is dormant; it is available, but not being used, such as the power stored in a battery.  But God’s energy is effective power—power at work in our lives.  Power works in us, in the inner man. Ephesians 3:16{2] and Philippians 2:12-13{1] are parallel verses, so be sure to read them.  It is the Holy Spirit who releases the resurrection power of Christ in our lives.


There is something that has happened to many Christians today.  They have been cut off from their source of power.  Unbelieving, and unconfessed sin, careless living, worldliness in action or attitude—all of these can rob us of power.  And a Christian robbed of power cannot be used by God.  “Without Me, ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).


21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.


“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus,”

This is a doxology, or an ascription of glory to God, with which the apostle concludes his prayer; glory is to be given to God on account of His perfections, which are to be celebrated; and on account of the works of creation and Providence, which are to be commended and praised; and on account of worldly mercies, for which thanks should be given; and especially for spiritual mercies, and above all for Jesus Christ. The glory of salvation, from first to last, is to be ascribed to His free grace, and He is to be worshipped constantly. Faith is to be exercised on Him, as a promising and covenant keeping God; and our lives and conversations are to be structured according to His word; and we are to cheerfully and patiently suffer for His cause. In all these instances He is glorified: and the place where this glory is to be given, is the "church"; for only the church, and true believers know the blessings and mysteries of divine grace; and only they know how to glorify God appropriately; and besides, glory must be given to God by believers, not only separately and alone, but united and together, in a state of grace; because there the Lord appears glorious, grants His presence, and displays His mighty grace: and this is to be done by "Christ Jesus", or "in" him; and may refer either to the church, which is in Christ; or to Him as the medium by whom praise and glory are to be given to God; for all blessings are in Christ, and come to us through Him, and He is the only way of access to God; nor can our praises and thanksgiving be acceptable to God, except they go through Him.


“throughout all ages, world without end, Amen”;

 The church is eternal, and it will be dispensing the blessings of grace forever; and Jesus Christ, the Mediator, will continue to give those blessings for evermore, because He is able to do all—above all—abundantly above all—exceeding abundantly above all!


But the amazing thing is that what we do in His power today will glorify Christ “throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21).  The churches greatest ministry is yet to come.  What we do here and now is preparing us for the eternal ages, when we shall glorify Christ forever.


Get your hands on your spiritual wealth by opening your heart to the Holy Spirit, and praying with Paul for strength for the inner man…For a new depth of love…For spiritual apprehension…And for spiritual fullness. “Ye have not because ye ask not.” (James 4:2).


I want to end with a question: “Why does God share His power with us?”  So that we can build great churches for our own Glory?  So that we can boast of our own achievements?  No!  “To Him be Glory in the church!” The Spirit of God was given to glorify the Son of God (John 16:14).  The church on earth is here to glorify the Son of God.  If our motive is to glorify God by building His church, then God will share His power with us.  The power of the Spirit is not luxury; it is a necessity.


To all this is added the word "Amen", signifying his wish, that so it might be, and his faith, that so it would be.



Scripture and Special Notes

[1}“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

[2} “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;” (Ephesians 3:16)



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