One of the things that stands out for me in the book of Ephesians is how emphatic the apostle Paul is. In each chapter, there are statements where he employs adverbs or adjectives to add intensity to an already powerful message. For example, 1:19 doesn’t just mention “His power,” but “the exceeding greatness of His power.” Again, in 1:21, the Lord is not just “above all principality and power and might and dominion,” but is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion.” In 2:7, Paul doesn’t just tell us about “His grace in His kindness,” but “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness.” Again, in 3:10 we don’t read about the “wisdom of God,” but about “the manifold wisdom of God.” We could keep going—as I mentioned, this occurs in every chapter of the book, and sometimes multiple times per chapter. However, in our study today, we want to focus on the last few verses of Ephesians 3. It reads:
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Let’s back up in the text to see what leads up to these final verses. In 3:1, the apostle wrote, “For this reason…” It seems Paul may have intended to start his written prayer here, but instead, he spent the next 12 verses praising God for His word, His eternal plan, and the church. He speaks of these things as the manifold wisdom of God (3:10). Then, at 3:14 we read:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This begins a prayer in which Paul thanks God for the church, for the presence of the Spirit, for faith in Christ, and seeking growth among the believers as relates to the love of God which is available in Christ Jesus.
Our text is found as the prayer ends. It is given as a final word of praise to the Lord before Paul moves on to write about the unity found in Christ (4:1-16).
If the text read “…to Him who is able to do all that we ask or think…,” it would adequately convey the Lord’s ability to answer prayer. Indeed, He is able to do all we ask or think. But such a statement fails to truly capture the true nature of God’s power. So, as the Spirit led Paul to write about God’s ability to respond to our prayers, he was emphatic. He is able to do above all we ask or think. Think about that! Our God works in the realm of things above and beyond the things we ask or think. God knows the things we need that we do not know. He is able to do above all that we ask or think. But the apostle doesn’t stop there. He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Stop and let that statement sink in for a moment.
God works in our lives on a higher level than our requests or thoughts. Not just above, but far above. But that is not all; continue reading in the text…
…according to the power that works in us…
What is the power working in us? Back in 1:13-14, Paul told us about the Spirit of God by whom we are sealed. We are not to grieve (4:30), but be filled with the Spirit (5:18).
How does the power work in us? We are not told; it is useless to speculate. But in Romans 8:26, Paul also wrote that the Spirit helps in our weaknesses. As an example, he spoke of the Spirit making intercession for us when we don’t know what we should pray for. How does He do so? I don’t know, but I am sure glad that He does.
I don’t need to know how God’s power is working in us to believe that it does and benefit from it. God cares for us, He provides for us even beyond what we know to ask, and He does so by the Spirit that dwells in us.