Ephesians 3:14-19
Purposed and Treasured

In light of our journey in Ephesians so far, what does it mean to be a Christian?  If you are a genuine and legitimate Christian, then the following is true of you:

  1. God chose you before the foundation of the world for the purpose of becoming holy and blameless (1:4-6).


  1. You have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus who died upon a cross for sins you committed, and through His death, the riches of God’s grace has been, is being, and forever will be lavished upon you (1:7-12).


  1. You have been sealed by the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that God will complete the work He started in you and the promise of a power to enable you to complete the work that He has called you into, related to His mission to redeem creation (1:13-14, 19; 2:10).


  1. Because you are a Christian, God treasures you as His inheritance that He will receive out of His great purpose and love for you (1:18-19a).


  1. You are secure as a Christian because the One who redeemed you upon the cross, conquered death by walking out of the tomb, is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, and is the King of kings and Lord of lords who is, “…far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (1:19b-21).


  1. As a Christian, your hope rests in a Jesus under whose feet, “all things are in subjection” because He is head over all things the Groom of the Church (1:21-22).


  1. You are a Christian because, like the rest of the world, you were once dead in your sins, and thereby a child of God’s wrath! However, that is no longer who you are because God, whose mercy is rich, love is great, and grace is sufficient, made you alive in Christ Jesus (2:1-4)


  1. If you are a Christian, it is not because of anything you have done, but solely by the grace of God through faith exclusively in Christ alone (2:8-9).


  1. You, Christian, were redeemed through faith, by grace, because of Christ for, “good works, which God prepared beforehand so that you would walk,” not in the course of this world, but in good works” God saved you for (2:10).


  1. Because you are now a Christian, you have been brought near to God and belong to another people group, which is the people of God (2:13-22).


  1. Your identity as a Christian is not in how you feel, who you are attracted too, your political affiliation, nationality, or the color of your skin; your identity is now in Jesus as the cornerstone of your life and the Bible as the foundation on which you stand within the community known as the Church (2:19-22).


  1. As a Christian, the multifaceted wisdom of God is being made known through you and the people you now belong to, which is the Church of Jesus Christ. Angels marvel over your redemption and demons are terrified over what God is doing through you (3:1-12).


  1. You belong to Christ as the Bride of Christ dear Christian! When God sees you, you are now the object of His affection; He is working all things out for His glory and for your good, “in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus” (3:11), which means that He is for you and not against you (3:1, 13).  


  1. You, Christian, are being built up into a beautiful temple—a holy and living temple where the presence of God dwells (2:21-22)!


Paul begins verse 14 with, “For this reason…”.  For what reason?  For the fourteen reasons I just listed and so much more! 


There is something so important the apostle wanted the Ephesians to know and experience, and it is something that we need to know and experience today.  Paul touched on it in his prayer in 1:18-19, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the boundless greatness of His power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:18–19a).  He again informs these Christians how he is praying for them:

…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 16-19)


These two prayers serve as bookends for the first half of Ephesians; it is in these remaining verses in chapter 3 that Paul shows us how it is that we can know the love of Christ, but also experience the width, length, height, and depth of that same love of Christ. 


Surrender Fully to God (vv. 14-15)

There are only four places in the whole New Testament that I am aware of where the Greek word for “bend” (kamptō) is used. Is Paul describing his physical posture while praying for the Ephesian Christians, or is he describing his overall posture as a Christian?  Scholars are torn over what it is exactly that Paul is describing here, but I think it is both because of the first three words of verse 14: “For this reason…”. For all the reasons mentioned from the beginning of this epistle to 3:13, “I bend my knees before the Father…”.


It makes even more sense to conclude that Paul is speaking for both his posture in prayer and his posture in life before God the Father because of the other ways he used this same Greek word.  It will serve us well to see the other ways he used the word “bend” because it will also help us understand how we can experience the very thing Paul prays for.  Here are the first two ways kamptō is used:

For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (kamptō), of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:9–10)


For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, to me every knee will bow (kamptō), and every tongue will give praise to God.” (Rom. 14:11)


The fourth place kamptō (bow) is used is in Romans 11:4 when Paul quotes what God said to the prophet Elijah: “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”  In the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, Elijah had an encounter with 400 prophets of Baal.  The short of it is that the prophets of Baal where utterly humiliated when God miraculously intervened on behalf of Elijah to prove to all who were there that there was only one true God, and it was Yahweh.  The king and queen of Israel had made Baal worship the religion of the nation and it had seemed most had turned to Baal (see 1 Kings 18). 


It wasn’t long after Elijah experienced God do the impossible that Jezebel threatened to murder Elijah.  Elijah fled and went into hiding within a cave… even though he had experienced God do the impossible.  It was in the cave that God assured Elijah that even though many of Israel’s prophets turned to Baal, there were still 7,000 who had not bowed their knee to Baal. In other words, for the 7,000 prophets of Yahweh, there was only one Lord. 


There is another reason why Paul bends his knees before the Father, and we see it in verse 15; it is the reason why God has both the authority and the right to bless whomever He wishes with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3),  chooses whomever He wants before the foundation of the world (1:4-6), redeems those He has chosen through His Son (1:7-12), and seals those whom He treasures (1:13-14).  That reason is He is God, “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…” (v. 15).  He has the right and prerogative to do what He will because He alone is God, He alone is the Creator, and He alone is Father to the redeemed! 


In ancient Israel, it was the father who gave the name to a child.  The significance of verse 15 is that although it is true that God holds all the rights of Creator, it is those whom He redeems through Christ that He has given a new name.  What is this new name?  Listen to Revelation 2:17, “The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows except the one who receives it.”  I am not entirely sure what the new name means that the Christian will receive, but I believe the point Paul is making is that the posture of the Christian is a bend of one’s knees before the Father in recognition that there is no God like Him and a very keen awareness that because of Jesus Christ, the Christian can claim 1 John 3:1 for himself/herself: “See how great a love the Father has given us, that we would be called children of God; and in fact we are. For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1).  You, Christian, share the mystical union with Jesus that every Christian shares who is now in heaven or presently on earth.  We now belong to the people of God as members of that family in heaven and on earth. 


Depend Deeply Upon the Holy Spirit (v. 16-17a)

So Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians continues: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (vv. 16-17a).  Do you see the connection between these verses and Paul’s statement about his posture before God the Father?  If you are Christian, you already have Christ and the evidence that you have Christ is through the sealing of the Holy Spirit that God did when you became a Christian by faith in Christ alone. 


Let me say it another way: When you believed in Jesus as the only way and means for the salvation of your soul, God sealed you with His Holy Spirit as a guarantee that you now belong to Him as His child and at the same time as proof that you are also His inheritance (see Eph. 1:13-14, 19a).  Remember what I said when we looked at Ephesians 1:13-14; I said that when you were sealed by the Holy Spirit, you now have all of the Holy Spirit that you will ever need.  The question is whether or not the Holy Spirit has all of your heart.  Paul is essentially saying the same thing in Ephesians 3:16-17a. 


All of the strengthening and power that is available through the Holy Spirit, you already have in you because you, dear Christian, have all of the Holy Spirit that you will ever need. The question is how lined up is your inner self with the Father and the Son?  What is the “inner self” you ask?  The inner self is the center of your being, it is the most important part of you spiritually because it affects everything you do outwardly.  Let me share with you something from the Bible that may help add clarity to what Paul is talking about here and why what he is saying in these verses is so important from 2 Corinthians 4:16; Paul refers to the inner-self as the “inner-person” in these verses:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)


So, here is why what Paul is saying is so important for us to understand: The more you depend upon the Father, the more you seek Him, the more of your joy you find in and through Him, the more of you His Spirit will have.  You can only do that by knowing Him more and better!  The only way you will know God more and better is if you listen to Him through His Word (the Bible) and communicate to Him (through prayer). 


Listen to me very carefully:  Christian, you can know and rightly believe that you have available to you the strength and power of the Holy Spirit you are convinced resides in you because you believe God’s Word to be true!  However, you will not experience the strength and power available to you through the Holy Spirit if you are not bending your knees before the Father with your mind, heart, and will. This is the point Paul also makes later in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord.”  One person said it this way: “A person whom the Spirit is working powerfully in is someone who will be changing deeply.  When the Spirit of Christ makes himself at home, he constantly renovates our hearts to make us a more appropriate dwelling for the Lord Jesus, because the Lord Jesus is not merely dropping in briefly.”[1]


But that is not all, brothers and sisters, there is more!


Walk in Union Uncompromisingly with Christ (vv. 17-19)

So what do I mean by “walking in union uncompromisingly with Christ”?  There is a simple but very full word that sums up verses 17b-19, and the word is “Abide.”  How does the Holy Spirit get more of you?  How will God get more of your heart?  The answer is, by abiding in Christ.  Paul is not saying to the Christians in Ephesus that they do not have all of the love of Jesus; he can’t be saying that because of all that he has already said!  He already said that if you are a Christian, it is only because of the truth that, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our wrongdoings, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8a).  Regarding this same love, Paul wrote that God, “made us alive together with Christ… and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the boundless riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:5b-7).


Christian, you have all of the love of Christ that you will ever need, but are you living in the reality of that love at the very center of your life?  How do you do that, you ask?  Well I am glad you asked.  You do that by, “being rooted and grounded” in the love of Christ.  This is what it means to abide (to take up residence in) Christ.  Here is what Jesus said about abiding in Him: “I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).  Jesus also said, “If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him” (John 14:23).  This is what it means to be “rooted and grounded in love.  What love?  The love of God that is ours in Jesus!  It is more than just head knowledge that Paul is praying for, he wants these Christians to experience and live in that love in such a way that only the Holy Spirit can make happen. 


R.C. Sproul said of these verses: “We need divine power to have a deeper understanding of the dimensions of the love of Christ.”[2] What are the dimensions of the love of Christ?  Paul kind of tells us in verse 18, “the width and length and height and depth…”. A comprehension of these four spheres of the love of Christ is to understand and experience, “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…” (v. 18).  What is the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge?  It is more than an understanding that as Christians,

  • Christ is seated above us as our Lord and Savior (1:20-22)
  • You, Christian, are seated beside Him (2:6)
  • We rest upon Him (2:20)
  • Christ indwells us (3:17)
  • Jesus fills us (3:19).


What is this profound love that belongs to the Christian?  I believe the following story is an appropriate way to drive home Paul’s point:

In the last century, when Napoleon’s armies opened a prison that had been used by the Spanish Inquisition, they found the remains of a prisoner who had been incarcerated for his faith. The dungeon was underground. The body had long since decayed. Only a chain fastened around an anklebone cried out his confinement. But this prisoner, long since dead, had left a witness. On the wall of his small, dismal cell this faithful soldier of Christ had scratched a rough cross with four words surrounding it in Spanish. Above the cross was the Spanish word for “height.” Below it was the word for “depth.” To the left the word “width.” To the right, the word “length.” Clearly this prisoner wanted to testify to the surpassing greatness of the love of Christ, perceived even in his suffering[3]


[1] Richard Coekin, Ephesians for You (The Good Book Company; 2019), p. 100.
[2] R.C. Sproul, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Sanford, FL: Ligonier Ministries; 2023), p. 50.
[3] James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1988), 111.