… what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … Eph 1:19
Continuing to reveal the content of his extraordinary prayer in the second half of Ephesians chapter 1, in verse 19, we come to the third of three specific requests which the Apostle Paul makes before the throne of God on behalf of the church at Ephesus . Under the general petition that God, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, Paul asks that they might know three things specifically: first, what is the hope of His calling, second, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and thirdly, that which occupies our present meditation, what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.
Twelve times in the span of verses 19-23, Paul makes reference to power or energy in one form or another. The young Christian believers surrounded by occult powers in Ephesus, in particular the socio-political power of the cult of Diana, had a particular interest in whether the power of God was greater than the powers which they were familiar with. Amidst the powers of heavy persecution and an oppressive world system, the Ephesian Christian might wonder how it would be possible for him to enjoy that which he looked forward to in knowing Christ – the hope of His call and the riches of His inheritance. Paul assures them that God’s power is exceedingly great and sufficient to secure their hope.
Likewise men today face two powers with which they have no hope of contending – one of which, all men are keenly aware, and the other which they ignore or deny. First, the power of death and decay – all men are mortal and they cannot escape death and the ensuing decomposition of the grave. Even as our medical system seeks to extend life, and man tries to fight it, he knows that death is inevitable. We are dust and to dust we shall return. Secondly, though he may attempt to deny it, man is fallen, and as such he cannot escape the power of evil and Satan. It is impossible for man to not sin: all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God … in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Rom 6:23, Ephesians 2:2). But that which is impossible for man, God has done in Christ. He alone lived the perfect sinless life, never breaking the holy law of God. And although He died, God arrested the natural process of decay of the grave, and raised Jesus from the dead to a new, immortal and glorious life which no man has yet experienced.
This was the first part of the display of God’s power over death and the grave. Then Paul goes on to tell how God seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. This is what some call “Realized Eschatology,” principles which will come to pass completely at the return of Christ which are in place already in the life of the Christian church. With Christ’s priestly work completed on the cross, we now live in an epoch whereby His lordship over death, sin, Satan, is being worked out. Today, right now, Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand. There is no authority greater than His; no principality can thwart His purpose; no might or dominion can prevent His advance. He rules and reigns over all things – human and angelic – in this age and the age to come. All of the power and might and authority and rule, which Christ has, is not solely for His own glory, but is for the sake of you and I in His church! Imagine it … security from the powers that molested us … freedom from the fear of death, the grave, and hell … victory over the inevitable darkness of sin that would otherwise have surely overcome us … confidence that the King of kings and Lord of lords nourishes and cherishes His body!
This exceedingly great power of God was demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus, and so, on the basis of our union with Him, our resurrection with Him. This same power put all things under His feet – all of His enemies subdued, and likewise, by implication all evil is now under our feet as well! In these astonishing verses of Scripture, is the exalted portrait of Christ and His church, which Paul prays that we should know. May God open our eyes to see this in order that we would stop living below the level of our privilege.
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