Declaring the Defeat of Satan
Ephesians 3:8–11; Colossians 2:15
Ephesians Lesson #093
January 24, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we are so thankful that You have spoken, that You are there, and You have not left it up to us to just guess or to come up with our own ideas of what You might be like, but that You have revealed Yourself to us through specific vocabulary in Your Word. Though this was revealed initially in the Hebrew and Greek, and we can translate this into many, many other languages and have a clear understanding of who You are, of Your love for us, of who we are as human beings created in Your image and likeness, though it is profoundly marred and corrupted by sin.
“And that You provided a sufficient salvation for us in Christ—that through His death on the Cross we have salvation: an eternal life, a new life, a life that is beyond anything that we can truly imagine that is ours. Not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but because of Your love for us and because of the work of Christ on the Cross for us.
“Father, as we’ve studied in these first three chapters of Ephesians, we are impressed with all that You’ve done for us, the wealth that we have in Christ. Help us to understand how this should so radically transform our thinking and our lives, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 3, which in some ways is sort of ending all of those lessons we did when we took a little diversion to study about the angelic revolt. We looked at Ephesians 3:8–11, specifically Ephesians 3:9–10 last time; this time we need to connect it to a couple of other statements that are made in Ephesians as well as Colossians 2.
This gets us into an area of understanding why God created the human race, and especially what God is doing through the church. The one thing I hope that you have been impressed with as we’ve gone through Ephesians 2 and 3 is just how much God has done for us and the remarkable things that we have now in Christ.
These are not experiential—things that we feel, things that we somehow have some special spiritual insight. We only learn these things because we read about them in God’s Word, and we will be going back to this section. When we studied Ephesians 2 we learned that in those first 10 verses Paul is reminding the Gentiles, and as well the Jews, that they were both fallen, they’re both corrupted, they’re both born spiritually dead.
We have all been born dead; we are dead in our trespasses and sins—a spiritual death as we’ve studied, according to Ephesians 4:17 that is alienation from the life of God. So that solution goes back to what Jesus said in John 10, that He came not like a thief to destroy, but to give life and to give it abundantly. That’s the result we learned in Ephesians 2:5–7. Paul says,
“even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) and raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, for the purpose that in the ages to come He might show—we will be talking about that a little bit more—He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
He introduced this theme—the purpose of saving us and putting us in Christ, this new entity: the church, the body of Christ, also called the bride of Christ. What high language is used there to identify who we are; it changes our whole concept of who we are, our identity, our self-image.
We are distinct and unique of all believers in history because we are in the body of Christ. That is for the purpose of showing something, as it’s translated in Ephesians 2. Our passage connects back to that, so I will start by reading it.
We looked at Ephesians 3:7–10; Paul says, “… of which—that is, the gospel. The last word of the previous verse—of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me …” We studied that whole phrase, which is referring to his apostolic commission and his apostolic mission to take the gospel to the Gentiles; that was his primary role. That wasn’t to the exclusion of Jews.
Some earlier dispensationalists drew too tight a distinction there. But just as Peter took the gospel to the Gentiles—even though he’s the apostle to the Jews, he took the gospel to the Gentiles under God’s directive command—so it’s true that the Apostle Paul was primarily directed to the Gentiles, but that was not to the exclusion of Jews.
Ephesians 3:8, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given—that is, the grace of the responsibilities and the mission of being an apostle—that I should—evangelize literally—that I should give the gospel, proclaim the gospel among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Look at that phrase: the part of what is to be proclaimed with the gospel is the wealth that we have in Christ. And that’s going to be made even clearer in the last section of Ephesians 3:14 when Paul reaches the climax of his writing about all that we have in Christ.
As I read earlier, Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show—what?—the exceeding wealth of His grace in His kindness.”
In Ephesians 3:8 we are to preach, explain the gospel, the unsearchable riches—in Ephesians 2:7, it’s the exceeding riches—all the wealth, all the assets that God has been given us spiritually in Christ.
Ephesians 3:9, “and to make all see—literally to enlighten, bring light to the administration, bad translation in the New King James because of the textual issue. It is truly—the administration of the mystery—this previously unrevealed truth—which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent—this is what we looked at last time. We’ll look at more to this morning—that now the manifold—or the multifaceted—wisdom of God might be made known by the church—again, a collective term, by all of us, the whole entity, we make known—to—the angels—the principalities and powers …” Specifically to the fallen angels, but it includes all of the angelic host—things they learn uniquely through us.
Last time I talked about this in Ephesians 3:8, proclaiming the good news to the Gentiles of the unsearchable wealth of Christ, and to reveal what is the administration of the mystery.
1. To evangelize the Gentiles
2. To reveal the administration of the mystery
Two areas of priority to evangelize the gospel, which is more than just telling them how to get to heaven when they die, because look at what he says: it includes the unsearchable wealth of Christ.
I call it the true biblical full gospel, not the Pentecostal full gospel, but the true biblical full gospel. It’s not only what we are to do in order to have eternal life, but how we are to learn about the abundant life that Jesus talked about when He said, “I came to give life and to give it abundantly.” So it includes the spiritual life and spiritual growth, as well as how to have spiritual life. Those are the two elements.
“… and to make all see—or to be enlightened.”
PHOTIZO is an interesting word, so I’ve gone back through some additional study, and we have various words that are used here in relation to revelation. “To enlighten; to bring light where there was darkness;” “revelation” also used further back; “to make known.” We will focus on it here as it has not been revealed by the Holy Spirit, the word for revelation.
There is this use of this terminology along with the word that is used in Ephesians 3:10, “to make known to the principalities and powers.” But it goes beyond simple revelation, just the giving of information, which is what I want to focus on this morning.
It is an enlightenment about the administration of this mystery—previously unrevealed truth: that we are now one body in Christ, Jew and Gentile, united equally in the church in the Body of Christ. This was hidden in eternity past and throughout all previous dispensations, and now it has been revealed, which is how GNORIZO, “to make known,” has been used before.
Now it’s put into the context of the purpose of it being made known, so it’s used in a different sense. I want to bring that out because one of the key principles in interpretation of Scripture is: how is a word used in the immediate context, how is a word used in a broader context within that particular Epistle or Book?
You start narrow and work your way out. We’ve gone through many examples of this in the past. There are numerous passages where Paul will use the same word with three or four different senses in the same paragraph, so that first rule really doesn’t apply.
For example in 1 Corinthians 2:9–16 he talks about spirit. He uses the word PNEUMA at least four different ways:
You have to look at each usage independently, as well as contextually.
Slides 10 and 11
Here we see his purpose stated in Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent that now—now in this Church Age—the multifaceted wisdom of God might be made known by the church …” GNORIZO here.
In the context you have “enlighten” back in Ephesians 3:9, but if you look carefully at this, what we read in Ephesians 3:8 is that Paul—and we by extension—proclaim the gospel and the wealth in Christ to the Gentiles, to make all see—that’s a revelatory term. Earlier he uses this same word GNORISTHE that by revelation God made known to him.
Ephesians 3:5, “… which in other ages was not made known.” So it has to do with the concept of the disclosure of divine truth; the doctrine of revelation. That’s on one side.
“to make all see—to make them enlightened about the mystery—to the intent—so now you have the purpose clause—that now the multifaceted wisdom of God might be made known by the church.”
It’s a different kind of “making known,” even though it’s the same word. It’s not “making known” in terms of God’s disclosure or understanding or explanation of God’s revelation; it is that the church by its application of the Word is going to be making something known to the angelic host.
How do we make this known? What is the particular significance of that?
When the context has GNORISTHE with PHOTIZO and with APOKALUPTO, which is revelation—when you have these words grouped in the context, it calls for a little more investigation into how these terms are used,
… and it often takes you to some specific uses.
As I translated it last time, Ephesians 3:10 should be understood as “For the purpose that the multifaceted wisdom of God might be made known now to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”
“Principalities and Powers”
1. The combination phrase, ARCHE (principalities) and EXOUSIA (authorities literally, translated often as “powers”) indicates the hierarchy of angels, whether they are the elect angels, the holy angels, or whether they are the fallen angels, the demons.
For example, in Romans 8:38, Paul says, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come.”
The idea is that it’s the angelic hierarchy, the different strata of authority among the angels.
1 Corinthians 15:24, “Then comes the end—at the end of the millennial kingdom when human history truly ends—Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and all power.” Three keywords again indicating the different spheres of authority within the angelic realm.
Ephesians 1:21 mentions this, “far above all principality and power and might—we see those same words again, adding—dominion and every name that is named.”
These are critical terms to understand. Paul uses it in relation not to holy angels, but to the fallen angels, specifically in Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age …”
Colossians 1:16 uses the phrase, as well as Colossians 1:18,
Colossians 2:10, and Colossians 2:15. Pay attention to Colossians 2:15, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
I’ve mentioned this verse several times, which we will talk about this this morning, because this brings things to a conclusion in terms of the angelic revolt.
[Slide 21 skipped]
Ephesians 3:10, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places …” What is going on here?
1. This is part of God’s plan, and God is using the Church as a visible demonstration to teach some things to the angels, which in His wisdom could not have been learned any other way.
Apparently, the angels couldn’t learn this except by observation of us seeing God’s grace and God’s love in action. They could only gain an appreciation for His multifaceted Person by watching Him in action in all manner of situations where He is facing the rebellion of His creatures.
They watch us, they observe us. Paul talks about the fact that the apostles are displayed, and they observe them. 1 Corinthians 4:9b, “for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” We are being watched and observed by others.
He describes in the rest of that passage how they have suffered, and this suffering has been undeserved suffering. They have been beaten and tortured, and they have been imprisoned and abused verbally for their stand for the gospel, and yet they continue to trust in the Lord.
Angels observed the apostles, and by extension, us.
2. Angels observe church leaders.
1 Timothy 5:21, Paul is reminding Peter of Timothy’s mission, “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things …”
It is similar to an oath: this is your commission, Timothy. It will be witnessed by God and by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the elect angels how you carry out your commission.
3. Angels long to look into what God’s grace is accomplishing in the Church Age.
1 Peter 1:12, “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things—the content of the gospel presentation, the content of the teaching of the Word—which angels desire to look into.”
How we respond to the situations in life, how God responds in grace to our failings, and also in His blessings upon us, are all designed to teach these things to the angels.
4. The church, specifically in terms of the unity of Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ, is the object of this.
This is not ever said of Old Testament saints. It is not said of those saints prior to or after the flood, Gentile believers in the Old Testament or the Jewish believers. This elevates us to a whole new plane of purpose and meaning in life.
So, we are here, Ephesians 3:10, “that the manifold—or multifaceted—wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers …”
We’re going to go back to the Word; turn back to Ephesians 2—this is very important. Look at this purpose statement again in Ephesians 2:7: we have been made alive together, we have been raised up together and made to sit together in the heavenly places for a purpose,
“… that in the ages to come,” in the Millennial Kingdom and on into eternity, we will be on display in the sense that God’s grace will be on display for all the angels and all of saved humans that are in heaven to go back and to observe, to learn. We were trophies of God’s grace.
Ephesians 2:7, “that in the ages to come He might show …”
“Show” in English is a rather vague term. There are a lot of ways in which we can use the English word “show.” We can expose it; we can just set it out for somebody to look at; it can be part of a tight logical argument.
For example, we “show the truth of something,” we mean working through a tight, logical demonstration. You can show the guilt of a person through a series of tight legal arguments in a courtroom. “Show” is a broad word that has many different nuances to it.
The word used here is a word that at times has this sort of general meaning, but in some contexts it is more precise. It is the Greek ENDEIKNUMI. It has a prefix you can hear, the Greek preposition EN, and the root word is DEIKNUMI.
DEIKNUMI means to show, to explain, to prove, to give a demonstration of truth; or, for example, demonstrating an experiment in a science laboratory, giving a logical proof. This is the meaning of the root word, so the prefix simply intensifies the meaning of that word in some sense.
The Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament says it means to prove or to demonstrate. The idea here is more than “that He might show the wealth of His grace,” but that “in the ages to come He might demonstrate the exceeding riches of His grace …” or prove the exceeding riches of His grace.
ENDEIKNUMI. This form of the word is used 11 times in the New Testament, a couple of which are of great significance.
Romans 9:22–23, “What if God, wanting to show—wanting to give evidence of or demonstrate—His wrath—His judicial anger; it’s not emotional, but is the application of His justice in terms of punishment. If God wanted to demonstrate or give evidence of His judicial wrath and to make His power known—His omnipotence—endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.”
This is saying that God knows that there are a lot of pagans in the world, there are a lot of heretics in the world. There are a lot of people in the world that are hostile to Him, hostile to the truth, will always be hostile to the truth and will never accept the truth of the gospel. But He allows them to live for various purposes.
One of those purposes is emphasized in Romans 9:23, “… that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy.”
This is about a contrast: He allows these unbelievers who hate God, who hate the truth, who hate us to live, so that we, by living in a context of persecution, a context of rejection, a context of abuse from those who have rejected God, will demonstrate in our lives the wealth of His glory.
This is more than just setting something out to be looked at in that sense of showing something, but it is the idea of demonstrating something. There are two different words used in Romans 9:22 that have a very similar or overlapping meaning:
“What if God, wanting to show—ENDEIKNUMI—wanting to demonstrate something related to His justice and His judicial wrath and His omnipotence—for the purpose of making known—the other word used in our passage, GNORISTHE, to make known.”
Just going back to make sure you didn’t lose it: in the first part “making known” is related to revealing previously unrevealed information. But in Ephesians 3:10, it is making a demonstration or a proof to the angels of His glory and His greatness.
Paul references it in Romans 9:23, “That He might make known—that He might demonstrate and prove—the riches—the wealth—of His glory on the vessels of mercy.”
These are some of the ways in which GNORISTHE is used, and it is specifically used several times:
Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 3:3 in the sense of revelation
Ephesians 1:9, “having made known to us the mystery of His wil l…” having to do with revelation or the disclosure of this new mystery doctrine in the Church Age.
Ephesians 3:3, “how that by revelation He made known …”
“Revelation” helps us understand what he means by “making known.”
Ephesians 3:5, “which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men.” Again, it has that sense of revelation.
In Ephesians 3:10 it has a different sense because it’s shifting to the purpose for that, toward the angels, which is not the revelation of new information, but the demonstration of God’s grace as it is used in Romans 9:23—the making known of the riches of His grace.
It’s interesting to go through the first three chapters in Ephesians, because we see that God is demonstrating a number of different things. We’ve seen it already in the phrase “the exceeding wealth of His grace,” but if you go back to the first chapter and look at verses like Ephesians 1:6, it says, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.”
“The glory of His grace” has to do with the essence of His grace. We’ve studied “glory” many times: the idea of glory has to do with the essence of something. What makes it glorious, what makes it important is its essence. All of this is to the praise of the essence of the importance of His grace.
Ephesians 1:18, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance—the wealth—of the glory of His inheritance in the saints—in us.”
Ephesians 1:19, “… the exceeding greatness of His power … the working of His mighty power.”
The mercy of God is emphasized in Ephesians 2:4; His love emphasized in the second part, “but God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us.”
All of this language goes back to what we are demonstrating to the angels: they do not understand the wealth of His power, the wealth of His grace, the extent of His grace and power. All of this goes back, ultimately, in the angelic revolt to something on demonstrating why God’s punishment is so severe—that God is sending His creatures to an everlasting punishment, a burning in the everlasting flames of the lake of fire.
God is demonstrating why this punishment is so severe: the punishment fits the crime. In the demonstration of God’s grace, the crime of thinking that a creature can outdo His Creator, that the creature somehow can find meaning and purpose in life apart from His Creator. And that when he does even the least little thing such as eating a piece of fruit independently of God, that it creates such trauma, corruption and destruction throughout the universe and in every person’s life, that, yes, the punishment does fit the crime. That is being demonstrated in these passages.
There’s one other verse, Colossians 2:15. This is a fascinating passage, which we’ve studied before. Reading this particular passage, Colossians 2:13–15, we see that it’s all one sentence in the Greek.
I think that’s important because all of these things are going to be interrelated to the main idea. And the main idea again is the same as what we’ve just studied over in Ephesians 2:4, He made us alive together with Him, in Colossians 2:13. Being made alive together with Him is then explained with reference to different facets of how He did it and why He did it, indicated by participles.
This is a difficult passage to deal with in the Greek because you have to figure out what each participle means. When you study participles in first-year Greek, there are about 11 or 12 different meanings to adverbial participles. An adverbial participle modifies a verb. The main verb here is “made alive together.” The question is, how did He do that? How could a righteous, just God make us alive together with Him? How can He do that when we are sinful creatures?
The reason I bring that out is we’re headed towards Colossians 2:15, which starts off “having disarmed …” When you see words that end in I-N-G that is just a generic way of translating a participle:
“Having forgiven” at the end of Colossians 2:13,
“Having wiped out” at the beginning of Colossians 2:14,
“He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross,” Colossians 2:14,
“Having disarmed principalities and powers” in Colossians 2:15.
Grammar can be more precise than this generic sort of participial action.
We worked our way through, and we read that the main idea in Colossians 2:13 is that He has made us alive together. What’s the relationship of having forgiven? Grammatically it describes that action of making alive together, but it precedes, it comes before that.
If you put it in a logical order, first He forgave us all of our trespasses. Because our trespasses are forgiven, because our sins are forgiven, He can then make us alive together in Christ. He has to first satisfy the demands of His justice before He can regenerate us, which happened at the cross.
Colossians 2:14, “having wiped out the handwriting—that connects to the forgiveness because He had already forgiven us of all trespasses. That next participle is temporal; it is when He—wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us—the indictment of our sin.”
He forgives us by wiping out or when He wiped out; it could be either one—the handwriting of requirements that was against us. He took it out of the way when—it’s either when or by, but it indicates that all of these happen at the same time—when He nailed it to the cross.”
The cross happened when? 2,000 years ago in AD 33. So in AD 33 that certificate of debt against us, our sin, was nailed to the Cross. Not when you trusted in Christ, but at the Cross. It’s nailed to the Cross. The result of what happened at the cross is the basis for eradicating our sins.
Forgiveness means to cancel something out. It was used in accounting and financial contexts for eradicating a debt, taking it off the books. It’s paid for. That’s what Jesus said at the end; the next to last thing He said on the Cross was, “It is finished—it is paid in full.”
He paid the price in full at the Cross, and because your sins and my sins and Hitler’s sins and Trump’s sins and Biden’s sins and everybody else’s sins are all paid for at the Cross, sin is no longer the issue. It’s not what you did wrong that’s the issue. It’s that you’re spiritually dead, and you have to receive the offer of spiritual life, which comes by belief in Christ.
Paul describes this that He makes us alive together because He’s already forgiven us of all trespasses. When did that happen? When they were nailed to the Cross. That makes it pretty clear, but the sentence doesn’t end there.
The New King James puts a period there, and that often happens in translations. Translators will break up a long Greek sentence and put it into individual sentences, but this is all one thought, “… having nailed it to the cross” then, “having disarmed principalities and powers.”
It is fascinating to go through and try to interpret Colossians 2:15, “having disarmed the principalities and powers.” When did this happen? It happens at the same time at the Cross. He disarmed the principalities and powers. The demons are disarmed at that same time.
This is a Greek participle, APEKDUOMAI. It’s often used to take off clothes; it’s used sometimes in military context to remove armor. What is unusual about the interpretation of this passage is you have, for example, in the early church, this image of taking something off.
Some of the early Church fathers, in fact, the dominant view for probably the first 200 years after the apostles were all dead, so they couldn’t correct them, is that Jesus is being attacked by the demons on the Cross, and He’s stripping them off. That was the early, early Church. One of the more odd ideas people have.
Once the Holy Spirit was no longer giving revelation through the apostles, the last apostle was off the scene and everybody just had to rely upon their exegetical skills to understand the Word, they didn’t get a lot of things right. We learn about that in our study of church history coming up on Monday night.
The other view that came along with Augustine about 480 is the idea he’s stripping off his physical body. Again, that doesn’t make much sense, but these are the two prominent views. There are a couple of others that are also a bit strange in the way they are handling this.
But the idea here is more that he is disarming or in some sense despoiling the demons, taking something away from them that they have used to attack believers prior to this, but it no longer has a significance.
I believe that the best way to understand this is that contextually, this is all talking about the forgiveness that we have from God in Ephesians 2:13. He has forgiven us of all trespasses when he wiped out—another way of talking about forgiveness, the eradication of—the debt, He nailed it to the Cross. At the same time it is that action of nailing sin to the Cross and eradicating the certificate of debt that disarms the principalities and powers.
We have to be careful with this because satan still goes around like a roaring lion; according to 1 Peter 5:8, the demons are still active agents of satan. They are described in 2 Corinthians 12 as being able to disguise themselves. The angels of satan disguise themselves, like he does, as angels of light, so they are still active.
We also know from 1 John and from Revelation, that he’s the accuser of the brethren; he still accuses us. Within all of those parameters, we have to understand what it means to disarm them. They are still active; they are still involved in energizing the thinking of the world, but they no longer have a basis of accusation. It doesn’t mean they can’t accuse, because they do, but they no longer have a basis for accusation, because that sin has been eradicated.
For example in 1 John 2, satan is still bringing up charges; he is still the one who is pointing out our sin. 1 John 2:1–2, “my little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Even if satan accuses us, we have our advocate Jesus who says, “Look, it’s paid for. It was nailed to the Cross, taken out of the way; that’s over and done with.” That is what disarmed them because there’s no longer a basis for our accusation.
All of this connects back, then, to what Paul is emphasizing in Ephesians 3:8–9, that all of this was designed to teach, to manifest, to put on display in the courtroom of God His grace, demonstrating that it is greater than our sin, and that this has defeated the fallen angels in terms of their accusation against us.
It takes us back to the fact that all of human history is ultimately described in Scripture within the framework of legal courtroom language. This is not usually brought out in many of the commentaries. There is one that I know of, some others get close to it that talk about the fact that this word that is used over in Ephesians 2:7 is a word that is used frequently to describe this courtroom environment in which all of salvation history is described.
Go back to the Old Testament; from the very beginning you have terminology related to justification, language related to sin, language related to forgiveness. All these are terms used in a courtroom. You see the judicial nature all throughout the Mosaic Law.
In the New Testament these ideas are developed even further, so all of our existence and all of the history of the human race is described in legal courtroom language. Because we are in a huge courtroom, and we provide evidence in the Church Age for God in the demonstration of His grace, His goodness, the exceeding riches of His grace and the wealth of His grace and His great power.
Our purpose as the church is to demonstrate this in ways that it was never demonstrated before. This is where Paul brings us; we have a little bit more to cover in this section. But to the purpose that now “the multifaceted wisdom of God—something the angels could never see before this time—might be made known—might be put on display and demonstrated in a legal context to prove the grace of God through the Church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.
That doesn’t end the sentence, so now we can go on to the next sentence of the last two verses next time, which basically brings us to an end of these great statements that begin in Ephesians 2:11 about the purpose for the Church.
As Paul ends this he goes directly into prayer and praising God for all that he has provided for us. He ends in Ephesians 3:20 by saying, “now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think …”
These “exceeding riches”—the wealth that He has given us—is beyond anything that we can ask or think. I often hear the question, “what’s heaven going to be like?” God has said so very, very little about what heaven is going to be like. It is beyond anything we can ask or think. God could describe it to us, and we would be dumbfounded and have no idea what He just said.
We can’t comprehend! There’s nothing in our frame of reference to relate to it. And that’s where this drives Paul, Ephesians 3:20–21, “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 the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to look at the way in which you have described our purpose in these two sister Epistles, Ephesians and Colossians that help us to understand that. We’re so mired in our self-absorbed reality: how everything is about us and our problems, and dealing with whatever is going to happen this afternoon or tomorrow or next week, that are going on in the world that interrupt us, and we don’t get to do what we want to do.
“Father, we look at this and realize there is a much greater plan and purpose, and that our role within that is to manifest Your grace, Your love; to be examples of the trophies of Your grace to the angels and to mankind
“This is accomplished through suffering. This is accomplished through the ways in which You bless us, the ways in which we handle adversity, and the way in which we approach Your Word and value Your Word. Father, we pray that we may be true to our identity as children of light who are to shine in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation.
“Father, we pray for those who may be listening who wonder, how in the world can I be saved? How can I have access to this wealth in Christ? It’s a free gift. It is ours simply by trusting in Christ who died for us, believing in Him. It doesn’t have anything to do with feeling sorry for our sins or getting baptized or joining a church or being in the right place or saying the right words. It is simply realizing in the depths of our soul Christ died for us and we’re trusting Him and Him alone for our salvation.
“Father, we thank You for this time, and praise You for all of Your grace in our lives. In Christ’s name, amen.”