THAT HE WOULD GRANT YOU,
ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY: hina do (3SAAS) humin kata to
ploutos tes doxes autou: (Ep 3:8; 1:7,18; 2:7; Ro
9:23; Php 4:19; Col 1:27)
that he may give to you according to
the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power
(hina) expresses purpose, in this case the purpose for which he
is bowing and interceding.
S Lewis Johnson
there are three “thats” that
are important in Paul's prayer. The first one is in verse 16: “That
he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be
strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”
Now I know you’re going to say, “Well, must be the that that begins
verse 17 must be the second one.” No, in the English translation,
that is used, but the little conjunction “that” (hina -
which introduces a purpose clause or at least the substance of the
petition, is not used there. So we’ll drop that one, and include it with
verse 16, “that he would grant you, according to the riches of
his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man
[to the end] that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.”
“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to
comprehend...” – that’s the second one...
And the third one, in verse 19 in the
middle of it, “that ye might be filled with all the fullness
Each one of these conjunctions,
(hina = 2443)
are expressive of the purposes of Paul’s prayer. Now you’ll notice
also that the whole Trinity is involved (Prayer
for Realization of God)
At the heart of Paul's first petition
(Ep 1:16,17-see notes
for his readers is a request for power. He has already prayed that
they might know Gods incomparably great might for them as believers (Ep
Now he asks for divine power more directly that God may strengthen them
inwardly through his Spirit. If the apostle had urged his Christian
readers not to be discouraged on account of his sufferings (Ep 3:13-note),
then his prayer for them to be strengthened by God's power was in order
to meet this need. The resources available to fulfil this confident
request are limitless (O'Brien,
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999
(didomi) means to give as a favor. This grant is based on
the decision of the will of the Giver (in this case God) and not on any
supposed merit of the recipient (Is this not a working definition of
word study of charis)
summarizes Paul's prayer noting that...
There are four requests in Paul’s
prayer, but they must not be looked on as isolated, individual
petitions. These four requests are more like four parts to a telescope.
One request leads into the next one, and so on. He prays that the inner
man might have spiritual strength, which will, in turn, lead to a deeper
experience with Christ. This deeper experience will enable them to
“apprehend” (get hold of) God’s great love, which will result in their
being “filled unto all the fullness of God.” So, then, Paul is praying
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
- not "out of" (see below also). The first is proportionate, the latter is a
portion of! There is a "wealth" of difference! Paul used a
similar expression to emphasize the limitless power of God in his first
prayer that his readers might come to know (quoting from the literal
what the exceeding greatness of His
power to us who are believing, according to (kata) the working of
the power of His might (the same might that raised Christ from the
dead). (Eph 1:19-note)
(kata) means in proportion to one's largess! Not stingily. Not
just a portion but a proportion! If I am a billionaire and I give you
ten dollars, I have given you a portion (very small portion at that) out
of my riches. But if I give you ten million dollars, I have given to you
according to or more proportionate to my true wealth. The first
giver would take it out of His riches and would be like Mr. Rockefeller
who used to give his caddy a dime. God is not like Mr. Rockefeller, in
either his wealth or generosity!
reiterates this great truth writing that...
That glory is Gods radiance or
splendour, which conveys the ideas of the perfection of his character
and activity. His glory is often conjoined with power (Ro 6:4-note;
and paralleled with his goodness (cf. Ex 33:18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23 with Ep 3:19). Here
this preposition, which Paul often uses in petitions and thanksgivings
draws attention not simply to the idea of source, thereby signifying out
of the wealth of His glory, but also indicates that His giving
corresponds to the inexhaustible riches of that glory. It is on a scale
commensurate with His glory: He gives as lavishly as only He can...The
One to whom he directed his requests gives richly and generously:
And my God will fully meet every need
of yours in accordance with his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Php
By formulating his prayer along these
lines, the apostle assured his readers that the Father was wholly able
to meet their needs. (O'Brien,
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999
comments that this phrase...
illustrates the proportion or
measurement of the gift, nay, of all the gifts that are comprehended in
the apostle's prayer. And it is no exaggeration, for He gives like
Himself, not grudgingly or in tiny portions, as if He were afraid to
exhaust His riches, or even suspected them to be limited in their
contents. There is no fastidious scrupulosity or anxious frugality on
the part of the Divine Benefactor. His bounty proclaims His conscious
possession of immeasurable resources. He bestows according to the riches
of His glory—His own infinite fulness. “That He would give you”— (John
Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
comments on "according to" observing that...
to come before the One from
whom are all things and to whom are all things (Ro 11:36-note) makes for
great optimism, especially when he is no mere John D. Rockefeller who
sometimes gave from his riches, but is rather the One who gives
according to his riches — “on the scale and in the style of the wealth
of his glory.” Such are the resources from which he strengthens us. (Hughes,
R. K.: Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ. Crossway Books)
commenting on "according to" writes...
God is not promising something which
He is unable to perform. He estimated His own resources before He
promised to bequeath such wealth to His children. God's budget has
always been balanced, and there need be no fear of His prodigal program
of spending for the salvation and sanctification of believers in His
Son. Nothing is unstable in the plan of redemption, for God is not
experimenting with men's souls, nor has He left anything to chance. He
counted the whole cost of building this wondrous habitation of God long
ages before He laid a single living stone upon the foundation, and knew
that He was fully able to carry it to completion. In his book In the
Heavenlies, Dr. H. A. Ironside unfolds the deep meaning of the words
"according to" in a simple illustration: "It does not say 'out of' His
riches, but 'according to' His riches. Here is a millionaire to whom you
go on behalf of some worthy cause. He listens to you and says, 'Well, I
think that I will do a little for you,' and he takes out his pocketbook
and selects a ten-dollar bill. Perhaps you had hoped to receive a
thousand from him. He has given you 'out of' his riches, but not
'according to' his riches. If he gave you a book of signed blank checks
all numbered, and said, 'Take this, fill in what you need,' that would
be 'according to' his riches." This is precisely what the King of glory
has done for us, as we saw in Eph 1:3. He has given according to the sublime
measurement of own immeasurable riches.
"According to the power that worketh in us."
Perhaps we are quite convinced by now
that through our position in Christ we are heirs of God and joint-heirs
with Christ. Objectively, we apprehend this fact, and doctrinally we
believe it. But our great problem is how to live like heirs. We know
what we are; our difficulty is to be what we know. How may we
subjectively appropriate this wealth, so that experimentally it is
manifested in a consistent walk and a conquering warfare?
God assures us that He has made
provision for this experimental realization through the in-working of a
resident power. It is the power of a Person Who is none other than God's
own Spirit. All that Christ was and did as the incarnate Son was through
the power of the Holy Spirit. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to be
to the disciples all that He had been to Him. From the day of Pentecost
this same Spirit has been in every member of Christ's Body as a mighty
power working to make these riches of glory his personal possession.
This we shall see more fully as we now begin our study of the prayer
petitions. We feel like saying in the words of Dr. Scroggie, "All that
we can hope to do is to mark the order in this tumult of holy words."
The trinity of the Godhead work
together to make this wealth ours. The riches which the Father provides
in the Son are possessed through the Spirit. (The Wealth, Walk and
Warfare of the Christian)
et al comments that "according to" means
in abundance consonant (in harmony)
to the riches of His glory; not “according to” the narrowness of our
from pletho = to fill) a plentiful supply of
something and in human terms refers to the abundance of possessions
exceeding the norm of a particular society (interestingly Paul never
uses ploutos with this latter material connotation). Here ploutos
refers to God's riches and is a favorite word with Paul in Ephesians to
describe the quality of the divine attributes and gifts (See entries
22x in 21v - Mt 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14; Ro 2:4-note;
2Co 8:2; Eph 1:7-note,
1Ti 6:17; Heb 11:26-note;
Jas 5:2; Rev 5:12-note;
NAS - riches(18), wealth(4).
describe God’s endowment, His infinite wealth and resources. You can’t
possibly ask too much.
saying in essence
“I want you to get your hands on your
wealth, realize how vast it is, and start to use it.”
The old gospel
hymn says it well...
My Father is rich
in houses and lands
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.”
Father's resources are infinite, His repositories are
overflowing, His vaults are bottomless.
The treasures of
earth are not mine,
I hold not its silver and gold;
But a treasure far greater is mine;
I have riches of value untold. —Hartzler
God's Word promises
riches that money cannot buy.
Preachers often point out that there
is a difference between the expressions “out of the riches” and
according to the riches. A wealthy person might give a trifling amount;
it would be out of his riches, but not in proportion to them! Paul asks
that God will give strength according to the riches of His perfections. Since the Lord is infinitely rich in
glory, let the saints get ready for a deluge! Why should we ask so
little of so great a King? When someone asked a tremendous favor of
Napoleon it was immediately granted because, said Napoleon, “He honored
me by the magnitude of his request.” (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
[word study]) speaks of a manifestation of God's true nature, presence,
or likeness. He is glorified when He is allowed to be seen as He really
is. To be where God is will be glory. To be what God intended will be
glory. To do what God purposed will be glory. The basic idea in the word
doxa is that of manifestation. The glory of God is the
manifestation of His Being, His character and His acts. The glory of God
is what He is essentially. Glory, therefore, is the true apprehension of
God or things. The glory of God must mean His unchanging essence.
Would you like a
sample of God's glory? Then simply walk out into the countryside on some
clear night and observe the starry, starry skies for as David
affirms in Psalm 19:1...
The heavens are
telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Now combine this
the vast riches and surpassing glory of these starry images with what
"Behold, these are the fringes of His
ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! But His mighty thunder, who
can understand?" (Job 26:14)
Comment: Job's magnificent
conclusion is this: How much knowledge of God there is beyond what we
can see and hear.
In prayer, it is
it is both useful for ourselves and glorifying to God to recognize His
bountifulness—to remember that He gives to as a the riches of Kings! I
love what John Newton (Come,
My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare) wrote that relates to this idea...
Thou art coming
to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much.
TO BE STRENGTHENED WITH POWER
THROUGH HIS SPIRIT: dunamei krataiothenai (APN) dia tou pneumatos autou: (Ep
6:10; Job 23:6; Psalms 28:8; 138:3; Isaiah 40:29, 30, 31; 41:10;
Zechariah 10:12; Matthew 6:13; 2Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13;
Colossians 1:11; 2Timothy 4:17; Hebrews 11:34)
S Lewis Johnson
observes that the first petition is a petition for empowerment.
It is notable that
Paul's prayers are almost always for the spiritual welfare of others --
a good pattern for imitators of Paul to follow.
To be strengthened (2901)
from krataios = strong <> see study of root
kratos) means to be empowered,
to be increased in vigor, to strengthen with the implied meaning
of to establish (active voice), to grow strong (active voice), to be made strong
(passive voice), to be braced (as when the Gulf Coast
states in the US "brace" for the onrushing Category 5
hurricane!), to be invigorated, to be fortified (I like that word
for it pictures the saint in a "spiritual fort"). Note that
all the NT uses are in the
refers to strength or might, but especially that which is manifested.
As discussed below krataioo
in this verse means to be shown to be strong, to be shown to be
strengthening to our inner man comes not from man himself but from God's
means “to make strong,” occurs 54
times in the
(Jdg. 3:10; Ruth 1:18; 1Sa 4:9; 23:16; 30:6; 2Sa 1:23; 2:7; 3:1; 10:11,
12; 11:23, 25; 13:14; 22:18; 23:3; 1Ki. 20:22-23, 25; 2 Ki. 3:26; 12:6
-7, 12, 14; 22:6; 1 Chr. 21:4; 2 Chr. 21:4; 23:1; 34:8; 35:22; Ezra
6:22; 7:28; Neh. 2:18; 6:9; Job 36:19, 22; Ps. 9:19; 27:14; 31:24;
38:19; 64:5; 69:4; 74:13; 80:15, 17; 89:13; 103:11; 105:4, 24; 117:2;
139:6, 17; 142:6; Lam. 1:16; Dan. 4:36; 5:20). In the NT we find only
the passive “to become strong.” In Lk. 1:80; 2:40 it denotes childhood
growth. In 1 Cor. 16:13, with andrízesthe, the exhortation is to “be
strong” (cf. 2Sa 10:12 "Be strong, and let us show ourselves
courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and
may the LORD do what is good in His sight."). Eph. 3:16 traces such
strengthening to the inward operation of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2Sa
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
writes that krataioo means...
to make strong, to take courage, to
gain the upper hand over. krataioo is used in the Lucan birth narratives
to describe the child Jesus growing and becoming strong in spirit (Lk.
1:80) and wisdom (Lk 2:40). Otherwise the word is not common in the NT.
It clearly refers to manly strength in 1Co 16:13, which is a
quotation (cf. Ps 31:24; 2Sa 10:12); and has a metaphorical sense in
Ep 3:16; in Gnostic terminology, the inner man is expected to be
strengthened with might. (Brown,
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
Here are the other
3 NT uses of krataioo..
Lk 1:80 - And the child
continued to grow and to become strong (to become strong and
healthy, with the implication of physical vigor) in spirit, and he lived in
the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Lk 2:40 - The Child continued to grow and become strong,
increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
1Cor 16:13 - Be on the alert,
stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (Comment:
Krataioo is frequently used in the NT to denote inner, spiritual
growth. As in Eph 3:16, krataioo is also in the
which literally means “be strengthened.” In this context
the implication is that the believer is to be sufficiently strong as to
be able to dominate any evil influence [world, flesh, devil].
In the physical world
one might lift weights and so strengthen themselves, but in the
spiritual world, believers cannot strengthen ourselves for that task
belongs solely to the Lord! However, don't forget that believers do have
a role/responsibility in this spiritual strengthening -- we are not just
to "Let go and let God". The believer's "job" is to submit [yield,
surrender] himself or herself to God's Spirit [believers can resist,
quench and grieve the Spirit] in order that He can strengthen us. We can
only “be [passive voice]
strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (see note
and “be [passive voice]
strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (see note
2 Timothy 2:1).
comments that Paul...
had likened the Ephesian Christians
to a temple, and in harmony with such a thought he prays that the living
stones in that fabric may be strengthened, so that the building may be
compact and solid. (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul
to the Ephesians)
writes that "to be strengthened with power" means...
to give you abundant strength to bear
trials; to perform your duties; to glorify his name...See [Ro 7:22]. The
body needs to be strengthened every day. In like manner the soul needs
constant supplies of grace. Piety needs to be constantly invigorated, or
it withers and decays. Every Christian needs grace given each day to
enable him to bear trials, to resist temptation, to discharge his duty,
to live a life of faith. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
explains that krataioo...
means "made mighty." It is the Greek
word krataioo. Some Greek verbs end in an "o" but this verb ends in two
o’s which conveys the thought of something beyond just being
"strengthened." It means "to be shown to be strong, to be shown to be
mighty." It is almost the same thing that Paul prays in Philippians. The
idea then is that you are to get what is on the inside of you to the
outside so that you might be shown to be strong...Is there a difference
between might and power?" Oh, yes. The word "power" here is the word
dunamis. That word means "to be able to do something, be capable."
Basically Paul is saying,
"I want that which is inside of
you to get on the outside of you. I want people to look at you as you
live your Christian life and let them see that you have a divine ability
that is operating inside of you. I want it to be more than just what you
say. I am praying that it will be in how that you live."
The assignment to do the
strengthening is not in God the Son, it is God the Spirit. The Spirit of
God comes into a man the moment he becomes a Christian. Now, you are not
living life alone. You may be acting like it, but you are not. If you
are trying to fight your problems by yourself, if you are trying to
figure them out on your own, if you are not coming to the Word, letting
the Holy Spirit of God enable you and reveal to you the things of God,
then no wonder you are confused. You have a divine partner living in
you, and He is in you to strengthen you with power so that you have an
ability that you didn’t have before. If you will learn to tap into Him,
then you will begin to learn to live in the reality of His presence....
Now understand something. He is not
praying that they will get these riches. They already have them. He is
praying that they be strengthened according to these riches. He is
"You’ve got them. Now be strengthened by that which you have. Live in
it. Live out of it."
Folks, we have a reservoir of riches of wealth, spiritually, which God
has given us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul intensely says, "Oh, God,
don’t let them walk out with heads filled with information. God, let
them walk out understanding they have these riches. Let them be
strengthened in the inner man with power. Let these riches be a part of
the source of their strength in their walk."
You may find out this week that you have lost your job. You may find out
this week that someone has done you wrong. Where are you going to be
strengthened? Friend, Paul is saying you know something about your
salvation. When you run back to the Lord Jesus Christ, in Him is the
reservoir of what you are looking for. Let the Spirit of God with power
strengthen you in the inner man. Let these truths so get down inside of
your life that you become different. All of a sudden what you have
inside of you begins to work inside of you. All of a sudden people see a
difference in your life. You are doing things and you are living in a
way that is on a higher plane than what you lived before. In other
words, don’t just sit and soak. Grab hold of the fact that you have got
all the wealth that ever could be, spiritually, in the Lord Jesus
Christ. Learn how to tap into it. Learn how to draw it out. It is in
your account. It is in your name. The Lord Jesus lives in you. When you
have your problems, run to Him.
Learn to be strengthened according to the riches that He has given you
in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:14: A Prayer for Fullness - 1)
explains Paul's first request for the believers to be strengthened
internally through the Spirit writing that...
Paul has been talking about
suffering, and this is probably why he begins his prayer with a request
that the believers at Ephesus might be strengthened by God’s Spirit.
None of us show much of the manifold wisdom of God in easy days. It is
in suffering that the grace of God is manifested. But who has strength
for suffering? We do not choose suffering. We shrink from it. Like
Christ in the garden we inevitably draw back and ask that, if it is
possible, this cup might pass from us. If we are to show God’s wisdom in
such times, it must be by God’s strength. He must send his angels to
minister to us.
Still, it is not only in times of
suffering that we need to be strengthened. We need strength every day of
our lives and in every circumstance.
Is it temptation? We need strength to
resist it and be victorious to the glory of God.
Is it a tough moral choice at work?
We need strength to do the right thing so that Jesus, whom we serve,
might be honored.
Is it witnessing? We need strength to
speak the truth regardless of what the world may think of us for
speaking it. When Jesus prayed for God to send the Comforter or Holy
Spirit to be with his disciples it was this he chiefly had in mind. The
word parakletos (“comforter,” “counselor,” or “advocate”) means “one
called alongside to help.” The Holy Spirit helps us do the right thing
in difficult circumstances. (Boice,
J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary)
Luther was summoned to Worms to recant his 95 Theses he wrote...
“May the Lord Jesus strengthen me.”
to be able, to have power) refers especially achieving
power. It refers to intrinsic power or inherent ability, the power or ability to carry out some function,
for functioning in some way, the power
residing in a thing by virtue of its nature. Dunamis is the
word generally used by Paul of divine energy.
Note that words
derived from the stem duna— all have the basic meaning of “being
able,” of “capacity” in virtue of an ability. Duna- is the root
for English words like dynamic, dynamo, dynamite, etc.
of dynamite has power but the fuse has to be lit for the inherent power
to be manifest...so too with God's dunamis. Earlier Paul had
prayed that the saint's be enlightened to the truth that they possess
this surpassingly great power, the same (dunamis) power which effected
the miraculous resurrection of our Redeemer (Eph 1:19; 1:20-notes)
Paul prays these
believers be made mighty with power, or dunamis, the ability to do that
which we could never have done before, the capacity, the divine ability
to live a life on a higher plane.
conveys the idea of effective, productive energy, rather than that which
is raw and unbridled. Where is this inherent power derived from? Through
the working of God's Holy Spirit. And where is the sphere of operation
of this enabling power? in the inner man.
Paul is praying
for every saint (not some special class of elite so-called "spiritual"
Christians) to possess genuine spiritual power, which ultimately is a
mark of every believer who submits to God's Word and His Spirit (Corollary
question - Do you lack spiritual power in your Christian life? Then
do a simple inventory -- Look at your "obedience quotient" - immediate
or delayed [= disobedience] or non-existent, Look at your intake of
sound doctrine vs "religious literature" [e.g. Christian novels,
magazines, even devotionals, etc] vs only secular sources [R rated
movies, fowl language on TV, "premium channels" on Cable, etc] and
finally look at your surrender to to the Spirit - sweet surrender,
partial and halting, willfully resistant to His voice.)
Note that in this
context this (dunamis)
power is not necessarily the power to perform spectacular, sensational miracles
(which is the predominant meaning of dunamis in its uses in the gospels
- eg, see Mt 11:20, 23, 13:54, 58, etc), but
the spiritual power necessary to live as mature, stable, wise Christians in
the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. It is by dunamis
power that a believer is enabled to say "Yes" to his Lord and "No" to his
flesh. Daily victory of sin (the world, the flesh and devil) is one of the greatest "miracles" a believer can experience.
Dunamis is the implied ability or capacity to perform. It conveys the idea of
effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and
Dunamis is the potential for functioning in some way (power, might,
strength, ability, capability).
Sometimes dunamis is used to
represent an entity or being that functions with remarkable power,
especially being used to describe angel as powers (eg, see Ro 8:38-note,
There is an instructive use of
dunamis later in 2Timothy where Paul describes men...
holding to a form of godliness,
although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.
Comment: The point is that the so-called godliness of these men
is a sham and devoid of any real power (dunamis) to break the power of
sin. Those who practice such deception enjoy the external expressions of
evangelical worship to be amenable to their lifestyles but they are
violently at odds with the gospel’s internal effects of subduing sin and
nurturing holiness. They lack the inherent ability or capability, the
dunamis, because they lack the indwelling Spirit Who strengthens with
power as Paul prays in
The corollary is that those who possess the indwelling Spirit and divine
dunamis have the inherent ability to wage victorious battle with the
three mortal enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, all seeking to
turn us from God and unto self with its consequent ungodly, unholy
attitudes and actions. One can readily see the importance of praying for
believers to be strengthened with dunamis power through the Spirit in
their inner man - see
comments on Paul's reminder to Timothy of his access to God's "dunamis"
"Unlimited strength is at our
disposal. Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the believer can
serve valiantly, endure patiently, suffer triumphantly, and, if need be,
MacDonald quotes F B Meyer
"It is power. It is His power. It is
great power; nothing less would suffice. It is exceeding great power,
beyond the furthest cast of thought.”
This is the power which God
used in our redemption, which He uses in our preservation, and which He
will yet use in our glorification. Lewis Sperry Chafer writes: Paul
wants to impress the believer with the greatness of the power which is
engaged to accomplish for him everything that God has purposed according
to His work of election, predestination and sovereign adoption." (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
Note that in his letter to the
Ephesians Paul did not pray that believers might be given divine
power but that they might be aware of the divine power they already
possessed. (Ep 1:18, 19, 20-See notes
Through Christ we have the resource of God’s own supernatural power, the
very power (dunamis) He used to raise Christ from the dead. It is of
utmost importance to understand that God does not provide His power for
us to misappropriate for our own purposes. He provides His power to
accomplish His purposes through us. When our trust is only in Him, and
our desire is only to serve Him, He is both willing and “able to do
exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the
power that works within us” (Ep 3:20-note).
Although God promises us and provides us with His dunamis power, we must
learn wait upon His timing (Acts 1:8) and also be willing to humble
ourselves that His power may be perfected in us (2Cor 12:9-note).
Note that Jesus Himself had at least in one sense the same power
available to believers today (see Lk 4:1,14,18 ...God
anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power)
Barclay writes that dunamis...
can be used of any kind of
extraordinary power. It can be used of the power of growth, of the
powers of nature, of the power of a drug, of the power of a man’s
genius. It always has the meaning of an effective power which does
things and which any man can recognize. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
An Illustration of
Strength in the Lord...
In 1934, when Adolf Hitler summoned
German church leaders to his Berlin office to berate them for
insufficiently supporting his programs, he was surprised when Pastor
Martin Niemoller stood up to him. That evening his Gestapo raided
Niemoller’s rectory, and a few days later a bomb exploded in his church.
He was later arrested and placed in solitary confinement. Dr.
Niemoller’s trial began on February 7, 1938. That morning, a
green-uniformed guard escorted the minister from his prison cell and
through a series of underground passages toward the courtroom. Niemoller
was overcome with terror and loneliness. What would become of him? Of
his family? His church? The guard’s face was impassive, but as they
exited a tunnel to ascend a final flight of stairs, Niemoller heard a
whisper. At first he didn’t know where it came from, for the voice was
soft as a sigh. Then he realized that the officer was breathing into his
ear the words of Proverbs 18:10 (commentary):
“The name of the
Lord is a strong tower
The righteous run to it and are safe.”
Niemoller’s fear fell away, and the
power of that verse sustained him through his trial and his years in
Nazi concentration camps.
(dia) refers to the instrument by which the strengthening with
power is effected, in this case the Holy Spirit). In other words this
divine empowering will be effected through God's Spirit. The agency of
the Spirit in dispensing divine power is in line with other New
Testament teaching where the Spirit and power are intimately linked
(Acts 1:8; Ro 1:4-note ;Ro
15:19-note; 1Cor 2:4;
(pneuma) in context refers to the Holy Spirit not man's inner
spirit. The dunamis (dynamic) power is communicated to us by the Spirit
Who is our dynamo, residing in every believer and working through us.
Although His name is not specifically mentioned we see His working in
Philippians 2 where Paul records...
So then, my beloved, just as you have
always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my
absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is
God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good
pleasure. (See notes
The Spirit of God is the agent in
this process of invigoration. That Spirit is God's, as He bears God's
commission and does His work. He has free access to man's spirit to move
it as He may, and it is His peculiar function in the scheme of mercy to
apply to the heart the spiritual blessings provided by Christ. (John
Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
It is always good
to remember that Jesus performed His ministry on earth in the power of
the Spirit (see verses below), and this is the only resource we have for
Christian living today.
Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of
the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the
Spirit in the wilderness...14 And Jesus returned to Galilee in the
power (dunamis - the inherent ability) of the Spirit; and
news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.
Acts 10:38 "You know of Jesus
of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with
power, and how He went about doing good (implicit that He did good
empowered by the Spirit), and healing all who were oppressed by the
devil; for God was with Him.
IN THE INNER MAN: eis ton
(Jeremiah 31:33; Ro 2:29-note;
marks out the destination of the gift. It is not simply “in reference
to" or "for" but it denotes or implies that the dunamis
comes from an external source, and enters into the inner man. The inner
man is the sphere (many commentators favor the preposition "eis" in this
case to point more to the sphere) in which the strengthening is to take
The “inner man” is that
portion of our nature which is not cognizable by the senses, and does
not consist of nerve, muscle, and organic form, as does the outer man.
In the physiology of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans,
it (inner man) is not the soul—psuche—in its special aspect of vital
consciousness, but it is more connected with mind—nous, and stands in
contrast not exactly to sarx, as representing generally depraved
humanity, but to that sensuous nature which has action and reaction in
and from the members... it is the sphere in which (spiritual) renewal
takes effect—our intellectual and spiritual nature personified...
And this strength is imparted to the
“inner man” by the Spirit's application of those truths which have a
special tendency to cheer and sustain. He impresses the mind with the
idea of the changeless love of Christ, and the indissoluble union of the
believing soul to Him; with the necessity of decision, consistency, and
perseverance; with the assurance that all grace needed will be fully and
cheerfully afforded; and with the hope that the victory shall be
ultimately obtained. Ro 15:13-note;
This operation of the Spirit imparts such courage and energy as appear
like a species of spiritual omnipotence. (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The
Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)
Is there any greater need in
the Christian's life than to be made strong and with a power outside of
himself? How often he feels that he is going backward rather than
forward. He is conscious of weakness, failures, defeats, and
backslidings that are well-nigh overpowering. More than once he cries
out in anguish of spirit,
"Is it worth while to try to keep on?
I just have not the strength for this conflict."
Nor has he, and God rejoices whenever
a child of His comes to the end of himself and acknowledges his own
utter impotency, for then God can begin to work. The Pentecost promise
was for power. We are to be made strong with power through a Person.
"By His Spirit." The Holy
Spirit who worked for us to implant life now works in us to impart
power. He lives within us to strengthen and energize with divine might
and by a definite and continuous process. The life bestowed by the
Spirit through rebirth is to be realized in fulness through renewal.
"In the inner man." Into the
most secret springs of our spiritual life this Spirit-strengthening
power is infused. God always begins at the innermost part of our being
and works outward. (The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian)
(eis) is literally "into". Eis is an interesting
preposition to use in this context for it is a preposition which marks
motion into a place or thing. Here the force of the preposition pictures
dunamis - power entering into the inmost personality, into the "control
room" so to speak.
mystics used to speak of the “interior life” or the life of the soul.
Isn't it interesting (sad) how many Christians in America spend a
fortune on their “outer life,” on cosmetics, clothes, cars, and
externals of life. So many people neglect the cultivation of the inner
life. God wants to strengthen us in our interior, to pump His strength
into our hearts and souls and does this in answer to prayer and by His
Holy Spirit Who will especially utilize the Scriptures. Have you ever
had the experience of a verse of Scripture, previously memorized but
long forgotten, flashes into your minds in a moment of need?
makes an interesting statement that...
Spiritual growth can be defined as
the decreasing frequency of sin. The more we exercise our spiritual
muscles, yielding to the Spirit’s control of our lives, the less sin is
present. Where the strength of God increases, sin necessarily decreases.
The nearer we come to God, the further we go from sin. (MacArthur,
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
Inner man -
refers to the spiritual part of the believer's new nature where
God dwells and works. It's
that part which Paul describes in Romans 7 writing...
I joyfully concur with the law of God
in the inner man, (Ro 7:22-note)
(Comment: I believe Romans 7 deals with a believer but others interpret
this chapter as describing an unbeliever).
Writing to the
Corinthians Paul again uses this term which is unique to him noting that
the inner man is that part of the believer that is being renewed
(and strengthened by the Holy Spirit)...
2Cor 4:16-note Therefore we do not
lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying (present
tense), yet our inner man
(the heart, the soul that lives forever, that part of man reborn, newly
created in salvation) is being renewed (present
tense) day by day.
O'Brien notes that in regard
to the "inner man"...
Some have understood this expression
to denote the new creation inwardly begotten by the Spirit in those who
are united by faith to Christ (cf. Col 3:10-note;
However, it is better to understand the inner person as the interior of
our being … the seat of personal consciousness, … [and] of our moral
being. It is the focal point at the centre of a persons life where the
Spirit does His strengthening and renewing work. Indeed, the inner
self stands in need of empowering given our struggle against sin (Ro
and the need for daily renewal (2Cor 4:16-note). When the outer person of the
believer is wasting away, the inner person is being renewed day by day
(2Co 4:16-note). In the context of both 2Corinthians 4 (2Co
4:6; 5:12) and
the following verse here (2Cor 4:17) heart is parallel to the inner
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999
an interesting thought on "the inner man" explaining that...
The inner man is the seat of
influence, but with us it is the seat of spiritual feebleness. Most men
may contrive to order their outward conduct suitably; but who has
control of the inner man? Faith, trust, humility, love, patience, and
the like graces which belong to the inner man, are what we are weakest
in, and what we have least power to make strong. In this very region it
is sought that the Ephesians might be strengthened with might by the
Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is available for this very purpose for
all that ask Him. (Blaikie,
W G: Ephesians in The Pulpit Commentary. Ages Software)
has this note on the meaning of the "inner man"
In the inward man...is the rational
and moral I; the essence of the man which is conscious of itself as a
moral personality. In the unregenerate it is liable to fall under the
power of sin (Ro 7:23-note);
and in the regenerate it needs constant renewing and strengthening by
the Spirit of God, as here. Compare the hidden man of the heart, 1Pe 3:4
"To be strengthened with might by his
Spirit in the inner man; this is the petition which the apostle puts up
on his bended knees to the Father of Christ, that he would strengthen
these saints, that so they might not faint at the tribulations which
either he or they endured.
Believers in Christ need fresh
supplies of strength to enable them to exercise grace, to perform
duties, to resist Satan and his temptations, to oppose their
corruptions, and to bear the cross, and undergo afflictions cheerfully,
and to hold on and out to the end:
this is a blessing that comes from
God, and is a gift of his free grace; a "grant" from Him Who is the
strength of the lives of His people, of their salvation, of their
hearts, and of the work of grace in their hearts:
the means whereby the saints are
strengthened by God, is "His Spirit"; Who strengthens them by leading
them to the fulness of grace and strength in Christ, by shedding abroad
the love of God in their hearts, by applying the promises of the Gospel
to them, and by making the Gospel itself, and the ordinances of it,
useful to them, causing them to go from strength to strength in them:
the subject of this blessing is the
"inner man", or the Spirit, or soul of man, which is the seat of grace;
and this shows that this was spiritual strength which is here desired,
which may be where there is much bodily weakness, and for which there
should be the greatest concern; and that this strength is not naturally
there, it must be given, or put into it.
(eso) means within.
(anthropos) refers not to the male of the species but to all
the firstfruits were not the harvest,
and the works of the Spirit in us at this moment are not the
consummation—the perfection is yet to come. We must not boast that we
have attained and so reckon the wheat for the wave offering to be all
the produce of the year; we must hunger and thirst after righteousness
and pant for the day of full redemption. Dear reader, this day open your
heart wide, and God will fill it. Groan within yourself for higher
degrees of consecration, and your Lord will grant them to you, for He is
able “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think”
(Eph. 3:20). (Spurgeon, C. H. Daily Help)
The prayer offered by Paul in Ep 3:16-19 is addressed to the Father (Ep
and concerns the indwelling of Christ by faith (Ep 3:17-note)
and inner strengthening by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). Thus all three
Persons of the Godhead dwell in the heart of the believer (John
14:16,17,23), so that we can "be filled with all the fulness of God"
Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Trinity - A Brief Excursus)
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Our Daily Bread
devotional "Inner Strength"...
A large company extracts
contaminating substances from steel drums by suction. Powerful pumps
draw the materials out of the barrels, but the workers must carefully
regulate the force of these pumps. If they take out too much air, the
drums will collapse like paper cups because the outer pressure will
exceed the inner pressure.
Likewise, when adversity and hardship come into our lives, unless God
empowers us from within we will be unable to withstand the pressures
from without. True, we get solid support from loved ones and Christian
friends, but it is our spiritual inner man, "strengthened with might
through His Spirit," that sustains us and keeps us from crumbling.
The Spirit works to strengthen us and renew our minds as we read God's
Word and pray. If we neglect the Scriptures, seldom talk with the Lord,
and stop fellowshipping with Him, we will grow weak and vulnerable. Then
we will be unable to withstand the pressure of temptation or trouble.
Let's ask the Lord to develop our inner strength so that when life's
blows and burdens press upon us we will not cave in. -D C Egner (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Help us, O Lord, when troubles come
To trust Your Word and not succumb,
And help us not to turn aside
But in Your strength and love abide. --DJD
The power of Christ in you is greater than the pressure of troubles