Ephesians 3:14-15 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Toutou charin kampto (1SPAI) ta gonata mou pros ton patera,

BGT  Τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, 

Amplified: For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: It is for this cause that I bow my knees in prayer before the Father, (Westminster Press)

ESV  Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,

KJV  Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Textus Receptus reads the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.)

NET: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, (NET Bible)

NIV  For this reason I kneel before the Father,

NLT  (revised) When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,

NLT: When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: On this account I bow my knees to the Father (Eerdmans) (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission)  

Young's Literal: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

FOR THIS REASON I BOW MY KNEES BEFORE THE FATHER: Toutou charin kampto (1SPAI) ta gonata mou pros ton patera:


For this reason I bow (kamptomy knees (gonubefore (pros) the Father (pater) - For this reason was used in Ephesians 3:1. Now after Paul digressing to discuss God's eternal purpose in Ephesians 3:2-13, he resumes the thought of verse 1 (as evidenced by repeating the same words) as he began his prayer. Paul's bowing and pleading must have been quite an experience for the Roman soldier which we assume was chained to Paul! Paul has previously referred to God as Father (Eph 1:2, 1:3, 1:17, Eph 2:18)

For this reason (5484) (charin from charis = grace - which conveys the meaning of for the pleasure of) is a marker of reason and implying a purpose or a goal for something.. Synonyms = on account of, because of, for the sake of. What purpose? So that they would not lose heart, become discouraged or become fainthearted. So that they would get a proper perspective that Paul's afflictions were for the believers at Ephesus, so that ultimately their lives would be glorified, and give a proper opinion of their heavenly Father. But they needed strength to stand fast, to bear under the load… we see through a mirror dimly… we need to appropriate the truth that afflictions today that are well borne are momentary and will yield an eternal weight of glory. So Paul is interested in present glory and future glory of the Ephesian believers.

MacArthur - For this reason picks up after the parenthesis of Eph 3:2–13, and begins by repeating the words of verse one. The reason about which Paul speaks is therefore found in chapter 2. Christ makes us spiritually alive in Him (Eph 2:5), we are “His workmanship” (Eph 2:10), “no longer strangers and aliens, but … fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph 2:19), “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph 2:20), and “are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:22). For this reason, therefore (that our new identity makes us the dwelling place of God), Paul prays for the Ephesians to use the power that their great status in Christ provides. Because God’s power is in those believers, Paul prays that God would enable them to employ the fullness of that power. Because believers are the habitation of the triune, all-powerful God of the universe, Paul prays that their unlimited energy from Him would be manifested. (See Ephesians MacArthur New Testament Commentary)


Mark Dunn on for this reason - One of the best ways to discover a Christian’s chief anxieties and ambitions is to study the content of his prayers and the intensity with which he prays them. We all pray about what concerns us, and are evidently not concerned about matters we do not include in our prayers. Prayer expresses desire. This is certainly true of this second prayer of Paul’s in Ephesians in which he pours out his soul to God. He has been explaining both Christ’s peace-making work, which resulted in the creation of the new society, and his personal involvement in this because of the special revelation and commission he had received. Now he turns from exposition to intercession. He prays that God’s wonderful plan which he has been elaborating may be even more completely fulfilled in his readers’ experience. Prayer and preaching should always go together. Paul begins for this reason resuming his train of thought where he had left it in verse 1. An important principle of prayer emerges. The basis of Paul’s prayer was his knowledge of God’s purpose. It was because of what God had done in Christ and revealed to Paul that he had the necessary warrant to pray. For the indispensable prelude to all petition is the revelation of God’s will. We have no authority to pray for anything which God has not revealed to be His will. That is why Bible reading and prayer should always go together. For it is in Scripture that God has disclosed His will, and it is in prayer that we ask Him to do it. (Alive with Power)

Blaikie explains for this reason…Seeing that the Gentiles have now equal privileges with the Jews; seeing that by faith in Christ Gentile Christians have been brought as near to God, and have as good a right to the good things of the covenant;—I take the steps now to be specified for enabling them actually to possess these good things. On the one hand, the apostle saw the believing Ephesians still comparatively poor and needy; on the other hand, he saw all spiritual stores provided for them: the question was how to get the one into contact with the other. (Ephesians 3 Commentary)

Wayne Barber asks "What reason? Remember, he started this prayer in verse 1. You have got to jump all the way back to verse 1. He starts the prayer in verse 1, stops and puts a parenthetical pause for 12 or 13 verses. Then he picks it back up in verse 14. He says in verse 1, "For this reason I, Paul." You can figure out what the reason is. Go back to chapter 2. There are some things he has told them in chapter 2 that he wants them to understand. He wants them to not just intellectually know them, but he wants them to live in the reality of those things…Paul has spent three chapters telling the people at Ephesus what they have in the Lord Jesus Christ. He talked about the riches of their salvation, the reasons of their salvation and the revelation of their salvation. Now he says, since you are God’s dwelling on this earth, for this reason, I bow my knees before the Father. Do you realize what you have in Jesus Christ? Have you been listening or maybe you haven’t allowed God to teach you in your spirit. You don’t realize that He is everything you could ever look for. Maybe you don’t realize what you have, or maybe you do, but you are not living in the reality of what that means on a day by day basis. Paul says, "For this reason, I don’t want you to just know it. I want you to live in it, in the reality of what I have just taught you." (Ephesians 3:14: A Prayer for Fullness - 1)

S Lewis Johnson has an interesting analysis of the relationship of this prayer to what Paul has taught previously writing that "I rather think that the Apostle intended at this point (beginning of Ephesians 3) to launch into the prayer, which he finally does launch into with Ephesians 3:14 and following, in the third chapter. And I’d like to tell you why I think that he probably intended to begin the prayer as he begins chapter 3: “For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” (Ephesians 3:1-note) Because this word translated in Ephesians 2:22-note, “an habitation of God,” is the same root that we find in Ephesians 3:17-note, that Christ may “dwell” in your hearts by faith. So, I rather think that what the Apostle intended to do, was to reach this great climax – the Jews and Gentiles are now reconciled to the Lord and they’re reconciled to each other in this one body of the church – and at this point he wanted to pray that that which has come to pass might be realized in their experience. “For this cause, I Paul”—and notice verse 14 begins, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So I think that word habitation of the Lord by the Spirit had gripped him, and he intended to pray now that Christ would dwell in our hearts in this deep way suggested by this word, and that would be the burden of his prayer… Now these same people of whom he says these things are the ones of whom he says in Eph 2:22 “In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” This is an almost infinite distance between children of wrath and now the dwelling place of the Lord God himself. And this is traceable to the grace of God. So I’m not surprised, then, that the Apostle should want to pray about this giving thanks and also urging the Lord through the Spirit to bring to pass in our Christian experience this wonderful relationship that we have with the Lord. (Ephesians 3:1-13 Dispensation of Grace)

Hoehner writes that "Having stated that positionally the Gentile and Jewish believers are “one new man” (Ep 2:15+), which is the body of Christ, Paul now prayed that they may be united experientially. He desired that they might genuinely know and experience Christ’s love and thus exhibit it toward each other." (Bible Knowledge Commentary).

Bowing our knees before the Father signifies submission to a higher authority (see Ps 95:6-note). You are submitting your will to God's will, in essence saying, "God, whatever you want is what I want." In addition, in Scripture bowing one's knee in prayer is often associated with an intense emotion (see Ezra 9:5, 6, Da 6:10, Acts 20:36) The way in which Jewish people often prayed in Paul's day was by standing and looking up into heaven although there are OT and NT examples of people kneeling in prayer. And if you've been to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, undoubtedly you have witnessed pious Jewish men standing and rocking back and forth as they intone their prayers.

Eadie - The posture is the instinctive expression of homage, humility, and petition: the suppliant offers his worship and entreaty on bended knee. 

Johnson writes that "the knees that the Apostle mentioned suggest humility and earnest entreaty. Of course, we can get down on our knees, and that doesn’t mean that we are humble or that we are engaged in earnest entreaty. But it is certainly consonant with that. When we get down on our knees, well that is an outward attitude of humility. So, the Apostle here is thinking about the reality when he says “for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He suggests that the way we ought to approach God is with the spirit of humility. (Prayer for Realization of God)

Phillips comments on "bow the knee" writing that…According to court etiquette in Paul's day, when someone approached the throne he bowed the knee. True, God is our Father, just as He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. True, we are bidden to come boldly to Him. True, He loves us with an everlasting love. True, we have instant access to Him day or night. True, no request is too great or too small to be brought to Him. True, no earthly child in our culture goes down on his knees before his human father. But our Father is God. The Scriptures clearly teach that God should be approached with reverence and awe. Evidently Paul knelt when he prayed. This posture helped to remind him of the awesome majesty and nobility of the One he knew he could address as Father. (Phillips, J. Exploring Ephesians)

Peter O'Brien on "Father" writes that "The one to whom he bows in homage is called Father, which in the ancient world was not only a term of intimacy but also one that had overtones of dignity and authority. A father not only sought the good of his family but also ruled the clan or family unit. The God whom the apostle approaches in prayer is a powerful and loving heavenly Father. Paul has already asserted that through Christ believers have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ep 2:18; cf. Ep 3:12); here he boldly and confidently avails himself of this access to make intercession for his readers in their need. Because the Father will surely respond to the petition of even his lowliest servant, as Paul himself was (Ep 3:8), his prayer may confidently be addressed to him. (See The Letter to the Ephesians)

John MacArthur writes that "Because God is our heavenly Father, we do not come to Him in fear and trembling, afraid that He will rebuff us or be indifferent. We do not come to God to appease Him as the pagans do to their deities. We come to a tender, loving, concerned, compassionate, accepting Father. A loving human father always accepts the advances of his children, even when they have been disobedient or ungrateful. How much more does our heavenly Father accept His children, regardless of what they have done or not done? Paul approaches the Father with boldness and confidence, knowing that He is more willing for His children to come to Him than they ever are of going to Him. He knows that God has been waiting all the while with a Father’s heart of love and anticipation. (See Ephesians MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

Johnson comments concerning Father writing that "In a sense, this is Paul’s lesson from the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus said, after this manner therefore pray ye, our Father who art in heaven. As I’ve often said, and others… we don’t really catch the full force of this, because the idea of having a heavenly father as God is very common to us. But in the days of the Apostle Paul, in the days of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was not common at all. In the Old Testament, so far as I can tell, there is no instance in which an individual prayed to God as his Father individually. So that when the Lord Jesus said after this manner therefore pray ye, our Father which art in heaven, he was giving something that was astoundingly new. That is that we had the right to call upon God as our Father. Paul is still living in the newness and uniqueness of that. And we should never lose the force of that, either, that we can get down upon our knees and call God in heaven Father, is a most amazing thing. If God is a Father, then that not only suggests power, possessions, but also concern and love. When people talk to you about God, ask them a question: what God are you talking about? Is your God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? And if they say no, then go ahead and say it, “Your God is not my God.” That’ll give you an opportunity to have a little conversation, a little theological conversation. And it might do them some good, and I know it’ll do you some good. (Prayer for Realization of God)

Thou art coming to a king,
Large petitions with thee bring,
For his grace and power are such
None can ever ask too much
(Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare)

Bow (2578) (kampto) means to bend or incline some part of the body as gesture of respect or devotion (eg, bowing one's neck as sign of respect). To bend one's knees as a symbol of religious devotion is not instructing us on a physical posture necessary for prayer but instead suggests an attitude of submission, reverence and passion.

Knees (1119) (gonu) refers to the specific part of the leg and by synecdoche ( figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole) signifies the whole person as in Php 2:10+ In the early church kneeling became customary for individual and public prayer expressing subjection, abasement, and petition.

Gilbrant - The New Testament usage of gonu is almost exclusively in connection with prayer or worship. In Romans 11:4 those who “have not bowed the knee to . . . Baal” refers to those who have not worshiped Baal. Culturally, bowing one’s knee was a respectful acknowledgment of another’s superiority (as is the case in Mark 15:19). (Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

Gonu -16x in 12v - down*(4), feet(1), knee(3), kneeling*(2), knees(3), knelt*(3). Mk. 15:19; Lk. 5:8; Lk. 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5; Rom. 11:4; Rom. 14:11; Eph. 3:14; Phil. 2:10; Heb. 12:12

Gonu in the Septuagint - Gen. 30:3; Gen. 48:12; Deut. 28:35; Jdg. 7:5; Jdg. 7:6; Jdg. 16:19; 1 Ki. 8:54; 1 Ki. 18:42; 1 Ki. 19:18; 2 Ki. 1:13; 2 Ki. 4:20; 2 Ki. 9:24; 1 Chr. 29:20; 2 Chr. 6:13; Ezr. 9:5; Job 3:12; Job 4:4; Ps. 109:24; Isa. 35:3; Isa. 45:23; Isa. 66:12; Dan. 10:10; Nah. 2:10;

Here are several examples of bowing of knees...

We read the beginning of Ezra's impassioned plea "at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God (Ezra 9:5)

In 2 Chronicles we see Solomon on bended knee at the dedication of the first Temple, the writer recording "Now Solomon had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt on his knees in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven. (2Chr 6:13)" Oriental monarchs were not noted for prostrating themselves publicly before anyone. Solomon, however, built a scaffold so that all Israel could see him as he knelt before God with hands spread to the heavens.

The psalmist writes "Come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker." (Psalm 95:6-note)

In Daniel we read that "when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. (Daniel 6:10)

As Jesus prepares for the most submissive, reverent and impassioned prayer in all eternity Luke records that "He withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, (Luke 22:41)

As Stephen was stoned to death, Luke records "And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:60)

In an hour of great need Luke records that "Peter sent them (the widows) all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. (Acts 9:40) "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Jas 5:16

THOUGHT-  It is not the posture but the attitude of one's heart which is the important issue when seeking the face of our Father. And so we see that Abraham stood before the Lord when he prayed for Sodom (Ge 18:22), Solomon stood when he prayed to dedicate the temple (1Ki 8:22). David “sat before the Lord” (1Chr 17:16) when he prayed about the future of his kingdom and finally that Jesus “fell on His face” when He prayed in Gethsemane (Mt 26:39).

Before (4314) (pros) expresses direction - toward, on the side of, in the direction of. It can serve as a marker of closeness of relation or proximity. It is interesting to note that the word for prostrating oneself before another in adoration and worship begins with the preposition pros (proskuneo - see 4352) The idea behind pros of the subject facing God which speaks of the consciousness which Paul had when he prayed - he truly believed he was in the presence of the Almighty and that he was directing his prayer to the All Knowing God Who was listening while he prayed. Vincent - The preposition pros, with the accusative case (as in Eph 3:14), denotes motion towards, or direction and is also often used in the New Testament in the sense of with; and that not merely as being near or beside, but as a living union and communion; implying the active notion of intercourse. (Word Studies)

Father (3962) (pater) speaks of the Supreme Deity, Who is the responsible for the origin and care of all that exists. Father is the same appellation Jesus always used in prayer, and the one He used in teaching His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-note). Father is God's family name which can be uttered with its full significance only by His children, those in the family having been born again by His Spirit. Pater is one of the titles for God and is a name which combines the aspects of supernatural authority and care for His people. Note that the word “Abba” is the Aramaic word for “Father.” Aramaic is the language which the Jews spoke in Palestine in the first century. Thus the words “Abba, Father,” were a formula familiar to the bilingual Palestinian Church.

As John 1:12 makes clear even though all men are made in the image of God, not all men are His children…

He (Jesus) came to His own (Jews), and those who were His own did not receive (take into their possession, join themselves to) Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11-13+)



First Prayer (Ep 1:15-23). Second Prayer (Ep 3:14-21)
Revelation Realization
Enlightenment Enablement
Light Life
Know what you are Be what you know
Know the power of God Experience the fulness of God
Power working for us Power working in us
You in Christ Christ in you
Christ fulness Church Church fulness Christ

Jon Courson - A Day's Journey: 365 Daily Meditations from the Word-

While I’m in prison, I’m praying for you that the Holy Spirit might strengthen you in the inner man,’ says Paul. 

Do you care about your kids, Mom and Dad? Pray for them. 

Do you care about your church, saint? Pray for us.

Do you care about your community? Pray that the Holy Spirit will work in the inner man.

So many have knowledge in their heads, but it hasn’t dropped 18 inches into their hearts. How does that happen? 

Through prayer. Paul says, ‘I bow my knee—I assume the posture of intensity—and I pray. I can give you all of the head theology in Chapters 1, 2, and the first part of 3. But my prayer is that it will make its way to your heart.’ 


“For this cause I bow my knees.” This was no mere formal prayer. Paul deeply realised the immense importance of the petitions he was about to offer. He knew that as Christians these experiences were needed.
I. What these Blessings Were. He prayed that they may have—

1. SPIRITUAL POWER. “Strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (v. 16). The might of the Holy Spirit in the inner man is the supreme need of every Christian in our own day. Herein lies the secret of our real influence for God. This power He is ready to give to the faint (Isa. 40:29–31).

2. THE INDWELLING PRESENCE. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (v. 17). There can be no spiritual power where Christ is not honoured. If by faith Christ dwells in us, then the Spirit will take the things that are Christ’s and show them through us. This indwelling is assured by an unfailing faith in Him.

3. STABILITY OF CHARACTER. “Ye being rooted and grounded in love” (v. 17). The downward growth of the roots of our being are to be in the rich, fruitful soil of God’s love, and the upward growth of the building of character is to be based also in love. “Rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith” (Col. 2:7).

4. ENLARGED COMPREHENSION. “That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints … and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge” (v. 19). It will take the comprehension of “all saints” in every age to find out the breadth, length, depth, and height of that love of Christ which in itself passeth knowledge. It is a great discovery to find out the immeasurable magnitude of that love wherewith Christ hath loved us. And who shall separate us from that love? (Rom. 8:35).

5. COMPLETE AND ABIDING SATISFACTION. “That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (v. 19). Filled out of this fathomless fulness of God. “That ye might be complete in accordance with God’s own standard of completeness (Weymouth). Already “from His fulness have all we received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16). But, Lord, increase our faith, that we may rise to the Divine standard of fulness.

II. The Unfailing Source. “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think” (v. 20).

These were great requests, but the apostle knew that he was coming to a great and gracious God. He knew and believed what we so easily forget, that “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32). If this princely truth reigned over our prayers, how different many of them would be. God has given us His Son, this is the proof and pledge that He will withhold no good thing from those that love Him and ask Him. But the measure of our receiving is “according to the power that worketh in us” (v. 20). “According to your faith.” This power worked mightily in the apostle, and mighty things were done (see Heb. 11).

III. The Measure of God’s Giving. “According to the riches of His glory” (v. 16).

We think that we know something of “the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), but what can we know of the “riches of His glory?” In dealing with His pleading servants, it is the larger measure of His eternal glory that He uses, according to the wealth of His risen and glorified position. If in His poverty He could so bless and enrich needy souls, how much more now, since He has entered into the inheritance of His Father’s glory. “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and on earth.” Believest thou this? “Ask, and ye shall receive.” “He giveth liberally and upbraideth not.”

Paul’s Prayer For The Church Ephesians 3:12–19 - Floyd Strater


    A.      Paul sees division and separation in the world: between nation and nation, man and man, in the inner life.

    B.      God’s design for the church is to be a body of Christ to facilitate unity.

I. The Fatherhood of God

    A.      God is the Father of Jesus.
      1.      Intimate relationship of love, fellowship, caring.
      2.      Christ reveals to us the Father and thus we know him as kind, loving and merciful.

    B.      God is the Father to whom we have access (v. 12).
      1.      In the Old Testament we did not have access to God.
      2.      Only high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement.
      3.      We approach God with freedom and confidence.

    C.      God is the Father of glory.

    D.      God is the Father of all.
      1.      No man, no church, no nation has exclusive possession of God.
      2.      Human pride and religious exclusiveness is wrong.
      3.      Some preachers and religions portray that they alone have access to God.

    E.      God is our Father to whom thanks must be given.
      1.      We owe Him not only the salvation of our souls, but life, breath and all things.
      2.      We never forget our debt to God.

    F.      God is the pattern of all true fatherhood. It is the tremendous duty of the human father to be as good a father as God.

II. Paul’s Prayer

    A.      Think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan.

    B.      Fall upon your knees.
      1.      Custom of Jew to lift hands, palms upward.
      2.      Prostrates himself before God—intense.

    C.      Family of God … in heaven and on earth.

    D.      Glorious unlimited resources.

    E.      Mighty inner strengthening of his Holy Spirit.

    F.      Christ is at home in your heart

    G.      Your roots go down deep in God’s marvelous love.

    H.      Feel and understand God’s love—how long, wide, deep, and high.
      1.      Experience this love for yourselves.
      2.      Never see the end or fully know or understand it.

    I.      At last you will be filled up with God himself.

Love In The Flesh Ephesians 3:14–21 - Floyd Strater

I. The love of Christ constrains Paul

    A.      Paul was actually being held a prisoner of the Roman government but said he was a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles.

    B.      Prisoner of the Lord.

    C.      Ambassador in bonds.

II. He has boldness and confidence

    A.      This is not arrogance because of self-confidence.

    B.      Because of the Love of Jesus, we are confident in the presence of the Father.

III. Paul prays for the church

    A.      I bow my knees unto the Father.

    B.      To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

    C.      That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.

    D.      That we may be rooted and grounded in love.

    E.      That we may comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height of the Lord’s love.

    F.      To know the love of Christ which passes all knowledge.

    G.      That we might be filled with all the fullness of God.

IV. Now unto Him who is able …

    A.      “To do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (3:20).

    B.      “According to his power that is at work within us” (3:20).

    C.      “To Him be glory in the church” (3:21).


  Sometimes it’s like a certain misprint that appeared in one church bulletin. It read like this: “Our minister is leaving the church this Sunday. Will you please send in a small donation? The congregation wants to give him a little momentum.” (Dynamic Illustrations, June, 1994, page 27.)

  “Johnny,” said a teacher to one of her young pupils, “do you think you could explain to the class the difference between ‘like’ and ‘love’?”
  “Well,” said Johnny, “I like my parents … but I love Milk Duds.” (Dynamic Illustrations, May, 1995, page 15.)

  True story. Her two children ordered her to stay in bed. She lay there looking forward to being brought her breakfast, as the inviting smell of bacon floated up from the kitchen. At last, the children called her downstairs. She found them sitting at the table, each with a large plate of bacon and eggs. “As a birthday surprise,” one explained, “we’ve cooked our own breakfast.” (Dynamic Illustrations, May, 1995, page 15.)

  I like the story about the Sunday School teacher who was telling her class of youngsters about the “crowns of glory” that await people who believe. “Now tell me,” she said at the close of the lesson, “Who will get the biggest crown?” There was a silence for a moment, then one bright youngster piped out, “The one who has the biggest head.” (Dynamic Illustrations, May, 1995, page 24.)

Worrier Or Warrior?

[God] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. —Ephesians 3:20

Today's Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-21

A missionary wrote a newsletter to thank his supporters for being “prayer warriors.” Because of a typing error, though, he called them “prayer worriers. ” For some of us, that might be a good description.

In his book Growing Your Soul, Neil Wiseman writes, “Prayer must be more than a kind of restatement of fretting worries or a mulling over of problems. Our petitions must move beyond gloomy desperation, which deals mostly with calamity and despair.”

During an anxious time in my life, I became a “prayer worrier.” I would beg, “Lord, please keep my neighbor from causing me problems tomorrow.” Or, “Father, don’t let that ornery person spread gossip about me.”

But then the Lord taught me to pray for people, rather than against them. I began to say, “Lord, bless and encourage my neighbor, and help him to sense Your love.” Then I watched to see what God would do. The Lord’s amazing answers not only helped others but also helped to cure my own anxiety!

Paul was no “prayer worrier.” He prayed for God’s people that they might know the strength, love, and fullness of God, who is able to do far more than we can ask or even think (Ephesians 3:14-21). Such confidence made Paul a true “prayer warrior.” Are your prayers like that? By:  Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

As we resolve to live for Christ
In actions, words, and deeds,
We'll yield our anxious hearts to Him
And pray for others' needs.

Fervent prayer dispels anxious care.

Come, Dearest Lord

Come, dearest Lord, descend and dwell
By faith and love in every breast;
Then shall we know, and taste, and feel
The joys that cannot be expressed.

Come, fill our hearts with inward strength,
Make our enlarged souls possess,
And learn the height, and breadth, and length
Of thine unmeasurable grace.

Now to the God whose power can do
More than our thoughts or wishes know,
Be everlasting honors done
By all the church, through Christ his Son.
-- Isaac Watts

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 fellowshiping 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. - David 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 around you.

Ephesians 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: ex ou pasa patria en ouranois kai epi ges onomazetai, (3SPPI)

BGT  Ephesians 3:15 ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται,

Amplified: For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

Barclay: of whose fatherhood all heavenly and earthly fatherhood is a copy, (Westminster Press)

ESV  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named

KJV  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

NET: from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named. (NET Bible)

NIV: from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (NIV - IBS)

Phillips: (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name) (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission

Young's Literal: of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named,

FROM WHOM EVERY FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH DERIVES ITS NAME: ex ou pasa patria en ouranois kai epi ges onomazetai, (3SPPI):

Related Passages:

Ephesians 2:18-19+  for through Him (CHRIST) we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household ("family" - NLT),


From Whom every​​​​​​ family (patriain heaven and on earth derives its name - From Whom refers of course to God the Father. That's the easy part to interpret. The rest of the passage is not that easy to interpret and there are several variations. For example, the meaning of every family is unclear. Does Paul mean every family ever conceived, believers and unbelievers? Does the family in heaven refer to redeemed souls or does it refer to angelic beings (some commentators think the later). In the preceding verses Paul had associated God the Father with the redeemed, whether Jew or Gentile (see above) and then stated we are members of God's household (oikeios) which would indicate we are in His family (as rendered in the Eph 2:19NLT) Further, if one examines the content of the prayer, such a prayer would be applicable only to believers. Therefore I personally favor that Paul is speaking of the spiritual family of God that consists only of believers. Some of the members of this family are still on earth and the rest in heaven. 

John Stott also seems to favor this interpretation writing "At least, this is the RSV and NEB translation, and pasa patria (patria) may quite properly be rendered ‘every family’. Yet there is something inherently inappropriate about this reference to a multiplicity of families, since the dominant theme of these chapters is that through Christ the ‘one God and Father of us all’ (Eph 4:6) has only one family or household to which Jewish and Gentile believers equally belong. It seems better, therefore, to translate pasa patriathe whole family’ (AV), ‘his whole family’ (NEB margin) or ‘the whole family of believers’ (NIV). Then the addition of the words in heaven and on earth will indicate that the church militant on earth and the church triumphant in heaven, though separated by death, are nevertheless only two parts of the one great family of God. (See The Message of Ephesians)

John MacArthur explains that every family in heaven and on earth "refers to the saints of every age—those now in heaven and those still remaining on earth. They are the only ones who legitimately derive their names from God the Father. Christians are no more or less the children of God than were believing Israelites, as well as believing Gentiles, before the coming of Christ. Every family of believers is a part of the one spiritual family of God, in which there are many members but only one Father and one brotherhood. (See Ephesians MacArthur New Testament Commentary)

In his study Bible MacArthur adds this note - "Paul was not teaching the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man (cf. Jn 8:39-42; 1Jn 3:10), but was simply referring to believers from every era of history, those who are dead (in heaven) and those who are alive (on earth)." (See The MacArthur Study Bible)

My side note - While Paul uses every (pas)  which normally means all without exception, he is not teaching that God is the spiritual Father of every human being. In other words, he does not teach the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. Even in this letter Paul has described two spiritual families and in essence two spiritual fathers, God and Satan (Ep 2:1-3). God is only the Father of those who trust in Christ for salvation and Satan is the spiritual father of those who do not (cf Jn 8:44 and 1Jn 3:10)   All men belong to one of these two families whether they are Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free. Paul has been emphasizing the mystery of believing Jews and Gentiles now together in God's household (or family), both having access through Christ to God. It follows that "every family" would fit best with every believer, whether in heaven or still on earth. God has only one family. Some of the members are already in heaven, and others are here on earth representing and interpreting Christ to the world.

Gilbrant - This verse contains a statement about the fatherhood of God that confuses some people. They take this verse and others like it to mean that everyone is a child of God by virtue of being part of His creation. But there is a definite distinction between the fatherhood of God relative to creation and the fatherhood of God relative to conversion. Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are the children of God (John 8:44).  (Complete Biblical Library)

Charles Hodge adds that "those who are here thought of as children are those who are brought into this relationship to God by Jesus Christ. Consequently, the word family cannot include anyone other than the subjects of redemption. The whole family in heaven, therefore, cannot mean the angels, but the redeemed already saved, and the family on earth must mean the company of believers still living on earth. As children derive their name from their father, and their relationship to him is determined by their name, so, the apostle says, the whole family of God derives its name from him, and those in it are known and recognized as his children. (Ephesians 3 Commentary)

Albert Barnes comments that "in heaven" refers to "Spirits of just men made perfect. It does not properly refer to angels, for he is not speaking of them, but of the family of the redeemed. (Ephesians 3 Commentary)

Believer's Study Bible - The sense here is that the entire concept of "fatherhood" or "family" stems from God's fatherhood, in contrast to the popular psychological fallacy that man created God as a "father image." He is also not our Father on the basis of His having created us; rather, "as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). This is in contrast to another popular theological fallacy, the "universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man," in which a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by grace through faith is considered irrelevant to claiming God as Father (cf. John 8:44; 14:6; 1 John 5:11, 12). (Believer's Study Bible)

David Guzik - In remembering that all God’s family is called after His name, Paul showed that his mind was rather taken with this idea of the essential unity of the Body of Christ. God is Father of both Jew and Gentile. Charles Spurgeon preached a touching sermon on this verse titled, Saints in Heaven and Earth One Family . In it he developed the idea that we are one with our brothers and sisters in heaven, and how this enriches our hope of heaven. . Some commentators think Paul refers to heavenly families in the sense of families of angels. “May not the holy Angels be bound up in spiritual families, though they marry not nor are given in marriage?” (Alford) (ED: MOST HOWEVER DO NOT SEE ANGELS INCLUDED AT THE INCEPTION OF PAUL'S PRAYER). (Ephesians 3 Commentary)

Expositor's Bible Commentary - If pasa patria is translated as "the whole family" the assumption is that it is confined to believers (NEB footnote has "his whole family"). This is altogether in keeping with the context and the inference drawn from Ephesians 2:18, 19 (cf. 2:20, 22; 3:6). That it fails to reproduce the wordplay on patera and patria (patria) is not an insuperable objection. More serious is the consideration that in classical Greek such a rendering would demand the definite article—pasa he patria (literally, "all the family"). It is argued, on the other hand, that NT Greek is more flexible. The family of God is not confined to earth but embraces heaven as well. This may simply refer to the church triumphant, but could include the angelic hosts, described in rabbinical literature as "the higher family." (See The Expositor's Bible Commentary )

J Vernon McGee - God has a wonderful family. A great many folk think that it is only me and mine -- we four and no more. But it's a little wider than that. Some folk feel that their little clique in the church is the only group the Lord is listening to. Some people think their local church constitutes the saints. Then there are others who think their denomination is the whole family of God. Then there are some who think it is just the church -- that is, those saved from the Day of Pentecost to the Rapture. My friend, God saved people long before the church came into existence, and He is going to be saving people after the church leaves. Also God has other members of His family. The angels belong to His family. He has created intelligences which the apostle John saw and said cannot be numbered. All of those are the family of God. (Ephesians 3 Commentary)

Wycliffe Bible Commentary - There are two possible explanations of this. Some would translate every family, with the idea that the concept of family or fatherhood comes from God. This is true, of course, although less common. Grammatically the other explanation seems to fit in better with the context of Scripture generally; that is, the whole family. (ED: SEE STOTT ABOVE) The expression in heaven and earth seems to favor this. That is, the whole family of the redeemed—those who have gone before and those who are still alive here on earth—are under the one Father, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary:)

Warren Wiersbe - That word family can be translated "fatherhood." Every fatherhood in heaven and on earth gets its origin and name from the Father. He is the great Original; every other fatherhood is but a copy. Adam is called "the son of God" (Luke 3:38), referring to his creation. Believers are the "sons of God" by rebirth (John 1:11-13; 1 John 3:1-2). All men are not children of God by nature. Instead, they are children of disobedience and children of wrath (Eph. 2:2-3). As Creator, God is the Father of each man; but as Saviour, He is only the Father of those who believe. There is no such thing in Scripture as the universal fatherhood of God that saves all men. "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7). (See Be Rich (Ephesians): Gaining the Things That Money Can't Buy)

William MacDonald gives a summary of the different interpretations of every family but I feel the context favors interpretation #1 - This may mean:

1. All the redeemed in heaven and on earth look to Him as Head of the family.

2. All created beings, angelic and human, owe their existence to Him not only as individuals but as families as well. Families in heaven include the various grades of angelic creatures. Families on earth are the different races springing from Noah and now divided into various nations.

3. All fatherhood in the universe derives its name from Him. The Fatherhood of God is the original and the ideal; it is the prototype of every other paternal relationship. Phillips translates the verse, "from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name." (Believer's Bible Commentary)

Related Resources:

Heaven (3772) (ouranos) in a physical sense, it means the over-arching, all-embracing heaven beneath which is the earth and all that is therein. It is that the portion or portions of the universe generally distinguished from planet earth.

Family (3965) (patria from pater = father) represents persons of successive generations who are related by birth. Patria can refer to people linked over a relatively long period of time by line of descent to a common progenitor (a family or clan) or a relatively large body of people existing as a totality at a given moment and linked through ancestry and sociopolitical interests (a nation). In other words it refers refers to all of the descendants of a particular patriarch. In one sense, the whole Jewish nation could be traced back to Abraham and be called the patria of Abraham. Paul does not mean to refer to the single family unit as we do in our own culture. The word family is a collective term for the descendants of the same father, immediate or remote.

Zodhiates - Lineage, family, descendants. Used thus in Luke 2:4, "Of the lineage [i.e., descendants] of David." Used in a wider sense as a people, nationality or race (Acts 3:25 in allusion to Gen. 12:3; 1 Chr. 16:28; Ps. 22:27; 96:7). In Eph. 3:14, 15 we have God presented as "the Father" who has only one patriá (family). This indicates the oneness of God's family, both Jews and Gentiles, both the saints of the OT as well as those of the NT who were baptized into the body of Christ (CHURCH) (cf 1 Cor. 12:13). (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament -)

Gilbrant - The noun patria is used in classical Greek meaning “lineage, descent,” especially “by the father’s side” (Liddell-Scott). The idea of relatedness permeates patria. Its closest relative, patēr (3824), “father,” denotes relationship. Even the Septuagint uses patria to describe human beings who are related (Judith 8:2; 1 Chronicles 16:28) The same idea applies to New Testament usage. Patria refers to persons directly related by common human ancestors (Luke 2:4). More broadly it describes people more distantly related, as in “all the kindreds of the earth” (Acts 3:25). Ephesians 3:15 says that every family, people, and nation received its name or character from God (in the beginning). The difference in these usages is quite simple. The first usage denotes a limited, direct descent, e.g., a family or a clan. The second usage indicates a more indirect relationship, e.g., a class or a race. (Complete Biblical Library - Incredible Resource)

Liddell Scott -  πατριά, Ion. -ιή, ἡ, (πατήρ) lineage, descent, esp. by the father’s side, ἐγεν†ηλόγησε τὴν π. τὴν Κύρου Hdt.3.75, cf. 2.143, Ev.Luc.2.4, πατριᾶφι (instr. pl.) with their lineages, SEG37.340.17 (Mentinea, iv B.C.); cf. πατροφιστί, ἐπιπατρόφιον.
II. = πάτρα II. 2, clan, Hdt.1.200, Michel195.1 (Elis, v B.C.), 995 A 26 (Delph., v B.C.).
  2. family, LXXEx.12.3, al., Ep.Eph.3.15.
III. in pl., = patrum officia, Cod.Just.1.5.14.

Friberg - , tribe (Lk 2.4); (2) plural, in a broader sense of all peoples of earth, as deriving from God the Father of mankind families, nations (Acts 3.25); (3) in a unique sense, as the idea of a group of people forming a family, patterned after God's fatherhood, family (Eph 3.15)

Patria in NT - 3x - Lk. 2:4 = " because he was of the house and family of David,"; Acts 3:25 = "AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’"; Eph. 3:15

Patria in the Septuagint - Exod. 6:15; Exod. 6:17; Exod. 6:25; Num. 1:2; Num. 1:4; Num. 1:16; Num. 1:18; Num. 1:20; Num. 1:22; Num. 1:24; Num. 1:26; Num. 1:28; Num. 1:30; Num. 1:32; Num. 1:34; Num. 1:36; Num. 1:38; Num. 1:40; Num. 1:42; Num. 1:44; Num. 1:47; Num. 2:2; Num. 2:32; Num. 2:34; Num. 3:15; Num. 3:20; Num. 3:24; Num. 3:30; Num. 3:35; Num. 4:2; Num. 4:22; Num. 4:29; Num. 4:34; Num. 4:38; Num. 4:40; Num. 4:42; Num. 4:44; Num. 4:46; Num. 7:2; Num. 13:2; Num. 17:2; Num. 17:3; Num. 17:6; Num. 18:1; Num. 25:14; Num. 25:15; Num. 26:2; Num. 26:55; Num. 31:26; Num. 32:28; Num. 33:54; Num. 34:14; Num. 36:1; Num. 36:4; Num. 36:7; Deut. 18:8; Deut. 29:18; Jos. 14:1; Jos. 19:51; Jos. 21:1; Jos. 22:14; 2 Sam. 14:7; 1 Ki. 4:6; 1 Chr. 2:55; 1 Chr. 4:27; 1 Chr. 4:38; 1 Chr. 5:7; 1 Chr. 5:13; 1 Chr. 5:15; 1 Chr. 5:24; 1 Chr. 6:19; 1 Chr. 6:48; 1 Chr. 6:54; 1 Chr. 6:60; 1 Chr. 6:61; 1 Chr. 6:62; 1 Chr. 6:63; 1 Chr. 6:66; 1 Chr. 6:70; 1 Chr. 6:71; 1 Chr. 7:2; 1 Chr. 7:5; 1 Chr. 7:9; 1 Chr. 7:11; 1 Chr. 7:40; 1 Chr. 8:6; 1 Chr. 8:10; 1 Chr. 8:13; 1 Chr. 8:28; 1 Chr. 9:9; 1 Chr. 9:13; 1 Chr. 9:33; 1 Chr. 9:34; 1 Chr. 11:25; 1 Chr. 12:30; 1 Chr. 15:12; 1 Chr. 16:28; 1 Chr. 23:9; 1 Chr. 23:11; 1 Chr. 23:24; 1 Chr. 24:3; 1 Chr. 24:4; 1 Chr. 24:6; 1 Chr. 24:30; 1 Chr. 24:31; 1 Chr. 26:13; 1 Chr. 26:21; 1 Chr. 26:26; 1 Chr. 26:31; 1 Chr. 26:32; 1 Chr. 27:1; 1 Chr. 29:6; 2 Chr. 1:2; 2 Chr. 5:2; 2 Chr. 17:14; 2 Chr. 23:2; 2 Chr. 25:5; 2 Chr. 31:17; 2 Chr. 35:4; 2 Chr. 35:5; 2 Chr. 35:12; Ezr. 1:5; Ezr. 2:59; Ezr. 2:68; Ezr. 3:12; Ezr. 4:2; Ezr. 4:3; Ezr. 8:1; Ezr. 8:29; Ezr. 10:16; Neh. 7:61; Neh. 7:70; Neh. 7:71; Neh. 8:13; Neh. 10:34; Neh. 11:13; Neh. 12:12; Neh. 12:22; Neh. 12:23; Est. 4:17; Est. 9:27; Ps. 22:27; Ps. 96:7; Ps. 107:41; Jer. 2:4; Jer. 3:14; Jer. 25:9; Ezek. 45:15;

Earth (1093) (ge) refers to the surface of the earth as the dwelling place of mankind, in contrast with the heavens above and the world below.

Derives its name (3687) (onomazo from onoma = name) means to name or call by name.

F B Meyer…ALL THE FATHERHOODS OF EARTH DERIVE THEIR MEANING AND VALUE FROM THE GREAT FATHERHOOD. (Eph. 3:14-15) As the Tabernacle, with its sashes, cords, and curtains, was an embodiment of things in the heavens; so the homes of men are intended to represent aspects and conceptions of that love, which can be set forth by no one phase of human affection, but combines in itself, mother, father, brother, sister, lover, loved. The tenderest, noblest home-life is, at the best, but "broken light"; and yet it is a type, an emblem, an embodiment of God's love to us, its prototype and ideal. Were you the nursling of a blessed home, receding far away in the vista of the past? Transfer its memories to the present, and know that they live still as facts in your relationship to God. And you, who never knew a home-life that you care to recall, be sure that the tenderest that man ever knew is not to be compared with that in which you are living, if only you knew it. (F. B. Meyer. Ephesians - A Devotional Commentary)