Ephesians 3:14-15 Commentary

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,

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)

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

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)

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:


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

Ruth Paxson sees this prayer as a "process of realization" writing…

As we know from experience, the realization of Christ's abundant life in us is a process. While we become the potential possessors of the fulness of Christ the moment we are reborn, yet the personal possession of that fulness is a continuous process after the initial appropriation of it by faith. No matter how much of that fulness one has enjoyed today, there is more beyond, and every to-morrow should be for us unto still greater fulness.

The possibility of an answer to this prayer seems so remote that there may be hesitancy in voicing the petitions. The scope of the prayer staggers us. We know the wealth which God has purposed and provided for us in Christ, but can it be procured? Let us have our hearts set at rest on that question.

The prayer is buttressed at each end by two reassuring phrases. "They should convince us that the realization of our riches in Christ is based on something very stable and sure; objectively upon "the riches of his glory," and subjectively upon "the power that worketh in us." (The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian)

For this reason - this same phrase was used in Ephesians 3:1. Paul after digressing to explain God's eternal purpose in Ephesians 3:2-13, now resumes the thought of verse 1 (by repeating the same words) as he began his prayer.

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 in The Pulpit Commentary)

Hoehner writes that…

Having stated that positionally the Gentile and Jewish believers are “one new man” (Ep 2:15-note), 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. (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor).


MacArthur writes that…

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. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Wayne Barber explains…

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 mentally 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)

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.

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 verse 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 Audio/Pdf )

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.

For example 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 2Chronicles 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)

Comment: 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)

Comment: The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Jas 5:16

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 (note) In the early church kneeling became customary for individual and public prayer expressing subjection, abasement, and petition.

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)

John Eadie writes that…

The posture is the instinctive expression of homage, humility, and petition: the suppliant offers his worship and entreaty on bended knee. (John Eadie, D., LL.D. The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians)

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.

This must have been quite an experience for the Roman soldier chained to Paul!

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).

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)

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 notes that…

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. 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, 12, 13)

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.

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)

O'Brien in his excellent commentary on Ephesians has a note regarding "Father" writing 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. (O'Brien, P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999)

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. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)

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)

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)

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)

NLT: the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. (NLT - Tyndale House)

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)

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):

Every (3956) (pas) means all without exception. Note however that Paul is not teaching teach that God is the spiritual Father of every being in the universe. He does not teach the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. As we have learned their are two spiritual families, with two spiritual fathers, God and Satan. God is the Father of those who trust in Christ for salvation and Satan is the spiritual father of those who do not (Study this contrast in fathers in John 8 and compare with 1John 3:10) All men belong to one of these two families whether they are Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free.

Keep the context in mind as you assess this passage. Paul has been emphasizing the mystery, believing Jews and Gentiles now one in Christ, now of 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, has the family privilege to make appeal to the Father in heaven.

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.

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.

Boice - Here is a great lesson in prayer. When we pray we must go beyond our own small interests or the concerns of our own limited circle of Christian friends and instead pray for the church of God at large. We must ask that it be strengthened throughout the whole world, and we must be encouraged by what God is doing through his people everywhere. (Boice, J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary)

Earlier in this letter Paul had explained that now the Gentiles were in the "family of God"…

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. (Ephesians 2:19 - New Living Translation)

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. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)

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.

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. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)

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.

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. (Hodge, C. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. London : Banner of Truth Trust, 1964)

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)