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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on April 26, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; April 26, 2017 from Ephesians 3:20-21

Theme: Paul closes the ‘doctrinal’ section of his epistle with a glorious doxology to the God of our salvation.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

Paul has spent three chapters of his wonderful letter to the Ephesians describing the spiritual riches that are ours in Christ. (That’s the key, by the way, throughout this letter: we must always remember that they are ours “in Christ”.) And he writes about these riches so that we—as God’s people—may fully take hold of them and live as the victorious people in Christ that God has saved us to be.

Beginning with Chapter 4, and going all the way to the end of the letter, Paul will now spend the second half of this epistle describing the kind of practical Christian life we should be living in the light of these inestimable riches in Christ. But before he does so, his heart is lifted up in a glorious ‘doxology’ of praise to the God who is the Author and Sustainer of these great spiritual blessings. He is the one who not only secures us in these great riches (Chapters 1-3), but who also enables us to live victoriously in them (Chapters 4-6).

The word ‘doxology’ is formed by putting two words together: doxa (which means ‘glory’ or ‘splendor’) and logia (which means ‘words’ or ‘sayings’). A doxology, then, is words put together to express the praise of the glory of God’s splendor (see another doxology in Romans 11:33-36). Paul’s Ephesians ‘doxology’ is found in Ephesians 3:20-21—right after a glorious explanation of his prayer for the enablement of his fellow Christians (see verses 14-19). And what a wonderful doxology it is! We should bask in these two verses often; because they are all about God and His glory.

* * * * * * * * * *

In verse 20, Paul begins by saying, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us …” And here, we see …


That this is about the praise of God is obvious. Paul says “Now to Him …” And if you look on to verse 21, you see that what Paul offers “to Him” is the recognition of His “glory”. But before he expresses this offering of praise, notice the things that Paul says about this God. (That’s where we should begin in worship and praise, by the way; by first looking at the character of God.)

First Paul writes that He is the one “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think …” The phrase “able to do” is one word in the original language; and literally (as a participle), it speaks of God as “the ‘being able to do’ one”. And if we are paying attention, we will see that Paul builds a description of this ‘able to do’ God of ours in a way that keeps exceeding our expectation. He doesn’t simply say that God is able to do things; but more, that He is able to do things ‘exceedingly’. But more still, He is able to do things exceedingly ‘abundantly’. And more still; He is able to do things exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ‘ask’. And even that’s not enough; because yet more still, He is even able to do exceedingly abundantly above what we could even ‘think’. Truly, our God—the God of our salvation—is greater in His ability to act for us than we even have the ability to conceive! As He Himself says in Isaiah 55:9,

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

How secure we are in Him!

And not only that, but look at how Paul also describes the extent of His ability. He is able to do so much more than our highest possible conception of Him could imagine that He could do, but He does it “according to the power that works in us”. Paul described something of how great this power is in 1:19-23; when he mentions “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe …”

according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23).

The same power by which God raised the Son of God from death and seated Him above every name that is named abides in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit—able to enable us to live in Christ’s riches victoriously. He is “able” according to that power! No wonder then that Paul praises Him so!

* * * * * * * * * *

Now; that’s how Paul describes our glorious God whom he praises. And in verse 21, he goes on to say, “to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” And this is where we find …


We must understand this rightly. When Paul says, “to Him be glory”, he is not suggesting that we can, in any way, actually give glory to God or add to the glory He already has. Rather, this is a phrase of ascription—one in which Paul recognizes and attributes and ‘ascribes’ to God the glory that is already His. It is an act of worship by which he acknowledges the truth about Him and declares it in love and adoration. We who are saved by Christ—and who receive the benefits of His riches—have the greatest reason to do this. In fact, that’s—in part—why God saves us;

that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Note that, as a part of this ascription to God of His glory, Paul recognizes that His glory is to be attributed to Him “in the church”—that is to say, this glory of God is to be found in the church as its sphere of display. God has chosen to display His glory through the grace that He has shown in redeeming those He has elected for salvation and formed into a community. As Paul wrote in 3:10 that He has revealed the hidden plan of His grace to sinners like us, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” But this is not because of anything to be found in His redeemed people in and of themselves. His glory is to be found in them “by Christ Jesus”. The church is glorious only through Christ; and Christ is now glorious only along with His church; and together, they display the glories of God the Father to the angelic realms.

And this glory endures. Paul says that it is a glory through the church, by Christ, “to all generations”. ‘Generation’ can, of course, speak of the people who are living on earth at a particular time. But clearly, Paul is speaking of this display of glory “to all generations”—from one generation to another in continuous succession. (And may we draw from this that God’s glory through His church by the gospel of salvation in Christ is never something that can be set aside as ‘passe’ or ‘outdated’? The message of the gospel is profoundly relevant to all generations—even this one; and even beyond!) It is, in fact, a glory that will exceed time; and even endure “forever and ever” (or literally as it is in the original language, “of the age [singular] of the ages [plural]”). This is so “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7)—that is to say, throughout eternity!

* * * * * * * * * *

Note how Paul ends—with an “Amen”; which means, “Truly” or “Assuredly”. May this be the response of us—redeemed in Christ—to the call to give glory to the God of our Salvation!

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