“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Gracious Equipping For Service: Ephesians 3:14-21
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what [is] the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
RIn this text, Paul is requesting through prayer, that the Lord would equip the Ephesian saints with the necessary tools to be faithful in their service to Him.
A very basic outline of this section of Scripture which is Paul’s prayer for the Lord’s equipping of the saints:
I. Paul’s prayerful/submissive attitude in prayer – 14
II. Paul’s recognition of The Father’s authority over His family – 15
III. Paul’s request for spiritual strength in the inner man – 16
IV. Paul’s request for Christ inhabiting their hearts – 17a
V. Paul’s request for love to be their foundation – 17b
VI. Paul’s request for their comprehension of the love of Christ – 18-19a
VII. Paul’s request for spiritual filling – 19b
VIII. Paul’s acknowledgment of His great abilities – 20
IX. Paul’s desire for the Lord to be glorified – 21
X. The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13
Paul’s prayer continues …
(Ephesians 3:17b) that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Paul requests that the believers at Ephesus would be based upon love …
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
In this verse, the word “love” is translated from the Greek word “agape”. This word refers to a love that is:
1. a deep abiding love
2. characterized by a willingness to sacrifice oneself for the loved one.
3. pictured as a gracious love … it is to be shown to those who do not merit nor deserve it.
The characteristics of agape love are looked at in detail in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7…
“Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
This is the highest form of love and was displayed in all its fullness in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross….
“Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
(Please note: By looking at the Father’s willingness to sacrifice His Son on behalf of those He loved; and the Son’s willingness to give His life for those He loved; we can see clearly the divine manifestation of this great love.)
But Paul goes further in this text… Paul uses a dual picture (“rooted” and “grounded”) to describe the extreme importance of the believer’s relationship to agape love …
1. rooted in – the Grk word translated “rooted” here literally describes tree roots… there are, at least, three main aspects that we need to notice in the context of being rooted like a tree:
a. growth, increase, fruitfulness – Psa 80:8-9
b. stability, firmness – Prov 12:3
c. life and existence – Prov 2:22
d. and, perhaps, others
2. grounded in – the Grk word translated “grounded” here describes the foundation of a building… again we find several aspects to this idea found in the Bible…
a. stability, firmness – Psa 18:7
b. base, underpinnings, footing – Psa 102:25
c. permanence – Psa 104:5
d. beginnings – Prov 8:29
e. and, perhaps, others.
Based upon the use of the terms “rooted and grounded” we can learn much about the role of self-sacrificial love in our Christian life…
1. it gives us our stability and firmness in service. (John 15:9-13)
2. its exercise causes us to be fruitful and gain spiritual increase for the Lord. (Gals 5:22-24, Col 3:14, 1 Peter 4:8)
3. it is the cause and sustainer of our life in Christ (Romans 8:35-39)
4. it was the beginning motive of the Lord to choose us and make us accepted in the beloved. (2 Thess 2:13)
All of the above is summarized in Matthew 22:36-40…
“Master, which [is] the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
If we love our Lord and others as we should we will find ourselves living lives that are pleasing to the Lord and fulfilling His divine law. Let’s take a few of the ten commandments for an example…
1. If we love the Lord as we should we will not worship other Gods nor take His name in vain.
2. If we love others as we should we will not lie, steal, or commit murder against them.
As we can see, if we have the proper agape love in our lives…. we will be motivated by that love to treat our Lord and others as we should. It is for this reason that Paul emphasizes our need to have love as the motivation and basis for all of our relationships.
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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