A Bountiful God

“…that according to the riches of his glory…” (Ephesians 3:16)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:14-19

Having explained his role as an apostle to the Gentiles and his knowledge of the mystery of God, Paul is ready to return to the thought that he interrupted in the first verse of this chapter.

Before doing so, however, he offers a brief word of comfort to his readers. He knows that they are concerned about him as he suffers in prison on their behalf, but he doesn’t want them to be downhearted on his account. “I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you,” he writes, “which is your glory” (Ephesians 3:13). 

His sufferings relate to his preaching of Christ (see v. 1), particularly as this included believing Gentiles in the people of God. This, he says to his dominantly Gentile readers, “is your glory”. Everything that he has written in this letter so far concerning the blessings believers have in Christ (1:3-2:10), and the removal of any barriers between Jew and Gentile in the “one new man” formed in Christ (2:11-22), applies to them. It gives Gentile believers hope and status they never had before. As such, the gospel is “their glory” (see also Colossians 1:27).

With that, Paul returns to what he began to write in v. 1. “For this reason,” he says, referring to everything written in the first two chapters, “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named…” (v. 14). The gospel status of his readers – their “glory” – prompts him to pray further for them. It gives birth to what might be called the loftiest and most glorious prayer of the apostle recorded in his letters.

He begins by referring to the one to whom he prays. He bows his knees (literally, no doubt) before “the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth is named.” This unusual reference to God has been interpreted in different ways. In what sense, it is asked, is God the Father “from whom every family in heaven and earth named”? At the very least, it points to the universal fatherhood of God as it relates to believers. It matters not whether a person is Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, slave or free, male or female – all are truly God’s children and have his name upon them.

The next thing Paul mentions is that he asks the Father “that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…” (v. 16). Paul often uses “riches” in connection with the gospel (see also 1:18; 2:7; 3:8). It belongs to the infinite and bountiful character of God – his glory – to possess inexhaustible riches. It is to this limitless bounty that Paul appeals as he prays.

The nature of the prayer itself we shall consider in coming devotionals. It is enough now to see that we pray to a God whose bounty is without limit.

 Closing Thoughts:

  • Do you think of God as limitless in his bounty and generosity?
  • If you do, what effect does this have on the way you approach God with your requests?

– Andrew Young