Tuesday, 23 August 2016
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:14
This takes us right back to verse 3:1, which said –
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—“
Prior to that, from verse 2:11 – 2:22 was a discussion on how the Gentiles had become partakers with the Jews in the commonwealth of Israel and were, like them, being built up into a holy temple in the Lord; “a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Immediately after those words came his first “For this reason.” After that, he wrote from 3:2 until 3:13 about how this was previously a mystery which was now revealed through him. With that parenthetical thought now complete, we are given the second “For this reason.”
As an emphasis as to how overwhelming it is that he has been granted this high honor, he says, “I bow my knees…” The use of these words show a solemn type of prayer which indicates great humility while being awed at the work of God. It is certain that Paul wasn’t bowing his knees as he either dictated the letter to a scribe, or wrote out the words himself. Therefore, the term is used in place of the emotion and act.
From this verse, some scholars conclude that kneeling is, “The usual, and the proper posture of prayer is to kneel… It is a posture which indicates reverence, and should, therefore, be assumed when we come before God. It has been an unhappy thing that the custom of kneeling in public worship has ever been departed from in the Christian churches.” Albert Barnes
There is no reason at all to come to this unfounded conclusion. Paul elsewhere writes that we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It is without a doubt that he did not expect the saints to stay on their knees at all times and simply pray their life away in that position. Rather, there are different positions one will assume at different times. One may pray as if speaking to God as a friend while driving their car. The same person may stand atop a mountain and raise his hands in a prayer of exultation at the majesty of God; shouting out with joy at the marvel he beholds. He may also fall to his knees in awe and in acknowledgment of his unworthiness of such a high honor being bestowed upon him – as Paul is doing here. Or he may fall flat on his face in a prayer of absolute mourning, anguish, or pain.
Paul’s use of “I bow my knees” reflects his overwhelmed state at what has been granted to him, and the immense implications of what it means that the Gentiles will also share in the blessings of what God has done through Jesus Christ.
He finishes the verse with, “…to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” His overwhelmed prayer of what he has written about is directed to the first Person of the Godhead. He has chosen this form of address because it is through Jesus that the Father/son relationship is made for us. As He is the Father of Christ, we now too share in the son-ship of the Father because of Christ. For this reason, the prayer is made directly to Him. It is Christ upon whom the household of God is erected; a household of which we are a part.
This prayer does not in any way negate praying to or through Christ as is seen elsewhere in the NT. However, the terminology of the direction of our prayers should be based on the substance of the prayers. The substance of Paul’s words of this verse are specifically shaped to be addressed to God, “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” because of what they are referring to.
Life application: Let’s not get legalistic in our prayer life.
It is the most wonderful honor, O God, to come to You and know that our prayers are heard. We know this because Jesus is the Mediator between us. Through Him, we have full and unfettered access to You. Thank You for allowing your people to come – whether with arms stretched out in praise, knees bowed in awe, or faces flat in humility. Whatever our state at the time, because of Christ Jesus, You are pleased to hear and respond. Thank You. We praise You in His magnificent name. Amen.