Thursday, 14 July 2016
…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power… Ephesians 1:19
Paul continues his prayer here for the saints in Ephesus (and thus us!) concerning the opening of the eyes of our hearts to the magnificence of what Christ has done for us. In this verse, he continues with his use of superlatives, beginning with the words, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power.”
The Greek words for “exceeding greatness” are used to describe what Paul actually cannot describe. He uses pen and ink in a struggle with the thoughts of his mind to relay to us the immense magnitude of the greatness of what God has done for us. It is this which is now revealed though the mystery of Christ. His words further disclose to us the grandeur of the riches of God’s divine grace which is working toward us.
The Pulpit Commentary states that, “The whole energy of the Divine Being is turned on to our feeble, languid nature, vivifying, purifying, and transforming it, making it wonderfully active where all was feebleness before, as the turning on of steam suddenly wakens up a whole mass of inert machinery.”
Paul then notes that this immense working of God is “toward us who believe.” We are the objects of God’s marvelous workings in the stream of time and human existence into which Christ stepped. The actual workings will be described in the next verses, but in order to show us the spectacular nature of them, we are given the matchless words of this verse now.
To complete this preparatory thought, he says that this exceeding greatness of God’s power, which is directed towards us as believers, is “according to the working of His mighty power.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that the words “His mighty power” are insufficient to translate the Greek. Rather it should be “the strength of His might.” The word for “strength” is a word used only of God which denotes both “relative and manifested power.” The word “might” refers to “indwelling strength.” And the word “working” denotes “the active, efficient manifestation of these.”
Taken together they reveal more than just a latent “power,” but rather an active working of God which is connected to the words “exceeding greatness of His power” of the preceding clause. As Vincent’s states, “The magnitude of God’s power toward believers is known in the operation of the strength of His might.” As you can see, Paul’s words are very carefully used to reveal to our minds the opulence of God’s mighty power working towards us. As stated, the actual use of this power is yet to be described. Paul will list it as he continues to show us the greatness of what God has done in and through Christ the Lord.
Life application: If Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, struggled with just the right terminology to describe the glorious workings of God in Christ, then we should be attentive to these nuances and contemplate them when they are explained to us. In this, we can then truly begin to state what our minds have begun to grasp – “How great Thou art, O God.”
Lord God, help us to remember that even if by the world’s standards we might seem like a failure, that in Your eyes we aren’t. When our hearts are directed to You, and when our lives are lived in accord with Your word, then we are doing what is right. A spouse may leave, friends may reject, but You are ever-faithful, and ever-true. You are a Husband to the widow, a Father to the fatherless, and our Comforter in times of need. Help us to remember the words of Your servant David who said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” Our hope is in You and we shall praise You, even through the storms of life. In You we will hope, for You are the help of our countenance. You are our God. Amen.