As we continue our look into this incredible prayer, we see that Paul prays that these Ephesian believers would begin living in light of what they know about their salvation. We looked at some of the riches of our salvation last week. Do we have a high view of our salvation? “The greatest miracle that happens in an individual’s lifetime is salvation by the grace of God.” Until we view our salvation and the life changing work of Christ as our ultimate priority in daily life, we won’t understand Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3.
This week we are going to look closely at verse 16a. Paul’s prayer is very specific as he asks for three distinct things. His first request is that the believers would be “strengthened spiritually.” This strength is a picture of the victorious Christian life we can experience through Jesus no matter what we face in life. If this is possible to every Christian, why are so many of us living defeated lives? Maybe we are having a low view of our salvation. How desperately we need to be reminded of what we have in Christ!
The word “strengthen” in verse 16 means “to make mighty, to let the strength on the inside of you become evident or established in the strength of your outside behavior.” Dad explains that the Greek word for “strengthen” has a double “oo” ending (some Greek verbs have a single “o” and others have a double “oo”). The double “oo” ending enhances the verb, causing its meaning to go beyond the idea of “being strengthened” and means to “be shown to be strong.” God’s strength on the inside of us starts to be shown on the outside. The implications of this are transformative. Have you ever witnessed others going through hard times with a divine strength? This can only happen as they surrender to Christ and God’s Spirit strengthens them. It is only by His grace.
An amazing example of this double “oo” ending is seen in James. We know that we are justified by faith as Ephesians clearly states, so why does James 2:21 say, “Was not Abraham our Father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” Cursory observation would make us think this is a contradiction. But guess what ending the verb “justified” has? The double “oo” ending! This means that James is NOT saying Abraham was justified by works, but that Abraham’s justification (that had already taken place by faith) was being seen on the outside as he surrendered himself to God in obedience to what God had asked him to do. “The inside justification before God was demonstrated by the outside action before man.”
This brings us to the second request, that they would be “strengthened with power through His Spirit.”
“If you are a believer, God has put Someone inside to provide strength and supply you with His divine ability for all circumstances.” This Someone is the person of the Holy Spirit! Are we walking by the Spirit? Are we tapping into the strength we have in Him? If we are, it will be obvious because there will be fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). If we choose not to avail ourselves to the Spirit’s work in us, we quench His power to strengthen us, thus grieving Him. “The Spirit of God lives in you to do the strengthening moment by moment in every circumstance of life,” as you surrender to Him. Are we submitting to the Spirit’s authority in our lives?
The last specific request Paul prays in verse 16 is that they would be “strengthened in the inner man.” Dad says, “the outer man may require a physician, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist to assist in the wellness of the outer man. Man is a triunity of body, soul, and spirit. The body relates to the environment, the soul relates to people [attitudes and emotions], and the spirit relates to God. The soul and body are housed in the outer man.” It is fascinating to think about how God made us. Our soul and spirit are closely related. If we are yielded to God’s Spirit, our attitudes (soul) will be affected.
“The inner man is the place where the nature of God dwells in each believer. The inner man is what died when Adam sinned, and now needs the life of the Spirit of God.” When we, as believers, are not walking in the Spirit, we become “anemic.” Our inner man is malnourished because we are not being fed by His Spirit through the Word of God.
What a prayer Paul prays! Paul knows that if the Ephesian believers “are strengthened in the inner man, then whatever circumstances they might face in their lives will be an exhibit of the divine strength and ability of the One Who is resident within them. The Holy Spirit has established them on the inside. They will not cave in under stress or distress.”
“No matter what you may face today or tomorrow, as a believer you have been given everything pertaining to life and godliness through the Lord Jesus Christ. You have within you a divine ability, His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you with power in the inner man, and the result is you will behave with confidence and trust in His divine ability to cope in this world, and with this world.”
Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to strengthen you today, or are you feeling a bit anemic? You have a choice. “Are you willing to place the full weight of your life in the invisible hands of the Almighty God?” Those “who believe in the invisible can do the impossible” through Christ who strengthens them.
Week 2: Daily Reflections
Day 1: A High View of Salvation
- Read Hebrews 1:1-14. What do you learn about the Son of God in this chapter?
- Now Read Hebrews 2:1-4. The writer of Hebrews opens up by saying, “For this reason,” referring back to everything he just said in chapter one. What does he encourage believers to do and for what reason?
- Read 1 Peter 1:1-12. How do these verses add to your understanding of our great salvation?
Day 2: Strengthened Spiritually
- Read Colossians 1:9-12. How do these verses compare with Ephesians 3:14-16?
- Read Isaiah 40:28-31. What do you learn about God’s strength?
- Read Psalm 73:21-26. What encouragement do you see in this passage about God’s strength?
Day 3: Strengthened by the Holy Spirit
- Read 2 Timothy 2:1-3. How does the Holy Spirit strengthen us according to these verses?
- Read Acts 1:8. What happened to the apostles, and what happens to us when we received the Holy Spirit? This power never leaves us because the Holy Spirit never leaves us.
- Read Ephesians 1:18-21. What do you learn about the power of God in these verses?
Day 4: Strengthened in the Inner Man
- Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. What do you learn about the inner and outer man in these verses?
- What do you see about inner strength in verse 7?
- Read 2 Peter 1:3-4. What has His divine power granted us in verse 3? What are we partakers of in verse 4?
Day 5: Anemic or Strong?
- Read 1 Peter 2:2. How are we nourished as Christians? Why is the Word of God essential to our growth?
- Read 2 Peter 3:18. How are we to grow?
- Read Hebrews 5:12-13. How had these believers become anemic? How does this compare with 1 Corinthians 3:1-2?
All italicized quotes that are not Scripture quotes or cited from an author, are direct quotes by Wayne A. Barber from the book, “The Surrendered Walk.”