The Content of the Prayer: Page 3 of 4 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

“In the inner man”

Here “the inner man” stands for the soul. Every man is a compound being; he has a body and a soul. The outward man is that which is seen and appraised by men; the inward man is that which interacts with God and looks forward to an eternity with Him. The outward man is strengthened by earthly food, etc.; the inward man, by spiritual and heavenly influences. Knowledge, love, peace, and holiness, are the food of the inward man; or rather Jesus Christ, that bread of life which came down from heaven: he that eateth this bread shall live and be strengthened by it. The soul must be fed and nourished by Divine food, as much as the body is by natural food.

What do I need? I need to be made powerfully strong. Let me repeat it once more. You go to work, go among your neighbors, go among your friends, and there you will find a sneer, indifference, coldness, and arrogance manifested; and you feel like pulling into your shell.

I want you to pray today that the Lord may make you powerfully strong in the inner man by His Spirit, according to His riches in glory. Oh, friend, we need this. You and I can't afford to live a single day out of fellowship with God. And may you today revel in the fact that we belong to the family of God, and then pray that He will give you His strength in the inner man so you may glory in Him day by day.

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”
This is another petition (prayer) sent up by the apostle for the Ephesians, which is for Christ to take up residence in them. The resident Christ is He who dwells in the highest heavens, who dwells in the Father, and the Father in Him, in whom all fullness dwells, the fullness of the Godhead, and the fullness of grace. Those in whose heart He dwells cannot want for any good thing, are living in the greatest safety, and enjoying the greatest comfort and pleasure. This indwelling of Christ is not to be understood in this sense; which is, that He dwells everywhere, being the omnipresent God; or that He dwells in the human nature; or that His dwelling is merely by His Spirit. Rather, it should be understood that His is a personal indwelling; which is an instance of His special grace. He dwells in His people like a king in his palace, to rule and protect them, and to provide for them as the head of his family. It is a consequence of their union with Him, and is expressive of their communion with Him, and is perpetual; where He once takes up His residence, He never totally departs―with no going back. The place where He dwells is not their heads, nor their tongues, but their hearts; and this is where no good thing dwells except Himself and His grace; and where sin dwells, and where He is often slighted, opposed, and rebelled against. The means by which He dwells there, is a person’s faith (saving faith); which is not the bond of union to Christ, nor the cause of His being and dwelling in the hearts of His people; but is the instrument or means by which they receive Him, and retain Him, and by which they have communion with Him.

“that ye being rooted and grounded in love”
There are two ways in which a person becomes “rooted and grounded in love”:
1) IN LOVE FOR GOD, AND ONE ANOTHER; for faith and love go together; and love is sometimes weak and like a flower it needs to be planted and watered before it will grow and blossom. But what is it that serves to root and ground persons in love; it can only be discoveries of God's love, views of Christ's loveliness, the consideration of blessings received, and the communion they have with God, and Christ, and one another, and a larger insight into the doctrines of the Gospel.
2) IN THE LOVE OF GOD FOR THEM; which is the root and foundation

of salvation; this is in itself everlasting and unchallengeable; but saints do not always notice the signs and expressions of it, and sometimes call it into question, and therefore they need to be “rooted and grounded” in it; which means to have a bona fide sense of it, and to be deeply interest in it, and to believe that nothing shall be able to separate you from it.

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

“May be able to comprehend with all saints”
The subject to be comprehended is not only beyond man’s natural capacity to understand, but beyond the ordinary power of his spiritual capacity. The thing to be grasped requires a special strength of heart and soul; the heart needs to be enlarged, the mental “hands and arms” need to be made strong (Genesis 49:24{3]). But it is not impossible for any of God’s children to attain wisdom, understanding, and spiritual power―it is the experience of “all the saints”―all God's children are enabled to grasp something of this (comp. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6{4]).

“What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height”
Since the clause does not contain a genitive{5], it has been difficult to determine what these dimensions must be applied to. Some think that the love of Christ in the following clause must be meant; but surely when that is made the subject of a separate part of the prayer, and is not in the genitive but the objective case, governed by a verb of its own, this explanation is not to be entertained. Others, with better reasoning, think that the idea of a temple was in the mind of the writer, as it certainly was in Ephesians 2:21, 22, and that it is the dimensions of the temple that he could see in his mind’s eye, the prayer being that the Ephesians might comprehend the vastness and glory of that spiritual temple which is within the physical body of believers, and in which God dwells by the Spirit. Even this, however, would not fit in well with the context, in which the gist of the apostle's prayer is that an abundance of Divine blessing might be enjoyed by the Ephesians. If a genitive{5] must be supplied, may we not envision the apostle to have had in his view the entire provision God has made in Christ for the good of His people, so that the dimensions would be those of the gospel storehouse, the vast reservoir out of which the Church is filled? “Breadth” might denote the great number of believers that come to the church through faith in Christ; “length,” its eternal duration; its “depth” might be represented by the enormity of Christ's humiliation; and its “height” by the loftiness of the condition to which His people are to be raised. To comprehend this, to understand its existence and its richness, is to get our faith enlarged, our expectations expanded; it is through this comprehension that “all the saints” have got their wants supplied, and their souls filled as with peace and joy.

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

“And to know the love of Christ”
“The love of Christ” for us has been revealed in the immensity of His redeeming love. It is not merely the love which He showed for the Gentiles by calling them into His kingdom, which is referred to here; it is rather, the love He has shown for the lost world by giving Himself to die. This love is often referred to in the New Testament, and is declared to surpass all the other occurrences of love which has ever been envisioned (see Romans 5:7-8 and notes; John 15:13 and note). To know this; to feel this; to have a lively sense of it, is one of the highest privileges that the Christian can have. Nothing else will excite so much gratitude in our hearts; nothing will prompt us so much to live a life of self-denial; nothing will make us so compassionate and generous and so dead to the world (see the following notes on 2 Corinthians 5:14 for more on “The love of Christ”).

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