For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…
From the noble idea of the elevation of the heathen to equal privileges with the Jews, the apostle proceeds to a second prayer for the Ephesian converts, in which he rises to still greater elevation of thought. Prostrating himself before the Father of all, he contemplates a family unity embracing both heaven and earth, and he prays that his friends at Ephesus may experience such inward illumination and strength as to be fitting members of the mighty family. The leading thought is, then, Christian brotherhood, which embraces angels as well as men. The following thoughts are suggested by the prayer: -
I. CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD IS TO BE REALIZED IN DEVOTION BEFORE A COMMON FATHER. (Ver. 14.) The words "of our Lord Jesus Christ" are not in the most ancient manuscripts, and are rightly omitted in the Revised Version. This clears the ground for the understanding of the family name. The word for "family" (πατριὰ) is etymologically connected with πατὴρ, so that it is God the Father who supplies the patronymic to "every family in heaven and on earth." All gather round the feet of a common Father, and realize in their devotion the true brotherhood. We do not sufficiently think of how much is accomplished when we get men everywhere on their knees with the Lord's Prayer upon their lips. As we say from the heart, "Our Father, which art in heaven," our hearts have become really one. However much we may squabble before we proceed to prayer, if our prayer to the infinite Father be true, we have entered by it into real brotherhood. Contention cannot stand "the light of the countenance" of the great "Peace-maker."
II. CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD IS SECURED THROUGH THE INDWELLING OF A COMMON SAVIOR. (Vers. 16, 17.) For the Holy Spirit, entering into the hearts of God's children, enables them to entertain the elder Brother as a Guest. Christ dwells within each of us. He comes to sup with us and to enable us to sup with him (John 14:21; Revelation 3:20). Christ within us becomes the unifying element. He is the Guest of each and of all. As a Divine Being, he can pervade all the hearts and ensure the brotherhood. The brotherhood is brought about and sustained by an indwelling Christ. Taking possession of our natures, Jesus moulds them to his own gracious purposes and secures the essential brotherhood all round.
III. CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD IS INTENSIFIED THROUGH THE GRADUAL COMPREHENSION OF CHRIST'S WONDROUS LOVE. (Vers. 18, 19.) Jesus by his indwelling becomes the object as well as instigator of our love. We get "rooted and grounded in love." The selfish, loveless life has ceased, and the loving and devoted life has begun. This is essential to the comprehension of another's love. As Robertson says, "You must love in order to understand love One act of charity will teach us more of the love of God than a thousand sermons." Only loving hearts, then, can appreciate the wondrous love of Christ. It passeth the knowledge of natural and unloving men. Love is a revelation only unto love. But now, supposing that the love of Christ has begun within us, then his wondrous love becomes a subject of endless contemplation. Its breadth and length, its depth and height, present a problem for our holy comprehension, which can never be exhausted. "The believer," says A. Monod, "who has been represented just now as rooted and grounded in the love of the Lord, is here represented as enveloped on all sides by this love, which extends itself in all directions around him beyond the limits of vision. Suspended in the very bosom of the infinite love, like the earth in the bosom of space, be looks before him, behind him, above him, below him, to seize the just measure of this love which has saved him, but all ends in demonstrating the impossibility of measuring it. The breadth? On his right and on his left, immensity. The length? Before him and behind him, immensity. The depth? Under his feet, immensity. The height? Over his head, still immensity." Here, then, in the infinite love of Christ there is material for eternal study, and the brotherhood realizes that it has begun an everlasting progress towards "the fullness of God." As we comprehend Christ's love, we find ourselves proportionally "partakers of the Divine nature" and filled with the Divine fullness. This is the infinitely distant goal; this is the straight line to which our hyperbolic orbit is continually making approach, though destined never actually to reach it. And as we approach the perfection and fullness of God, we become the more united in Christian brotherhood.
IV. CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD REMAINS UNBROKEN BY THE CHANGE OF WORLDS. (Ver. 15.) The family of love, who are gathering regularly round the feet of the heavenly Father, cannot be broken up by death or change of worlds. Heaven with its saints add angels, earth with its suffering and saintly souls, these constitute but one family circle, and are pervaded by the one Christ and the one Christian spirit. It is this thought which robs death of its sting and makes it appear but a sublime emigration. The majority are in the Father's house above; it is the minority that are left on earth; and our sainted dead have simply passed over to the majority and are awaiting us amid more perfect associations. "Death, in short," says Martineau, "under the Christian aspect, is but God's method of colonization; the transition from this mother-country of our race to the hirer and newer world of our emigration. What though no other passage thither is permitted to all the living, and by neither eye nor ear we can discover any trace of that unknown receptacle of vivid and more glorious life? So might the dwellers in any other sphere make complaint respecting our poor world. Intensely as it burns with life, dizzy as our thought becomes with the din of its eager passions and the cries of its many woes, yet from the nearest station that God's universe affords - nay, at a few miles beyond its own confines, all its strong force, its crowded cities, the breathless hurry and ferment of its nations, the whole apparition and chorus of humanity, is still and motionless as death; gathered all and lost within the circumference of a dark or illumined disc. And silent as those midnight heavens appear, well may there be, among their points of light, some one that thrills with the glow of our lost and immortal generations; busy with the fleet movements and happy energies of existence more vivid than our own; where, as we approach, we might catch the awful voices of the mighty dead, and the sweeter tones, lately heard in the last pain and sorrow, of our own departed ones."
V. THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERHOOD IS SUSTAINED BY THE ASSURANCE OF GOD'S SURPASSING POWER. (Vers. 20, 21.) In the doxology the apostle adds one other thought to round and complete his glorious theme. He wishes to ascribe glory unto God; but what attribute shall form the substance of the doxology? The attribute of power. Not, however, the physical power which obtains in the universe of sense, but the spiritual power which obtains in the "world of mind." And so he looks upward and pronounces the mighty God as "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." In the world of sense he does not work up to his full strength, nor is there any reason why he should. The physical universe speaks of his "eternal," but not necessarily of his "infinite power (Romans 1:20). It is in the domain of the spirit that he performs his chefs-de'ouvre. And such a thought is surely fitted to sustain the aspirations of the Christian brotherhood! - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,