For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…
I. THE SUPPLIANT. "For this cause I bow my knees." He has explained who he, Paul, was, in the remarkable parenthesis which concludes with the thirteenth verse. In resuming his sentence, so long interrupted, he naturally falls back on the first words, "For this cause." Thus taken up, it has only the meaning which it had before, the thought in the parenthesis being carried forward into the word, "I." He describes himself as a suppliant from the natural posture in prayer. The only reason there can be for a standing posture in prayer has a narrow reference. There is justification in standing in prayer at a bedside or before a congregation, if kneeling interferes with edification (which is the higher consideration). Solomon was able to combine the kneeling posture with edification in his prayer of the dedication; for, placed on a brazen pulpit, "he kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven." Kneeling is the posture of humility, and we have reason to humble ourselves before God as creatures before our Creator, as sinners before our Judge. It is the posture of earnest entreaty. "And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet and besought him." So should we, as though pleading for our life, bend the knee before God.
II. HOW GOD IS ADDRESSED. "Unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." In the Greek there is a transition as from Father to fatherhood, only the transition in thought is not to the abstract idea of fatherhood, but to the concrete representation of it in a family. God has instituted the relationship of father and son among men. And though the angels neither marry nor are given in marriage, it would seem from the language here that there is a certain grouping of them in families too. How far this may descend we have not the moans of knowing. But into a family there enters the idea of a head with a certain subordination to the head. There also enters the idea of a special affection existing between the members of the same family. Now, the whole of this conception has its origination in Godhead. It is from God that every family in heaven and on earth is named. We find Father and Son existing from eternity. "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was When he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him." And angels and men have been constituted after this pattern, in order that they may be familiarized with the truth of God's fatherhood, and in order that they may know in what close relationship he would have them stand to him. And where the family is thus "named" after God, how becoming to worship him as the God of families, and specially as the God of our family!
III. THE MEASURE ACCORDING TO WHICH BLESSING IS ASKED. "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory." There is a certain expectation of favors and donations from people according to their rank and wealth. There is a style of giving which is known as princely. The apostle supposes that the glory of God, which infinitely transcends all human glory, which is infinitely rich in the meeting of all perfections, - that all this glory means infinite power to bless, to which his creatures may look. His conception of God is sublime, that he grants according to the riches of his glory. He grants, not like a being of limited powers, but like himself. He is glorified in bestowing large blessings upon his people. He who came forth from God and knew the glory of God, said, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing."
"Thou art coming to a King;
Large petitions with thee bring;
For his grace and power are such,
None can ever ask too much."
IV. THE PRAYER IN FIVE PETITIONS. These petitions follow each other in natural order, and we are carried forward from the point where our need begins to the point where it is all filled up. It is a suitable prayer for Christians, to be used often, even as the Lord's Prayer. First petition - "That ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man." The destination of the strength is the inward man. As it were, it goes past the outward man, and reaches to the inward man. The outward man "decays;" the inward man needs to be "renewed day by day." The apostle touches where our need begins, viz. in an inertness in the inward man. We are not disposed to exert ourselves spiritually. The outward has too much influence in our life, and works to our inward weakening. We need strength to counteract our inertness, and to deliver us from too outward a life. Now, there is all strength in God. This is part of the riches of his glory. And his Spirit is the mediating agent between his strength and our weakness. And what we have to ask God to do for us is, that, through his Spirit, he would infuse strength into our weak inner nature. Second petition - "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." The supplies of strength which we get from God through the Spirit find their way into our faith to its greater activity. This faith is an exorcise of the mind specially directed toward Christ for us - Christ in what he was and still is as our Surety. The result is the indwelling of Christ in our hearts. We dwell within (as is suggested by "inward man"); but within us (far in as we are) dwells Christ. He dwells in our hearts (the inward man viewed from the side of the affections), where he receives our love and adoration. As dwelling within, we are present in every outward motion; and so Christ, as dwelling within us, is at the very center of our being, and becomes so interlaced with it as to be present in all our life, to think in our thoughts, to speak in our words, to act in our actions. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." And we ask from God new supplies of strength that, with new faith, we may have new experience of Christ's indwelling in our hearts, and presence in our life. Third petition - "That ye, being rooted and grounded in love." If love is "creation's final law," it is also its first principle. If it is the end for which all things exist, it is also the principle from which all things have sprung. Love may be defined as the desire to bestow. It was in the desire to bestow that we were created, with all our capacity for enjoyment. If, then, our being is thus to be traced back to love, it is clearly necessary that we should be rooted and grounded in love. And this, we are taught here, is only possible by our believing in Christ. For love is in Christ, as Christ in us. As believing, then, is rooting and grounding ourselves in Christ, so it must mean rooting and grounding in love - getting down into the eternal substratum of all being. And we ask for supplies of the Divine strength that, through a vigorous faith, this rooting and grounding in love may go forward in our life. Fourth petition - "May be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, arid to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." The rooting and grounding in love is our qualification for apprehending its greatest manifestation. Cold hearts can do nothing here. The apostle's own heart is in such a glow that the love of Christ rises before him as though it were a body in space having dimensions of breadth, and length, and height, and depth. We are not to suppose that he was so mathematical as to associate different ideas with these dimensions. The use that they serve is to fix and detain the mind over the magnitude of the love of Christ. The magnitude of the love of Christ appears in two things.
1. It is bestowed on the undeserving. How was it possible for Christ to love us? It was not that there was any goodness in us with which he could have sympathy. For we were the opposite of what he was. As described in this Epistle, we walked according to the course of this world; we lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind. It was not that he underrated what we were; for he saw our depravity in all its breadth, and length, and height, and depth. It can only be stated as a great inexplicable fact that, in the full view of what we were, he was irresistibly drawn toward us in saving love.
2. It is bestowed in the sacrifice of himself. In order to gratify his love in our salvation, he bad not only to lay aside his Divine glory, but to come down into our nature, and, in that nature, to suffer shame and death. It is no ordinary love that is needed to impel one to sacrifice his life for another. "Skin for skin," said the arch-deceiver, "yea, all that a man hath will he give for His life." "Love," said the Spouse to her Beloved, "love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it; though a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned." And Christ falsified the base insinuation of his adversary, and verified the loving declaration of his Spouse. His love was proved stronger than death, though that death was ten thousand deaths in one, in having in it the curse of the broken Law. This is the love of our Beloved; and say not then any more, "What is thy Beloved more than any other beloved?"
"For fainter than the pale star's ray
Before the noontide blaze of day
Is all of love that man can know, -
All that in angel breast can glow, -
Compar'd, O blessed Lord, with thine,
Eternal, infinite, Divine." We are to seek to apprehend with all the saints the magnitude of this love. For this is saintship, according to the apostle, to have the mind opened to some sense of its magnitude, and we must not make it narrower than that. We are to seek to "apprehend," along with others, the dimensions of this love; but we are also to seek to know it by ourselves, that is to say, to have it in our own experience. We can have a certain "apprehension" of its infinitude; but our experimental knowledge of it is necessarily finite. The reality, being infinite, always passeth our knowledge. But we are to ask of God, that, being rooted and grounded in love, we may know more of this wonderful love of Christ. Fifth petition - "That ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God." The apostle here indicates the goal toward which we are to be blessed. We have now some of the fullness of God. Through the agency of the Spirit, we have poured into us out of the Divine fullness, strength, light, purity, love, peace, joy; and these in us are the same in kind that they are in God. We look forward to the time when we shall be filled out of this fountain even up to our capacity. Meantime we would have more of the knowledge of Christ's love, which unseals the fountain of the Divine fullness. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,