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  • Writer's pictureBruce A. Ware

The Unstoppable, Surpassing Greatness of God (Ephesians 3:20-21)

[Now] to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, ²¹to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. —Ephesians 3:20-21

Paul devotes most of the first half of Ephesians to instructing believers on the abundant riches that they have from the Father, by the accomplished work of the Son, and in the power of the Spirit. Furthermore, he has made it clear to them that they now belong to a community of believers, made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who form one body in Christone new temple in which God dwells in them by the Spirit. In light of these glorious truths, Paul then prays to the Father that these Ephesian believers would be strengthened by the Spirit to know more fully the matchless love that Christ has for them (Ephesians 3:14-19). As he concludes this prayer, he reminds them once again of the surpassing greatness of the God who has accomplished this glorious work and who has promised to bring about their fullness of joy in the end (vv. 20-21). Consider with me some of what Paul wants believers to remember.

First, we must know the vast power that God alone possesses to accomplish far more than we could ever imagine. When Paul describes this power of God, he “piles on” terms and expressions to convey just how incredible it is. Notice, God is able to do “far more,” “abundantly,” beyond “all that we ask or think,” according to “the power [of the Spirit (cf. 3:16)] at work within us” (3:20). So we should never doubt God’s indomitable power and never think that He has the limitations we are so keenly aware of in our own lives. Our trust in God is grounded on His power that exceeds all that we can imagine, a power that can never fail or be defeated. 

Second, the exercise of His power on our behalf is the means by which God’s glory is made manifest in the church and in Christ Jesus (3:21a). That is, there is a connection between the expression of God’s power for the growth and benefit of His people and the display of the glory that is God’s alone. As God does exceedingly beyond all we can imagine for the sake of His people, this necessarily results in Him being glorified since we realize that what has occurred to benefit us is nothing of us, but it only happens by the greatness and power of God. Thus, His work in us must necessarily redound to God’s glory both in the church (i.e., in what God accomplishes in the growth of the church) and in Christ Jesus (i.e., since all that the Father does in us is based on the finished work of the Son). 

Third, the power of God for our renewal and God’s glory will continue far beyond our own lives, should Christ tarry, and result in everlasting gains for all of the people of God (3:21b). We might wonder if God can continue this work of restoration among His people as the wickedness of the world and Satan seem to gain greater influence in the culture of our day. Maybe God’s power worked this way in the past, but can it continue now for us and for future generations? Indeed, this power of God is unstoppable, undefeatable, and will always bring to pass what God has promised. So, we must keep our eyes fixed on the power, faithfulness, and mercy of God who will fulfill His purposes that will last for eternity.


For Reflection

  1. When we face difficulties and trials in our lives, how important is it to recall the message of Ephesians 3:20-21? What difference will it make if we quickly and regularly bring to mind these glorious truths?

  2. Why do you think that Paul “piles on” those characteristics of God’s power in verse 20? What is the effect in your life of considering the strength and undefeatability of God’s power?

  3. The power of God highlighted in these verses does not stand alone. God not only is powerful, but He also is perfectly wise and unfailingly loving as well. As you consider together the power, the wisdom, and the love of God, how do these three qualities undergird your confidence in Him?


Bruce A. Ware is professor of Christian Theology and chairman of the Department of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He has written several books, including his theology book for children, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. Bruce and his wife, Jodi, have two daughters and three grandchildren. The Wares love drives in the country, hikes in the woods, walks on the beach, and time with their daughters and son-in-law and grandchildren, along with reading and good music.

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