Ephesians 1:19
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
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(19) According to the working of his mighty power.—More correctly (see margin), the working of the might of His strength. The word “power” is a general word for force, which may be latent, and, in fact, often describes force which is latent, in contradistinction to the word here used for working or energy. St. Paul, therefore, adds that this power of God is not latent; it actually works “according to,” that is, up to the full measure of “the might of the strength” of God—of that strength which is a part of His nature. The whole phrase forms a glorious climax, in which the Apostle accumulates words ever stronger and stronger to approach to the description of the omnipotence of the Spirit. It is a “force of exceeding greatness;” it is an ever energetic force; its only measure is the immeasurable might of the divine nature. (Comp. Ephesians 3:7; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:12.)



Ephesians 1:19‘The riches of the glory of the inheritance’ will sometimes quench rather than stimulate hope. He can have little depth of religion who has not often felt that the transcendent glory of that promised future sharpens the doubt-’and can I ever hope to reach it?’ Our paths are strewn with battlefields where we were defeated; how should we expect the victor’s wreath? And so Paul does not think that he has asked all which his friends in Ephesus need when he has asked that they may know the hope and the inheritance. There is something more wanted, something more even for our knowledge of these, and that is the knowledge of the power which alone can fulfil the hope and bring the inheritance. His language swells and peals and becomes exuberant and noble with his theme. He catches fire, as it were, as he thinks about this power that worketh in us. It is ‘exceeding.’ Exceeding what? He does not tell us, but other words in this letter, in the other great prayer which it contains, may help us to supply the missing words. He speaks of the ‘love of Christ which passeth knowledge,’ and of God being ‘able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.’ The power which is really at work in Christian men to-day is in its nature properly transcendent and immeasurable, and passes thought and desire and knowledge.

And yet it has a measure. ‘According to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.’ Is that heaping together of synonyms or all but synonyms, mere tautology? Surely not. Commentators tell us that they can distinguish differences of meaning between the words, in that the first of them is the more active and outward, and the last of them is the more inward. And so they liken them to fruit and branch and root; but we need simply say that the gathering together of words so nearly co-extensive in their meaning is witness to the effort to condense the infinite within the bounds of human tongue, to speak the unspeakable; and that these reiterated expressions, like the blows of the billows that succeed one another on the beach, are hints of the force of the infinite ocean that lies behind.

And then the Apostle, when he has once come in sight of his risen Lord, as is his wont, is swept away by the ardour of his faith and the clearness of his vision, and breaks from his purpose in order to dilate on the glories of his King. We do not need to follow him into that. I limit myself now to the words which I have read as my text, with only such reference to the magnificent passage which succeeds as may be necessary for the exposition of this.

I. So, then, I ask you to look, first, at the measure and example of the immeasurable power that works in Christian men.

‘According to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ’-the Resurrection, the Ascension, the session at the right hand of God, the rule over all creatures, and the exaltation above all things on earth or in the heavens-these are the facts which the Apostle brings before us as the pattern-works, the chefs-d’oeuvre of the power that is operating in all Christians. The present glories of the ascended Christ are glories possessed by a Man, and, that being so, they are available as evidences and measures of the power which works in believing souls. In them we see the possibilities of humanity, the ideal for man which God had when He created and breathed His blessing upon him. It is one of ourselves who has strength enough to bear the burden of the glory, one of ourselves who can stand within the blaze of encircling and indwelling Divinity and be unconsumed. The possibilities of human nature are manifest there. If we want to know what the Divine Power can make of us, let us turn to look with the eye of faith upon what it has made of Jesus Christ.

But such a thought, glorious as it is, still leaves room for doubt as to my personal attainment of such an ideal. Possibility is much, but we need solid certainty. And we find it in the truth that the bond between Christ and those who truly love and trust Him is such as that the possibility must become a reality and be consolidated into a certainty. The Vine and its branches, their Head and the members, the Christ and His Church, are knit together by such closeness of union as that wheresoever and whatsoever the one is, there and that must the others also be. Therefore, when doubts and fears, and consciousness of our own weakness, creep across us, and all our hopes are dimmed, as some star in the heavens is, when a light mist floats between us and it, let us turn away to Him our brother, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and think that He, in His calm exaltation and regal authority and infinite blessedness, is not only the pattern of what humanity may be, but the pledge of what His Church must be. ‘Where I am, there shall also My servant be.’ ‘The glory that Thou gavest Me I have given them.’

Nor is that all. Not only a possibility and a certainty for the future are for us the measure of the power that worketh in us, but as this same letter teaches us, we have, as Christians, a present scale by which we may estimate the greatness of the power. For in the next chapter, after that glorious burst as to the dignity of his Lord, which we have not the heart to call a digression, the Apostle, recurring to the theme of my text, goes on to say, ‘And you hath He quickened,’ and then, catching it up again a verse or two afterwards, he reiterates, clause by clause, what had been done on Jesus as having been done on us Christians. If that Divine Spirit raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, it is as true that the same power hath ‘raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ And so not only the far-off, though real and brilliant, and eye and heart-filling glories of the ascended Christ give us the measure of the power, but also the limited experience of the present Christian life, the fact of the resurrection from the true death, the death of sin, the fact of union with Jesus Christ so real and close as that they who truly experience it do live, as far as the roots of their lives and the scope and the aim of them are concerned, ‘in the heavens,’ and ‘sit with Him in heavenly places’-these things afford us the measure of the power that worketh in us.

Then, because a Man is King of kings and Lord of lords; and because He who is our Life ‘is exalted high above all principalities and powers’; and because from His throne He has quickened us from the death of sin, and has drawn us so near to Himself that if we are His we truly live beside Him, even whilst we stumble here in the darkness, we may know the exceeding greatness of His power, according to the working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.

II. Secondly, notice the knowledge of the unknowable power.

We have already come across the same apparent paradox, covering a deep truth, in the former sections of this series of petitions. I need only remind you, in reference to this matter, that the knowledge which is here in question is not the intellectual perception of a fact as revealed in Scripture, but is that knowledge to which alone the New Testament gives the noble name, being knowledge verified by inward experience, and the result of one’s own personal acquaintance with its object.

How do we know a power? By thrilling beneath its force. How are we to know the greatness of the power but because it comes surging and rejoicing into our aching emptiness, and lifts us buoyant above our temptations and weakness? Paul was not asking for these people theological conceptions. He was asking that their spirits might be so saturated with and immersed in that great ocean of force that pours from God as that they should never, henceforth, be able to doubt the greatness of that power which wrought in them. The knowledge that comes from experience is the knowledge that we all ought to seek. It is not merely to be desired that we should have right and just conceptions, but that we should have the vital knowledge which is, and which comes from, life eternal.

And that power, which thus we may all know by feeling it working upon ourselves, though it be immeasurable, has its measure; though it be, in its depth and fulness, unknowable and inexhaustible, may yet be really and truly known. You do not need a thunderstorm to experience the electric shock; a battery that you can carry in your pocket will do that for you. You do not need to have traversed all the length and breadth and depth and height of some newly-discovered country to be sure of its existence, and to have a real, though it may be a vague, conception of the magnitude of its shores. And so, really, though boundedly, we have the knowledge of God, and can rely upon it as valid, though partial; and similarly, by experience we have such a certified acquaintance with Him and His power as needs no enlargement to be trusted, and to become the source of blessings untold. We may see but a strip of the sky through the narrow chinks of our prison windows, and many a grating may further intercept the view, and much dust that might be cleared away may dim the glass but yet it is the sky that we see, and we can think of the great horizon circling round and round, and of the infinite depths above there, which neither eye nor thought can travel unwearied. Though all that we see be but an inch in breadth and a foot or two in height, yet we do see. We know the unknowable power that passeth knowledge.

And let me remind you of how large importance this knowledge of and constant reference to the measureless power manifested in Christ is for us. I believe there can be no vigorous, happy Christian life without it. It is our only refuge from pessimism and despair for the world. The old psalm said, ‘Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honour, and hast given Him dominion over the works of Thy hands,’ and hundreds of years afterwards the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews commented on it thus, ‘We see not yet all things put under Him.’ Was the old vision a dream, was it never intended to be fulfilled? Apparently so, if we take the history of the past into account, and the centuries that have passed since have done nothing to make it more probable, apart from Jesus Christ, that man will rise to the height which the Psalmist dreamed of. When we look at the exploded Utopias that fill the past; when we think of the strange and apparently fatal necessity by which evil is developed from every stage of what men call progress, and how improvement is perverted, almost as soon as effected, into another fortress of weakness and misery; when we look on the world as it is to-day, I know not whence a man is to draw bright hopes, or what is to deliver him from pessimism as his last word about himself and his fellows, except the ‘working of the strength of the might which He wrought in Christ.’ ‘We see not yet all things put under Him’-be it so, ‘but we see Jesus,’ and, looking to Him, hope is possible, reasonable, and imperative.

The same knowledge is our refuge from our own consciousness of weakness. We look up, as a climber may do in some Alpine ravine, upon the smooth gleaming walls of the cliff that rises above us. It is marble, it is fair, there are lovely lands on the summit, but nothing that has not wings can get there. We try, but slip backwards almost as much as we rise. What is to be done? Are we to sit down at the foot of the cliff, and say, ‘We cannot climb, let us be content with the luscious herbage and sheltered ease below?’ Yes! That is what we are tempted to say. But look! a mighty hand reaches over, an arm is stretched down, the hand grasps us, and lifts us, and sets us there.

‘No man hath ascended up into heaven save He that came down from heaven,’ and having returned thither stoops thence, and will lift us to Himself. I am a poor, weak creature. Yes! I am all full of sin and corruption. Yes! I am ashamed of myself every day. Yes! I am too heavy to climb, and have no wings to fly, and am bound here by chains manifold. Yes! But we know the exceeding greatness of the power, and we triumph in Him.

That knowledge should shame us into contrition, when we think of such force at our disposal, and such poor results. That knowledge should widen our conceptions, enlarge our desires, breathe a brave confidence into our hopes, should teach us to expect great things of God, and to be intolerant of present attainments whilst anything remains unattained. And it should stimulate our vigorous effort, for no man will long seek to be better, if he is convinced that the effort is hopeless.

Learn to realise the exceeding greatness of the power that will clothe your weakness. ‘Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, for that He is strong in might, not one faileth.’ That is wonderful, but here is a far nobler operation of the divine power. It is great to ‘preserve the ancient heavens’ fresh and strong by His might, but it is greater to come down to my weakness, to ‘give power to the faint,’ and ‘increase strength to them that have no might.’ And that is what He will do with us.

III. Lastly, notice the conditions for the operations of the power.

‘To usward who believe,’ says Paul. He has been talking to these Ephesians, and saying ‘ye,’ but now, by that ‘us,’ he places himself beside them, identifies himself with them, and declares that all his gifts and strength come to him on precisely the same conditions on which theirs do to them; and that he, like them, is a waiter upon that grace which God bestows on them that trust Him.

‘To usward who believe.’ Once more we are back at the old truth which we can never make too emphatic and plain, that the one condition of the weakest among us being strong with the strength of the Lord is simple trust in Him, verified, of course, by continuance and by effort.

How did the water go into the Ship Canal at Eastham last week? First of all they cut a trench, and then they severed the little strip of land between the hole and the sea, and the sea did the rest. The wider and deeper the opening that we make in our natures by our simple trust in God, the fuller will be the rejoicing flood that pours into us. There is an old story about a Christian father, who, having been torturing himself with theological speculations about the nature of the Trinity, fell asleep and dreamed that he was emptying the ocean with a thimble! Well, you cannot empty it with a thimble, but you can go to it with one, and, if you have only a thimble in your hand, you will only bring away a thimbleful. The measure of your faith is the measure of God’s power given to you.

There are two measures of the immeasurable power-the one is that infinite limit, of ‘the power which He wrought in Christ,’ and the other the practical limit. The working measure of our spiritual life is our faith. In plain English, we can have as much of God as we want. We do have as much as we want. And if, in touch with the power that can shatter a universe, we only get a little thrill that is scarcely perceptible to ourselves, and all unnoticed by others, whose fault is that? If, coming to the fountain that laughs at drought, and can fill a universe with its waters, we scarcely bear away a straitened drop or two, that barely refreshes our parched lips, and does nothing to stimulate the growth of the plants of holiness in our gardens, whose fault is that? The practical measure of the power is for us the measure of our belief and desire. And if we only go to Him, as I pray we all may, and continue there, and ask from Him strength, according to the riches that are treasured in Jesus Christ, we shall get the old answer, ‘According to your faith be it unto you.’

1:15-23 God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer. Even the best Christians need to be prayed for: and while we hear of the welfare of Christian friends, we should pray for them. Even true believers greatly want heavenly wisdom. Are not the best of us unwilling to come under God's yoke, though there is no other way to find rest for the soul? Do we not for a little pleasure often part with our peace? And if we dispute less, and prayed more with and for each other, we should daily see more and more what is the hope of our calling, and the riches of the Divine glory in this inheritance. It is desirable to feel the mighty power of Divine grace, beginning and carrying on the work of faith in our souls. But it is difficult to bring a soul to believe fully in Christ, and to venture its all, and the hope of eternal life, upon his righteousness. Nothing less than Almighty power will work this in us. Here is signified that it is Christ the Saviour, who supplies all the necessities of those who trust in him, and gives them all blessings in the richest abundance. And by being partakers of Christ himself, we come to be filled with the fulness of grace and glory in him. How then do those forget themselves who seek for righteousness out of him! This teaches us to come to Christ. And did we know what we are called to, and what we might find in him, surely we should come and be suitors to him. When feeling our weakness and the power of our enemies, we most perceive the greatness of that mighty power which effects the conversion of the believer, and is engaged to perfect his salvation. Surely this will constrain us by love to live to our Redeemer's glory.And what is the exceeding greatness of his power - On the language used here, compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 4:17. There is much emphasis and energy of expression here, as if the apostle were laboring under the greatness of his theme, and wanted words to express the magnitude of his conception. This is the "third" thing which he was particularly desirous they should know - that they should be fully acquainted with the "power" of God in the salvation of people. He refers not merely to the power which he had evinced in their salvation, but also to what the gospel was "able" to accomplish, and which they might yet experience. The "power" referred to here as exercised toward believers does not refer to one thing merely. It is the whole series of the acts of power toward Christians which results from the work of the Redeemer. There was power exerted in their conversion. There would be power exerted in keeping them. There would be power in raising them up from the dead, and exalting them with Christ to heaven. The religion which they professed was a religion of "power." In all the forms and stages of it the power of God was manifested toward them, and would be until they reached their final inheritance.

To us-ward - Toward us, or in relation to us.

Who believe - Who are Christians.

According to the working of his mighty power - Margin, The might of his power. This should be taken with the clause in the following verse, "which he wrought in Christ;" and the meaning is, that the power which God has exerted in us is in accordance with the power which was shown in raising up the Lord Jesus. It was the proper result of that, and was power of a similar kind. The same power is requisite to convert a sinner which is demanded in raising the dead. Neither will be accomplished but by omnipotence (see the notes, Ephesians 2:5); and the apostle wished that they should be fully apprised of this fact, and of the vast "power" which God had put forth in raising them up from the death of sin. To illustrate this sentiment is one of his designs in the following verses; and, hence, he goes on to show that people before their conversion were "dead in trespasses and sins;" that they had no spiritual life; that they were the "children of wrath;" that they were raised up from their death in sin by the same power which raised the Lord Jesus from the grave, and that they were wholly saved by grace; Ephesians 2:1-10. In order to set this idea of the "power" which God had put forth in their regeneration in the strongest light, he goes into a magnificent description of the resurrection and exaltation of the Lord Jesus, and shows how that was connected with the renewing of Christians. God had set him over all things. He had put all things under his feet, and had made principalities and dominions everywhere subject to him. In this whole passage Ephesians 1:19-23; Ephesians 2:1-10, the main thing to be illustrated is the power which God has shown in renewing and saving his people; and the leading sentiment is, that the same power is evinced in that which was required to raise up the Lord Jesus from the dead, and to exalt him over the universe.

19. exceeding—"surpassing."

power to us-ward who believe—The whole of the working of His grace, which He is carrying on, and will carry on, in us who believe. By the term "saints" (Eph 1:18), believers are regarded as absolutely perfected, and so as being God's inheritance; in this verse, as in the course of fighting the good fight of faith.

according to—in accordance wit,h, what might be expected from.

working—Greek, "the energizing"; translate, "the effectual working" (Eph 3:7). The same superhuman power was needed and exerted to make us believe, as was needed and exerted to raise Christ from the dead (Eph 1:20). Compare Php 3:10, "the power of His resurrection" (Col 2:12; 1Pe 1:3-5).

of his mighty power—Greek, "of the strength of His might."

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe; he means that power of God which is put forth in the whole of our salvation, from first to last: not that absolute power whereby he can do whatsoever is possible to be done; but his ordinate power, or power joined with his will, whereby not only he will work in raising us up at last, and finally saving us, but hath wrought in begetting faith in us, and doth work in still preserving that faith, {1 Peter 1:5} and carrying us on in the way of salvation. And this he speaks for the encouragement of the Ephesians, that they should not fear falling short of the riches of the glory of the inheritance mentioned, seeing God, who hath by his power brought them to Christ, is able likewise by the same power to bring them to glory.

According to the working of his mighty power: some point the words after us-ward, and read them,

who believe according to the working of his mighty power, & c.; and then the meaning must be, that the working faith in believers, is an instance of his mighty power; he hath shown his power in working faith, and therefore will show it in the remainder of salvation which is to follow. But our translation favours the former sense, and then, as in the preceding clause he shows the greatness of God’s power, so in this latter the efficacy of it in its actual operation, particularly the raising up Christ from the dead.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,.... The objects of the divine power here intended, are believers in Christ; which distinguishes this power from that which was put forth in creation, and from that which will be displayed in the resurrection of the dead, and from the power of divine wrath, which will appear in the damnation of sinners; and shows, that this power is that which is exerted in the implantation of faith, and in the continuance of it, and in the finishing of that work; and that this is a great power, an exceeding great one, a super eminent one; which is attended with energy and efficacy, and is irresistible and insuperable: the greatness of this power as displayed in the work of conversion and faith appears, if it be considered what the work itself is called, a creation, a resurrection from the dead, a regeneration, and a transformation of the man into another man, which must needs require almighty power; as well as what is then done, some things are removed, Satan is dispossessed, the stony heart is taken away, the enmity is slain, the old man is put down from his throne, and put off with his deeds; and there are some things wrought, Christ is formed in the soul, his grace is implanted, his image is stamped on, a new heart is given, and principles of light and life, of grace and holiness are put; the understanding is enlightened, the will is subdued, the affections are set on other objects, and the mind and conscience are cleansed and purified; and the means of this are the ministers, and ministry of the word, which are weak, foolish, and contemptible, in the eyes of men; to which may be added, the opposition made both from within and from without, from a sinful heart, a tempting devil, and an ensnaring, reproaching, and persecuting world: so that this work of faith cannot be ascribed to anything short of the exceeding greatness of divine power; and which is seen in supporting faith when it is wrought, under great discouragements; in delivering believers out of divers temptations; in assisting them to discharge their duty, and in their final perseverance: and to increase the idea of this power it is added,

according to the working of his mighty power, or "according to the energy of the might of his power": the strength of his power, in all the mighty energy of it, is exerted towards and upon believers; and which they should know, own, and acknowledge, to the glory of the grace of God: and this is in proportion, and agreeably to that power.

{19} And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

(19) The excellency of faith is declared by the effects, because the mighty power of God is set forth and shown in them.

Ephesians 1:19 ff. After the object of the hope, there is now set forth also that by which it is realized, namely, the infinite power of God shown in the resurrection, etc., of Christ: and what (quanta) is the exceeding (surpassing all measure) greatness of His power in relation to us who believe. The construction is as in the preceding portion, and consequently such, that εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστ. attaches itself not to τῆς δυνάμ. αὐτοῦ (Meier, Harless, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek, after many older expositors; comp. 2 Corinthians 13:4), but to the ἐστί to be mentally supplied after τί.

From the context preceding (ἐλπὶς κληρονομίας) and following (Ephesians 1:20 f.) it is clear that Paul is not here speaking of the power of God already in the earthly life manifesting itself as regards believers in their inward experience (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Photius, Theophylact, Erasmus, and others, including Flatt, Matthies, Rückert, Meier, Harless), not even of this as included (Schenkel), but only of the power to be shown as regards believers in future at the Parousia, where this mighty working displayed in Christ’s resurrection, exaltation, and appointment as Head of the church, must necessarily, in virtue of their fellowship with Christ, redound to the fulfilment of the hope, to the δόξα τῆς κληρονομίας (see Ephesians 1:20-23). Hence Paul continues: κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν κ.τ.λ.] This is indeed connected by many with τοὺς πιστεύοντας (see Erasmus, Calovius, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Rückert, Matthies, and others), in which case the πιστεύειν appeared as consequence of the ἐνέργεια κ.τ.λ., as ἔργον Θεοῦ—a view, which was helped among the older expositors (see, especially, Calovius) by the interest of opposition to Pelagian and Socinian opinions; but in this way the whole course of thought is deranged, and the simple and solemn exposition in Ephesians 1:20 is made subservient to an expression quite immaterial, which Paul might equally well have omitted (τοὺς πιστεύοντας). It is not the design, according to the connection, to prove the origin of faith. Chrysostom, Calvin, Calixtus, Estius, Grotius, and others, including Meier and Winzer, have found in κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργ. κ.τ.λ. an amplification (de Wette: the real ground; comp. also Bleek) of τὸ ὑπερβ. μέγεθος κ.τ.λ. But in this way all that follows would only be destined to hold the disproportionate place of a description, and would be isolated from εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς, which yet was the definite basis of the discourse hitherto; and this isolation there is no reason to assume. Hence we have to take κατὰ τ. ἐνέργ. κ.τ.λ. as the ground of knowledge of the preceding point. What is the exceeding greatness of the divine power towards believers, the readers are to know in virtue of the operation, etc.; in accordance with this operation they were to measure that exceeding greatness. Harless refers it not merely to the preceding point, but to all the three points adduced after εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς. But, as the ἐνέργεια τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος corresponds simply to the notion of the δύναμις, we are not entitled to refer farther back than to the point, in which the δύναμις was spoken of.

τὴν ἐνέργ. τοῦ κράτ. τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ] a touching accumulation of terms, presenting the matter in genetic form; for ἰσχύς is strength in itself as inward power, as vis or virtus (Mark 12:30; 2 Peter 2:11), κράτος, might expressing itself in overcoming resistance, in ruling, etc. (Luke 1:51; Acts 19:20; Ephesians 6:10; Colossians 1:11; Hebrews 2:14; Daniel 4:27; Isaiah 40:26), and ἐνέργεια, the efficacious working, the active exertion of power. For similar combinations of words having a kindred sense, see Lobeck, Paralip. I. p. 534 f. Comp. Soph. Philoct. 590: πρὸς ἰσχύος κράτος. Job 21:23 (LXX.). The Vulgate aptly renders: “secundum operationem potentiae virtutis ejus,” and Bengel remarks: “τ. ἐνέργειαν, haec actus est; τοῦ κράτους, hoc in actu est.”

Ephesians 1:19. καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ: and what the exceeding greatness of his power. The αὐτοῦ refers again to God, and the power of God is introduced in respect of that surpassing greatness which belongs to it alone and which is the guarantee of the fulfilment of the Christian hope. The context and the subsequent mention of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ show that it is the future of believers that is still distinctively in view. So in these three clauses Paul leads the readers on from the hope itself which becomes theirs in virtue of their being called of God, to the splendour of the inheritance to which the hope points, and from this again to that in God Himself which makes the fulfilment of the hope and the possession of the inheritance certain, namely the limitless efficiency which is His prerogative.—εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας: to us-ward who believe. No better rendering of εἰς ἡμᾶς here could be devised than the “to us-ward” of the AV which is wisely retained by the RV. The clause is best attached to the whole thought of the preceding sentence, and not to the δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ alone. The εἰς expresses the idea of “ethical direction” (Ell.), indicating the objects toward whom this Divine power will go forth—those, namely, who are believers. The ἡμᾶς connects these Ephesian believers, in whom the Divine power has worked mightily even now (cf. the conjunction of faith and the power of God in 1 Corinthians 2:5), with that whole community of the saints which was mentioned in the former sentence as the circle within which at last the complete possession of the inheritance will be made good.—κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ: according to the working of the strength of his might. Another impressive accumulation of terms, further describing that boundless efficiency of God in which we have our security for the realisation of the hope however new, and the possession of the inheritance however rich in its glory. Ἐνέργεια, which in the NT is never used but of superhuman power whether Divine (Ephesians 3:7; Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:12) or Satanic (2 Thessalonians 2:9), denotes power as efficiency, operative, energising power. Κράτος is power as force, mastery, power as shown in action: ἰσχύς is power as inherent, power as possessed, but passive. The phrase, therefore, means “the efficiency of the active power which expresses inherent might”. This again is best understood as defining the whole preceding statement, not as belonging simply to the πιστεύοντας. For, while the idea that our faith is the result of God’s power, is clearly expressed elsewhere (e.g., Colossians 2:12), that is not what is in view here. The κατά is best taken here in its proper sense of measure, standard or proportion. What the clause sets before us, therefore, is that the measure of that surpassing power of God which is the guarantee of our hope, is the operation of the exertion of the might that dwells in God as seen in the historical case instanced in the following sentence, viz., the resurrection and exaltation of Christ.

19. And what is the exceeding greatness, &c.] The Gr. word rendered “exceeding” is, with its cognates, found, in the N. T., in St Paul’s writings only; a characteristic of the ardour of his style. The passages are Romans 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Corinthians 9:14; 2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:19, and here.

his power] exercised in the whole work of grace and glory, from regeneration onward to resurrection. Cp. for various aspects of its exercise, Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:8; 1 Peter 1:5. We take its main reference here to be to the coming resurrection, believing the whole context to refer mainly to the future, and finding a special and suggestive mention of the Lord’s Resurrection just below. But the deep and strong continuity of process in the Divine work makes it impossible to restrict the reference so. The same “power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20, see note) is that whereby we shall be glorified. See the significant words of Romans 8:11.

to us-ward who believe] whose “faith stands in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5), which gave it; and who, as believers, are now in a state of receptivity towards that power (Mark 9:23); and who, by faith, touch the “things hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1) of the blessed prospect.

according to the working of his mighty power] Lit., according to the working of the strength of His might; a magnificent accumulation. Here is the scale by which to measure the possibilities of the Divine power; it is the surpassing victory of its exercise in the Lord’s Resurrection. See next note; and see further, on Ephesians 6:10.

Ephesians 1:19. Τοὺς πιστεύοντας, who believe) Faith is therefore something living and efficacious.—τὴν ἐνέργειαν, the working) This is the action [the actual putting of the might into exercise].—τοῦ κράτους, of might) This is exhibited in the action [i.e. when the might is so put into actual exercise]: Job 21:23, בעצם תמו,[17] LXX. ἘΝ ΚΡΆΤΕΙ ἸΣΧΎΟς ΑὐΤΟῦ, in the might of his power.—τῆς ἰσχύος, of power) This is the Divine power itself.

[17] Engl. Vers., “In his full strength;” and margin, “In his very perfection,” or “in the strength of his perfection.”—ED.

Verse 19. - And what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe. A new object of knowledge is here brought forward - knowledge of a power which works in us - a great power, a Divine power, a power surpassingly great. The whole energy of the Divine Being is turned on to our feeble, languid nature, vivifying, purifying, and transforming it, making it wonderfully active where all was feebleness before, as the turning on of steam suddenly wakens up a whole mass of inert machinery. When we think of the glory of the inheritance, we feel unfit for it; our narrow hearts, cold temperaments, feeble and dislocated faculties, how can they ever be right? Our fear is removed when we think of the greatness of the Divine power that works in us - God's power to transform us so that, "though we have lien among the pots, we shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." According to the working of his mighty power. We are now furnished with a standard and sample of the mighty power which energizes in believers are referred to one of its grandest achievements, in order to elevate our conceptions of what it is capable of effecting in us. In the prophets we find a similar encouragement for God's people, in sublime descriptions of the almighty power of him who was working in them and for them (Isaiah 40:21, etc.; Isaiah 45:7, etc.). Ephesians 1:19Exceeding (ὑπερβάλλον)

Compounds with ὑπέρ over, beyond, are characteristic of Paul's intensity of style, and mark the struggle of language with the immensity of the divine mysteries, and the opulence of the divine grace. See Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17, etc.

According to the working of His mighty power (κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ)

The A.V. frequently impairs the force of a passage by combining into a single conception two words which represent distinct ideas; translating two nouns by an adjective and a noun. Thus Philippians 3:21, vile body, glorious body, for body of humiliation, body of glory: Romans 8:21, glorious liberty, for liberty of the glory: 2 Corinthians 4:4, glorious gospel, for gospel of the glory: Colossians 1:11, glorious power, for power of the glory: 1 Peter 1:14, obedient children, for children of obedience: 2 Peter 2:14, cursed children, for children of cursing. So here, mighty power, for strength of might. The idea is thus diluted, and the peculiar force and distinction of the separate words is measurably lost. Rev., correctly, working of the strength of His might. For working, see on Colossians 1:29. For strength and might, see on 2 Peter 2:11; see on John 1:12. Strength (κράτους) is used only of God, and denotes relative and manifested power. Might (ἰσχύος) is indwelling strength. Working (ἐνέργειαν) is the active, efficient manifestation of these. Hence we have here God's indwelling power, which inheres in the divine nature (strength); the relative quality or measure of this power (might); and the efficient exertion of the divine quality (working). The phrase, according to the working of the strength, etc., is to be connected with the exceeding greatness of His power. The magnitude of God's power toward believers is known in the operation of the strength of His might.

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