Paul was commissioned as a steward of God's mystery; that mystery was that the Jews and Gentiles were joined together as one into a new Body, the church, with Christ as the head. Paul was commissioned to preach the Good News of the riches of Christ to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Galatians 1:16; 2:7-8). He would even make it known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. These rulers and authorities refer to both good and evil angels (1:21; 6:12; Colossians 1:16; 2:15; 1 Peter 1:10-12). The angels would learn the "manifold wisdom of God" through the church, and the evil angels learn that their leader, Satan, is not wise (Ephesians 3:10)!
Paul's preaching brought about suffering for Paul, but he encouraged them not to be sad because it was all in God's plan for His glory.
The second half of this chapter picks up on the prayer that he started in 3:1 before he broke into an explanation of the "mystery." Some commentators say there are four requests with one flowing out of the other and some believe it is just one request asking they would be strengthened (krataiōthēnai, “be strong to overcome resistance") with power (dunamis, dynamic living power) in their innermost beings. Strengthened and power were both words used in the prayer in Ephesians 1:19. This first request leads into prayer for a deeper experience of Christ so that they will grasp God's great love resulting in them being filled to all the fullness of God. Here is a little diagram to illustrate the progression in this prayer:
The goal of this prayer is fullness!
Nature abhors a vacuum. This explains why air or water will automatically flow into an empty place. The divine nature abhors a vacuum. God wants us to experience His fullness. (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Ephesians 3:19b, p. 33)God wants to fill the "divine vacuum" with Himself. He is the only one who can fill it, but we try to fill it with other things, and this leads to sin. I alluded to this in the reflection on Ephesians 1 and cross-referenced 2 Peter 1:3-4:
Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.Doesn't a good nutritious meal taste absolutely amazing when you are ravenously hungry? What if, at the end of that, someone put a junk food meal in front of you and told you to eat up? Would it be as appealing to you? Probably not. God has created a hungry cavity inside each of us that only He can fill. As we are filled to the fullness of God, we become partakers of His nature, and we do not want to sin because we are already too full! The "junk food" of sin just does not appeal to us anymore.
God has granted us everything we need to live a godly life. He wants us to truly know Him and all the richness we have in Christ Jesus.
The reason many churches are weak and ineffective is because they do not understand what they have in Christ. . . All of His divine resources are available to those who sincerely want to do His will and help Him accomplish His purposes on earth.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Ephesians 3:11-13, p. 29-30)
Our Identity in Christ:
1:3 We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ
1:4 We are holy, blameless, and covered with God's love
1:5,6 We are adopted as God's children
1:7 Our sins are taken away, and we are forgiven
1:10,11 We will be brought under Christ's headship
1:13 We are marked as belonging to God by the Holy Spirit
1:22 We are members of Christ's body, the church.
2:6 We have been raised up to sit with Christ in glory
2:10 We are God's work of art
2:13 We have been brought near to God
3:6 We share in the promise in Christ
3:12 We can come with freedom and confidence into God's presence
(The Life Application Bible, p. 2133)
"We cannot all argue, but we can all pray;
we cannot all be leaders, but we can all be pleaders;
we cannot all be mighty in rhetoric, but we can all be prevalent in prayer.
I would sooner see you eloquent with God than with men."
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
One of the girls I discipled many years ago told me once that she loved it when I would say in my "Carol" way, "I'll pray." I remember back then when I had many girls coming to me for counsel and help in their spiritual growth, I would be at a total loss to know how to help them, but I knew that I could always pray. Anyone can pray!
Paul knew the importance of prayer! Prayer does not require elegance or a leading presence. It is just you and me before our God, and He can change the world as a result!
This is one of my favorite books on prayer, and there is a free Kindle version: Quiet Talks on Prayer. (It is "dated" but profound!)