Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 3:20 and 21: “But to Him Who is able to do superabundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power which operates in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen.” These verses are a doxology, a high praise, even the highest to be found in the New Testament Epistles. Such a high praise could not have been uttered before the church had come into existence in a practical way.
As we pointed out in the foregoing message, in verse 19 we see the church as the fullness of God. The fullness of God here is the result, the issue, of our experience of the riches of Christ. After such a church has come into existence, the Apostle Paul sounds forth the doxology in verses 20 and 21, ascribing to God glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Only after the church has come into being as the fullness of God can the glory of God be manifested.
Although the church has been on earth for more than nineteen centuries, it has not yet reached the point of being the fullness of God. The highest definition of the church is that it is the fullness of God. We must admit that among us today we do not yet have the church as the fullness of God, as God’s full expression. However, we believe that the church will come up to this level. The fact that the Lord has spoken such a word concerning the church is an indication that He will do what He has spoken. The Lord’s word will not return void (Isa. 55:11). Whatever He speaks, He will perform. For example, when God spoke something in Genesis 1, it came to pass. Therefore, we believe that the Lord’s word regarding the church as the fullness of God will be accomplished. Not only do we believe this word, but we also claim it and pray according to it. We need to pray, “Lord, You have spoken concerning the church as the fullness of God. Now You must fulfill what You have spoken.” When the church on earth reaches the stage of being the fullness of God, we shall be able to say with Paul, “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.”
The words “but to Him” in verse 20 convey the thought that something has initially gone forth from God and is now returning to Him. In his prayer Paul asked that the Father would strengthen the saints according to the riches of His glory. This implies that the glory of God is wrought into the saints. In the doxology Paul said, “To Him be the glory” (v. 21). This implies that the glory of God returns to God after it has been wrought into the saints. Firstly, the glory of God is wrought into us; then it returns to God for His glorification. As an illustration, Isaac’s wealth was firstly given to Rebekah for her beautification; then when Rebekah came to Isaac, all the wealth came back to Isaac with Rebekah for his glorification (Gen. 24:47, 53, 61-67). The apostle prayed that God would strengthen the saints according to His glory, but eventually God’s glory, after being wrought into them, returns to Him along with the strengthened saints. This is the way God is glorified in the church.
We have seen that in verse 16 Paul prayed that the Father would grant us, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power into our inner man. To be strengthened according to glory is to have the glory of God worked into our being. This is the only way to be strengthened according to God’s glory. Suppose a person who is physically very weak can be strengthened according to someone who is physically strong. This would mean that the strength of the strong one is wrought into the very fibers of the weak one. In the same principle, to be strengthened into the inner man according to the Father’s glory means to have His glory wrought into our being. Firstly, the glory comes to us, and then it goes back to God. When the glory comes into our being, we are filled and strengthened. When it returns to God, He is glorified in the church.
The Greek word rendered “but” in verse 20 can also be translated “now.” In such a case “now” would mean “in view of the fact that” or “based on the preceding.” In verses 20 and 21 it seems that Paul was saying, “Now that the church has come into existence as the fullness of God, God can be glorified in the church. Before this time it was impossible for the glory to return to God. But because the church has become the fullness of God in a practical way, this is now possible.”
It is correct to translate the Greek word here as either “but” or “now.” In either case the word is not a meaningless insertion. The word “but” suggests that the glory which has come to us and which has been wrought into our being is now going back to God with us. The word “now” suggests that, in view of the fact that the church has come into existence as the fullness of God, God may at this time be glorified in the church. Both are true.
The church is the glory of God coming to us with God and going back to God with us. In such a church there is two-way traffic between God and us, and between us and God. By means of this two-way traffic, God’s glory is wrought into us and God is glorified in us. This traffic is signified by the little word “but.”
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