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Make a Move to Pray in 2019


Series: Move in 2019

Passage: Ephesians 3:14-15

Speaker: Rex Howe

Introduction to Move Sermon Series: Ephesians 3:14–21; Galatians 5; then weave back into Sanctification in Romans 6–8.


Exegetical Work

Need: Prayer to the Father 

Subject: The revelatory reason Paul began to pray 

Purpose: To petition the Father of every family 

Idea: Revelation in Christ by the Spirit about the church caused Paul to pray to the Father of every family. 


  • Paul began to pray to the Father because of the revelation of God’s saving work in Christ for the formation of the new temple, the church (3:14). 
    • Looking back to 3:1, we see that Paul actually started his prayer there, but then interrupted his own thought by making sure the Ephesians understood the revealed mystery about God’s program in Christ (3:2–13). 
    • “For this reason” at 3:1 causes us to look back into chapters one and two. In chapter one, blessed God for the spiritual treasures in Christ (1:1–14), which then leads him to prayer (1:15–23). In chapter two, Paul good news of God’s salvation by grace through faith for unworthy sinners and begins to reveal the mystery of God’s new temple—where heaven meets earth—the people of the church. 
    • It is after this that Paul begins to pray in 3:1, but then, he felt prompted by the Spirit to explain further the revealed mystery of the Jew-Gentile composition in the new temple of God, the church (3:2–13).  
    • It is also in light of Paul’s suffering (3:13), which has caused the Ephesians great fear in the face of persecution and difficulties, that Paul began to pray. 
    • It is “for this reason” — that is the revelation of God's saving work in Christ for the formation of a new temple of living bricks — that Paul “bows his knees to the Father.”  
    • And so, the church, brothers and sisters, is God’s idea. It is his ancient, long-ago-eternally-planned-perfectly-executed idea, that would emerge out of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and by the power of the Spirit.  
  • Paul began to pray before the Father because as Creator is alone qualified to build a new humanity (3:14–15). 
    • “I bow my knees to the Father." 
    • The verb κάπτω means “to bend or incline some part of the body, frequently used a gesture of respect or devotion” (BDAG). The verb is in the present aspect, and so we are to understand Paul as an insider to this mystery. He’s in the parade. He’s looking around at the church that God is building through Christ by the Spirit, and as he writes to the Ephesians about it, his body bows as respect and devotion fills him. 
    • The verb is used four times in the NT and often alludes to OT passages: 
      • Romans 11:4 alludes to 1 Kings 19:18 ("Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him”). 
      • Romans 14:11 alludes to Isaiah 45:23 ("To me, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear allegiance”). 
      • Philippians 2:10 also alludes to Isaiah 45:23 ("To me, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear allegiance”). 
    • Therefore, the verb conveys more than a physical bowing, but a soul posture of worship and submission to the one, true, sovereign Lord over heaven and earth. 
    • “before” implies proximity, nearness, orientation, relationship. 
    • Respect and devotion to whom? “To the Father.” “Father” is a title given to God only rarely in the OT (according to Hoehner on p. 475 only 15 times out of 1448 occurrences, but frequently used in the NT, 245 times in 413 occurrences.). In Ephesians the Father is . . .  
      • In coordination with Jesus, he is the source of grace and peace (1:2). He is gracious and a peacemaker. 
      • He is blessed above all, because it is he who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavenly places (1:3). He is blessed forever. 
      • He is the Father of glory, who gives the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation (1:17). He is glorious and generous. 
      • Through Christ by the Spirit, we have been given access to the Father (2:18). He is accessible. 
      • He is one, and he is sovereign (4:6). 
      • Christ has given us access to the Father to express thanksgiving (5:20). 
      • He is the common source of our peace and love in the church (6:23). 
    • In the context of Ephesians 3:14, he is . . .  
      • the Father of every family 
      • “from whom” - conveys the idea of origin. The πατρια originates from the πατερα. 
      • "every family” - The term πατρια is used in Luke 2:4 and Acts 3:25. Πατρια can refer to the lineage of a progenitor or particular founding ancestor of a clan (e.g., Abraham), or a nation linked by common ancestry as well as common sociopolitical elements (e.g., Israel, or America), or more generally to the human family, with special focus in context on the present (people alive today).  
    • "in heaven and on earth”- Most commentators see "in heaven" as a reference to God as the Creator of angelic beings, classes, and companies (1:21; 3:10), so that God is the Creator of all living, personal, relatable beings, so that "their existence and significance depends on him. His sovereign power and authority in both heaven and earth are stressed” (O’Brien). The only other possible interpretation is to take this as saints who have gone on to heaven (3:5). In the context, God is revealing the mystery of the church of Jesus Christ by the Spirit—which is for all human families, whether Jew or Gentile—and he has revealed it not only on the earth but also in heaven, making it known to rulers, authorities, powers and dominions. So perhaps, rather than limiting or narrowing the “every family in heaven” reference, we should probably leave it general and allow it its breadth. 
    • “receives a name” - What is in a name? “In ancient thought a name was not just a means of distinguishing one person from another; it was a particularly the means of revealing the inner being, the true nature of that person (Gen. 25:26; 1 Sam. 25:25). So for God to give creatures a name was not simply to provide them with a label, but signifies his brining them into existence, exercising dominion over them (Ps. 147:4; Isa. 40:26), and giving each their appropriate role” (O’Brien, 256). Also see Rev. 2:17; 3:5; 3:12–13. It is also important to note when naming takes place. Naming officially takes place after the birth.
    • and therefore, he is the qualified Father of the church and the families contained therein. 


Theological Work

Problem: There is no apparent problem at Ephesus that Paul addressed; rather, he wrote from prison to encourage maturity in faith (as there will be later, cf. Rev. 2:4–5). 

Need: Maturity in the revealed mystery. 

Subject: Prayer must play a role in this maturity that instruction does not. 

Purpose: To mature in revealed truth by prayer. 

Idea: Prayer matures faith in the revealed truths of the gospel. 


  • Other means of maturity exist; prayer isn’t exclusive (e.g., instruction, fellowship, participatory service, study, etc.). 
  • Intercessory prayer matures faith in the revealed truths of the gospel. 
  • Personal prayer matures faith as revealed truths of the gospel are internalized in the soul. 


Homiletical Work

Problem: Prayer is counter our visual, material, consuming culture, is our most neglected resource as a church, but our greatest game changer in our life as a church. 

Solution: Make a move to pray in 2019. 

Purpose: To seek the Father of every family to mature and internalize the revealed truths of the gospel in our families. 

Message: Make a move to pray. 


  • Key question: What’s your next move by the Spirit for Christ? 
  • Key challenges to movement: 
    • Getting stuck: Decisions and conditions 
    • Opposing forces: evil opposition, relational opposition, divine opposition 
    • Laziness 
    • Ignorance or uncertainty 
    • Distractions 
  • Consider Paul: Imprisoned, Writing, Praying, Still Moving.