Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 3:20-21

Τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα ἢ νοοῦμεν κατὰ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων ἀμήν. And to the one who is able to do infinitely more than all that we ask or think according to the power which works in us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of eternity, amen.

Continuing on from his description of what he seeks the Father for on behalf of his readers, Paul gives a doxology. The Father is the recipient of this glory offering. The Father is the one who is able to do infinitely more than what we ask or think. However, there is a comparison being made. The Father is able above all others to exceed what we ask or think. No one else can do what the Father does. He surpasses everyone as he surpasses our preconceived notions. The phrase is repetitive to underscore how much God surpasses our expectations. Not only does he go beyond what we ask, but he goes infintely beyond our preconceived ideas.

But now we have to ask a question. Is the phrase κατὰ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν supposed to go with the infinitive to do or with the verbs to ask and to know? In order to answer this question, we need to determine how κατὰ functions in the phrase. The word κατὰ marks the standard of similarity. The object of κατὰ is power. The accusative δύναμιν is linked not to the two verbs but to the action of the Father. The phrase κατὰ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν ties in with the infinitive, not the two other verbs. The Father is able to do more than what we can imagine. How? In accordance with the power he works in us. This power is the norm between his doing and working. The Father accomplishes things by his power, and his power is at work in us.

Paul continues his praise offering to the Father. The Father is still the recipient. He calls for glory to be directed towards the Father. In what sphere should glory be given to the Father? Glory should be given in two spheres: one, in the Church; and two, in Christ Jesus. For how long should glory be given to the Father? Throughout all generations for eternity.

To the One who is able to accomplish infinitely more than all that we ask or think by the power which is working in us, glory to him in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for eternity.

The Father deserves to be praised for the great work that he has done in us. He is able to do far beyond what we can conceive of and imagine, and therefore he deserves to be praised. We would do well to praise the Father for the work that he has done and point all the glory to him. Glory does not belong to us, but to him. We would also do well to rely on the Father, for no one else is capable of doing what he is able to do. No one else compares to the Father. All glory belongs to him, and likewise, all faith, hope, and trust belong to him.


4 thoughts on “Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 3:20-21

  1. Mike over at Ev Epheso pointed out in a comment, which is now deleted to avoid confusion, that my original translation did not match the typical rendering offered by most commentators and translations. His comment was gracious and kind. Thank you mike for bringing it to my attention. As promised in my response, which also has been deleted for the same reason, I have double-checked my work. I have made revisions to my original post. I found that in the New Testament panta is really never used for “anyone” in the sense that I originally translated. I weighted the evidence in the sense of word order and function. Although the words are seemingly out of order in the original text, this feature is for emphasis. When placed into correct order through diagramming, it is made evident that my original translation was not correct (“to the one who is able more than anyone”). As a result, I revised my post (“to the one who is able to do infinitely more than beyond what we ask” — a literal rendering that is not smooth at all in english).Thank you, Mike, for helping me out by pointing out my strange oddity. ~James

  2. No problem. Its actually a very unusual verse. I mean, how often do you see a relative pronoun separated from its antecedent?”The one who is able beyond anything to do which we ask or think…”And if you check, its just as strange in Greek as it is in English – relative clauses function within the phrase of their antecedent. This verse is quite odd.

  3. Well, Mike, I thank you for your input. Since this doxology is your favorite set of text in the New Testament, I am sure you know more about it than myself, and your input is surely desirable.~James

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