What does Ephesians 3:20 mean?
ESV: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
NIV: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
NASB: Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
CSB: Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—
NLT: Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
KJV: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
NKJV: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Verse Commentary:
Verses 20 and 21 conclude Paul's prayer in this passage, which began in verse 14. No matter how bold our requests may seem, God can do all we ask and much more (1 Corinthians 2:9). A major section of 2 Corinthians concludes with similar words, "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God's means for accomplishing more than we can imagine comes through His strength. His work is done by the Holy Spirit's power within us, rather than by our human strength. As Jesus taught His apostles, "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38). Paul also refers to "power" throughout this letter (Ephesians 1:19, 21; 2:2; 3:7, 16; 6:12). Ephesians 3:7 described Paul as a minister "by the working of [God's] power." Paul's readers, likewise, could minister by God's power.
Verse Context:
Ephesians 3:14–21 is a prayer from Paul on behalf of the Christians of Ephesus. This prayer begins a transition from the first half of his letter, focused on doctrinal ideas, to the second half, where those ideas are put into practice. The natural theme for this transition is an appeal for spiritual strength from God. In particular, Paul asks God to help the Ephesians exhibit a faith which goes beyond knowledge (doctrine) into action (application).
Chapter Summary:
Ephesians chapter 3 wraps up Paul's doctrinal teaching and introduces its practical application. Paul refers to both his imprisonment and to his spiritual calling. This calling includes proclaiming the fact that all people, Jew and Gentile, can now be part of the same spiritual family. Paul also prays for the spiritual strength of the Ephesian church, as he prepares to explain how knowledge about Christ should translate into living for Christ.
Chapter Context:
The first three chapters of Ephesians are doctrinal, the last three are practical. Chapter 3 begins the transition from a Christian understanding of salvation, grace, and the power of Christ into a practical guide for Christian living. To make the transition, in this chapter, Paul refers to his own calling by God and prays for the spiritual strength of the Ephesian church. The early verses of chapter 4 will flow out of Paul's references to his own imprisonment.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
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