Notes of address by J. A. Trench, Harrington, 1914.
The prayer in Eph 1:15-23, is to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, because He is viewed as man, yet the object of all God's thoughts. While the prayer in Eph. 3:14-21, is to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ because He is viewed as Son. The first prayer dwells on three great themes:(1) The hope of His calling. (2) The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (3) The greatness of the power that has put us in the calling. To apprehend these the eyes of our heart must be enlightened. The heart of the Apostle overflowed in ascribing blessing to the One who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings, etc., i.e., worship. Observe it is His calling, the calling of God, not our calling. The hope of His calling is not specially the Lord's coming, but the realisation in the eternal glory of all that God has called us to in Christ as the fruit of His purpose. Even as the calling causes us to look towards heaven, the inheritance directs attention to the earth and it is in the saints. Originally, His inheritance was in Israel. We are not the inheritance, but heirs of God. We have obtained an inheritance in Christ. These thoughts should not be confused with each other. They are all quite distinct. Two great parts of this prayer are (a) That the Ephesians might know the place, (b) that they should know the power that brought them there. That power is exceeding great and finds its measure in Christ's resurrection from the dead. All around was in death. They were dead in trespasses and sins, amidst which God worked to effect His eternal purpose and at the same time to reveal Himself therein. The authorities sealed the tomb and set a guard determined that Christ would never interfere with mankind again, but He was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father. That same power is in evidence in quickening us together with Him, and has raised us up together and made us to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. The first part of Ch. 1. reveals our individual place in Christ before God the Father in eternity; while the second part shows our corporate relation to Christ as His body relative to the work of God to accomplish His eternal purpose.
In the third chapter, the Apostle sets forth his double ministry of the gospel and of the mystery, to make all men see what is the administration thereof. (In the A.V. the word is translated "Fellowship," which is a very blessed part of the administration, but the more comprehensive word is more appropriate as descriptive of the promotion of the truth as to the body of Christ on earth). That mystery relates to the present time. It will not be needed in heaven. It is intended that the conduct of the Christian here should be profoundly affected thereby. The angels, the mighty powers in heaven, see in the Church what they had not seen in creation, nor in subsequent manifestations of God in judgment and providence, grace and mercy There is shown a new departure in the ways of God that the Gentile should be co-heirs and co-partakers of His promise in Christ in the Gospel. Its ill-assorted components (Jew and Gentile) nevertheless form one body, consisting of all who belong to Christ, united to Him in glory. The prayer is not that we may know our place in Christ as in Ch. 1, but that the truth may be freshly dwelling in our hearts in the fellowship of the Christ. There are resources in the riches of His glory, i.e., the power by which we may be strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man. It is the Father's Spirit that brings about that the One who dwells in the Father's bosom may dwell in the Christians' hearts by faith! The first prayer was relative to our being in Christ, the second prayer with His being in us. He is the centre of eternal purpose; that centre is brought into our hearts by the Spirit. Development proceeds in that love revealed to us in the purpose of God. The love of Christ will lead the saints to apprehend the breadth, length, etc., of the boundless sphere of glory, (that cannot really be defined); and then to know that love itself which surpasses knowledge, which would seem to be a confusion of terms, but is quite in order. The first prayer is objective, since the power is operating externally; in the second prayer the power is operating in us internally, and is thus subjective in its bearing. It is very fitting that the prayer should conclude with such a wonderful doxology.