An In-depth Study of Ephesians 3:20

Ephesians 3:20KJV 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,

Ephesians 3:20Berry But to him who is able above all things to do
exceedingly above what we ask or think according to the power which works in us,

The grammatical nuances:

- that is able to do (tôi dunamenôi poiêsai). Dative case of the articular participle (present middle of dunamai).

Articular participles , like relative clauses, are a grammatical device for relating two clauses through a noun. Take, for example, this sentence:

1 John 2.10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

It has two verbs and therefore two clauses that need to be related. The main verb is abide. It makes a statement so that the main clause reads, "(someone) remains in the light." The articular participle serves to identify that someone: "he who loves his brother." In the target verse "the one that is able to do" is linked to "him" the pronoun referring to the last proper noun in the preceding verse which is God. That it refers to God and not to Christ is confirmed in the following verse, 3:21.

(huper panta). above all Not simply panta, but huper beyond and above all. The prefix huper is expressed in English as both 'hyper' and 'super'.

(huperekperissou) exceedingly abundantly. A rare double compound (huper, ek, perissou) not found in older Greek literature but is found in biblical writings, is an adverb (the only other occurrences in the N.T. are translated in 1Th 3:10 and 5:13 as exceedingly and very highly, respectively. The only usage in the Septuagint is from Daniel 3:22 where it is used to describe the furnace into which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were to be thrown as "exceeding" hot). Vine's lists the different forms of this adverb: perissos, the basic word which conveys the sense of an amount beyond the normal measure, or abundantly, then huperperissos, a strengthened form of the basic which signifies "exceeding abundantly" used in Mark 7:37 where it is translated "beyond measure" and finally huperekperissou which is a still further strengthened form which requires yet another modifier to indicate its superiority beyond merely "exceedingly abundant" but it would then become awkward. It would be "very extremely extraordinarily abundant" in English, which borders on incomprehensibility. It would be easier to translate it as infinitely, as Bullinger indicates in the Companion Bible.

The lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean during Paul's lifetime was a form of Greek called koiné which developed after the time of Alexander the Great when Greece became unified. The Greek speakers from the various regions amalgamated their dialects to create a common tongue. In consequence many words had changes in their meaning and many new words were created especially during the first century A.D. These words were coined to express specifically biblical concepts or to redefine older Hebrew concepts with current Christian meanings. There was an effort to keep the language in its classic Attic form but it succeeded only in literary form, such as the works of Josephus, Philo, Plutarch and others. A.T. Robertson (whose Grammar of the New Testament is a source of some of these points) says this: "Some adverbs are due to the blending of several words into one word, perhaps with modification by analogy. The koiné is rather rich in these compound adverbs and Paul fairly revels in them. It must be remembered that thekoiné developed according to its own genius and that even the Atticists could not check it. Paul especially doubles his adverbs as in huperekperissou."

(hôn aitoumetha) that we ask, used in the middle voice with the sense of asking for one's self.

(ê nooumen) or think, indicates more that the normal use of the mind. It transcends the sensory perception of every-day events and requires the conscious effort and action to truly understand, apprehend and discern the reality of the subject. It is used often in Proverbs but only once in the N.T. other than here, in Hebrews 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

(kata) according to Here it is not used as a preposition but rather it is used distributively and has the sense of conforming to, or in proportion with; seen plainly in Matthew 9:29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith (believing) be it unto you.

(tēn dunamin) the power This power is inherent which describes a natural state with abilities and capabilities. It is essential and inseparable having been inbred into the recipient. It is the unlimited power of God which was given to us when we believed; (Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:) The word receive is the Greek lambano and indicates that this power will be manifested or demonstrated. It ceases to be potential and becomes dynamic - power in action.

(tēn energoumenēn) that worketh The word 'worketh' is the present participle of (energeō) and strictly translated would read "the working power." The fact that both power and worketh are preceded by the article tēn gives emphasis to each word. In our vernacular it might read 'the power, and not just any old power but the power that energizes and effectually operates.' This verb is described as: being in operation, being actively developed, communicating energy and efficiency. A significant meaning is to be attached when we learn that it is in the middle voice. One usage (as noted above in that we ask) is when the subject acts upon itself. Here, the other usage is in force: when the subject acts in its own interest. Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh (energeō) in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. I will leave it to the reader to determine how much and to what end the power of God working in you is pleasing God.

(en hemin) in us Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: The 'us' in verse 3:20 is the same as the people to whom the epistle was written - the saints, that's us.

Enjoy! Love in Christ,


All Writings © Phillip Varady Sr.