Ephesians 3:20

We continue our summer series on favourite verses from the congregation. Today Lisa is going to share her verse.


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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

[Lisa shares]

God is not just able to do beyond what we ask, but abundantly beyond. But that’s not enough, He is able to do far more abundantly beyond what we ask. But even then, we still aren’t to the limit of God’s generosity: “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.

Let’s remember to put these verses into its context, so we don’t wander on uncharted paths.

Verses 20 and 21 conclude Paul's prayer for the Ephesian church which began in verse 14.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

But the verses are also the full stop on the first topic of the letter and chapter 4 starts a new topic. The first 3 chapters are about the timeless role of the church. Chapter 4 starts explaining how church members should live in order to bring about the unity that God wants.[1]

Back to verse 20. It is a pyramid of praise declaring God’s ability:


Able to do

Able to do what we ask

Able to do what we think

Able to do what we ask or think

Able to do all that we ask or think

Able to do above all that we ask or think

Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think

Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think

There should be no question in the minds of us as believers that God is able, but far too many of us fail to enjoy the privilege of seeing Him do that in our lives because we don’t realise what he is saying.


A preacher once lamented to the renowned preacher C H Spurgeon...

“Mr. Spurgeon, I am seeing very few people saved.”

To which Spurgeon replied with a question

“Do you expect to see folk saved every time you preach?”

The preacher answered

“Why, no”.

To which Spurgeon wisely quipped

“That’s why you don’t!”


Today I want us to get an appreciation of just how able God is.


So, let’s unpack the pyramid:



He is neither idle nor inactive nor dead. He is not a senile old man sitting on a cloud surrounded by cherubim.

In Genesis 18:14 Sarah scoffed when he told her she was going to have a baby in her old age. His reply was:  Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Luke 1:37 Jesus tells us that  For with God nothing shall be impossible.


Able to do


And he is willing and able to effect change. He is not the God of some who think he created the world, set it in motion like a piece of clockwork and took his hands off and allows it to wind down and will not intervene.


Romans 4:21 says being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.


Able to do what we ask


He hears and answers prayers.


A woman once approached the famous preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, after he spoke and asked, “Do you think we should pray for even the little things in our lives, or just for the big things?” In his dignified British manner, he replied, “Madam, can you think of anything in your life that is big to God?


Able to do what we think


He reads our thoughts but sometimes we imagine things which we think are too big and therefore do not ask.

Psalm 139:4 Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.


Matthew 9:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?

God hears our thoughts; unlike the Devil who is a created being and cannot hear what we think.  There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that Satan is omniscient (all knowing) but God is. There are no verses that say the devil knows everything or that he can read our thoughts.


Able to do what we ask or think


Scripture says you do not receive because you do not ask.  James 4:2 You do not have because you do not ask God.


And that if we ask in God’s name, he will give it.

Matthew 7:8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.


Able to do all that we ask or think


He knows all and can perform it all.  Not just a bit but all! Think back to Christmas a child: your list was huge but if you were lucky you got one or two of your wishes, but with God the little word ALL says it all. Everything that we ask for that is within God’s will, will be received.


Able to do above all that we ask or think


He is able to do more than all that we ask or think because his expectations are higher than ours. Scripture says that God ways are far above our ways. God knows that we think small. He doesn’t.


Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think


He is able to do much more than all we ask and think, for he does not give his grace by calculated measure. He delivers it by the bucketful.  


1 Timothy 1:14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.


Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think


He is able to do very much more, far more (superabundantly) than we ask or think because he is the God of super abundance. The word translated exceedingly abundantly is a word coined by Paul as a super-superlative. We cannot define the largeness of this concept, perhaps we could say infinitely more, because there are no limits to what God can do.

No matter how bold our requests may seem, God can do all we ask and much more

1 Corinthians 2:9 What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him.

2 Corinthians 9:8. 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

God's means for accomplishing this super abundance comes through His strength. His work is done by the Holy Spirit's power within us, rather than by our human strength.

The power of God is within us, individually because Christ dwells in our hearts by faith; but also within us as a people (who are the dwelling place of God by his Spirit.)[2]


[1] Life Application Bible footnote 2124

[2] Comments gleaned from John Stott The Message of Ephesians; Simpson & Bruce Commentary on the Epistles to Ephesians and Colossians; Francis Foulkes Ephesians