Ephesians 1 contains Paul’s amazing prayer for the believers in Ephesus. Part of that prayer is, “I pray that . . . you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:18–20). The power behind Christ’s resurrection is now working on our behalf. This is a wonderful truth.
Ephesians 1 works through the various roles of the Trinity in the redemption of man. The Father has chosen (verse 4) and predestined (verse 5) believers to adoption in Jesus Christ. The Son has accomplished redemption through His death (Ephesians 1:7) and provided the necessary provisions for an inheritance for the believer (verse 11). The Holy Spirit has sealed the believer, providing the necessary down payment to give assurance and security of the eternal destination to the believer (Ephesians 1:13–14). All of this is for God’s glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).
After addressing the role and example of God’s power in Ephesians 1:1–14, Paul then informs the Ephesians that he gives thanks for them and their faith (verses 15–16). He makes supplication for the continued growth of the Ephesians in knowledge (Ephesians 1:17–19a) and explains truth regarding the power and position of Christ, including the subjection of all things to Christ (verses 19b–23).
Ephesians 1:19–20 is discussing Paul’s earnest desire for the Ephesians to attain knowledge regarding the power of God toward the believer. This is the same power God brought about in Christ. The context for this passage is important. Paul previously prays that the Ephesians would understand the hope, or certainty, of their calling and future inheritance (Ephesians 1:18). These things are brought about by the power of God for the believer.
How might the believer have certainty in the hope mentioned in Ephesians 1:18? It’s certainly not because of the power of the believer, but the power of God. The power mentioned in Ephesians 1:19–20 is continually attributed to God, not us. It is God’s power that accomplishes the many miracles of redemption mentioned in Ephesians 1. Without God’s power, these things would not be possible (see Luke 18:26–27).
Has God given this power to the believer according to Ephesians 1:19–20? The text doesn’t indicate that we personally have the power to raise the dead or perform other miracles. Instead, it is “power toward us” (Ephesians 1:19, ESV, emphasis added). Paul is praying for the Ephesians’ understanding of God’s work on their behalf. It is a powerful work, past, present, and future: God’s power was evident in their conversion, God’s power is evident in their endurance, and God’s power will be evident in their resurrection. This certainty is provided in Jesus Christ.
In Jerusalem, on the hill of Calvary, the Jewish and Roman leaders successfully killed Jesus Christ, the Messiah (John 19:30). Jesus was buried and remained in the tomb for three days (John 19:42). After this time, Jesus rose from the dead, the miracle of miracles. It is the power of God that made this possible. Because of this event, the believer can have assurance that the same power—the immeasurable power of God—is working on his behalf today and will continue to provide what he needs until he arrives in heaven.
Ephesians 1:19–20 is not stating that believers have received the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is simply providing hope and certainty for the believer, who has assurance because of the power that raised Jesus from the dead. If God can raise Jesus from the dead, God can provide all that is promised to the believer. This was true for the Ephesians, and it is true for us today. We can read the promises of God and be certain of God’s ability to fulfill those promises, even those of redemption, resurrection, and glorification.