God and the human family (Ephesians 3:14-19)

How do we respond to the news that God unites us as his family?

The gospel is the good news that God has restored peace to all the peoples of the earth through his anointed ruler (Ephesians 2). So what’s our response to this good news?

What people often do with the gospel today doesn’t match the response in Ephesians 3.

  • Evangelicals try to convince individuals they’re sinners and get them saved.
  • Justice warriors name and shame the regimes for their sins (systemic oppression).

But Paul doesn’t stand up to condemn individuals or regimes:

  • He kneels to acknowledge the throne of the ancient ruler whose kingship is now restored in the reign of his anointed.
  • He explains that, as a consequence of the Messiah’s reunification of humanity, the whole human family now has a single Father. He honours the Patriarch who gave us our life, who now draws us together as family.
  • While kneeling before the family’s Father, he makes a request: that the sovereign’s rich glory empower his family to experience the full extent of his love in the Messiah, so the Father’s love fills the whole family.

There are other things we can do to enact our Sovereign’s life as his family on earth. How to live as his family is the subject of the next three chapters (Ephesians 4–6). But our first and most definitive response to the gospel must be responding to the Father who is reunifying us, not condemning people for disobedience.

The Father connection was already present in Old Testament times, when the Davidic king represented the earthly reign of Israel’s Father in heaven (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7). By drawing God’s nation and the gentile nations together in his kingship, the Messiah therefore formed us all into one family, under one Father: “For through him, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit” (2:18).

So the response to the good news is to bow in allegiance to this one Father, the Patriarch of the whole human family, the sovereign over heaven and earth. Bowing in his service, we make the request that all his people will know the extent of his redemptive love, the love that transforms the way we treat each other as family here in his earthly realm.

Join me in making this prayer our response to the gospel:

Ephesians 3:14-19 (interpretive translation,  compare NIV)
14 In response to the reunification of humanity, I bow my knees to our Father, 15 the Patriarch whom the whole family in heaven and on earth names as sovereign. 16 My request is that, out of his regal wealth, he gives you (his people) a gift of empowerment to make you strong, through his Spirit in your inner person.

17 The Messiah is to take up residence among us, through the loyalty you give him in your hearts, where his love has taken root and been established. 18 This enables you, along with all those devoted to God, to come to grips with the width, length, height and depth of the Messiah’s love, 19 to know the love that’s beyond knowing, the love that fills the community with all the fullness of God.


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Author: Allen Browne

Seeking to understand Jesus in the terms he chose to describe himself: son of man (his identity), and kingdom of God (his mission). Riverview Church, Perth, Western Australia

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