“What is the immeasurable greatness
Of God’s power
According to the super human working
Of his great might
καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ,
Paul said, “What is the immeasurable greatness (καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος) of God’s power (τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ) in us (εἰς ἡμᾶς) who believe (τοὺς πιστεύοντας), according to the super human working (κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν) of his great might (τοῦ κράτους) and his great strength (τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ).” Only the Pauline letters used this word ὑπερβάλλον, that means to throw over or beyond, to run beyond, surpass, excel, exceed, or transcend, and the word ἐνέργειαν, that means working, action, productive work, activity, or superhuman activity. Only this Ephesian letter used this unique word μέγεθος, that means greatness or vastness. Paul explained the great power of God that was working in us because of our belief in Jesus Christ. God had a superhuman or other worldly power with great strength and might. No human power could compare to the power of God that was working in us because of Jesus Christ. Do you appreciate the supernatural power of Jesus Christ within you?
“Christ was crucified
By the power of God.
We are weak
But in dealing
We shall live
By the power of God.”
καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη ἐξ ἀσθενείας, ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ. καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ, ἀλλὰ ζήσομεν σὺν αὐτῷ ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς.
Paul said that Christ was crucified (καὶ γὰρ ἐσταυρώθη) in weakness (ἐξ ἀσθενείας), but lives by the power of God (ἀλλὰ ζῇ ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ). We are weak in him (καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς ἀσθενοῦμεν ἐν αὐτῷ), but in dealing with you (εἰς ὑμᾶς), we shall live with him (ἀλλὰ ζήσομεν σὺν αὐτῷ) by the power of God (ἐκ δυνάμεως Θεοῦ). Paul used the cross of Christ and his crucifixion as a sign of folly and weakness. Thus, this weak humiliating death of Jesus on the cross led to his powerful resurrection. The power of God changed the weakness of the cross into the powerful glory of the resurrection. Thus, in our own lives, we are weak, but with the power of God we are able to live a strong life in Jesus Christ. Paul and the other true apostles were willing to suffer shame and humiliation so that the power of the risen Lord might be known. God operates through human weakness, not in spite of it. Do you feel the power of Christ in your life?
“But we have this treasure
In clay jars.
This transcendent power
Belongs to God
And not to us.”
Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν, ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν·
Paul said that we have this treasure (Ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν θησαυρὸν τοῦτον) in clay jars (ἐν ὀστρακίνοις σκεύεσιν), so that this transcendent power (ἵνα ἡ ὑπερβολὴ τῆς δυνάμεως) belongs to God (ᾖ τοῦ Θεοῦ) and not to us (καὶ μὴ ἐξ ἡμῶν). Only the Pauline letters used this word ὀστρακίνοις, that means earthen or made of clay, and the word ὑπερβολὴ, that means throwing beyond, excess, superiority, surpassing excellence, or preeminence. Paul explained that our human bodies are like clay jars or vessels. However, we have a superior treasure that is not perishable like our clay bodies. This transcendent power belongs to God and not us. He has graced us or given this preeminent power in our human frail bodies. It is God’s gift, not our gift. Do we treasure God’s gift to us?
Paul said that the power of God gave salvation to everyone as long as they believed in Jesus Christ. Paul announced that he was not ashamed of this gospel message that he preached about Jesus Christ because it held power. He also noted that he was speaking to the Jews first, since he was not negating the Jewish existence within the Christian world. Faith and righteousness went hand in hand. Do you accept the power of God in your life?
“But Jesus looked
He said to them.
This is impossible.
But with God,
All things are possible.’”
ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Παρὰ ἀνθρώποις τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν ἐστιν, παρὰ δὲ Θεῷ πάντα δυνατά.
This saying about the power of God and the impotence of humans can be found in Mark, chapter 10:27, word for word, and Luke, chapter 18:27, but slightly different. Jesus looked at them (ἐμβλέψας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς) and told them (εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that this would be impossible for mortal men (Παρὰ ἀνθρώποις τοῦτο ἀδύνατόν ἐστιν), but with God, all things were possible (παρὰ δὲ Θεῷ πάντα δυνατά), since he could do everything. This could be an allusion to Genesis, chapter 18:14, when Sarah laughed when she was told she was going to have a son or Jeremiah, chapter 32:17, when he was talking about creation. What humans were not able to do, God was able to do.
“Thus says Yahweh.
Who made the earth.
Yahweh formed it
To establish it.
Yahweh is his name.
‘Call to me!
I will answer you!
I will tell you great things.
I will tell you hidden things
That you have not known.’”
Yahweh has made the earth, as he formed it and established it. There is no doubt that Yahweh was his name. Because Yahweh is so powerful, he wants them to call to him, since he was going to answer them. He would tell them great and hidden things that they did not know about.
“It is always in your power
To show great strength.
Who can withstand the might of your arm?
Because the whole world is before you
Like a speck that tips the scales.
It is like a drop of morning dew
That falls upon the ground.
But you are merciful to all.
You can do all things.
You overlook people’s sins.
Thus they may repent.
You love all things that exist.
You detest none of the things
That you have made.
You would not have made anything
If you had hated it.
How would anything have endured,
If you had not willed it?
How would anything not called forth by you
Have been preserved?
You spare all things.
They are yours. O Lord!
You love the living!”
This is like a great prayer to God, who has power and strength. No one is able to withstand the might of his arm. The whole world (ὅλος ὁ κόσμος) is like a speck or a drop of morning dew before him. This is reminiscent of the folk spiritual song He’s got the Whole World in his Hands. God is also merciful to all. He overlooks people’s sins so that man can repent (ἀνθρώπων εἰς μετάνοιαν). He loves (ἀγαπᾷς) all things, but he detests none since he made everything. If God hated anything, it would not endure. If he did not will it, it would not happen. He has preserved all things, since all belongs to the Lord who loves all (πάντων) living things.
“But you indeed are awesome!
Who can stand before you?
When once your anger is roused?
From the heavens
You uttered judgment.
The earth feared.
The earth was still.
God rose up to establish judgment.
He wanted to save all the oppressed of the earth.”
God was awesome! No one could stand before him once his anger was aroused. From heaven he uttered his judgment. Thus the earth feared and was still. God established his judgment. He wanted to save all the oppressed of the earth. This section ends with the musical interlude meditative pause of Selah.
My King is from of old.
He is working salvation in the earth.
You divided the sea by your might.
You broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan.
You gave him as food
For the creatures of the wilderness.
You cut openings for springs and torrents.
You dried up ever-flowing streams.
Yours is the day.
Yours also is the night.
You have established the luminaries.
You have established the sun.
You have fixed all the bounds of the earth.
You have made summer and winter.”
This is a prayer to God about his creative power. God had been an old fashioned king for a long time. He brought salvation to the earth. He divided the seas to produce the earth. He had to defeat the sea monsters, particularly the mythical Leviathan, the great beast that was so important in Job, chapter 41. However, God was able to defeat Leviathan and feed his body to the wild animals. God definitely controlled the water ways, big and small. He was in charge of day and night as well as all the heavenly lights, including the sun. He set up the boundaries of the earth. He had control of the seasons of the year with its various climate changes of summer and winter. God was the powerful creator of heaven and earth as well as the water and the land.
“Summon your might!
Show your strength!
You have done this for us before.
Because of your temple at Jerusalem,
Kings bear gifts to you.
Rebuke the wild animals
That live among the reeds!
Rebuke the herd of bulls
With the calves of the peoples!
Trample under foot
Those who lust after tribute!
Scatter the peoples
Who delight in war!
Let bronze be
Brought from Egypt!
Let Ethiopia hasten
To stretch out its hands to God.”
As this great procession was headed to the wonderful Temple in Jerusalem, this was a wish that God show his powerful strength. God was to rebuke the wild animals along the reeds of the Nile River, an allusion to Egypt. He was to rebuke the bulls with their calves. He was to trample those people who wanted to collect tribute. He was to scatter the war mongers. The psalmist wanted bronze taken from Egypt. He also wanted Ethiopia to stretch out its hands to God.