The apostle Paul ends Chapter 3 of Ephesians with a strong benediction in verse twenty. He says that God is able to do infinitely more than we would dare imagine:
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” ESV
I believe Paul places these particular words right before he begins the application portion of Ephesians (chapters 4-6) precisely because he does not want Christians to lose hope. In the final chapters Paul lays out a radical way of living for the Ephesians and for us. Paul was aware of just how contrary to the world’s ways these “basic” directives of the Christian faith would be to his readers. He wanted them to know that the full power of God was available to them as they began to implement the instructions of the Holy Spirit.
For example, in chapter 6 we read, Children obey your parents in the Lord. What is so radical about that? The radical part is the last three words: in the Lord.
Even the world wants children who obey and do what they are told. But Paul adds a stunning qualifier. He is saying that simply coming when called is not enough. Children are to come when called, in the power of God. That is radical. It means your parenting may not be evaluated only by how quickly and how correctly your children respond to your directions.
Ephesians 6:1 appears to be such a simple verse. But when the last three words are the focus, the verse becomes a radical challenge to every accepted practice in the world around you. The world will always focus on outward behavior. But the Holy Spirit, through Paul, says that is not nearly enough. And actually, if that is all that happens—outward, quickly-responsive behavior— it is wrong. It is wrong because it is not done in the Lord.
That is why Paul’s encouragement at the end of chapter 3 is so important. We need this encouragement or we could easily give up in despair. Children obey your parents in the Lord is just as radical the directives given to wives and husbands in Chapter 5.
Paul has made the plot even more intriguing. Your children are to obey in the Lord even though they began life as an enemy of God (Ephesians 2:1-3). This is too much for us to handle! But Paul says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. He wants us to ask for more than children who come quickly when they are called. He wants us to ask him for children who will come quickly because they want to honor God. God is able to answer that prayer … and infinitely more!