“Now to the one who can, according to his power that is operating in us, do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive, to him be the glory.”—Ephesians 3:20, 21, New World Translation.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory.”—Ephesians 3:20, 21, King James Version.
Meaning of Ephesians 3:20
The apostle Paul expresses his confidence that God is able to answer the prayers and fulfill the expectations of His worshippers in ways that they might not think possible. His answers may even exceed what they might expect or hope for.
“Now to the one who can, according to his power that is operating in us.” Verse 21 reveals that this “one” is Jehovah God. a There, Paul writes: “To him be the glory by means of the congregation and by means of Christ Jesus.” (John 20:31) Moreover, God can give us the power, or strength, that we need in order to do his will.—Philippians 4:13.
In verse 20, the apostle Paul highlights something special about Jehovah’s ability to help His worshippers. Commenting on the expression translated “the one who can,” one reference work states: “The ability mentioned here is distinct from mere potential, and denotes not the possibility but the power to carry something out.” Unlike a well-meaning human friend, Jehovah is always able to do whatever is needed to care for his worshippers and to answer their prayers. He alone has unlimited power and authority.—Isaiah 40:26.
“[God] can . . . do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” Jehovah can do more than provide abundantly or even “superabundantly” for his worshippers. He can help them in ways that far exceed what they might view as ample, or generous.
The expression “beyond all the things we ask or conceive” amplifies the preceding words. By saying “beyond all the things we ask or conceive,” the apostle wants all Christians to understand that God can help them in ways that exceed their expectations. The New International Version of the Bible renders the first part of verse 20 as: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” At times, Christians may feel that their problems are too big or too complicated to solve. Perhaps they do not even know what to pray for. But Jehovah is not limited in insight or in his ability to help. In his due time, he can solve any problem—and do this in ways that they may not have imagined or thought possible. (Job 42:2; Jeremiah 32:17) In the meantime, he gives them the strength to endure—even with joy!—James 1:2, 3.
Context of Ephesians 3:20
The Book of Ephesians is a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to Christians who lived in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor, part of modern-day Turkey. In his letter, Paul recorded thoughts that he expressed in a prayer on their behalf. (Ephesians 3:14-21) He prayed that they—and by extension, all Christians—would become more familiar with the love of the Christ by striving to imitate Jesus’ loving way of thinking and acting. Paul concluded his prayer by praising God and stating the words found at Ephesians 3:20, 21.
Watch this short video to see an overview of the book of Ephesians.