Winger, Thomas M. "Intercession and Doxology: The Revelation of the Mystery Is for Their Strengthening and to God's Glory 3:14-21." Ephesians. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014, 389-423.
Winger reminds his readers that in Ephesians 3:14 Paul takes up the sentence he had begun in 3:1 but interrupted (Winger 2014, 389). Paul is continuing to give praise to God because not only has he reconciled Jew and Gentile, but he has done it by the revelation of the mystery of redemption in Christ. Though Jews would normally stand while praying, here Paul bends his knee in reverence before God (Winger 2014, 390).
Ephesians 3:15, with its use of "family" derived from "father" in 3:14, ties the concept of the family to God. Winger observes that the identity of the Christian family is bound up with the realization of God as the father of all (Winger 2014, 391). When God gives his name to us we are part of His family.
Ephesians 3:16 goes on with the start of the content of Paul's prayer. Winger points out that in the conception of prayer found here, the strength of the prayer depends on God to whom we pray rather than on any quality of those who pray (Winger 2014, 392-393). The Holy Spirit, who is emphasized in Ephesians, is the agent of God for the strengthening and encouragement of the Christians. Winger also notes the Trinitarian emphasis in verses 14-19, with the Father on both ends of the prayer, the Spirig in verse 16, and Crhsit in verse 16 (Winger 2014, 394). Additionally, the prayer is that God would strengthen "the inner man" (v. 16)., a place which only God can reach. Change in the inner man is change of the whole of the person (Winger 2014, 394).
Ephesians 3:17 then prays that Christ would dwell in the hearts of the Ephesians. Winger notes a parallelism between the phrases with infinitives in verses 16 and 17 (Winger 2014, 394) while I note the start of a tricolon crescendo, with the statements becoming longer step by step. Though Winger does not explicitly deal with the crescendo, he does briefly note the fact that the second statement is expanded with two prepositional phrases.
Winger considers the petition of Ephesians 3:18 to be subordinated to the previous petitions (Winger 2014, 396). The goal ἵνα) is that the Ephesians may comprehend the enormity of God's salvation. They, with all Christians, have received baptism and are redeemed people of Christ (Winger 2014, 397). Winger observes that the reference to "width, length, height and depth" makes us ask, "of what?" However, Paul doesn't answer that question. Winger concludes based on other context that it probably refers to Christ's love (Winger 2014, 398).
Ephesians 3:19 does draw a conclusion. Paul's prayer includes the Ephesians knowing the astounding love of Christ (Winger 2014, 398). Winger views Paul's use of language not merely as parallel. In verse 19 they should "comprehend" and in verse 19 they should "know." "Paul moves from intellectual apprehension to the deeper, experiential knowledge that is implied by γινώσκω" (Winger 2014, 399). Winger takes the next ἵνα clause, "that you may be filled," as "subordinate to the previous two ἵνα clauses and the clauses that modify them" (Winger 2014, 399). God fills the Ephesians by the Holy Spirit.
In Ephesians 3:20-21, Paul moves into a doxological statement. Winger observes here that Paul's doxologies fall into somewhat predictable verbal patterns (Winger 2014, 400). This one is no exception, as Winger illustrates with references to other doxologies. Of note is Paul's use of what I would characterize as a "pile" of characteristics, not showing much grammatical or logical progression, but rather emphasizing the overwhelming majesty of God. Winger notes the lack of a verb in verse 21. His interruption is that, though we are naturally likely to mentally supply a verb of being, it would be appropriate for that verb to express either that God possesses glory or that he should receive glory. The absence of the actual verb may suggest that both are the case (Winger 2014, 402).
Winger observes from a structural and rhetorical perspective that the prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 has parallel elements to that of 1:15-23, but that while earlier it was Paul's own prayer, here he is speaking more as someone leading the Ephesians' prayer. It is more like a liturgical unit in this way (Winger 2014, 405). The prayer also divides into a section of intercession and one of doxology. Both elements are prayer. Winger outlines the structure of the prayer in considerable detail (Winger 2014, 405-406). He then notes that the prayer as a whole has a structure not unlike that of a collect, as used to this day. It begins with an address to God, a rationale based on God's character or work, a petition, a desired result of the petition, and a doxology (Winger 2014, 407).
Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is not a theoretical response to a theoretical revelation. Winger sees Paul as someone with a pastoral concern for the well being of the Ephesians (Winger 2014, 40-7). To this end, his desire is to direct them to God, rather than to the idea of the Gospel or to himself as an apostle. He shows this desire by stating the posture of kneeling before the Father (3:14) (Winger 2014, 408). Though it is not clear whether kneeling for prayer to God was considered normal in the early first century, it was by the end of the century. Winger cites numerous examples of kneeling as the custom for prayer among early Christians (Winger 2014, 409). He continues with a discussion of the history of kneeling not only for prayer but also when receiving communion (Winger 2014, 409ff).
Winger again observes the rich Trinitarian theology expressed in the prayer of Ephesians 3:14-17, where all the persons of the Godhead are present - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Winger 2014, 413). Here, God is not only the Father in the Godhead, but of all creation. He has further created families to find their identity in him as their true father. As elsewhere, here also the Ephesians receive God in their inner selves, with a result which is external (Winger 2014, 414).
With this result in mind, Winger notes that Ephesians 3:18-19 speak of the magnitude of "Christ's love for us, not our love for him" (Winger 2014, 415). This is the means by which God has imparted the fulfillment of the mystery of his redemption to the Ephesians.
The structure of the doxology in Ephesians 3:20-21 is relatively simple. Winger boils it down to an object of praise (God), a statement of praise or glory, an expression of eternity, and an amen (Winger 2014, 416). The rest of the doxology consists of illustrative statements which put meat on those bones. Winger identifies three basic forms of doxologies found in Scripture, and describes them in brief. He concludes that in all his doxologies Paul uses a pattern which can be identified elsewhere. "He does not invent his own worship, but receives and joins in the way his people were given to glorify God" (Winger 2014, 418). Winger then lays out a chart of Paul's doxologies throughout his writings, showing the rhetorical and pastoral use of each (Winger 2014, 418-419). Wnger rejects the idea that a doxology is necessarily a sign of transition from theological to ethical teaching (Winger 2014, 420). Doxologies may serve this function, but there are many other functions as well.