We’ve spent the last two posts talking about God’s faithfulness to complete a good work in us, and the example of how this worked in Jesus Christ’s life. Our focus has been on the phrase “faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). The word translated “working” is energeia (G1753), which means efficient, active power. Today, for the final post on this topic, let’s look at the energia of God in His word and see if we can find grace to help us believe in God’s faithfulness in His process, and a faith that will carry us through our times of need.
Energeia and Energeo
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:17-20)
In verse 19, the word translated “working” is energeia (G1753). Then in verse 20, the word “worked” is translated from the closely related word energeo (G1754). In fact, if you want to do an extended word study on this, there are a total of five related words – these two plus energema (G1755), energes (G1756), and ergon (G2041).
But back to verse 20 and energeo. This refers to the effect of energeia. It is what has been accomplished by God the Father’s operative, active power and energy when He takes notice of someone. He accomplished all of this in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand … in other words, “when He was glorified!” Also remember that in John 7:39 it states, “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ” God the Father’s operative, active power and energy glorified Jesus Christ and made possible all of His “effectual working” in those of us who make up His church.
Working in Us
Christ lived His entire human life by the faith of the operation of His Father. He did this to set the example for how we are supposed to live by faith. Let’s notice how Paul spoke of this in regard to his own calling to minister. He says, “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power”, thus crediting the energeia of God as the guiding force in his life (Eph. 3:7).
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works (energeo) in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)
In the phrase “power that works in us,” the word “works” is again energeo. God seems to be saying that what He can do for us through His effectual working is literally limitless. We ought to trust that “above all that we ask or think” means just what it says!
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working (energeia) by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Eph 4:11-16)
In these passages, Paul expands the type of work that he describes God doing in him to include the whole body. God and Jesus Christ are committed to “effectual working” in each of us, and They are more than capable of succeeding.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working (energeia) by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. (Phil. 3:20-21)
Working For His Will
Jesus Christ works in us mightily as the High Priest in the temple of His spirit, just as His Father effectually worked in Him. Christ had faith in His father’s faithfulness, and He expects us to exercise the faith of the operation of God, as He did and as Paul demonstrates in his writings.
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working (energeia) which works (energeo) in me mightily. (Col. 1:27 – 29)
In John 5:17, Christ told the Jews, “My Father has been working until now, and I work.” That’s what They do, and They are faithful in Their work, in Their commitments, and in Their promises. They are engaged in a loving and effectual task with their creation.
So we have this “effectual inner working of God” (His energeia) as a process that He has designed to bring us to the goal (the effect of his energeia) which is “above all that we ask or think” — eternal life.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Rom. 8:18-27)
Look at all of what we just read, and think about how much of this depends on God’s “effectual working.”
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom 8:28-30)
Here we are back where we started in the first post, and I hope we can see more clearly that “all things” of every kind, sort, and variety really do “work together” (sunergeo – G4903). God is at work all the time, and through “all things” that happen in our lives, and it doesn’t sound like He expects to fail does it?
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent (energeo) prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5:16)
Brethren, I’ve always felt that my own intercessory prayers were not as effective as I would like them to be, and I’ve always wondered what might be lacking in them, but perhaps if we more fully understand the effectual working of God, we may be able to approach what it says here in this verse. The word used here in the Greek is energeo. In the uses of the word we’ve looked at so far, it refers to the effect of God’s energia — of His inner work inside of us over time, through suffering and trial … feeling the effects of “all things” that we experience in life.
I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Will He find the kind of faith that He is looking for? Faith in His faithfulness to effectually work out salvation in us through the indwelling presence of His spirit … with the constant oversight and guardianship of Jesus Christ … who, himself overcame all things through the faith of the operation of God?