Thursday, February 07, 2013

Ephesians 3:14-21 as a Spiritual Exercise - #5


In Ephesians 3:17-19 Paul writes out his prayer for the Ephesian Jesus-followers. This prayer is so important that, if and as it finds fulfillment, all things in a Jesus-follower's life will line up with the heart of God. Paul writes:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Here are notes I am working with, from Ben Witherington's (BW) commentary on Ephesians.

“Established” – more literally, “rooted and founded.”

BW – Knowing and understanding the love of Christ requires being rooted in that love, experiencing it, indeed being grounded in it.

BW – “One can grasp it only through experience, and even when one experiences it one is left groping for words to describe it. The ultimate goal of being rooted in love and grasping its meaning is to “be filled in all the fullness of God.”” (BW, Eph, 275)

BW – “Grasping and experiencing God’s love is the key to receiving the full presence of God into one’s life.” (BW, Eph, 275)

As believers are strengthened through the Spirit in the inner person, as they allow Christ to dwell in their hearts through faith, and as they know more of the love of Christ, so the process of being filled up to all the fullness of the life and power of God will take place. (BW, Eph, 275)

BW – “Paul is concerned about the audience’s continued growth and maturing and coming to completion in their faith.” (BW, Eph, 275)

Paul wants the Ephesian J-followers to know, to experience, the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ.
There is an immensity here that is beyond human understanding.
This is about knowing – experientially – something that is beyond human knowing.
Paul is so concerned about the E – J-followers’ Christian growth that he prays that they will be given strength to perceive the imperceptible.
The ultimate goal of the prayer is: that the J-followers be filled with God to the full.

Here's some notes from Klyne Snodgrass's (KS) commentary on Ephesians.

KS – Here is 3:17 Paul prays that his readers will be strengthened with Christ, who indwells them through faith, and that by being rooted and established in love, they will come to know love.

“In love” – God’s love is the wellspring from which believers are nourished and the foundation on which they find stability.
Being rooted and established in love enables them to perceive love, and from knowing love they are filled with the fullness of God.
Love is both the source and the goal.
When Christ permeates people, they know they are rooted in his love. From the experience of love they know love and are transformed.
From the experience of love they know love and are transformed.

The Spirit strengthens by the indwelling Christ, who enables perception. That is, we come to "see," experientially, the cognitively unknowable love of Christ.

Just as love is both the source and the goal, Christ is the goal (v. 17) and the source of the power of God at work in us (v. 19).

Paul’s concern for unity returns with the mention of “all the saints” (v. 18).
While the text is about individuals knowing, it is not about individualistic knowing. At every turn Christianity is a corporate religion, and only as people comprehend together can they experience what God has for them.

V. 18 – the four dimensions – wide, long, high, and deep.

The Greek text does not have the words “is the love of Christ.”
KS – it says, merely – “grasp with all God’s people what is the width, breadth, height, and depth.”
Since v. 19 is essentially an explanation of v. 18, the goal is ore likely that they will comprehend Christ’s love.
Paul prays that they may know the love that is beyond knowing. This is language from someone who has been surprised and overwhelmed with Christ’s love.

Love brings movement. Love causes things. (KS)

KS – “To know Christ’s love is to be transformed by love and expanded into the fullness of God.”
“In experiencing Christ Christians experience the fullness of God, his presence, and power. In experiencing that fullness they themselves are made full by Christ. That is, they partake of God’s own being and are made like him. This is an ongoing process… God’s fullness dwells in Christ and in him Christians are made full. The implication in Ephesians is that as believers encounter God’s love in Christ, they will be filled with love.” (KS, Eph, 182)