Tuesday, February 05, 2013

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

Our backyard, with the trail to the river

I'm preaching this Sunday at Redeemer out of Ephesians 3:14-21. I've invited people to share in this experience with me, even if they are not part of our church.

Take the text and study it, and meditate on it.

Consider these verses:

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

Here are some notes taken from New Testament scholar Ben Witherington (BW), and NT scholar Klyne Snodgrass (KS).

“In your inner being” means the same thing as “in your hearts.” (BW)

BW – “Paul is praying for the continuing presence of Christ within the Christians through faith. The verb katoikeo signifies literally to make a home or to settle down and so has in view a more permanent presence.” (BW, E, 274)

As we trust, he makes our hearts his home.
Paul is praying this for people who are already Christians. (BW, E, 274)
          He dwells in our hearts through faith.

BW – “This shows as clearly as one could want that sanctification and a growing relationship with and presence of Christ in the believer’s life is indeed contingent on the believer exercising faith in Christ. It is not a unilateral act or activity of God.” (BW, E, 274)

BW (quoting Hoehner):  “Faith involves a relationship of trust between two parties, and so there can be no implication that the notion of Christ living in the center of a believer’s personality means the absorption of that individual personality or the dissolving of its responsibility.” (BW, E, 274)

KS – The main intent of Paul’s prayer is clear: He wants his readers strengthened by God’s Spirit so that they may know intimately Christ’s presence and love.
          If this happens…, everything else will fall in place.

Paul’s prayer is to give power from his wealth of glory. (NIV “glorious riches”).

Paul’s doxology is about the One who has power to give more than we ask or think and to whom glory belongs.

KS – The Spirit is the power of God at work in his people.

KS – “Paul prays for his readers that the Spirit will be so strong an influence at the controlling center of their being that their lives will show it.”

“Your inner being” – “in the depths of my being.” This is synonymous with “the heart.” (KS)

“So that.”  KS – “The indwelling of Christ does not result from the Spirit’s strengthening; it is the manner in which the Spirit strengthens.”
          In other words – v. 17 explains v. 16.
          Christ indwells us through the work of the Spirit.
The Spirit’s empowering or indwelling and the indwelling of Christ are not separate things.
In 2:20-22 the church was called “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
By the Spirit’s work Christ takes up residence in the person.
Paul prays here that Christ will permeate one’s whole being. “It is the equivalent of the command in 5:18 to be continually filled with the Spirit.” (KS)
Eph 3:17 is one of only five Pauline texts that speak of Christ being in us. (Cf. Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20; 4:19).