Ephesians 3:17


Friday, 26 August 2016

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, Ephesians 3:17

Again, context of the preceding verses is necessary to fully see Paul’s intent –

“…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love…”

In the preceding verse, he noted that we should be “strengthened with might through His Spirit. He now immediately returns to the second member of the Godhead, Christ. Paul asks that He “may dwell in your hearts.” Charles Ellicott notes that the indwelling of Christ “is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical to it.” This is supported by Jesus’ words of John 14:16-20 –

“And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

The indwelling of Christ is directly equated to the indwelling of the Spirit; there is no connecting particle in the Greek. This means that, “Where the Spirit of God is, there also is Christ” (Bengel). And this is received “through faith.” There is an article in the Greek of these words – dia tes pisteos, or “through the faith.” Thus faith is the means of this occurrence. When we exercise faith, we are sealed with the Spirit of God and we thus appropriate all that Christ offers.

The verse ends with the notion that this appropriation of the work of Christ is what will cause us to be “rooted and grounded in love.” Two separate metaphors are combined into this one thought. The first is that of a tree’s roots which bury deep into the soil. They hold the tree firm, but even more, they draw up the nutrients and water with which the tree may live. This is comparable to our own position in Christ. It is through Him that we may draw up all the riches of what God offers to His redeemed.

The second metaphor, is that of Being “grounded.” It is an architectural word which speaks of the laying of a foundation. It is the firm base upon which all else will stand. As Christ is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), then it is He who is the full and complete support for all that we do in our Christian lives. Paul uses the same mixture of the tree and foundation terminology again in Colossians 2:6, 7 –

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

Finally, the metaphor of this uniting of the roots and the foundation is said to be “in love.” This is certainly referring to the vertical love towards God in Christ as well as the horizontal love of the believer toward other believers. When a tree is rooted and reaches out its branches, it receives the sunshine by which it continues to grow in strength and vitality. This is the same concept which is being expressed for the believer concerning love. Our foundation is set, but our growth will only be fully productive as we are guided in love.

Life application: Christ is with us, dwelling in us, from the moment that we receive Him. God has done a marvelous thing for us through the Person of Jesus by reconciling us to Himself. And even more, He has not left us as orphans. Rather He continues to reside with us through His Spirit. The access is granted at any and all times if we will simply appropriate what He has given us. Let us yield ourselves to God at all times and open this fount of spiritual blessing.

Lord God Almighty, all things are Yours, and by Your power they exist. And yet, the one thing which seems to not even acknowledge this is that which You have pursued the most. Man has turned from You and gone about finding every way to ignore You, deny You, and actively shun You. But You have patiently worked throughout history to reveal Yourself to us. Through Jesus, You have offered us a pardon and a state of peace. Turn our hearts to You; open our minds to His work; and be pleased to live in our praises for what You have done. Amen!


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