|3:17 Paul restates the prayer’s central appeal, identifying the presence of Christ with the empowerment of the Spirit (Eph 3:16). Just as the Church is becoming a holy temple for God (2:21–22), so the individual believer receives the presence of Christ (compare Gal 2:20).|
may dwell The Greek word used here, katoikeō, carries the sense of residing permanently.
in your hearts The heart in ancient Greek and Jewish thought represents the essential aspects of existence and identity: the inner being, will, and intelligence.
firmly rooted and established Paul uses these two metaphors—one agricultural (“rooted”) and the other architectural (“established”)—as a reminder of the stability that Christ provides. Paul’s ultimate hope is that the indwelling presence of Christ will deepen the believers’ experience of God’s love.
in love Refers to God’s love (Eph 2:4).
3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts. Every believer is indwelt by Christ at the moment of salvation (Ro 8:9; 1Co 12:13), but He is “at home,” finding comfort and satisfaction, only where hearts are cleansed of sin and filled with His Spirit (cf. Jn 14:23). through faith. This speaks of Christians’ continuing trust in Christ to exercise His lordship over them. rooted and grounded in love. I.e., established on the strong foundation of self-giving, serving love for God and for His people (cf. Mt 22:37–39; 1Jn 4:9–12, 19–21).
3:17 The second step is that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. This is the result of the Spirit’s invigoration: we are strengthened in order that Christ may dwell in our hearts. Actually, the Lord Jesus takes up His personal residence in a believer at the time of conversion (John 14:23; Rev. 3:20). But that is not the subject of this prayer. Here it is not a question of His being in the believer, but rather of His feeling at home there! He is a permanent Resident in every saved person, but this is a request that He might have full access to every room and closet; that He might not be grieved by sinful words, thoughts, motives, and deeds; that He might enjoy unbroken fellowship with the believer. The Christian heart thus becomes the home of Christ, the place where He loves to be—like the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. The heart, of course, means the center of the spiritual life; it controls every aspect of behavior. In effect, the apostle prays that the lordship of Christ might extend to the books we read, the work we do, the food we eat, the money we spend, the words we speak—in short, the minutest details of our lives.
The more we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the more we will be like the Lord Jesus Himself. And the more we are like Him, the more He will “settle down and feel completely at home in our hearts” (KSW).
We enter into the enjoyment of His indwelling through faith. This involves constant dependence on Him, constant surrender to Him, and constant recognition of His “at home-ness.” It is through faith that we “practice His presence,” as Brother Lawrence quaintly put it.
Up to this point Paul’s prayer has involved each member of the Trinity. The Father is asked (v. 14) to strengthen the believers through His Spirit (v. 16) that Christ might be completely at home in their hearts (v. 17). One of the great privileges of prayer is that we can engage the eternal Godhead to work in behalf of others and ourselves.
The result of Christ’s unrestricted access is that the Christian becomes rooted and grounded in love. Here Paul borrows words from the worlds of botany and building. The root of a plant provides nourishment and support. The groundwork of a building is the foundation on which it rests. As Scroggie says, “Love is the soil in which our life must have its roots; and it is the rock upon which our faith must ever rest.” To be rooted and grounded in love is to be established in love as a way of life. The life of love is a life of kindness, selflessness, brokenness, and meekness. It is the life of Christ finding expression in the believer (see 1 Cor. 13:4–7).
3:17. This leads to the second request, deep faith. This is not salvation. Paul was writing to Christians, and Christ takes up residence in our heart when we accept him (John 14:23). This is more than resident faith that comes with salvation. This is Christ’s being at home in one’s heart.
In the little booklet My Heart Christ’s Home, Robert Munger (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1954) pictures the Christian life as a house, through which Jesus goes from room to room. In the library, which is the mind, Jesus finds trash and all sorts of worthless things, which he proceeds to throw out and replace with his Word. In the dining room of appetite, he finds many sinful desires listed on a worldly menu. In the place of such things as prestige, materialism, and lust, he puts humility, meekness, love, and all other virtues for which believers are to hunger and thirst. He goes through the living room of fellowship, where he finds many worldly companions and activities, through the workshop where only toys are being made, into the closet, where hidden sins are kept, and so on through the entire house. Only when he had cleaned every room, closet, and corner of sin and foolishness could Christ settle down and be at home. To have Christ dwell in our hearts through faith means for him to be at home in every corner of our life, because we believe his promises and therefore become obedient to his word.
The third element is a prayer for abundant love that finds concrete expression in 19a. First Paul gives the qualities needed to be able to receive this prayer. Love must become the dominant quality of life, the roots of your existence, the foundation on which all else rests. Such love in your life comes from the divine love.
3:17 “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” This is an AORIST ACTIVE INFINITIVE which points toward a specific act of faith. There is a fluidity in the NT between the indwelling of the Son and the Spirit (see Special Topic below). The Spirit’s task is to: (1) reveal Jesus, (2) draw to Jesus, (3) baptize into Jesus, and then (4) form Jesus in believers (cf. John 14:23; 16:8–14).
|SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SON AND THE SPIRIT There is a fluidity between the work of the Spirit and the Son. G. Campbell Morgan said the best name for the Spirit is “the other Jesus.” The following is an outline comparison of the work and titles of the Son and the Spirit. 1. Spirit called “Spirit of Jesus” or similar expressions (cf. Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11). 2. Both called by the same terms a. “truth” (1) Jesus, John 14:6 (2) Spirit, John 14:17; 16:13 b. “Advocate” (1) Jesus, 1 John 2:1 (2) Spirit, John 14:16; 16:7 3. All three persons of the Trinity indwell believers: a. Jesus, Matt. 28:20; John 14:20, 23; 15:4–5; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17, 20; Col. 1:27 b. Spirit, John 14:16–17; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:14 c. Father, John 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:16|
© “being deeply rooted” This is a PERFECT PASSIVE PARTICIPLE which could be translated “have been and continue to be rooted by God.” Paul uses this agricultural metaphor only here and in Col. 2:7.
© “and grounded” This is a second PERFECT PASSIVE PARTICIPLE. This is a construction metaphor. The same mixing of agriculture and construction metaphors is found in 2:20–22 and 1 Cor. 3:9.
Ver. 17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.—
The substance of Christianity:—Here is the sum and substance of Christianity: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.” It is the whole of Christianity; that is to say, it is the whole of it in the same way that an acorn is the whole of a tree. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know”—what? The whole nature of God? The whole science of human government? The whole moral theory of the world?—“and to know the love of Christ,” which passeth knowledge. That is, no intellection can ever follow the outgush of experience, and reproduce it in the form of ideas. While the intellect may interpret the experience of the heart, it after all stands afar off from it, and never can partake of the experience itself. It passes knowledge. “And to know the love of Christ, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” This is the very supreme of philosophy. It touches the lines and foundation elements of Christianity. Christianity differs from all other religions, not in the fact that it commands a worship—for all do; not simply in the superior view which it gives of God; but by demanding a peculiar condition of heart toward Christ. Other religions demand reverence, and worship, and obedience, and uprightness—that is all. Christ is said to be “the end of the law.” In other words, that which the whole law means is comprised in Him. Christ in a man—that is the Christian religion. It is Christ dwelling by love in his heart—dwelling in his heart by faith. Out of this will grow many doctrines, and many inferences; but it is the seminal form, the germinent element, in Christianity. It is the personal relationship of the individual heart to the Lord Jesus Christ as its supreme Head and Lover. That not only makes a man a Christian, but brings him into the central point of the Christian system. Everywhere in the New Testament this one element stands forth—the personal identification of the human heart with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are three ways by which Christ can be presented to us:—1. By the senses. That we shall not have again on earth. 2. By the intellect. That is the presentation of Christ doctrinally or theologically. 3. By the heart. That is the reception of Christ by the form of an actual experience; by such a co-operation of the reason with the imagination that we are able to bring the invisible person near to us, and so bountifully reproduce Him, and so beautifully set Him forth, that He becomes to us the “chiefest among ten thousand,” and the one “altogether lovely”; so that every sweet thing in us goes out to Him as every dewdrop in the sunshine evaporates and goes up towards the sun. This is receiving Christ by faith. It is not the rejecting of the senses; it is the non-using of them, rather. It is not the despising of the reason; it is an auxiliary use of the reason. But it is the manly way of taking hold of the Lord Jesus Christ by the enthusiasm of love, and making Him the supreme object of our desire, and of our allegiance. This is receiving Christ by faith; and if we continue so to receive Him, then He dwells in our hearts by faith—that is, by heart-sanctifying love. This I understand to be the distinctive peculiarity of Christianity, not only, but that without which there cannot be any Christianity. There can be no Christianity to the man who does not personally take Christ by faith. There is no substitute for this personal experience, and there can be no system of Christianity which does not provide for this personal experience, towards the Lord Jesus Christ. I remark, then, in view of this exposition, that—1. Any system which leaves out the central figure is not Christian, and has no right to wear that name. For Christianity consists in such an enthusiastic love of the individual human heart for Christ, that they are unified; that there is a substantial, indissoluble oneness between them as there is between the child and the parent; and that it is the cause of all the after life and action of the individual person. If that is denied, Christianity is denied. If Christ is so expounded that such an experience is impossible, Christianity is destroyed in the destruction of the very fundamental idea of Christ. 2. As the Christian system is not held by those who leave out the central figure, so every Christian system is imperfectly held by those who only hold it in a philosophical form. This latter mode is far in advance of the former, which I have just been criticising; but still the holding of the Lord Jesus Christ speculatively and philosophically, the teaching of Him only technically and psychologically in this way, is so imperfect a holding of Him that it cannot for a moment compare with the full-orbed glory of Christianity as it is set forth in the earliest narratives and teachings of the New Testament. I would not underrate the value of an intellectual conception of Christ; but I would hold it as an auxiliary, and as a guide. The intellect cannot fulfil the conditions of Christianity. It is the heart by which a man must believe unto salvation. It is not Christ as analyzed, as stated in technical terms, that ever will affect a man. Every man must by the inflammation of his own heart-feeling find his Christ. A creed is just like a philosopher’s telescope. He sweeps the heavens to see if he can find the star for which he is searching; and by and by the glass brings it to his eye. The glass helps him, but it is not the glass that sees the star. It is the eye that does that. The glass is a mere instrument by which to identify the star, and magnify it, and bring it near, and shut off other things. A blind man could not see a heavenly body with a telescope, no matter how powerful it might be. A creed is a philosopher’s telescope by which we identify philosophical truths, and magnify them, and bring them near; but it is the heart that is to apprehend them. It is the heart that is to interpret the things that are marked out by our creed or philosophy. 3. The heart may embrace Christ with an enthusiasm of love, though the intellectual perception is imperfect and vague. It is better that the intellectual perception should be full and clear; nevertheless, a man can embrace Christ by the heart without the help of the understanding, far better than he can embrace Christ by the understanding without the aid of the heart. Thousands and thousands there have been, I believe, who have loved Christ, and have lived on their love to Him, and have died by the power of that love, and have been translated to glory, though they could not have defined the Divine nature, nor reduced their faith to any intellectual expression. They would have been larger and happier Christians, doubtless, if they had added to the heart element the intellectual element also; but it is possible for one to take hold of Christ with the heart. It is possible for one who has but slender endowments of reason to take hold of Christ. (H. W. Beecher.)
True knowledge of God:—We come to a knowledge of Christ by shaping ourselves into His nature. We do not come to know Christ by gathering together arguments from physical science, nor by grouping texts out of the written Word of God: we come to a knowledge of Christ by a personal experience of those qualities which inhere in Him, and which, in power, constitute His divinity. He who has in himself a moral quality which corresponds to that which is in Jesus Christ, and has great sensibility in it, will have a knowledge of Jesus Christ, of God in Christ, or of the Eternal Father, as the case may be. He will have in himself a knowledge which he cannot have by any external process of reasoning. The sensibility of a corresponding nature is a true interpretation, and is the highest argument possible, under such circumstances. It is so much of us as is godlike that gives us the evidence of God. A moral state carried up to a certain degree of intensity will develop evidence and power in the direction of truths of its own kind. And he who is, like Christ, built up in love—built vertically, built laterally, built all round; he whose nature it is to dwell centrally in this great, enriching, all-controlling element and power of love, will have brought into his mind a realization of the existence of God, and of the power of God’s nature as a Being of love, which will be overwhelming and all-satisfying; which you cannot get from science, because science does not touch it; and which you cannot get from mere reasoning, because reasoning does not reach to it. We may help ourselves by reasoning, and we may gain analogies by science; if we turn to the natural world we may find there evidence of the existence of God, so far as Divine quality is represented by power and matter; but when we rise to the moral and personal elements of the Divine character, nature has nothing in it which can explain them to us—unless we be nature; and we are. There is nothing in nature, aside from man, out of which we can develop these attributes of the Divine Being. We can apprehend them only by having in us moral qualities which correspond to them, and by having them as sensitive to the Divine presence as the thermometer is to the presence of heat, or as the barometer is to the pressure of the atmosphere, or to the presence of moisture in it. These qualities—heat and moisture—are indicated to us by certain instruments; and here is an instrument, the soul of man, existing in the power of a true regenerated love; and this is that which detects the presence, and is inspired by the touch, of the Divine nature, and bears witness to it. It is said that God bears witness in us; but not a whit more than we bear witness to His presence. I sat last summer sometimes for hours in the dreamy air of the mountains, and saw, over against the Twin Mountain House, the American aspen, of which the forests there are full. I saw all the coquetries and blinkings of that wonderful little tree—the witch, the fairy-tree, of the forest. As I sat there, when there was not a cloud moving, when there was not a ripple on the glassy surface of the river, when there was not a grain of dust lifted, when everything was still—dead still—right over against me was that aspen-tree; and there was one little leaf quivering and dancing on it. It was so nicely poised on its long, slender stem that it knew when the air moved. Though I did not know it, though the dust did not know it, and though the clouds did not know it, that leaf knew it; and it quivered and danced, as much as to say: “O wind! you can’t fool me.” It detected the motion of the air when nothing else could. Now, it only requires sensibility in us to detect physical qualities, if we have the corresponding qualities; or social elements, if we have the corresponding elements; or moral attributes, if we have the corresponding attributes. We detect all qualities by the sensibility in us of corresponding qualities which reveal them to us. And he who has largely the Divine element will be able to recognize the Divine existence. That element in him is the power by which he is brought to a knowledge of God. In view of this exposition, I remark—I. That the attempt to prove a God by scientific tests, applying physics strictly, can only reach a small way up. There is an argument that can be constructed that will satisfy—those that it will satisfy; but it is only a little way that it can go. And as I do not think that men can, by scientific observation, test and determine that which lies outside of all physics, so neither do I think this failure need lead to the scepticisms which some men make, but which, thank God, the most eminent scientific men do not make, who are many of them reverent, and who are all of them, I believe, seekers after the truth. The greatest physicists of the day are men who want to know the truth, not only as it is related to matter and to men, but as it is related to Divinity. But that makes no difference. You cannot prove nor disprove by matter that which lies beyond matter; and if, through all the material universe, there is no sign nor hint of God, it does not make any difference in the truth of His spiritual existence. II. The difficulties which beset the existence of God as a personal Being, of intellect, of emotion, and of will—a transcendent and glorified man (for that is as near as we can come to it)—these difficulties are not alleviated when we turn in other directions. I am speaking in an age which runs strongly in the line of scepticism as to the existence of God. Because men have not seen Him, and cannot apply to Him the same tests that they apply to matter, there is a strong drifting towards atheism. I see no alleviation in that direction. That we exist, that nature exists, that there is an infinite chain of cause and effect, that it has had a past history, and that it is to have a future history, we cannot deny. We cannot deny that the vast universe is a fact, except by shutting our eyes. You meet the same difficulties in the realm of sense. When you say that matter is eternal, you do not help anything. It is useless to attempt to stop the thought by a word. You do not stop the thought at all. We go back on it. It is more difficult for me, a thousand times, to conceive that there is in the universe a self-ordering nature, than it is to conceive of a personal God who takes care of the universe, as we take care of an estate, or of a kingdom. Neither do I find any relief in turning to the poets. There is no relief for me in atheism, or pantheism, or in the idea that the sum total of the universe, and that all causes and effects, are God; that the whole physical creation is the body of God; that all the intelligence diffused through all creatures is the intelligence of God; that matter and mind, as they exist distributed through the universe, are only another name for God. By adopting this theory we may run away from some grievous difficulties; but we run into as many others that are no less grievous. I would rather shut my eyes and give up trying to understand my God, than undertake to trace Him partly in myself, partly in you, partly in the laws of matter, and partly in the laws of mind. In such a diffused thought of God there is no relief to me from the difficulties which inhere in this subject. The prime trouble is, that we are not large enough to understand God on any theory. (Ibid.)
Christ inhabiting the moral nature of man:—The effect of a reverie is to create a mental presence, thus we see in “image of the mind” those from whom we are separated. Faith in Christ brings Him down in spiritual presence to perform His saving offices.
I. The firm heart is figurative to denote the highest and purest part of man. It may be compared to a house divided into apartments. Christ must dwell in every room or division. He must dwell in our thought, affection, reason, understanding, judgment, conversation, action, whole life; He must dwell in motive, desire, purpose, will; must have more than the tongue, or to flit through the brain: the heart, the whole of man, He wants. And no transient stay, but constant residence.
II. Christ brings to the heart many rich treasures. Knowledge of the future, all the promises and blessings of new covenant.
III. Faith is the key to unlock the door of the heart for Christ to dwell with us. (J. A. Fullerton.)
Christ in the heart:—
I. When Christ enters the human heart to dwell in it, evil tenants must go out.
II. When Christ comes into a heart to dwell, casting out evil tenants, he does not come alone; He brings with Him all those things that accompany salvation. 1. When Christ dwells in the human heart, He dwells there as a living power, not merely attracting all our other affections, but moving, renewing, sanctifying, moulding us according to His own idea, working His own pleasure in us, making men faithful in their daily business, true, righteous, strong for their daily service, for labour, for suffering, for sorrow, for waiting, for whatever Providence may appoint. 2. When Christ enters a human heart to dwell there, He enters it and abides as an undying joy. 3. When Christ abides in a human heart, He is in it as an immortal hope. (James Culross, D.D.)
The indwelling of Christ in His people:—
I. What it is not. 1. It is not personal. 2. It is not visionary. 3. It is not merely emotional.
II. What it is. 1. It is the result of faith as realizing His presence. 2. It is the result of the communication of the Holy Spirit, by which He is graciously present. 3. It is the result of His love. (G. Brooks.)
Christ dwelling in the heart:—“In your hearts”; in the central region of your moral life—that region in which thought springs up, the region of affection and desire, the region in which purposes are formed, in which future actions have their birth; may Christ dwell there. The conception is not a difficult one to lay hold of. Take a case from ordinary life. A widowed mother lives in a cottage by the sea; her only boy is a sailor; she has not seen him for years; for years he has been far away, sailing from land to land; but her heart is full of him; she thinks of him by day, she dreams of him by night; how tenderly she handles every relic that he left behind him when he went away; how the glass in her spectacles grows dim as she reads his letters; his name is never missed out from her prayers; and many and many a time, when she is busy about her daily work, the thought of her boy will flash into her heart like a beam of golden sunlight; the stars speak about him, and so does every white-sailed ship away out on the sea. Nobody has any difficulty in understanding what is meant when it is said that her boy dwells in her heart. So may Christ dwell in your hearts, the object of trust, of affection, of allegiance. (James Culross, D.D.) The three Advents:—The Advent of Christ may be considered as a three-fold fact—or, perhaps, we may more properly speak of three Advents. The first of these was the coming of Christ upon the earth, the entrance into the sphere of visible and material things of a Divine and spiritual revelation. But not only do we recognize the Advent of Christ in the material world—in the world of nature. We also discern His Advent in history—in the world of social facts and movements. Explain it as we may, it cannot be denied that since the coming of Jesus there has been a vast and progressive change in society. It has been truly said that “the world can never be the same after” that Advent “as it was before it, as it would be without it.” The distinctive boundary lines of ancient and modern history meet just at that point of time on which Jesus stands. There is a life, a spirit, an expression in the world since that time that it did not show before that time. But there is still another Advent of Christ in which these that I have now referred to are, so to speak, realized and completed. And that is the Advent of Christ in the individual soul. Here is a peculiar characteristic of Christianity. The Author and Finisher of our faith is not like the founders of other systems—merely an objective teacher or lawgiver, or a leader in external and material conquests, carrying the kingdom of God with the sharp edge of the sword. He is an inward Saviour—the indwelling source of spiritual life. The profoundest result of Christ’s Advent is marked by an intimate connection between Jesus and the soul of the believer.
I. The conditions of the advent. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith requires an earnest belief in Christ. I observe that this belief must be as specific as the Advent, not a mere historic belief; not a languid acknowledgment of the fact that Christ has come into the world. Again, a mere conventional or traditional acquiescence is not the kind of faith that is required, an acquiescence by which men are called Christians in the sense in which we are a Christian community. True faith is an earnest, original action of the individual soul, moved by strong conviction. That faith is good for nothing which you take and adopt from another. You cannot receive a faith from your fathers. There is a time when we can indicate to our children the land-marks of right. But even the minds of children should not be cast into a fixed mould. We should not say, “Search no more; here is the image of our fathers, and the image and superscription must be stamped upon the waxen substance of your minds; let it harden there!” We say, there is the old Bible; let your minds become developed, and your own experience will shed light upon it. So learn for yourselves an original, active, earnest faith that comes out of every man’s soul, which he struggles and wrestles for as Jacob wrestled in the night with the angel. We should feel as the Samaritans did: “Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we … ourselves … know that this is the Christ.” But they themselves saw Him and knew Him, and from an earnest and original conviction of their own souls they believed in Him. Conviction is a personal exercise of trust. It is a spontaneous, complete yielding of the whole soul to that in which we trust.
II. The manner of the advent. What is meant when we say that Christ dwells in the hearts of men? We do not mean that an actual Christ dwells there; we mean that the spirit of Christ dwells in the hearts of men. And the spirit is really the man. The man is not in his outward or physical form. The real man is the soul, the spirit, and character. The moral standard of Christianity is not a verbal rule, but a character. The rule of Christian life is not an outward law; it is a character. When our characters are assimilated to Christ’s character, or when Christ’s character permeates and controls us, then Christ dwells in our hearts. There is no mysticism in that—nothing unreal, nor anything we cannot grasp. Christ dwells in the heart as a character—as a spirit of life. It is by the spirit, and not the outward form that Christ dwells in us. One man may to-day show the spirit of Christ in the disposition of his wealth; another man may do likewise in his poverty. The man who uses his wealth in a humble, lowly spirit—with the spirit of the loving Jesus; who makes it not merely the instrument of selfish aggrandizement and outward development—he feels that wealth is the gift of God. The outward condition does not make a man like Christ; but the inward spirit. Thus Christianity is adapted to all conditions. The spirit of love is fitted for all conditions. Be you rich or poor—do you stand in a prominent or obscure and lowly place before men—have the spirit of Christ! Let it dwell in your heart! Be truly Christ-like in your home and business relations, fulfilling the duties that rest upon you, as did those who went about Palestine of old preaching the gospel to the poor. Does God take note of the actual size and description of your goodness? Who can tell what shall be God’s minister—the little bird in the air, the snow in the field, the lilies that are dressed better than Solomon! All are agents of God’s instruction. Use your instruments to minister good to man, to make the best use of the little you have. Drop the pebble in the water, and who can tell how wide its ripples will extend in the stream? Do your little acts of goodness and live a true life, and God will see to the rest, and make, perhaps, your small practical action to result higher and deeper than you can calculate.
III. Sphere and result of the advent. We are brought to consider the sphere and result of the Advent. Christ’s Advent is in and through individual souls. To be sure we contemplate Christianity as the grandest scheme of social regeneration, and the only true scheme that the world has ever known. It came and unbarred partitions hat divided man from man. It aimed at a new and better social state; it aims at it now. And men have looked forward to a New Jerusalem, and that Christ would come with a shout and gather together His elect. Christianity speaks to individuals. It did not call upon communities at first. It did not call nations, but individuals—Peter, James, and John and Nathaniel, and in due time Paul. And if he world is to be made better, it is to be made better through individual souls. Christ’s kingdom is essentially an inward kingdom. Its power is silent and hidden. It is the progress of a conviction. Sometimes when you look upon the shore, the sea extends before you smooth and glassy, and the shore is covered with slimy weeds, and by and by you walk that way again, and the great sea has come up, and the shore you looked upon is no more to be seen. So silent and hidden forces are pouring into the world, and all at once we discover the world is made better; but not by a sharp shock or outward convulsion. The geologist tells us the earth has never been made by any sudden formation, but by one thing being added to another. So social changes have been made—not by quick shocks, but by silent action. How strange are the revolutions taking place in society; and how different from what they were a few years ago. We see men holding to opinions unpopular some few years ago, when they would be called fanatics, fools, and madmen. But lo! that opinion becomes the adopted law of the land; it is the ruling force; it is the recognized idea. What has come about? It is the silent work of the Divine kingdom in the individual heart. (E. H. Chapin, D.D.)
Christ dwelling in the heart:—Show the privilege of having Christ to dwell in the heart, by considering what He does there. In general: He brings with Him all the promises and blessings of the new covenant (1 Cor. 1:1, &c; 2 Cor. 1:20; Eph. 1:3). 1. He rebukes the heart (Rev. 2:4, 5; 3:19). 2. He humbles the heart (Acts 9:5, 6; Eph. 3:8). 3. He sets it at liberty from sin and Satan (Luke 11:1, &c.). 4. He reveals His love to it (Eph. 3:17–19). 5. He weans it from other things (Phil. 3:7, 8). 6. He strengthens it (Isa. 57:15; Psa. 83:18). 7. He satisfies it in the want of outward blessings. 8. He reconciles it—God and man (2 Cor. 5:19–21). 9. He fills it with the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). 10. He sups with it, and it with Him (Rev. 3:20). (H. Foster, M.A.)
The indwelling Christ:—Two remarks of an expository character will prepare the way for the lessons of these verses. The first is as to the relation of this clause to the preceding. It might appear at first sight to be simply parallel with it, expressing substantially the same ideas under a somewhat different aspect. The operation of the strength-giving Spirit in the inner man might very naturally be supposed to be equivalent to the dwelling of Christ in our hearts by faith. So many commentators do, in fact, take it; but I think that the two ideas may be distinguished, and that we are to see in the words of my text the second step in this prayer, which is in some sense a result of the “strengthening with might by the Spirit in the inner man.” I need not enter in detail into the reasons for taking this view of the connection of the clause which is obviously in accordance with the climbing-up structure of the whole verse. It is enough to point it out as the basis of my further remarks. And now the second observation with which I will trouble you before I come to deal with the thoughts of the verse is as to the connection of the last words of it. You may observe that in reading the words of my text I omitted the “that” which stands in the centre of the verse. I did so, because the words, “Ye being rooted and grounded in love” in the original do stand before the “that,” and are distinctly separated by it from the subsequent clause. They ought not therefore to be shifted forward into it, as our translators and the Revised Version have, I think, unfortunately done, unless there were some absolute necessity either from meaning or from construction. I do not think that that is the case; but on the contrary, being carried forward into the next clause, which describes the result of Christ’s dwelling in our hearts by faith, they break the logical flow of the sentence by mixing together result and occasion. And so I attach them to the first part of this verse, and take them to express at once the consequence of Christ’s dwelling in the heart by faith, and the preparation or occasion for our being able to comprehend and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. Now that is all with which I need trouble you in the way of explanation of the meaning of the words. Let us come now to deal with their substance.
I. Mark, then, the apostle’s desire here that all christian people may possess the indwelling christ. To begin with, let me say in the plainest, simplest, strongest way that I can, that that dwelling of Christ in the believing heart is to be regarded as being a plain literal fact. It is not to be weakened down into any notion of participation in His likeness, sympathy with His character, submission to His influence, following His example, listening to His instruction, or the like. A dead Plato may so influence his followers, but that is not how a living Christ influences His disciples. It is no mere influence, derived and separable from Him, however blessed and gracious that influence might be, but it is the presence of His own self, exercising influences which are inseparable from His presence, and only to be realized when He dwells in us. I preach, and rejoice that I have to preach, a “Christ that died, yea! rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Nor do I stop there, but I preach a Christ that is in us, dwelling in our hearts if we be His at all. Well, then, further observe that the special emphasis of the prayer here is that this “indwelling” may be an unbroken and permanent one. Any of you who can consult the original for yourselves will see that the apostle here uses a compound word which conveys the idea of intensity and of continuity. What he desires, then, is not merely that these Ephesian Christians may have occasional visits of the indwelling Lord, or that at some lofty moments of spiritual enthusiasm they may be conscious that He is with them, but that always, in an unbroken line of deep, calm receptiveness, they may possess, and know that they possess, an indwelling Saviour. God means and wishes that Christ may continuously dwell in our hearts; does He to your own consciousness dwell in yours? And then the last thought connected with this first part of my subject is that the heart strengthened by the Spirit is fitted to be the temple of the indwelling Christ. How shall we prepare the chamber for such a guest? How shall some poor occupant of some poor hut by the wayside, fit it up for the abode of a prince? The answer lies in these words that precede my text. You cannot strengthen the rafters and lift the roof and adorn the halls and furnish the floor in a manner befitting the coming of the King; but you can turn to that Divine Spirit who will expand and embellish and invigorate your whole spirit, and make it capable of receiving the indwelling Christ. That these two things which are here considered as cause and effect may, in another aspect, be considered as but varying phases of the same truth is only part of the depth and felicity of the teaching that is here. For if you come to look more deeply into it the Spirit that strengtheneth with might is the Spirit of Christ; and He dwells in men’s hearts by His own Spirit. So that the apparent confusion, arising from what in other places are regarded as identical, being here conceived as cause and effect, is no confusion at all, but is explained and vindicated by the deep truth that nothing but the indwelling of the Christ can fit for the indwelling of the Christ. The lesser gift of His presence prepares for the greater measure of it; the transitory inhabitation fits for the more permanent. Where He comes in smaller measure He opens the door and fits the heart for His own more entire indwelling. “Unto him that hath shall be given.” It is Christ in the heart that makes the heart fit for Christ to dwell in the heart. You cannot do it by your own power; turn to Him and let Him make you temples meet for Himself.
II. So now, in the second place, notice the open door through which the Christ comes in to dwell—“that He may dwell in your hearts by faith.” More accurately we may render “through faith,” and might even venture to suppose that the thought of faith as an open door through which Christ passes into the heart floated half distinctly before the apostle’s mind. Be that as it may, at all events faith is here represented as the means or condition through which this dwelling takes effect. You have but to believe in Him and He comes, drawn from heaven, floating down on a sunbeam, as it were, and enters into the heart and abides there. But do not forget that the faith which brings Christ into the spirit must be a faith which works by love if it is to keep Christ in the spirit. You cannot bring that Lord into your hearts by anything that you do. The man that cleanses his own soul by his own strength, and so expects to draw God into it, has made the mistake which Christ pointed out when He told us that when the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he leaves his house empty, though it be swept and garnished. Moral reformation may turn out the devils, it will never bring in God. And in the emptiness of the swept and garnished heart there is an invitation to the seven to come back again and fill it. And whilst that is true, remember, on the other hand, that a Christian man can drive away his Master by evil works. The sweet song-birds and the honey-making bees are said always to desert a neighbourhood before a pestilence breaks out in it. And if I may so say, similarly quick to feel the first breath of the pestilence is the presence of the Christ which cannot dwell with evil. You bring Christ into your heart by faith, without any work at all; you keep Him there by a faith which produces holiness.
III. And the last point is the consequence of this indwelling of christ, “ye being,” or as the words might more accurately be translated, “Ye, having been rooted and grounded in love.” Where He comes He comes not empty-handed. He brings His own love, and that consciously received produces a corresponding and answering love in our hearts to Him. So there is no need to ask the question here whether “love” means Christ’s love to me or my love to Christ. From the nature of the case both are included—the recognition of His and the response by mine are the result of His entering into the heart. This love, the recognition of His and the response by mine, is represented in a lovely double metaphor in these words as being at once the soil in which our lives are rooted and grow, and the foundation on which our lives are built and are steadfast. (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
Christ in the heart:—A soldier of Napoleon’s great army was wounded one day by a bullet which entered his breast above his heart; he was carried to the rear, and the surgeon was probing the wound with his knife, when at length the guardsman exclaimed, “An inch deeper, and you will find the emperor.” And the Christian soldier, even when most sorely pressed and pierced by his foes, is conscious that were his heart laid open by their wounds, it would only discover the name of his great Captain deeply engraven there.
The heart a temple:—It is related in ecclesiastical history that the parents of Origen used to uncover his breast as he slumbered and print their kisses over his heart; for they said, “This is a temple of the Holy Ghost!” (Chas. S. Robinson, D.D.)
Inward religion:—Lycurgus, although a great lawmaker, would allow none of his laws to be written. He would have the principles of government interwoven in the lives and manners of the people as most conducive to their happiness.… The multiplication of Bibles that stand upon bookshelves or lie upon tables is an easy matter, but to multiply copies of walking scriptures, in the form of holy men who can say, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart,” is much more difficult. (New Handbook of Illustration.)
Root religion:—The being of a grace must go before the increase of it; for there is no growth without life, no building without a foundation. Put a dry stick into the ground, and dress and water it as much as you will, it will continue the same until it rot; but set a living plant by the side of it, and though much less at first, yet it soon begins to shoot, and in time becomes a wide-spreading tree. (J. Stoughton.)
Rooted in Christ:—Paul Joanne ascribes amazing fertility to the soil of Mentone, and backs his assertions by a story which reads like a legend. He says that a stranger coming to pay a visit to his Mentonese friends stuck his walking-stick into the ground and forgot it. Coming back some days afterwards to seek his cane, he was surprised to find it putting forth leaves and young branches. He declares that the little tree has grown vastly, and is still to be seen in the Rue Saint Michel. We have not seen it, and are afraid that to inquire for it in the aforesaid Rue would raise a laugh at our expense. We may believe the story or not as we please; but it may serve as an emblem of the way in which those grow who are by grace planted in Christ. All dry and withered like a rod we are thrust into the sacred soil, and life comes to us at once, with bud and branch and speedy fruit. Aaron’s rod that budded was not only a fair type of our Lord, but a cheering prophecy of ourselves. Whenever we feel dead and barren let us ask to be buried in Christ afresh, and straightway we shall glorify His name by bearing much fruit. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Christ dwelling in the heart:—A wounded soldier-boy was dying in a hospital, the lady who watched by his bed-side said to him, “My dear boy, if this should be death that is coming upon you, are you ready to meet your God?” He answered, “I am ready, dear lady; for this has long been His dwelling-place”; and as he spoke, he placed his hand upon his heart. “Do you mean,” questioned the lady, gently, “that God dwells and rules in your heart?” “Yes,” he answered, but his voice sounded far off, sweet, and low, as if it came from a soul already well on its way “through the dark valley of the shadow of death.”
Love to Christ:—To be in the heart of any one is to be the object of cordial affection; to dwell in His heart is to be the object of that affection constantly and habitually; and to dwell in the heart by faith is to be the object of an intelligent and enlightened affection.
I. In the first place, then, this is not the desire that Christ must be in their mind and understanding, as the object of simple, abstract, uninfluential knowledge. Many may be the persons and opinions in our minds that are not objects of attachment, but, on the contrary, of indifference, or even of aversion. We know merely that they are there, and what they are. Some of them we would rather have absent from our minds, and some of them we would banish from them altogether; but to be in the heart is to be admired, esteemed, loved—loved with cordiality and ardour. We cannot express fervent attachment in more energetic terms than in the language of the apostle, “I would that Christ might dwell in your hearts.” And what is expressed here, that we are in our hearts to do? Can anything be stronger than the attachment which shares life and death with its object? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.” The love, then, that Christ demands of His people is fervent love; not a lifeless indifference, a mere negation of hatred, a lukewarm, spiritless neutrality. No. He must be in the heart, and must have the chief place there. II. Rooted and grounded in love are meant to express in another form the same idea, firmly fixed in the experience and manifestation of this sacred affection. The figure is double, and is taken from a tree and a building. To the stability of the former a root is necessary, proportioned to the expansion of the branches; to the stability of the latter a foundation is necessary, corresponding to the magnitude of the superstructure. Great profession of attachment, without real firmness of inward principle, is like a wide-spreading tree with short roots, with little hold of the soil, that may stand for a little and be admired, but is in danger of falling from every blast that assails it; or like a house with little foundation, built on the sand or on soft ground, presenting a very imposing appearance to the eye, but when the rain descends, and the winds blow and beat violently against it, immediately it comes to the ground, and involves its inmates in ruin. And what is the love that promises that stability? It is love that is rooted and grounded in knowledge—that has not been the product of a hasty examination or of a superficial observation.
III. And this leads me to the third feature of love, that it be intelligent and enlightened, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. It is very obvious that there must be knowledge in order to faith, and faith in order to love. That cannot be believed which is not known, and that person cannot be loved, the qualities of whose character, fitted to attract affection, are not believed. It is only by faith that Christ can enter the heart; it is only as the object of faith that He can be the object of love, and faith will be in proportion to spiritual intelligence, and spiritual intelligence in proportion to faith. It is an enlightened attachment that can show good cause for its ardour and its glow. Connected inseparably with love to Christ for what He is, is love to Christ for what He has done; and this, too, is founded in knowledge: “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” It is when this grace is known that love takes possession of the heart, and it is by the faith of it that He continues to dwell there; and as knowledge grows, and faith is strengthened, love is invigorated. That love to Christ, as one of the great principles of all active obedience, is founded in knowledge and rooted in faith. “The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again.” Thus have I endeavoured to show what the nature of the principle is which the apostle prays for in behalf of the believing Ephesians—that it is a fervent, constant, intelligent, and enlightened attachment to the Lord Jesus, that Christ might dwell in their hearts. In conclusion, allow me to remark. 1. That the prayer implies, that this state of heart must come from above—from the Spirit of the living God. 2. The heart in which Christ dwells must be a purified heart. Jesus Christ is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and the express image of His person; He is the holy one and the just. An unrenewed and unholy heart would be no fit residence for Him. When the Holy Spirit introduces Himself into any heart, He purifies that heart from dross and corruption. Christ has said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” If any heart remains impure and shows itself so by what proceeds from it, it is quite evident that Christ has no hold there. 3. I would just notice, that the heart in which Christ dwells must be an undivided heart. (R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
Rooted in love:—I seem to see that grand old oak that I have known, and you may have known such an one from your childhood. What a massive, enormous column of a stem; it is girt with a mass of branches holding up a forest of verdure. You remember it when you were a child, and now you are a man it does not seem to be any older! What generations have rested under its shadows, and what generations have been carried past it to yonder church-yard! How often the storm has visited it! and the violent tempest has shaken its branches and wrestled with it! But still, while many a similar tree has been torn up by the roots, this old oak has shaken its fists at the storm! The storms of wind and rain have done it no harm! There it remains, and there it will remain, unmoved; and while other trees have been uprooted, and the grass has been burnt, and the flowers are hanging their heads, how is it that that old oak remains, so grand and bright in its verdure? Because it is feeding at the reservoirs and secret streams deep down in the earth; and so, while this oak is first strengthened to resist the hurricane, and then receiving nourishment from the deep hidden springs and streams, it can stand firmer and firmer. Oh, that we may be so rooted in love, and grounded in love! Look at yonder castle, built upon the spur of the mountain. How grey it is! It looks like the colour of the mountain itself; it bears the tints of the neighbouring rocks. How often have the rains descended upon it, and the storms beaten upon its walls! But it still stands, because it is firmly fixed upon its rocky foundation. It is established there, and held to its rocky holding by strong clamps, so that the storm and the torrent cannot shake it. So may we be rooted and grounded in love! (Newman Hall, LL.B.)
Rooted and grounded:—The apostle supplies us with two figures to show the force and necessity of religious affection. It is as the root to the tree, that which holds it in the earth, conveys to it the nourishment of the soil, enables it to live, to grow, to thrive, to blossom, and bear fruit, and also to stand upright against the wind and storms. It is the foundation of the building, that on which all the rest depends, that without which all the rest must fall. Nay, it is the ground under the foundation, the solid earth, which supports building, foundation, and all. A building with no foundation, a tree without a root, these give us some notion of a Christian without love. This explains to those of you who love not Christ, who love Him not through faith in His redemption, this explains why your purposes fall headlong to the ground, why your thoughts of heaven, and intentions to be holy, show fair for no other end, than to wither in the bud. Be you then, my brethren, rooted and grounded in love. Be persuaded that Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the express image of the Father’s glory, died for sinners, died for you. (C. Girdlestone, M.A.)
The relation of love to knowledge:—We must have love to be the root and to be the ground. And the tree will be abundant understanding, and the fruit thereof the fulness of God. And this is no more than we find often to be the case in worldly business, and in human learning. They make most progress who most love their work. They, who like what they are employed in, do better, prosper more, advance far the most rapidly, understand far the most thoroughly. How then can we reasonably expect to make progress in Christian knowledge, if we make not first progress in Christian love? How can we wonder that so many are wandering in error, when so few are united in the bond of peace? How can we help being ourselves dark in our understandings, as long as we continue cold in our hearts? Let us begin at the right beginning. Let us pray this day, and this day forth for ever, that God may move us to the love of all that He reveals, and so bring us to a right knowledge of the truth. (Ibid.)
Rooted and grounded in love:—The “root” is taken from the field of nature—the “grounding,” or founding, from the world of art. The “root” is laid in the soil to imbibe its virtues—the “foundation” is placed on its base to sustain the edifice. The “root” grows, and produces fruit—the “foundation” stands, and gives strength. The “root” needs continual supply—the “foundation” rests in its completeness, and is alway. Now see how well the two blend together to make one whole. The grand foundation or “ground” of everything is “love”—God’s love. Because “God is love,” therefore His love goes forth to sinners. Because His love went forth to sinners, He provided a way by which He could restore sinners back again to happiness and to Himself—and so Jesus died for them. And since Jesus died for sinners, therefore God chose me, drew me, pardoned me, spoke peace to me. And having loved me enough to do this, what will not the same love do?—what prayer will He not hear?—what good thing can He withhold? That is a foundation. It will support anything—any comfort, any work, any hope I ever choose to build upon it. It is like some mathematical proposition, which cannot be assailed, and the whole problem is actually contained within it, and only wants to be worked out. It stands to the soul like solid adamant to the whole temple—a foundation. Now the “root.” I cast my affections down into the character and the being of God; I wind them about His attributes; I strike them into His promises; I drive them deep into His faithfulness. There, the “roots” of my affection lie. They take up, they drink in, the nature of the love they live in;—they are always assimilating themselves to it, and they send up its sweet savour by little, silent threads, which are always running to the fountain of life. My words, my actions, my whole outer being, cannot choose but mould itself to them, and take that love. Because of those secret processes of the “roots” which are in Christ, I love. I love simply because I am “rooted in love.” So the “foundation” supplied the strong argument, and then the “root” gave the essence of the necessity for the new nature. My intellect rests upon its “foundation”; and my heart draws its tenderness from its “root.” I can edify myself in my “grounding,” and I am sanctified in my “rooting.” I grow by resting, and by double processes my inner life is made and assured. And yet both owe themselves to one simple thing, and that one simple thing is “love,” and that love is of Christ:—“Rooted and grounded in love.” (J. Vaughan, M.A.)
Rooted in love:—Two cognate conceptions—one borrowed from the processes of nature, and the other from human art—are employed to indicate at once the life, the growth, the strength, and the stability of a Christian’s hope. A tree and a tower are the material objects which are used here as alphabetic letters to express a spiritual thought. More particularly, as a tree depends for life and growth upon its roots being embedded in a genial soil, and a tower depends for strength and stability upon its foundation, the apostle desires, by aid of these conceptions, to express and illustrate the corresponding features of the Christian life. If disciples are compared to living trees, love is the soil they grow in; if they are compared to a building, love is the foundation on which it stands secure. Let us, at present, confine our attention to the first of these associated conceptions.
I. The soil in which the living tree is planted: it is love. A question rises here at the outset which must be settled ere we can advance a step with the exposition—What is the love in which the trees of righteousness are rooted? Whether is it God’s love to man, or man’s love to God and to his brother? The question admits of an answer at once easily intelligible and demonstrably true. The love in which the roots of faith strike down for nourishment is not human but Divine. It is not even that grace which is sovereign and Divine in its origin, but residing and acting in a renewed human heart: it is the attribute, and even the nature, of Deity, for “God is love.” The soil which bears and nourishes the new life of man is the love of God in the gift of His Son. Having determined the first point—that the soil in which faith’s roots can freely grow is found in God, not in man—we must now weigh well what attribute or manifestation of God it is that permits and invites the confidence of the fallen. The justice of God does not afford a soil on which the hope of sinners can thrive. As well might you expect the tender roots of a living plant to strike kindly down into hot ashes, as expect the trust of a guilty soul to go into the righteousness of God for support. No; there is nothing on this side but a fearful looking for of judgment to devour. Neither can human hopes grow in a mixture of mercy and justice such as men, in ignorance of the gospel, when conscience is uneasy, may mingle for themselves. There is only one place in which righteousness and peace can meet without mutually destroying each other, and that is in the Cross of Christ the Substitute. In Christ, but not elsewhere, God is at once just, and the justifier of the sinful who believe.
II. The plant that is rooted in the ground represents a believer getting all his support and all his sustenance from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Under this head, the first point that occurs is the very obvious one, that before any measure of growth can be obtained there must be life. Of what avail would richness of soil be to rows of dead branches? A withered branch draws no sap from the most fertile ground. Faith fastens on God’s revealed love in the covenant, and satisfies itself from this inexhaustible treasury; but who and what first creates faith? The living will, by the instincts of nature, seek convenient food; but how shall the dead be restored to life? Let it be granted that faith, appropriating God’s love, sustains the living, the question remains, Who quickens the dead? In the last resource, an answer to this question must be sought in the sovereignty of God and the ministry of the Spirit; but we must beware of so regarding God’s part in it as to miss or neglect our own. “Live” is the first thing in the Spirit’s ministry but “believe” is the first thing in the duty of man. To God’s eye, looking downward from His own eternity, the order of events is, Live, that you may believe; but to our eye, as we stand on earth and look upwards, the order of events is, Believe, that you may live. Our part is not to produce life, but to exercise trust. Honour God by referring the origin of life to His sovereign grace and power; but obey God by believing in Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Let us neither intrude into His province nor neglect our own. But even when the plant is living, many obstacles may intervene to prevent it from freely pushing down its roots and drinking up the richness of the soil. Stones of stumbling lie in the way of the living root, and hinder its growth. Sometimes the history of vegetable life, concealed for generations, is afterwards thrown open. When a forest tree, that has outlived several generations of its owners, is at last thrown down by a tempest, and its roots all exposed to the inspection of the passer-by, many secret passages of its early history are at length revealed. Each bend of those gnarled roots has a tale to tell—of various efforts and disappointments, and conflicts and victories. Here, in the centre of the circular mass, the main stem was pointing perpendicularly downward when the tree was young, perhaps a century ago; but ere it had gone far in that direction, it had struck against a stone. The fibre, then young and pliable, had sensitively turned as soon as it felt the obstacle, and grew for a little upward, as if retracing its steps. Then it had bent to one side and crept along the surface of the stone, intending, so to speak, to turn its flank and plunge into the deep earth beyond its outmost edge. Once or twice in its horizontal course it came to hollows in the stone, and ever instinctively seeking downward, penetrated to the bottom of each; but finding no opening, it came always up again, and pursued its course on the horizontal line. But, long ere it reached the margin of the great rock, it found a rent, narrow, indeed, but thorough. Into this minute opening it thrust a needle-like point. It succeeded in pushing that pioneer through. Tasting thereby of the rich soil below, it thence drew new strength for itself. Strong now in that acquired strength, it increased its bulk and rent the rock asunder. You may now see the two halves of the cleaved rock hanging on the mighty root that rent them. Now the victor has overcome its adversaries, and makes a show of them openly. It holds the remnants of its ancient enemy aloft as trophies of its victory. It is thus that a living soul struggles against all obstructions, and either round them or through them, penetrates into the unlimited love of God as it is in Christ. There the life satisfies itself and becomes strong. This man is more than conqueror through Him that loved him. When the saved are drawn at length from the ground in which the new life secretly grew, and all the history of their redemption revealed in the better land, themselves and others will read with interest the record of the struggle, and the final victory. It will then be seen that every hindrance which the tempter threw in faith’s way only exercised and so strengthened faith. They who have had the hardest conflict in throwing obstacles aside that they might freely draw from redeeming love in Christ, draw most freely from that love when they reach it: as that woman who had pined many years in disease, and spent all her means on other physicians, drew proportionally a larger draught from the fountain when she touched its lip at last. (W. Arnot, D.D.)
Rooted and grounded in love:—
I. The grace implored. 1. The love of God includes admiration of His character. 2. The love of God includes gratitude for His benefits. 3. The love of God includes delight in His communion.
II. Its specified importance. 1. The love of God is the essence of religion. 2. The love of God is the germ of holiness. 3. The love of God is the source of happiness. 4. The love of God is the test of meetness for heaven.
III. The characteristics of it implied. 1. Sincere, and not sentimental. 2. Permanent, and not temporary. (G. Brooks.)
Rooted and grounded in love:—Observe, again, it is not “rooted and grounded” in any other perfection of God. I am satisfied that the “love” here spoken of, as you will see in a moment, is God’s love to us in the first instance; and the apostle does not say—and this is very remarkable—“being rooted and grounded in wisdom, or truth, or even faithfulness.” And why? Because you will notice that all those perfections, invaluable as they are in their application to ourselves and the whole scheme of redemption, still do not touch the heart: they never would draw the “roots” of man to God. I can look at God, and behold Him in all His beauty, as a faithful, holy, just, and true God, but my heart remains perfectly unmoved; there is not one of God’s perfections, except love, that can draw forth the roots of my heart unto Himself; there is not one of God’s other perfections that could, if brought into exercise, have knit my soul to Him; I should have stood aloof from God, apart from this one attribute. I say again, I could have looked at Him and admired Him, in a cold and abstract sense, on account of His other perfections, as mere moral attributes; but His love, His own love, and nothing else, could ever touch the heart of poor lost, fallen man. It is there, observe—in the manifestation of that love—that union is again effected between God and man. And therefore I need not say to you, that the very essence of the gospel economy is the manifestation of that love. See, then, the propriety of this expression—“rooted and grounded in love.” You know perfectly well, in regard of any of your fellow-creatures, that you may admire their qualities and attainments, and everything else of that character; still, these do not touch your heart; but when there is a strong expression of love towards yourself on the part of that fellow-creature, if anything conceivable could draw forth your affections, and induce what is here implied by “being rooted and grounded” in the affection of that person, it is the very fact of his love drawing you to him. Hence this expression here—“being rooted and grounded in love:” that is, knowing His love, appreciating it, entering thoroughly into it, having such an understanding of it and such a belief of its personal adaption to yourself, if appropriated in all its fulness, that there is a manifest return—that the roots of your heart are drawn and infixed into God, and you come back into that fellowship with Him which never can and which never could result from anything whatever but the manifestation of God’s own love to you. Brethren, I would say, do you not feel from your inmost souls day by day that religion is an absolute nonentity, that it is pure vanity, excepting as it lays hold of a man’s heart and affections? Do you not feel that it is utterly uninfluential, independent of that? But now let us look at two or three particulars connected with my more immediate text, which I want to be fixed upon your minds. “Rooted and grounded in love”! I have explained to you briefly, as well as I could, what is implied in that: it is such a perception of God’s love—its length, and breadth, and depth, and height—that our affections are placed firmly upon it; all their roots are fixed deeply into it. Now, then, I want to know particularly some of the results that will follow from it in our own experience. 1. There will be a necessary enlargement of our own hearts’ affections. My brethren, do believe this, that like every other faculty or feeling or quality belonging to man, his affections have become straitened. This is part and parcel of man’s miserable and sinful condition. He has not the love he ought to have for any object; he is narrowed up into his own selfishness. Now, when we get a right view of God’s love, and that love comes into our hearts, what follows? The expansion of our own affections. It is a common saying, and a perfectly true one, that small things will satisfy small minds; but I tell you that the converse or another view of that proposition is true: small things will make small minds. If you exercise your mind upon small matters, your mind becomes diminished in its powers and capabilities—if you exercise your mind upon great matters, your mind expands; if the heart is fixed on a small object of affection, its affections become small—if on a comprehensive one, the affections are enlarged. Now look at God. God becomes the object of a man’s affection when he enters into this text. What follows? The expansion of his heart. Hence the Psalmist—“When Thou hast set my heart at liberty.” I repeat, that if you can enter into the depth and length and height and breadth of God’s love in Christ to you, one result will be an expansion of heart and affection back towards God. 2. Another result will be this—a feeling of perfect security in regard to your everlasting state. You will never enter into this until you enter into the depths of God’s love. 3. Again, confidence will be the result. When I know that God is my own God, that He is with me always, that His promise will be fulfilled to me, what follows? I have perfect confidence. How can I have this? Why, let God be for me—I say from my inmost soul, let God be for me, and I care not whether man or devil is for or against me, comparatively. Is God absolute, or is He not? I say God is absolute, and controls all things. Then let me have God, and if I love Him I do have Him, and I stand with perfect confidence—in no strength of my own, with no sufficiency to think a good thought, but God undertakes for me. 4. Fruitfulness. If a tree strikes its roots deep, the tree is secure—if the foundation of a building is deep, the building is secure; if I see the depths of God’s love, and the roots of my heart are struck deep into God’s love, there is abundant reason for my security. But in regard to fruitfulness and a high and exalted state, how can you have that without the roots are struck deep? Can you build a high house or a tower without a good foundation? Can you have a high tree, luxuriant in foliage and fruit, if you have not deep roots? How then can you have a high Christian, an exalted Christian, an elevated experience? Only by the roots being struck deep into God’s love. (Capel Molyneux, B.A.)
Love, the result of Christ’s indwelling:—Where Christ abides in a man’s heart, love will be the very soil in which his life will be rooted and grow. That love will be the motive of all service, it will underlie as the productive cause, all fruitfulness. All goodness and all beauty will be its fruit. The whole life will be as a tree planted in this rich soil. And so the life will grow, not by effort only, but as by an inherent power drawing its nourishment from the soil. This is blessedness. It is heaven upon earth that love should be the soil in which our obedience is rooted, and from which we draw all the nutriment that turns to flowers and fruit. Where Christ dwells in the heart love will be the foundation upon which our lives are builded steadfast and sure. The blessed consciousness of His love, and the joyful answer of my heart to it, may become the basis upon which my whole being shall repose, the underlying thought that gives security, serenity, steadfastness to my else fluctuating life. I may so plant myself upon Him, as that in Him I shall be strong, and then my life will not only grow like a tree and have its leaf green and broad, and its fruit the natural outcome of its vitality, but it will rise like some stately building, course by course, pillar by pillar, until at last the shining topstone is set there. He that buildeth on that foundation shall never be confounded. For, remember, that deepest of all, the words of my text may mean that the incarnate personal love becomes the very soil in which my life is set and blossoms, on which my life is founded.
“Thou, my Life, O let me be
Rooted, grafted, built in Thee.”
Christ is love, and love is Christ. He that is rooted and grounded in love has the roots of his being, and the foundation of his life fixed and fastened in that Lord. So, dear brethren, go to Christ like those two on the road to Emmaus; and as Fra Angelico has painted them on his convent wall, put out your hands and lay them on His, and say, “Abide with us. Abide with us!” And the answer will come: “This is My rest for ever; here”—mystery of love!—“will I dwell, for I have desired it.” (A. Maclaren, D.D.)
17. This request for strengthening has a corollary request: that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Paul desires that they might reflect the presence and character of Christ in their lives. Their faith will energize them to draw on the strength and mirror the character of God. The resource to get there is the strength God has given them in the Spirit. It is Christ dwelling in them, being at home in the person, that is another goal. Here Paul calls for his effective presence. The term for dwell (katoikeō) refers to a residing, a habitation, not a temporary stay. This picture of dwelling is a variation of what was said about the community in 2:21–22. They are a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. They are in Christ and Christ is in them (Rom. 8:10; Gal. 2:20). His presence should influence their lives, and it is trust in him that brings that influence. So the faith here is not the initial faith alone, but also its continuing character. To trust Christ to save is to set the stage for trusting him in that subsequent walk of life. In that entire experience, they will come to know God intimately (Jer. 31:33–34; John 17:3). The reference to hearts is another way of discussing the ‘inner man’ of verse 16.
The context for this activity is in love being rooted and grounded. The word order of the Greek is reflected in my translation here to show that the emphasis is on love, as it comes at the start of the expression. The syntax of the phrase is ambiguous. The participles are grammatically unconnected by case in the phrase, pointing to a distinct point being made. Is it a result of the previous requests? Or is it a third request, or even an exhortation that is a key aside, which also might be making the point that when strength comes and Christ indwells, the love of God that drives the process is also realized and visibly established? It seems that the idea of either a third request or a side remark is best. This is an idea not very far removed from a key theme of the entire letter of 1 John, as well as of Romans 5:5: that our love and response come out of an already established love God has for us. It also reflects John 15 and the call to abide in Christ because he abides in us. Paul is asking God that the Ephesians might come to appreciate and deepen these linkages. Our identity and security come from grasping the depth of God’s love for us and drawing on it for spiritual solidity. As Fowl says, ‘Being rooted in God’s love provides a stability and security from which to grow.’ The perfect participles rooted and grounded look to the reverberating and lingering effect of a love rooted in the past. Colossians 2:7 has a related idea, seeing grounding in the context of this love and in the light of the presence of false teaching.
17. That Christ may dwell. He explains what is meant by “the strength of the inner man.” As “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” (Col. 1:19,) so he who has Christ dwelling in him can want nothing. It is a mistake to imagine that the Spirit can be obtained without obtaining Christ; and it is equally foolish and absurd to dream that we can receive Christ without the Spirit. Both doctrines must be believed. We are partakers of the Holy Spirit, in proportion to the intercourse which we maintain with Christ; for the Spirit will be found nowhere but in Christ, on whom he is said, on that account, to have rested; for he himself says, by the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.” (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18.) But neither can Christ be separated from his Spirit; for then he would be said to be dead, and to have lost all his power.
Justly, therefore, does Paul affirm that the persons who are endowed by God with spiritual vigour are those in whom Christ dwells. He points to that part in which Christ peculiarly dwells, in your hearts,—to show that it is not enough if the knowledge of Christ dwell on the tongue or flutter in the brain.
May dwell through faith. The method by which so great a benefit is obtained is also expressed. What a remarkable commendation is here bestowed on faith, that, by means of it, the Son of God becomes our own, and “makes his abode with us!” (John 14:23.) By faith we not only acknowledge that Christ suffered and rose from the dead on our account, but, accepting the offers which he makes of himself, we possess and enjoy him as our Saviour. This deserves our careful attention. Most people consider fellowship with Christ, and believing in Christ, to be the same thing; but the fellowship which we have with Christ is the consequence of faith. In a word, faith is not a distant view, but a warm embrace, of Christ, by which he dwells in us, and we are filled with the Divine Spirit.
That ye may be rooted and grounded in love. Among the fruits of Christ’s dwelling in us the apostle enumerates love and gratitude for the Divine grace and kindness exhibited to us in Christ. Hence it follows, that this is true and solid excellence; so that, whenever he treats of the perfection of the saints, he views it as consisting of these two parts. The firmness and constancy which our love ought to possess are pointed out by two metaphors. There are many persons not wholly destitute of love; but it is easily removed or shaken, because its roots are not deep. Paul desires that it should be rooted and grounded,—thoroughly fixed in our minds, so as to resemble a well-founded building or deeply-planted tree. The true meaning is, that our roots ought to be so deeply planted, and our foundation so firmly laid in love, that nothing will be able to shake us. It is idle to infer from these words, that love is the foundation and root of our salvation. Paul does not inquire here, as any one may perceive, on what our salvation is founded, but with what firmness and constancy we ought to continue in the exercise of love.
Ver. 17.—That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. Reversing the usual order, the prayer begins (ver. 16) by asking the blessing of the Third Person of the Godhead; now we have a cluster of petitions connected with the Second Person. The first of these is for the indwelling of Christ in their hearts, as opposed to mere occasional visits or influences from Christ; the instrument by which this blessing is attained being their faith. Christ exercising a constant power within them, both in the active and passive movements of the heart, giving the sense of pardon and acceptance, moulding the will, sweetening the emotions, enlightening and confirming the conscience, purifying the whole springs and principles of action. This to be secured by their faith, opening the door, receiving Christ in all his fulness, resting and living on him, believing his promises, and longing for his appearing the second time. In order that ye, having been rooted and grounded in love. Two images are combined to make the idea emphatic—that of a tree and that of a building; denoting what is both the starting-point and the support of the Christian’s life, viz. love. In what sense? The love of Christ is specified afterwards (ver. 19), but this may be as a pre-eminent branch of that manifold love which bears on the Christian life the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the love of the brethren to one another; and the reciprocal love evoked from the believer by the reception of this love. Evidently it is implied that the Christian life can begin and flourish only in such an atmosphere of love; as warm sunshine is needed to start and advance the life of a plant, so love is needed to start and carry on the life of the soul. Experience of Divine love is a great quickening and propelling power. “One glance of God, a touch of his love, will free and enlarge the heart, so that it can deny all and part with all and make an entire renunciation of all to follow him” (Archbishop Leighton).
3:17 / Second, there is the abiding presence of Christ in one’s heart (that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith). Here is another way that God prepares the believer to fulfill his ultimate purpose. This statement reverses Paul’s usual terminology concerning the believer’s union with Christ by emphasizing that Christ dwells within the believer. This indwelling is to be perceived as Christ taking up residency in the believer’s heart, that is, in his or her inmost being. Furthermore, it is a relationship granted through faith, a thought reminiscent of 2:1–10 and the baptismal passages that connect faith with the indwelling Christ (Rom. 6:1–11; Gal. 3:26, 27; Col. 2:11–13; cf. also Gal. 2:20). Faith is one’s inner response to the action of God through his Spirit.
Although the requests for strength from the Holy Spirit and for the indwelling of Christ are two separate expressions, they conform to Paul’s theology that equates the Spirit as the Spirit of Christ: To have Christ is to have the Spirit; to be in the Spirit is to be in Christ (Rom. 8:9ff.).
The third request is that the readers may be rooted and established in love. The tense of these verbs in Greek (perfect passive, errizōmenoi, tethemeliōmenoi) indicates this action already has taken place but is to continue as a reality in the believer’s life (see Col. 1:23; 2:7, for similar exhortations toward stability). To illustrate the depth of life that he is after, the author uses a botanical and architectural metaphor. One sends its roots deep into the soil, whereas the other is grounded on a firm foundation. The niv indicates that the soil or foundation is love.
This translation does not indicate a rather serious textual question at this point. In the Greek, it is permissible to take the phrase in love with rooted and grounded (as niv) or to take it with the preceding phrase to read “that Christ may make his home in your hearts, through faith in love.” Robinson, for one, takes it in this latter sense; by faith the Gentiles are partakers of Christ, but they are bound together in love (p. 175).
Most scholars, however, take love as the soil into which the roots grow or the foundation upon which a structure is built. Love is seen more as the result of Christ dwelling within the believer than as the sphere in which he dwells. The ultimate truth is that those who are strengthened by the Spirit and in whom Christ dwells will have their lives rooted and grounded in love. Since love is the possession of Jews and Gentiles, both can grow together in their understanding of Christ’s love.
The Son to Provide His Life—Through Faith (3:17)
After petitioning for the power of the Spirit, the apostle ultimately prays for Christ to dwell in the hearts of his people (cf. Eph. 2:22). It is important here to be reminded of a basic gospel question. If we are dead in our transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1), and if Christ is alive in us (Eph. 3:17a), then whose identity do we have? In heaven’s accounting, Christ provides his life in the place of my own. The reason that the riches and power of God are mine is that Christ grants me his identity. I am a coheir with Christ of the love and riches of our Father. Christ’s blood redeems me from the debt of my sin, and his righteousness provides me with the riches of his holiness and inheritance (Eph. 1:14, 18; 5:5). His life is mine.
Our union with Christ is the culminating thought in the apostle’s description of the participation of the Trinity in the life of the believer. Paul has prayed that the Father, out of his riches (Eph. 3:14–16a), will provide power through the Spirit (Eph. 3:16b), so that Christ may dwell in the believers’ hearts (Eph. 3:17a). The Father wills for the Spirit to be the instrument by which Christ takes over our heart and provides our identity. This description of the progress of divine intimacy echoes the epistle’s progressive revelation of our relationship to our Savior: Christ is seated above us (Eph. 1:20–22), then we are seated beside him (Eph. 2:6), then we rest upon him (Eph. 2:20), then he indwells us (Eph. 3:17), then he fills us (Eph. 3:19), then we grow up into him as our head (4:15).
Some persons fear that too much emphasis upon the mercy of God in Christ will lead to disregard for the standards of God, but the Bible’s message is that full understanding of God’s love so unites our heart with the person and character of Christ that he increasingly becomes our life and our path. St. Patrick’s famous prayer well reflects these truths: “Christ be with me and within me, Christ behind me and before me, Christ beneath me and above me; May your salvation, Lord, be always ours this day and forevermore.”
What must I do or give to receive the benefits of this life of union with Christ? What sacrifice, duty, or accomplishment must I offer? Paul answers by praying with beautiful simplicity that Christ would dwell in his people “through faith” (Eph. 3:17b). The power of the new spiritual life is ours not by our will or strength but solely through trusting in what he provides. In trusting that his righteousness will redeem from our sin and substitute for our destitution we find his strength is ours.
Some time ago I wrote a letter to a friend and former pastor who has been imprisoned for embezzlement. I spoke of the mercy of a sovereign Lord, of forgiveness, of the graciousness of lessons that can be learned even from the devastations of sin. I had no doubt that the truths were biblical, but the letter still seemed empty of power. I could not keep the words from creeping into my consciousness as I continued to work through that morning. Some hours later I asked my secretary if the mail had been collected that morning. She said, “No.” So I asked her to retrieve the letter from the office mail.
I ripped open the envelope. Then, where I had written to my friend that one day he could yet stand forgiven before God, I now inserted the words “robed in Christ’s righteousness.” He will be able to stand with Christ’s life in substitution for his own. My friend’s sin has been great. Yet as a truly repentant child of God, he may possess the riches of the righteousness of Jesus. Was I being too easy on him? Some may think so, but I want him back—back in the knowledge of the Savior, back in the path of obedience, back as a trophy of the grace of God—and the only power that will bring him back is true faith in the loveliness of the Savior who yet provides his life for our life. So I pray for and proclaim the love of the Father to provide the power of the Spirit and the indwelling of the Son in order that faith may save where no human compensation ever could.
You may know all of these basic gospel truths, and the Ephesians knew them; but Paul repeats these essentials because he knows that until they sink to soul depth, we will rely on our own powers of perception and strength to combat sin. And, consequently, we will remain powerless before the assaults of the Evil One. Apart from God we can do nothing (John 15:5). Paul prays for divine power to equip God’s people because he knows that we will have no ability to defeat sin until we recognize:
Without God’s riches we are poor;
Without God’s Spirit we are helpless;
Without Christ’s life we are dead.
As counterintuitive as it seems, our recognition of our utter helplessness is the path to spiritual power. I am now and always a helpless being in need of an endless supply of God. If I ever believe or act otherwise, then I am only made more vulnerable and helpless before the Evil One. Acknowledgment of my fallen condition is the starting point of a journey to discover the power of the gospel in justification and sanctification. Unless God’s people come to the end of themselves, they will not continue to turn to their only hope. This is why if all we do is preach Christian behaviors and morals, we actually make God’s people more vulnerable to sin because we deaden their senses to the fact that apart from him they are helpless.
But then what? Once we confess that we can do nothing—that we are powerless before the powers of sin without the work of a triune God—how then do we access the very power that Paul prays for God to provide? The answer is in the next element of his prayer. In addition to praying for a divine expression of power, as one concerned for others, he offers something more.
17 The “inner being” may be viewed as the locus of the indwelling Spirit. But the ministry of the Spirit is devoted to making the presence and power of the risen Christ real to those whom he indwells: hence the experience of the indwelling Spirit and of the indwelling Christ is the same experience. The prayer that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith is parallel to the prayer that they may be inwardly strengthened by the Spirit of God. The aorist tense of the verb might suggest the rendering: “that Christ may take up residence in your hearts.” This would be appropriate in an exhortation addressed to new Christians, whose faith was of recent origin. But the initial act of faith, by which the believer is united to Christ, is followed by the life of faith, in which that union is maintained, or in which, to change the form of words, Christ continues to dwell in his people’s hearts,89 supplying spiritual strength for the present and the hope of glory hereafter. “If Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” and “he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:10–11). If this note of hope does not find expression in the present intercessory prayer (as it does in the prayer-report of Eph. 1:18), it is implicit in the thought of the indwelling Christ.
Those in whose hearts Christ has made his abode are “rooted and well founded in love.” Here we have a further instance of the combining of biological and architectural figures, comparable to the admonition in Col. 2:7 to be “rooted and built up” in Christ. To be “rooted and built up” in Christ is to be “rooted and well founded in love.” This love is the love of God revealed in Christ and poured into his people’s hearts by the Spirit,93 so that they in turn may show it to one another and to all.
17 Either this verse expresses what Paul means by being strengthened “in your inner being,” or it specifies a further and additional request. Probably the first makes more sense of the grammar here; there is no connecting conjunction. So Christ’s indwelling of their hearts further elaborates what Paul wishes God to grant to them: inner strength emanates from the indwelling Christ. In 1:18, we saw that “heart” (kardia, GK 2840) represents the hub of a person’s being, the foundation of understanding and will, the center of one’s personality. It is equivalent to “inner being” in 3:16. Paul prays that Christ may dwell there. “Dwell” (katoikeō, GK 2997; cf. BDAG, 534) can refer to a literal place to inhabit or settle, or it can be used metaphorically (see Col 1:19; 2:9, where the fullness of deity dwells in Christ). Paul prays that Christ (his values and virtues) would take up permanent residence in the center of his readers’ beings. But if the readers are already believers, surely Christ already inhabits their hearts. Probably Paul’s prayer seeks to reinforce that reality for the readers’ benefit. He prays not that they become Christians, but that God would grant them more and more inner spiritual strength, which comes from yielding to Christ’s presence within them. So strength in the inner person implies that Christ increasingly governs the course of a person’s life, or, in Schnackenburg’s words, 149, “Christ is ever more effective in us.”
How can this happen? Paul expresses the means in very unequivocal terms: “through faith.” As Christ does not barge into a person’s life to begin with, neither does he usurp the “control center” of a person’s being. This Christ-centered inner-directedness requires a trust in God, not the following of one’s own inclinations. Paul summarized the point earlier: “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). Inner spiritual strength results from a personal submission to the transforming work of God’s Spirit (cf. Ro 12:1–2).
Two perfect passive adverbial participles express the purpose or result of Christ’s indwelling of believers: they become “rooted and established in love” (“in love” modifying both participles). The passive voices indicate that God accomplishes this work; the perfect tenses emphasize its ongoing state of affairs: love is the soil in which and the foundation on which they function as Christians. Paul combines two metaphors—from botany and architecture (which he does elsewhere; see 1 Co 3:9; Col 2:7). The point is clear: he desires that their roots go deeply into God’s love, that their lives become built on the foundation of God’s love. They already love one another (1:15) as a response to God’s love for them (2:4; cf. 5:2, 25), but Paul longs for God’s love to be the hallmark of Christ’s presence among and within them (and so its repetition; see 3:18–19; 4:2, 15–16; 5:2, 25, 28, 33; 6:23–24).
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eph 3:17). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1930). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, then later, Philippians) (Vol. Volume 8, pp. 102–103). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 261–263). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 326–327). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 98–99). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.