Back to my survey of the Letter to the Ephesians, with special attention to the question of where Paul “locates” Jesus. Be sure and read the previous post, as this is a continuation. No review.
6. Certainly one of the most influential images answering this question comes from chapter 3, verses 14-19.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
There is a lot of definition and language discussion needed to understand what Paul means by “inner being” and “hearts.” A good commentary on Ephesians should be consulted.
Lutheran commentator R.C.H. Lenski looks at both phrases as characteristic of Paul’s frequent practice of seeing human beings as two-fold, with an “inner” and an “outer” dimension. The “inner” dimension has been regenerated and is what is affected by the power of grace in the present. The inner “man” is a more general way of speaking about the mind, spirit, heart, etc. Paul isn’t being overly specific, but is being pragmatically descriptive.
What we shouldn’t lose here, no matter what way we choose to describe human nature, is that the Spirit rings the presence of Christ into the dimension of personal experience for each person who is in Christ. Christ does not just indwell a people, but indwells persons. This has taken the direction of many different kinds of excesses and errors, but at its foundation, it is a truth that drives the entire Christian life and provides the necessary subjective dimension that separates Christianity from all other “belief systems,” because, at its heart and in mine, it is an indwelling person, and not just a belief system.
7. Chapter 4 is rich in the “locus” of Jesus Christ. Paul recites the great unifying factors of the Christian life. When the work of God in redemption by Jesus is complete, there is a great “oneness.”
4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
God the Father and the Holy Spirit bring all that they are doing in the world down to a kind of singularity. While God is over all and through all and in all, we look at ONE Lord Jesus, ONE Body of believers, ONE entrance into Christ through faith and in baptism. The “over all-ness” and the “everywhere-ness” is expressed in the “oneness” of particular things. Not particular things that we own, but particular things that God owns and that express God’s commitment.
While this passage does not mention marriage, it is remarkably like the Christian idea of marriage, where the love of bridegroom for bride produces unity, oneness, exclusivity and an experience driven by a singular giving of one person in love for another.
Jesus Christ creates this unity and he is present in it. This is important when we see that fellowship with God is the experience of Trinitarian person-ness and unity in ever-growing experience.
8. Later in chapter 4, it is recounted that Jesus has descended to earth to bring the “gifts” of the Gospel that create the body of Christ, and he has also ascended to the place where all things move toward their fulfillment. (4:8-16)
Interesting here is the statement that the entire body of the church is in living union with the head, Jesus, and that all the parts are growing toward maturity in him. Christ is the master design for creation, and in union with him, all things- first in the church, but also in the universe- are moving toward fulfillment, redemption and eventual glory in their connection to Jesus Christ.
These are the clear and obvious references to “Where is Jesus?” in Ephesians.
What can we say about the question now? More in the next post.