Bible blog 2277

TRANSLATION OF THE LETTER TO EPHESIANS WITH COMMENT

EPHESIANS 3:14ff

-For this reason, I bend my knees before the father, from whom every lineage in heaven and upon earth gets its name, that from his splendid riches he may give some to you, so that you may be mightily strengthened in your inner being, through his spirit; and that Messiah may inhabit your hearts through his faithfulness. Rooted and grounded in love, may you be able to grasp with all the holy ones what breadth and length and height and depth truly are; and to know the love of Messiah which overleaps knowledge, so that you may be made complete with the complete nature of God.

To the one who is able to do far more than all we can ask or think, by the power which is working within us, be splendour in the assembly and in Messiah Jesus to all generations, for ages of ages, amen!

j

Simone Biles. Made complete with the complete nature of God.

With some justification, this has been a favourite passage of scripture with believers and scholars, because it is pastorally encouraging and theologically bold. Certainly the conception of God is patriarchal – the one who begets the family lines of all creatures-but here his wealth and generosity as creator is emphasised, his capacity to give of himself , so that his people are strong enough to receive Messiah into their hearts. I emphasise in the translation the faithfulness of Jesus rather than the faith of the believer. “Rooted” is an organic term, while “grounded” is from the building trade. Again the author is referring to the tree/ temple of the assembly. The terms in italics are drawn (probably) from Stoic philosophy where they point to the totality of the cosmos. Here they point to the love of God in Jesus.

How can people know something that overleaps knowledge? In this, case the love of Messiah Jesus can be known and experienced as something transcendent, altogether incommensurate with the believer’s mind. But more importantly, how can human beings be completed with the complete nature of God? Surely that’s impossible and perhaps blasphemous? Yet it’s here. Nothing less than a share in his nature is what God has planned for his people.

It’s this over-the-top-ness of God’s goodness which gives this letter its peculiarly positive vocabulary, as in the ascription that ends this section: God does far more than all we can ask or think. Whatever we in our impertinence might ask of God, has already been granted to us through Jesus Messiah.

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