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7.16 Ephesians -- For This Reason

          In [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12)

          in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him (RSV).

          This is a repetition of Eph 2:18, with the added quality of boldness.  We can have confidence before God because we are not coming to Him on the basis of our own works, or the Law, or animals' blood, but because we come "in Jesus and through faith in Him."   This is the realization of the "eternal purpose" of God.  It is a deathblow to the religious system of performance and human worthiness.

Paul's magnificent prayer for the Ephesians is related to the preceding passage on the mystery of Christ.  It should also be read in conjunction with 1 Cor 13, because this passage describes the foundation of the "more excellent way."
          a.  For this reason,  I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name (Eph 3:14-15).

          RSV's translation is "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."   But I believe the NIV's meaning is more accurate: Paul is not intending to promote universalism ("we are all God's children"), but to make the point that the family of God even spans the divide of heaven and earth.  There is only one "people of God", comprised of all who have placed their faith in Jesus' atoning blood.

          b.  that he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph 3:16-17).
          The love chapter of 1 Corinthians is not attainable by human passion or idealism.  Instead, first Christ must dwell in the heart through faith, and the Spirit must empower the human soul.  These are the prerequisites for knowing and expressing the love of Christ.  These two passages are intimately interrelated.

          c.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Eph 3:17-18).

          It is love that builds the community and that pierces the barriers of separation and alienation.  The effectiveness of each member of the body is dependent on his being rooted in the prior, deeper love of Christ.  Furthermore, one cannot truly know the love of Christ on one's own:  it is only in the community of believers, among people with no natural affinity with each other, that the nature and depth of His love is realized.

          d.   to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19).

          God's love surpasses the human capacity for defining and explaining it.  It must be believed, received and passed on for the church to function.  Living in love is the key to manifesting "the fullness of God," a phrase he repeats from Eph 1:23.

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