Out of God’s glorious riches

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. Reference: Ephesians 3:16

Now, we can’t just leave that verse stand alone, can we? We need the whole paragraph:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Paul prays for the Ephesians that they be strengthened in their inner beings (their “inner man,” says King James, which always gets me picturing a tiny homunculus walking around my innards). But that strength and power has a goal in mind: to completely comprehend how wonderful Christ’s love for us is. And, as we know (and are known, says Paul elsewhere), we are completely filled with God. If we are to have God poured into us, we will need strength: this new wine in old bottles will burst if he doesn’t prepare us properly.

Here is one of those rare places in which the evangelical expression about “having Christ in our hearts” is actually expressed in the New Testament. Paul is mixing his metaphors all other the place here in his excitement and ecstasy as he meditates on the vastness of Christ’s love for us, so we don’t want to take him very literally. But it is interesting that having Christ in our (individual) hearts for an understanding of Christ’s love for us must happen “together with all the saints,” as if we just might need others, too, to comprehend this love. Or better, our joint understanding fills us up (as a body, not as individual bodies) with “the measure of all the fullness of God.” God is at work in us, one by one, and God is at work in all the church; now and in former times, and into the future. His power is expressed through love in us. And so we raise Paul’s doxology:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.