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Regarding Ephesians 3:17, "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love":

1) Was Paul saying that the Ephesians were already rooted and established in love, or was he praying that they would be?

2) Is it referring to the love of God, or love as a way of life, or something else?

And are either of the above ambiguous, or is there no ambiguity?

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  • Perry's answer makes me wonder if the original question is about "in love" or about "being rooted and established in love". Can you please clarify the question? Thanks. – Ruminator May 4 '18 at 20:38
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ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι (NA27) Rooted and grounded translate perfect, passive, participles (parsing verified with Logos Bible Software). Perfect tense usually signifies the continuing result of a completed action. The picture here appears to be a plant with its roots already in the ground, but those roots are growing and getting stronger. Thus, if you take in love to go with these particles, then it is already. But, since the punctuation was not in the original letter, it is possible to take ἐν ἀγάπῃ, "in love," with the preceding verb, κατοικῆσαι, aorist, active, infinitive, may dwell. However, even if you take the above particles as going with verse 18, Paul is still writing about Christ's love.

Here's a refence that punctuates different than NA27:

Being rooted and grounded in love (ἐν ἀγαπῃ ἐρριζωμενοι και τεθεμελιωμενοι [en agapēi errizōmenoi kai tethemeliōmenoi]). But it is not certain whether ἐν ἀγαπῃ [en agapēi] should go with these participles or with the preceding infinitive κατοικησαι [katoikēsai] (dwell). Besides, these two perfect passive participles (from ριζοω [rizoō], old verb, in N. T. only here and Col. 2:7, and from θεμελιοω [themelioō], see also Col. 1:23) are in the nominative case and are to be taken with ἱνα ἐξισχυσητε [hina exischusēte] and are proleptically placed before ἱνα [hina]. Verse 18 should really begin with these participles. Paul piles up metaphors (dwelling, rooted, grounded).

Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Eph 3:17). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

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Mr Perry Webb@ put it very nicely. It is perfect, accomplished, but what is accomplished is not something static, but dynamic, for Christly love is infinite, and we can partake in it only in the context of infinite growth, when old is forgotten and the new is striven for and we "stretch ourselves towards" (ἐπεκτεινόμενος) those new and yet unexperienced dimensions of the divine love, wisdom, compassion and other divine features (Phil. 3:13), and so infinitely for the Logos of God is infinite. In fact, unless we grow, we fall short of this love, and even that which we think to possess will be taken away from us (Matt 25:28).

To make it simpler by analogy: say, Pythagoras says to his disciples: "You are all established and rooted in the great science of mathematics", this means that those disciples already are mathematicians, but this status is never static, for they can and must perpetually grow in greater and greater mysteries of this great science. Moreover, unless they grow in it, they will loose the passion of curiosity, and so will cease to be mathematicians, for being a mathematician entails to ignite the fire of passion towards newer and newer mysteries and be engaged in ongoing research and studies.

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  • The Pythagorean saying is both interesting and germane. May I trouble you to provide the source for the quote? Thanks. – Ruminator May 4 '18 at 20:33
  • Among Pythagorean authentic quotes I remember "try to become god" (from his "Golden Verses"). But the above quote is my invention and there is nothing of particular importance in them, just an illustration and any other illustration could do: e.g. I played tennis professionally, and if my coach would have told me "you are established and rooted in this graceful sport", indeed, yes, but had I not systematically exercised, played tournaments and emulated great champions, in short, grown in the sport, I would have withered as a tennis player and only name would have remained without the essence. – Levan Gigineishvili May 4 '18 at 22:17
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    I see. Well then can you make it more explicit that it is an imaginary saying of his because I was misled and other might be as well. Thanks. – Ruminator May 4 '18 at 22:30
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All passages referenced here will be from the New King James Version of the Bible. I hope in the name of our eternal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that this will bless you.

The Holy Bible is very unambiguous and direct when combining passages such as this one with the moral of the entire Scripture. Both before and after this verse it mentions being strengthened through His Spirit in the "inner man," and "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." The inner man is the part of us which delights in the law of God. What Christ did for us required a love that no one else possessed. He lived a sin-free life, knowing the end from the beginning, that He would take our place on the Cross that we might have life. This type of love only comes from God. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-10 it explains how love is the substance of all gifts and abilities that one may enjoy from God as a follower of Christ, and that without love we have missed the purpose of these gifts.

To directly answer your question:

  1. Paul is challenging the Ephesians and all who read this Epistle to be grounded in love:

    For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
    -- Galatians 5:14

  2. The Holy Spirit whom Jesus gave unto His Holy Apostles and all those who serve Him and ask of the Father for the Holy Spirit spoke this word through Paul to the entire Church. Thus, since the Holy Spirit is the one speaking, we may call into remembrance what Jesus said:

    But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
    -- John 14:26

If we look at Luke 10:27-28 we see that loving God and His people leads to life. Who else can fulfill this other than those who love God's risen Son Jesus Christ, who truly is God in the flesh, and have the love of Christ within them.

Just as Christ says:

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
-- John 15:10-12

We are called to love one another just as Christ loved us, who used every ounce of His gifts and strength to give us eternal life through the shedding of His own innocent blood. This type of love is the love of Christ, and is very rare in this world.

In summary:
We as Christians only have the power to save souls from death, just as we were saved, when we love all others just as Christ loved us. When we are born again, of the Spirit, we are to put away our old lives and identities and take on the full armor of God by living just as Jesus Christ lives. This is the perfection of a Christian. To become Christ-like in all word and deed, and is achieved by a complete unrelenting love of God and His people.

In Jesus Christ's name. Amen.

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    Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. I added quote formatting ('>' as first character on a new line, end with blank line), and numbered points (number+"."+space as first characters on a new line, end with a blank line). Paragraphs end with a blank line. – enegue May 4 '18 at 9:11
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    This is a sermon, it is not an examination of the text in the question. – Nigel J May 4 '18 at 13:53

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