This post is a part of a series: parts one, two, three, four, and five.
This post should round out my posts on πίστις Χριστοῦ, at least for now. This one should be rather brief. John’s comments on Eph 3:12, “In him, and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence,” are very brief. He does have a few interesting things to say about faith when discussing the prayer around 3:17ish. Thus, let us begin.
The first place to start is 3:12. John quotes the verse and then offers a comment or two: “‘In whom’, he says, ‘we have the boldness to approach him with confidence, through faith in him.’ Not as captives, he says, do we approach him, nor as those worthy of pardon, nor as ones who have sinned. This boldness, he says, we have in confidence. That’s to say, we have it with courage. Where does it come from? It comes from faith in him. (Πόθεν; Διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὺτοῦ.).” The comments are sufficiently vague that they could be rendered as “through his faithfulness” if that could be established elsewhere. But since he usually means “through faith in him” where that comes up, it’s proper to read it as we have traditionally: “through faith in him.” Though I do wonder about the article. What’s the difference between Διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὺτοῦ. as we have here and διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ in Romans? Anything significant? Anything that we could actually know? I guess I’ll have to defer to the linguists for now. I don’t have a clue!
Next, we’ll look at a few things he has to say about the prayer in 3:14-21. “‘So that he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner beings, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts though faith.’ See how he prays good things for them, and with such great desire, so that they may not waver. But how does this happen? Through the Holy Spirit, in your inner beings, Christ lives through faith in your hearts. How? In love, being rooted and established, so that you may experience together with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Later on, after tying 3:14-21 to the prayer in chapter 1, he continues, “This power, he says, strengthens us to bear temptations, so that we may not lead astray. How does Christ dwell in hearts? Hear the words of Christ himself, “The father and I, we will come and make a dwelling place with him.” And he doesn’t just dwell, but he dwells in your faithful hearts, which rooted are rooted in his love, not being lead astray.”. Later he talks about “knowing that Christ lives in us through faith.” The cognitive element is fairly strong here, just like it is in Philippians. The last little bit shows that that Christ’s dwelling in us results in us having “faithful hearts,” (ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ταῖς πισταῖς) that are “rooted in his love,” and “not led astray.” Thus, this knowledge of Christ does impact us. It enables our own faithfulness. John thus sees our faithfulness as part of that prayer, perhaps even the reason Paul prays it. The faithfulness of God isn’t in sight, but ours is.
Essentially, these passages back up much of what we see in Philippians. Faith is knowing and experience Jesus through the Spirit. John’s comments on 3:12, though ambiguous, support a “faith in Christ” reading since he doesn’t offer any indication to the contrary. We know Christ through faith, and this knowing results in Christ dwelling in us through the Spirit. It creates faithfulness in our own hearts as we are strengthened in him, rooted in his love. Faith and faithfulness are intertwined, though distinct.
ἐν πίστει αὐτοῦ,