Bible Commentaries

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

Ephesians 3

Verse 17

Ephesians 3:17

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." Ephesians 3:17

God bade Moses receive from the people oil for the light, and to set up a candlestick with seven lamps, ever burning with this oil, to illuminate the holy place. This light was typical, no doubt, of the Holy Spirit, but as it is only by his own gracious light that the Lord Jesus is made known, we may still say, that as Christ dwells in the heart by faith, faith giving him a place in the bosom, he dwells in the enlightened understanding of his saints, in the gracious light of his own manifestations.

Have you not seen at times wondrous beauty in the gospel? Has not a sacred light shone, from time to time, upon the holy page, when it testified of Christ? Have you not seen wondrous glory in a free gospel, a gospel that saves the sinner, and yet magnifies and glorifies the justice of God; a gospel that reconciles every apparently jarring attribute, brings justice and mercy to kiss each other, and makes God to be just, and yet the justifier of him who believes in Jesus? Now that light whereby you saw the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, was gospel light; and as Christ came into the heart in the glory of that light, he may be said to dwell in the shining light of his own grace.

You may complain, and often bitterly complain, of the darkness of your mind, and it may seem at times as if you never had any true light to shine into your soul. But I would have you carefully observe these two things; first, that the very cause of the darkness which you feel is the presence of light. The Apostle, therefore, says, "But all things that are reproved, (margin, "discovered,") are made manifest by the light, for whatever does make manifest is light" ( Ephesians 5:13).

Apply these words to your case. Is there not something in you that discovers to you your darkness, and not only discovers, but reproves it, and makes it manifest as a thing to be condemned? This secret something is light, for "whatever does make manifest is light." And as you not only see it, but feel and mourn under it, it is "the light of life" which the Lord promised to those who follow him.

But observe, secondly, that whenever a little light dawns in again upon your soul, in that light you again see the same grace and glory in Christ which you saw in him before. Now, what a proof this is that Christ dwells in the heart by faith, and that the light in which we see him, is the light with which he has enlightened our understanding, and himself dwells in it.

Verse 19

Ephesians 3:19

"The love of Christ, which passes knowledge." Ephesians 3:19

That eminent saint, the Apostle Paul, who had been in the third heaven, and there saw glorious sights, and heard unspeakable words, though he exhausted human language to set forth the surpassing excellency of the love of Christ, comes at last to this point—"It passes knowledge." Indeed it must pass knowledge. Is it not infinite? What measure, then, can be assigned to the love of Christ? If Christ be God, and as such the equal of the Father, his love is as infinite as Deity.

Our love is the love of the creature; the love of God is as great as Deity, as infinite as the self-existent I Am; it must needs therefore pass knowledge. You may wonder sometimes—and it is a wonder that will fill heaven itself with anthems of eternal praise—how such a glorious Jesus as this can ever look down from heaven upon such crawling reptiles, on such worms of earth—what is more, upon such sinners who have provoked him over and over again by their misdeeds. Yes, that this exalted Christ, in the height of his glory, can look down from heaven his dwelling-place on such poor, miserable, wretched creatures as we—this is the mystery that fills angels with astonishment.

But it is the glory of Christ thus to love; it is his special glory to take his saints to heaven, that they might be witnesses of his glory and partakers of it. Therefore, it is not because we are such crawling reptiles, that we are such undeserving creatures, that we are so utterly unworthy of the least notice from him, we are to put away all this matchless love from us, and say, "Can Christ love one like me? Can the glorious Son of God from heaven his dwelling-place cast an eye of pity and compassion, love and tenderness upon one like me, who can scarcely at times bear with myself; who see and feel myself one of the vilest of the vile, and the worst of the worst? Oh, what must I be in the sight of the glorious Son of God?" And yet, he says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." This love has breadths, and lengths, and depths, and heights unknown. Its breadth exceeds all human span; its length outvies all creature line; its depth surpasses all finite measurement; and its height excels even angelic computation.

Now this is the very reason why this love is so adapted to us. We need a love like this; a love to spread itself over us, to come down to our lowest depths; a love that can land us safe in heaven. A love short of this would be no love at all. We would exhaust it by our sins if this love were not what it is here represented. Long ago we would have out-sinned this love, and drained it dry by our ingratitude, rebellion, and misdoing. But because it is what it Isaiah, love so wondrous, so deep, so long, so broad, so high; it is because it is what it Isaiah, that it is so suitable to every want and woe.

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Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jcp/ephesians-3.html.