In Ephesians 6:10 (TNIV) we have:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
My two youngest children are memorizing this verse. My wife uses a series of questions to aid in comprehension so they don’t just stream the words together, but get the meaning, too. One of the questions is: “Where does this strength come from?”
When I read that question and glanced at the sentence, I thought, “But, the sentence isn’t talking about the strength coming from anywhere. It is talking about the strength being somewhere.” And, yet, we know intuitively from the literary context that Paul is talking about obtaining our spiritual strength from somewhere outside of ourselves. That is, from the Lord. At this point in my thinking process the word ‘in‘ appeared quite strange to me. It turns out that be strong in the Lord isn’t good English. Are we ever strong in someone else? If Lord is a title and we replace it with another title, does the English work? Are we ever strong in the President? Can we be strong in the Constable?
So, some questions come to my mind:
- Are the exegetical assumptions wrong that lie behind the question of where the strength comes from? The strength actually does reside in the Lord? If so, then how does the imperative work?
- Can we–should we–garner deep theological truths from lowly little prepositions? The argument goes something like this: “This is talking about how spiritual strength works. One can only really understand it, if one has spiritual discernment.” But, then what does the word understand actually mean when we’re talking about spiritual understanding? Can such understanding be conveyed in any language (including the original)? And, the point in this question is whether or not it is ever exegetically correct to obtain deep theological truths from a use of a preposition.
- Or, how do we improve the English?
What are your thoughts? I’m essentially asking: What is the exegesis? And, how does one say the meaning resulting from the exegesis?