One night, while watching America’s Got Talent, one of the most precious things happened. A little girl, Heavenly Joy, had finished singing a song from the movie “Frozen” and was being interviewed by Howard Stern. The brief dialogue went like this: Stern: “I think Shirley Temple is living somewhere inside of you. Is that possible? Because…” Interrupting him, the little girl emphatically asserts, “Well not Shirley Temple- Jesus!”

I grew up believing that Jesus came into my heart when I accepted Him as my Savior.

It is very possible that this childhood experience was on my mind when I began reading about Aristotelian metaphysics and a word Aristotle had pieced together- entelecheia.   It seems that Aristotle combined the word ἐντός (entos), meaning “within, inside”; with τέλος (telos), meaning “end, completion, purpose”; and ἔχειν (echein), meaning “to have.”[1] The resulting meaning could be something simple (but it isn’t) like: to have purpose within. At this point you may be asking yourself, So what is the problem?

The word entelecheia became more and more popular since its inception and was eventually anglicized to the modern form entelechy. This word is typically defined as “actuality”, “potential realized”, or simply “the soul.” Entelechy seems to be a word that describes, not only the completeness of something, but the culmination of parts joining together in wholeness. Some see it as the actualization of potentialities, others as an inner force that guides towards a final destination or purpose. The problem I have with it, is that it seems to leave God out of the entire developmental process. For Aristotle, god was aloof. His god is not the same as the one Paul described when he said, “so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’…” (Acts 17: 27,28 [NRSV]).[2] Frank Macchia pointed out the dichotomy when he wrote, “[Christ] is not the disinterested deity of Aristotle; he came to us and stepped into our flesh, so that we could teleologically realize our humanity in him.”[3]

Perhaps a better word to describe “the final cause which determines purpose”[4] is enchristechein – to have Christ within. To me, enchristechein is a repository for the mystery of Christ in His Church.

Christ is now at the center: He is the telos.

Echein connotes possession and relationship.[5] So to have Christ within is to be in authentic fellowship with Him; He is now Lord and Master and we are servants. When unpacked, enchristechein reveals the answers to the following: Who?, What?, When?, Where?, and Why?

Who is at the forefront?– It is Jesus Christ. (John 17:23; 2 Cor 13:5)

What is He to us?– Jesus is our hope of glory and powerful energy (Col 1:27, 29)

When does He enter within?– Christ lives in us at the time of our salvation but is formed in us over time. Just how quickly He is formed in us depends on how long it takes to die to self. (Gal 4:19; Luke 9:23)

Where does He live?– Christ lives, dwells, and is revealed in us. (John 14:20, 17:23; 1 John 3:24; Rom 8:10; Gal 1:16, 2:20; Eph 3:16,17)

Why does He enter within?– Those who have the Son have life and Jesus is glorified in His saints. These two reveal the entelechy of the Christian life. (1 John 5:12; 2 Thess 1:10)

But enchristechein does not leave out the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the three persons of the social Trinity share a mutual indwelling with one another. The Father is in Christ and Christ in Him (John 10:38b, 14:20).   The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) and from Christ (John 16:7, referred to as the Spirit of Christ in Rom 8:9, 1 Pet 1:11). So we are indwelt, not only by Christ, but by the Holy Spirit and the Father!

So how is enchristechein applied to daily life? Well, if you take the time to use this blog post as a devotional, you will notice that to have Christ within you means hope for today and tomorrow, power for daily life, and an intimate relationship with the Most High God. This is so important to the Christian life! Paul said to the Corinthian church, “Do you not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you?” (Cor 3:5b). Realize enchristechein for yourself today!

[1] The 1901 8th edition Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon has an entry for entelecheia- the absoluteness, actuality, actual being of a thing. It indicates the word is derived from εν, τελει, and εχειν.

[2] All scripture taken from the New Revised Standard Version, 1989.

[3] Frank Macchia, instant message to author, July 5, 2015.

[4] Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the Greater Philosophers. Garden City, NY: (Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1926), 80.

[5] Verlyn Verbrugge, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 222.