17 “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17–19 (ESV)
Ephesians 3:17-19 contains the purpose for the Apostle’s Paul prayer on behalf of the Ephesian believers, within the immediate and historical context. The prayer is also on behalf of all believers in Christ at all times, within the overall context.
The prayer’s ultimate purpose is based upon the apostle’s previous statements contained in Ephesians 3:14-16: “14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,…”
What was the ultimate purpose for Paul’s prayer? Examining Ephesians 3:17-19 separately will contribute to our understanding. Today, we examine that latter portion of vs. 17.
The reason for the Apostle Paul’s prayer was that Christ would be at home in all believers’ hearts. However, a second purpose clause is introduced in the latter part of Ephesians 3:17: “that you, being rooted and grounded in love.”
The words rooted and grounded are obvious agricultural terms. Both words would have been familiar to the first century rural audience, as they are to individuals today.
Rooted (ῥιζόω; rhizoo) is a perfect, passive participle, plural verb. What that means is that the grammar refers to a past, completed action with continuing results, done on behalf of all believers by God. The word literally stated is you having been firmly rooted. It is a reference to God’s strength in the believer, with the focus upon God being the source of such strength (Colossians 2:7).
Grounded (θεμελιόω; themelioo) is also a perfect, passive participle, plural verb. The grammar also refers to a past, completed action with continuing results, done on behalf of all believers by God. It means to be firmly established in one’s faith and knowledge of, and in, the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This rooting and grounding by God in the believers’ lives is in the love solely from God. It is agape love; a self-sacrificial love of the will (I Corinthians 13:1-8).
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes, “The strength and knowledge for which Paul prays for believers are not directed toward their individual achievements but toward their love for each other, in response to the immeasurable love of Christ for them (Ephesians 3:19; 4:32-52).”
Let each of us pray today that the Lord would continue to firmly root and ground us in the self-sacrificial love of God. This is to be expressed not only in our love for Him, but also in our love for one another. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!