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, and 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 vs. 18.
The reason for the Apostle Paul’s prayer was that Christ would be at home in all believers’ hearts. Additionally, that all believers would continue to be firmly rooted and grounded in the self-sacrificial love of God. This love is to be expressed not only in our love for the Lord, but also in our love for one another.
Paul then wrote, regarding the self-sacrificial love of, and from God, “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.” The Love of God remains the subject of which the apostle is addressing.
Strength (ἐξισχύω; exischyo) means to fully have the ability of doing or experiencing something. What Paul has in mind regarding this strength is to comprehend (καταλαμβάνω; katalambano), to understand or to grasp God’s love.
Paul then uses four special references: breadth and length and height and depth. These are not four different features of love, but rather Paul’s effort to communicate love’s vastness and completeness.
Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “These measures of space recall the temple image of 2:21. As the “living stones” (I Peter 2:5) are linked in love, God’s dwelling grows and is filled with Christ Himself. God uses the love among “all the saints” — Jew and Gentile alike – to build a whole that is greater than any of its individual parts. The spatial language exalts Christ’s love for His people – a love that is inclusive, inexhaustible and self-sacrificing.”
May each of us pursue this comprehensive understanding of God’s love. Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!