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 the final portion of vs. 19.
The reason for the Apostle Paul’s prayer was that Christ would be at home in all believers’ hearts; in other words their thinking, feelings and decisions. Additionally, he desired all believers to 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 also wanted each believer to have a comprehensive understanding of this love. Finally, Paul’s last request was two-fold in content.
In the beginning portion of 3:19, he desired that all believers know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. To know means not only to acknowledge but also to have understanding of the love of Christ. This knowledge and understanding comes from God’s Word.
Secondly, the Apostle Paul also wanted all believers to be filled with all the fullness of God. To be filled (πληρόω; pleroo) is a satisfaction which comes from outside of us. It is a gratfification which comes from God and of which believers are the recipients. To be filled is to be full to a complete degree. What believers in Christ are to be full of is all the fullness of God.
Dr. John MacArthur writes that to be filled means, “To be so strong spiritually, so compelled by divine love, that one is totally dominated by the Lord with nothing left of self. Human comprehension of the fullness of God is impossible, because even the most spiritual and wise believer cannot completely grasp the full extent of God’s attributes and characteristics—his power, majesty, wisdom, love, mercy, patience, kindness, and everything he is and does. But believers can experience the greatness of God in their lives as a result of total devotion to him. Note the fullness of God here; the fullness of Christ in Eph. 4:13; and the fullness of the Spirit in Eph. 5:18. Paul prayed for believers to become as Godlike as possible (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15–16).”
May this fullness of God, of Christ and of the Holy Spirit be our spiritual and lifelong quest. Have a God-honoring day.
Soli deo Gloria!