One of Paul’s objectives in praying to the Father in his second prayer for the Ephesians is praying for love. He continues sharing with the church his prayer
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge . . . (Eph. 3:17-19)
One thought tumbles into another in his prayer; so let’s follow the cascading sequence:
The strengthening of the Spirit leads to
Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, which
provides a foundation so that
we can comprehend Christ’s love and
be filled with the fullness of God.
Love is Paul’s theme. He uses a double metaphor for being anchored in love: the tough roots of plants and the solid foundations of buildings.1 The indwelling Christ imparts such a robust, ongoing experience of God’s love that it forms an unshakable anchor in our lives. The experience of the loving Christ living in us strengthens us to withstand the greatest storms and to bear healthy fruit. As a result of Christ abiding in us, we can comprehend the incomprehensible—His love.
Paul chooses language for maximum emphasis. He describes the love of Christ using four directional words: breadth, length, height, and depth. Jesus’ love fills and bursts from our three dimensional world. Just when we think our lives have entered a place beyond the reach of God’s love, He comes to meet us in that fourth dimension.
Does the idea of knowing a love that surpasses knowledge seem like a contradiction to you? It happens when Jesus dwells in us. Each step of our life journey, we experience Him working in and through us, speaking to us, guiding us, providing, protecting, and generally demonstrating His loving involvement in our lives. Scriptural statements of God’s love in Christ help our understanding, but heart-knowledge is always above head-knowledge.
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- He uses the same words in Col. 2:7 and Col. 1:23 respectively. [↩]