Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

June 10, 2005

Breadth, Length, Height, Depth

I've been talking about Ephesians 3:14-21 for some time now, but haven't quoted it in full since the beginning of the series, so just in case anyone needs a refresher, here it is (NET Bible):

I pray that according to the wealth of his glory [God] may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
For the last two days I've been mulling over the idea of power in the "inner person", or, as I've been calling it, inward power. And I've pointed out that this is a power of comprehension, a power of understanding. Paul speaks often, in his prayers for the various churches, of the foundational importance of knowledge or understanding.

Which leads us now to look at the object of our understanding. What is it that we are to comprehend? And the answer is, "the breadth and length and height and depth" of the love of Christ. Okay, this is the place I want to stop for a while. See, I've been walking around and around this object, looking at it from various angles, and now I come to this facet, this feature, and the light seems to hit it just right, and I think I begin to see the whole more clearly. So I want to stop here and just look and look.

And I have two main questions right at the start. What is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, and why is it important that I comprehend it?

First step, let's understand the word "comprehend." The Greek word is katalambano, which means generally to grasp or lay hold of; in this case, to grasp or lay hold of "with the mind." In modern English, we might say, "Do you get it?" That is, have you attained to it, grasped it, laid hold of it? Have you gotten your mind around it yet?

Second step, and most importantly, let's look at this matter of extent: the breadth, length, height, depth. What's that all about?

And you know what? I'm out of time. So I'm going to leave it right there. Why is it so important to Paul that the Ephesians grasp the full extent of Christ's love? What are the consequences of such knowledge? We are getting to the very heart of Paul's prayer now. We are at the threshold of the wondrous here. In fact, things beyond knowledge are here, but by the power of the Spirit, they are brought within our grasp! It is good and right to dwell here for a longer moment.


Blogger Callmeteem said...

You have me eagerly awaiting the next post. This is important to grab hold of the love of Christ.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

As to extent, notice that Paul lists four dimensions. This fullness is really big.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Good reminder, Milton. Four dimensions. All directions. Nothing left out!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Broken Messenger said...


Great post. I know that there are other applications of "power" in the context of Christ's love, but this passage hits me deeply in consideration of loving our enemies..particularly if you keep in mind the last part of this passage.


9:51 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Yes, and you're getting at the real rubber-meets-the-road part of this passage. This power to know the love of Christ is for a purpose. Your example, loving our enemies, is a very good case in point. We cannot do this in our own power, mbut somehow the knowledge of the love of Christ has this kind of transformative and empowering effect. More on this in the next couple of posts.

10:28 AM  

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