The Apostle Paul has deep and rich prayers recorded on the pages of the New Testament. I have been reflecting on an aspect of one such prayer in Ephesians. Paul prays that the church in Ephesus “…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” (Eph. 3:18-19a).
Do you have an adequate appreciation of Christ’s love for you? Our knowledge of God’s love is never exhaustive and at times can seem downright elusive. Sometimes Christians may recognize a dullness in our appreciation of this divine love. Or we may sense a distance from God’s love toward us in Christ. Paul knows that an increasing grasp of the nature and extent of God’s love for us in Christ will mark the health and growth the Ephesians, so he is fervently praying for this very thing.
He wants them to know that God’s predestinating love marked them out for adoption as spiritual sons (Eph. 1:4-5). He wants them to consider that all the love that the Father has for his “Beloved” Son is set upon those who are in Christ (Eph. 1:6). He wants them to comprehend that God “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5). God’s love is a sacrificial reconciling love in which those sinners who are far off, are brought near through the blood of Christ (Eph. 5:25; cf. 2:12-19). His prayer that the Ephesians would be strengthened in such a way that they would grow in their grasp of God’s love is preceded by the desire that they would be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:16-17). This “love with faith from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 6:23) accompanies salvation and is to be enjoyed by Christians.
Don’t be a stranger to musings on God’s love while you are a pilgrim in this world. Instead, as the Apostle Paul says to the “children who are loved” (Eph. 5:1), “walk in love, as Christ loved us” (Eph. 5:2). Consider a portion of John Bunyan’s meditation on a portion of this verse:
“Alas! the sin of God’s children seemeth sometimes to overspread not only their flesh, and the face of their souls, but the whole face of heaven. And what shall he do now, that is a stranger to this breadth, made mention of in the text? Why must he despair, lie down and die, and shut up his heart against all comfort, unless he, with his fellow-Christians, can, at least, apprehend what is this breadth, or the breadth of mercy intended in this place. Therefore Paul for the support of the Ephesians, prays, that they may know ‘what is the breadth.’” John Bunyan, All Loves Excelling, p. 9.