“14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” Ephesians 3:14-19
In Ephesians 2:1-3:21, the apostle Paul expounded upon the unsearchable riches of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. He expresses his appreciation of this grace in his concluding prayer (Ephes. 3:14-21). Bowing one’s knees “to the Father” expresses surrender and submission to Him (Ephes. 3:14). If you were abandoned or abused physically, emotionally, or spiritually by your earthly father, it may feel very vulnerable or unsafe for you to take a knee before Your heavenly Father. It is okay if you do not kneel because He understands your struggle and He still loves you.
To “bow … to the Father” suggests an intimate face-to-face contact with one’s heavenly Father. Paul uses a play on words from the word “father” (patera) in 3:14 to the word “family” (pateria) in 3:15. A father is the head of a typical “family.” God the Father is not only the Father of “the whole family” of Jewish and Gentile believers in one body, the Church (Ephes. 3:1-6), He is also the Ultimate Father over all families on earth. Every human family exists as a family because of God’s relationships as a “Father.” Much of the brokenness in our world today is due to the wounds connected to one’s relationship or lack thereof with his or her earthly father. God wants to heal our brokenness with His love.
Paul asks God the Father that his readers “be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man” according to His vast resources (“the riches of His glory”) “that Christ may dwell” in their “hearts through faith” (Ephes. 3:16-17a). The purpose of this request for intimate fellowship with Jesus and for power is so these believers who are already secure (“rooted” like a plant and “grounded” like a building) in Christ’s “love … may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of “the love of Christ” (Ephes. 3:17b-19a). The words “comprehend” (katalambánō = to lay hold of so as to make one’s own) and “know” (ginṓskō = to know especially through personal experience) in Ephes. 3:18 and 19 refer to more than understanding Christ’s love intellectually. They refer to knowing His love experientially.
Paul refers to the four dimensions (“width … length … depth … height”) of Christ’s love to show just how unlimited (“passes knowledge”) His love is. First, we see that Jesus’ love is wide (“width”) enough to include all people (“Jew” and “Gentile” – Ephes. 2:11-3:7), regardless of one’s color, culture, or country. Christ’s love is not partial toward any particular ethnicity or political persuasion. He died for “all” people (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15; I Tim. 2:6; I John 2:2), including you and me. Perhaps other people have rejected you or treated you as an inferior, but make no mistake – Christ deeply loves you and He proved this when He shed His blood for you on the cross (Rom. 5:8).
Christ’s love is long (“length”) enough to transform Gentiles “who once were afar off” from God (Ephes. 2:13) and Jews “who were near” to God (Ephes. 2:17). His love reached back to eternity past when He was planning His relationships with you and me before He created the universe (1:4-5; 3:9-10). His love also reaches to eternity future when we will be with Him in heaven – free from sin, shame, and Satan (Ephes. 1:10, 14; cf. Rev. 20:10-22:21). It does not matter how far you have gone from Him, Jesus loves you and He welcomes you to come home to Him and His Father (Luke 15:20). When terrible things happened to you in the past, Jesus was there watching with tears in His eyes, compassion on His face, and love in His heart. His love for you is not limited by time and circumstances.
The love of Christ is deep (“depth”) enough to rescue sinners from the depths of their sin and shame, and save them from eternal punishment in hell when they come to Him in faith (cf. Ephes. 4:9-10; cf. Mark 9:43-48; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rev. 20:11-15). You may have spent more time in jail than in church, but this does not diminish Jesus’ love for you. Christ died for us when we were still His ungodly enemies (Rom. 5:6, 8, 10). If Christ gave us His best when we were at our worst, how much more will He give us now that we are God’s beloved children (John 1:12; Rom. 8:31-32)!?!
Jesus’ love is high (“height”) enough to seat us next to Him in the heavenly places “far above” all His opponents, including the devil and his demonic armies (Ephes. 1:20-21; 2:5-6). Before we were saved, we were under the power and authority of Satan and his world system (Ephes. 2:2), but now we are seated next to Jesus in a position of power and victory “far above” all the enemies of God (Ephes. 1:20-21; 2:5-6). Therefore, we can live victoriously for Jesus because in Him, we are winners, not losers. The Bible tells us, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37). Jesus’ love leads us to victory over Satan and all his lies so that God is glorified “forever and ever” (Ephes. 3:20-21).
We may know of Jesus’ love intellectually, but do we know His love experientially in the depths of our “hearts” and souls? So many broken people in the world today are bound by fear and shame. Only Christ’s love can remove the fear (I John 4:18) and the shame (Isaiah 54:4; 61:1-3; Matt. 12:20; Heb. 12:2). Only His love can unite people from different backgrounds, cultures, and various depths of sin through His grace after He saves those who believe in Him alone for His gift of salvation (Ephes. 1:13-14; 2:8-9). What human governments have failed to do throughout history, Jesus Christ can do the moment we believe in Him. Know Jesus Christ and make Him known to a broken and ashamed world.
Prayer: Loving Father in heaven, I bow before You filled with thanksgiving for the unsearchable riches of Your grace. Please forgive me for looking at You through the eyes of sin and shame, instead of through the eyes of faith. Please grant me the strength in the depths of my heart to know experientially Your unlimited love for all people, including me. There was a time when I believed no one could love me as I am. But You have changed me with regard to this lie. Your love is wide enough to include all people, including someone who feels left out and “lesser than,” like me. Your love is long enough to reach those who are very far from You (the worst of sinners) and those who are very near to You (the best of sinners). Your love is deep enough to reach down to the depths of my sin and shame; to go where no other person wants to go. Thank You my Lord that my sin and shame do not diminish Your love for me. I praise You that Your love is high enough to seat me next to You in the heavenly places far above all Your enemies. May Your Spirit enable me to be more than a conqueror through Your unlimited love so that all the glory is given to You. In the loving name of Jesus I pray. Amen.