Commentary on Ephesians, 3:18-21


Ephesians 3:18-21

“16 that he may grant you according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person,
17 [that] Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (you having been firmly rooted and established in love),
18 in order that you may be strong enough to grasp together 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, in order that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”  LEB

“16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
17 And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  NLT
Still focusing on the love of God, in verse 18 Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians would have the “power to understand” the full scope of that love (breadth, length, height, depth). In other words, it was Paul’s desire and prayer that they would experience the full experience of God’s love (love of Christ), even though in reality, the love of God is beyond our full comprehension of it.

When you think about it, who can comprehend the kind of love that creates a human race, knowing that it will require leaving the throne of Glory as Almighty God to become like them, in order to suffer a very painful death for them. God didn’t have to do that, yet He did. That’s a love way beyond anyone’s capacity to understand.

Nevertheless, it was Paul’s desire that they experience the love of Christ to the greatest extent possible, in order that they “may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Or stated another way, that they may be “filled to capacity with all the fullness of God.”

“fullness of God” The word “fullness” has the idea of completeness. Thus it was Paul’s prayer that they would experience God in full measure, or in reality, in the fullest measure possible. We have a certain capacity, thus Paul was asking that they would experience the love of God, the power God, and God Himself, to their very limits. I often pray, and have prayed for years, that I would experience the full experience of knowing God and His power. That’s the idea Paul has in mind here. “20 Now to the one who is able to do beyond all measure more than all that we ask or think, according to the power that is at work in us, 21 to him [be] the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen”  LEB “beyond all measure”  (exceedingly beyond) Paul finishes his prayer with an encouraging recognition of God’s power to do far beyond anything that we could think or ask of Him, and that this power is at work within us, both within the Church and within individual believers. One of the wonderful things about prayer, is that God often answers in ways we never even imagined. It’s always exciting to see how God works things out in our lives, and how He meets our needs. However, when God doesn’t answer our prayers as we’re hoping for or expecting, we are to remain firm in our faith that He is working within us and in our lives for His “glory.” If we’re walking in faith and in the love of God and in His power, as Paul has been talking about here, we can be confident that God is at work, even if we may not be able to see it at the time. Paul concludes with an expression of his heart’s desire (and prayer) that God would be glorified in the church and in Christ, for all time and eternity. God does all things for His own glory. Therefore, everything we do in life should be for the purpose of bringing honor to the name of Christ. Let me give you something to think about. Notice that Paul refers to God being glorified in the Church throughout “all generations.” If God is to be glorified in the Church throughout all generations, then how can there be a 1000 year Jewish kingdom? Don’t premillennialists teach that the Church Age will come to an end in order to begin the millennial kingdom where the promises to Israel will be fulfilled? But how can that be? For Paul indicates here that the Church will always be central in God’s plan.