AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST
WHICH SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE: gnonai (AAN) te ten huperballousan (PPPMSD)
tes gnoseos agapen tou Christou: (Ep 3:18; 5:2,25; John 17:3;
2Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
12; Colossians 1:10; 2Peter 3:18; 1John 4:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
These are "deep"
verses as shown by the fact that Martyn Lloyd-Jones devotes ten messages
to these verses (The Unsearchable Riches of Christ pp. 181-301)
Paul wants the
readers to be empowered so as to know the love of Christ which
surpasses knowledge. Note that this is not a petition that the
believers might love Christ more, as important as that is but rather
that they might understand in the experiential dimension Christ's love
for them. He is not referring to their knowing as simply a mental
exercise or simple intellectual reflection. Paul wants them to be
empowered so as to grasp the dimensions of that love in their own
experience. The paradox of course is that he prays for them to
experientially know the unknowable, which parallels "breadth and length
and height and depth" (assuming that those parameter also refer to the
love of Christ which as discussed above is difficult to state with
As O'Brien explains regarding the love of Christ
- We can never plumb its depths or
comprehend its magnitude. No matter how much we know of the love of
Christ, how fully we enter into His love for us, there is always
more to know and experience. And the implication, in the light of the
following words, is that we cannot be as spiritually mature as we should
be unless we are empowered by God to grasp the limitless dimensions of
the love of Christ. (O'Brien,
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999)
- Do you find that spending consistent time alone each day with the Lord
in the Word and in prayer is a difficult duty, not a joyous delight? Is
your spiritual life often dry and routine? Are you often defeated by
temptation and sin? At the risk of being overly simplistic, I believe
that all of these problems stem from a common source: You do not know
experientially the love of Jesus Christ as deeply as you should. A young
man who has just fallen in love doesn’t regard spending time with his
new love as a difficult duty! He doesn’t think, “I really should spend
time with her today but, nah, I think I’ll skip it.” Why not? Because he
is motivated and captivated by love. He rearranges everything else in
his schedule to make time to be with her. Such love is a powerful force
that literally changes your life. It motivates you in ways that you do
not understand. But, as we all know, it’s one thing to fall in love, but
it’s another thing to sustain it and cause it to grow deeper over the
years. It doesn’t run on autopilot! It requires focus and effort. The
same is true with regard to knowing the love of Christ. You come to know
it at salvation, but you’ve got to work at growing to know Him (Ed:
While I understand what Cole is saying, I submit that our "working"
absolutely must be a response to His Spirit's working in us giving us
the desire and the power) and His
love in deeper and deeper ways. (Knowing
the Unknowable Love of Christ)
(ginosko) conveys the basic meaning of taking in knowledge in
regard to something or someone and speaks of knowledge that goes beyond
the merely factual and into the realm of the experiential. By extension, the term frequently was used of a
special relationship between the person who knows and the object of the
knowledge. It was often used of the intimate relationship between
husband and wife and between God and His people.
Moule - An
aorist verb, expressing a new and decisive development of knowledge,
knowledge of the spiritual kind, the intuition of the regenerate spirit,
realized in its own responsive adoring love. (Ephesians
3 Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)
Paul wanted them
to experience the love of Christ, which in its fullest extent surpasses
human knowledge. Thus the idea is that
in this knowledge there is a personal involvement with the "love of Christ",
to know by experience the unknowable!
writes that "to know" means "Practically, through experience;
while apprehend marks the knowledge as conception.
Love of Christ
- Christ’s love to us. Human love to Christ could not be described
in these terms.
the love of Christ - Who “loved the Church, and gave Himself for
it” (Ephesians 5:25); “Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians
2:20). See further Romans 8:35, with Ro 8:39; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Revelation
1:5.—The context favors the chief reference here of these sacred words
to the Lord’s love for the true Church, without excluding, what cannot
be excluded in the matter, His love, and the sense of it, for the
individual saint. (Ephesians
3 Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)
is unconditional, sacrificial love which God is. It is love which is
commanded in believers, empowered by His Spirit, activated by personal
choice of one's will, is not based on one's feelings toward the object
of one's love and is manifested by specific actions (see 1Cor 13:4-8 for
a succinct list of these actions)
It’s Just Like His Great Love
by Edna R. Worrell
A Friend I have, called Jesus,
Whose love is strong and true,
And never fails how e’er ’tis tried,
No matter what I do;
I’ve sinned against this love of His,
But when I knelt to pray,
Confessing all my guilt to Him,
The sin-clouds rolled away.
O, I could sing forever of Jesus’ love divine,
Of all His care and tenderness for this poor life of mine;
His love is in and over all, and wind and waves obey,
When Jesus whispers “Peace, be still!” and rolls the clouds away.
(huperballo from hupér = above + ballo = cast)
literally means throwing beyond the usual mark and figuratively
referring to a degree which exceeds extraordinary, a point on an implied
or overt scale of extent. Expressing a degree beyond comparison. Extraordinary, extreme, supreme, far more,
much greater, to a far greater degree. To transcend. Immeasurable
surpasses knowledge - knowledge of every sort, spiritual as much as
intellectual. Here is an Object eternally transcending, while it
eternally invites, the effort after a complete cognition. Forever, there
is more to know....a passage glowing with the highest truths in their
loveliest aspects. For a similar phrase, cp. Php 4:7. (Ephesians
3 Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)
It is cast into a
totally different realm where the normal faculties of rational
apprehension are incapable of functioning.
1. to overshoot, outdo, surpass,
2. to go beyond, exceed
3. absolutely to exceed all bounds
4. to go on further and further, "he went on bidding more and more"
- to pass over, cross mountains,
-of water, to run over, overflow
TDNT - This verb, having an original sense
of “to throw beyond,” means “to go beyond,” “to stand out,” “to excel,”
or, censoriously, “to transgress the proper measure.” The noun means
“excess” or “supreme stage or measure.”
- 5x in 5v in NAS - Take a moment and observe the following 5 uses for
the entity or attribute which is modified by huperballo. Interesting.
2 Corinthians 3:10 For indeed what
had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that
2 Corinthians 9:14 while they also,
by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing
grace of God in you.
Ephesians 1:19 and what is the
surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are
in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
Ephesians 2:7 so that in the ages to
come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:19 and to know the love
of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to
all the fullness of God.
Huperballo is found only in
the NT and in
the apocryphal writings (not the non-apocryphal writings) - 2 Macc 4:13, 24; 7:42; 3 Macc 2:23; Sir 5:7;
makes the apt observation: Compounds with hyper (huper),
over, beyond, are characteristic of Paul's intensity of style, and mark
the struggle of language with the immensity of the divine mystery, and
the opulence of divine grace.
writes on Paul's use of "hyper"...
A glance at the Englishman's Greek
Concordance or Moulton and Geden's Concordance to the Greek Testament
will show that of 25 compounds with hyper in the NT, 16
are found only in the Pauline Epistles and others are used mainly by
Paul. They reflect the apostle's strong personality and his almost
frustrated desire to seek to express in words the inexpressible
greatness of God's grace.
This sense of the inadequacy of
language to convey spiritual truths is even more prominent in the Greek
text than in English translation. Paul is struggling to say what cannot
be said. It is utterly impossible to put the fullness of divine reality
in human language, to compress the infinite into what is finite. That is
why one cannot receive the full impact of the meaning of the Word of God
except as the Holy Spirit illuminates his mind to understand it. Just
so, Paul struggled to express the great thoughts with the words which so
weakly convey them. It is with words that we have to deal. But our goal
is always to get behind those words to the meaning. Biblical
interpretation is the most challenging, demanding task that anyone can
The sincere student, and especially preacher, of the Word of God will
seek to use all the human tools he can get hold of—study of the original
Greek and Hebrew, the best reference works available, the studies made
by careful scholars. The minister who fills his shelves only with canned
sermons and popular "how-to" books is not true to his calling. What he
needs is spades with which to dig out eternal truths. Above and beyond
all this he needs the Holy Spirit's help and guidance. (Earle, R. Word
Meanings in the New Testament)
(gnosis) is the content of what is known. It describes the
comprehension or intellectual grasp of something. It refers to
experiential knowledge or knowledge gained by experience (as contrasting
with intuitive knowledge that one has innately). As an aside gnosis
was the characteristic word of the Gnostics, one of the most
formidable enemies of the Church of the second century. The Gnostics
claimed a superior knowledge peculiar to an intellectual caste (they are
still "alive and well" in 21st century Christianity!)
parallels “the unfathomable riches of Christ” (Ep 3:8-note)
a reasonable question...
If it surpasses knowledge, how are we
to grasp or know it? There are two answers.
First, although we cannot exhaust the
love of Christ by our knowledge, we can nevertheless know this love
truly. It is the same with the knowledge of God generally. We cannot
know exhaustively, but we can know truly. So although, in the same way,
we cannot know all of Christ’s love for us, we can know that what we
perceive as Christ’s love is truly love. The love of Christ that we know
at the beginning of our Christian life is the same love that we will
know (though more fully) at the end.
Second, we are to grow in our
awareness of that love, particularly through the routine hardships,
sufferings, and persecutions of life. Here is where the matter of the
dimensions “wide and long and high and deep” comes in. (Boice,
J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary)
- The top rung of the ladder (to use Spurgeon’s phrase) is, “that you
may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). “The
fullness of God” probably refers to the perfection of which God
Himself is full. Paul is praying that we will attain to spiritual
perfection, having all that God is fill us to overflowing. As our
capacity to receive it grows, He keeps filling us again and again. The
idea of fullness implies total dominance or control, so that God
perfectly controls our minds, our emotions, and our will. Paul uses
similar language in Ephesians 4:13, where he says that the goal of the
ministry is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the
stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
Can we ever attain such perfection in this life? The greatest of the
saints have all lamented on their deathbeds that they are miserable
sinners, saved by God’s grace alone. They all have been quick to admit
their many remaining faults and shortcomings. But, as Paul states (Rom.
8:29), God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Jesus
Christ. We know that He will accomplish His purpose for all of His
elect. As John tells us (1 John 3:2, 3), “We know that when He appears,
we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone
who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” So
we should join Paul (Phil. 3:14) in pressing “on toward the goal for the
prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Conclusion - D. A. Carson (ibid., p. 196) points out that just as
a loving home is required for children to grow to personal maturity, so
we must come into the knowledge of Christ’s great love for us, in His
household, the church, if we are to grow to spiritual maturity. Martyn
Lloyd-Jones wrote (ibid., p. 219), “Indeed, our chief defect as
Christians is that we fail to realize Christ’s love to us.” He adds (p.
223), “How important it is that we should meditate upon this love and
contemplate it! It is because we fail to do so that we tend to think at
times that He has forgotten us, or that He has left us.”
If you were to ask the apostle Paul, “What motivated you to give up
everything for Christ and the gospel? How could you endure all that you
did for Christ and keep going?” I believe you would see tears well up in
his eyes and he would answer, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who
loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). He might add (Rom.
8:38-39), “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels,
nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Live there and you will grow to spiritual maturity! (Knowing
the Unknowable Love of Christ)
Amazing Grace on the Amazing Love of Jesus...
Who can fully grasp the dimensions of
God’s great love for us? Yet the Scriptures teach that we are to have a
growing awareness of divine love. Love is the very heart and essence of
God, not only for the lovely but for the vilest of sinners. Christ did
not die merely to display God’s love—He died because God is love (1 John
4:8). If the New Testament teaches us anything, it teaches us about
God’s love in searching for lost men. Becoming a Christian in a very
real sense is simply putting ourselves in the way of being found by
God—to stop running from His loving pursuit.
As we mature in the Christian faith, we begin to realize that every
situation that comes our way is an opportunity for God’s love to be made
more evident in our lives. Once we realize this, our attitude changes
dramatically toward suffering people as well as toward ourselves when we
are called to suffer. Then even during those times when our spiritual
fervor declines and our devotion to God subsides, despite these
shortcomings, God’s love remains unfailing—continually working for our
eternal good. (Osbeck,
K. W. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions.
O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus
by Samuel Francis
O the deep, deep love of
Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
Ruth Paxson writes...
"To know the love of Christ."
We can know that Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. We can know
the faithfulness of His love as manifested in countless ways every day
of our lives; its tenderness as it comforts us in suffering and sorrow;
its fellowship as it shares with us everything it possesses; its
patience as it forgives us the seventy times seven. We can also daily
add to our knowledge of the love of Christ as we company with Him in
prayer and in the the study of His Word; as we fellowship with other
saints who know and experience deeply the love of Christ; and as we
enter more fully into the fellowship of his sufferings, "filling up on
our part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ for his
body's sake" (Colossians 1:24).
"Which passeth knowledge." But
there is a love of Christ that is knowledge-surpassing. The expression
of Christ's love is knowable, but the essence of it is unknowable. We
can never know the love that paid the cost of leaving His eternal home
in the Father's bosom in the heavenly glory and of coming to a world
that rejected and crucified Him. We can never know the
knowledge-surpassing love that voluntarily emptied itself of its
inherent glory and was made in the likeness of men and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross. We can never know the love that
on Calvary's Cross suffered the anguish of heart compressed in that cry,
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" We can only confess our
utter inability to comprehend such love and tell Him that it makes Him
unspeakably precious to us, more precious than anyone or anything in
heaven or upon earth. We can respond with a love for Him that sweeps our
life clean of all counter-loves and that leads us to go to the uttermost
limit of our capacity in adoration of and devotion to Him. (The
Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian)
"It passeth knowledge, that dear love
My Jesus, Saviour; yet this soul of mine
Would of thy love in all its breadth and length,
Its height and depth and everlasting strength,
Know more and more."
THAT YOU MAY BE FILLED UP TO ALL
THE FULLNESS OF GOD: hina plerothete (2PAPS) eis pan to pleroma tou
(Ep 1:23; Psalms 17:15; 43:4;
Matthew 5:6; John 1:16; Colossians 2:9,10; Revelation 7:15, 16, 17;
Revelation 21:22, 23, 24; 22:3, 4, 5)
Paul's prayer to
the Father reaches its climax in this final, summarizing request. Thus
we note that as believers are strengthened in the inner man through the
Spirit and Christ dwells comfortably at home in their hearts through
faith and they know in a personal, experiential way more of the
immeasurable love of Christ, based on these spiritual dynamics,
believers will be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.
introduces a purpose clause which depicts the grand purpose and result.
terms of purpose or result)
Filled up to
- to the measure or standard of.
filled up - The idea is of a vessel connected with an abundant
source external to itself, and which will be filled, up to its capacity,
if the connection is complete. The vessel is the Church, and also the
saint. It may be only partially filled; it may be full—every faculty of
the individual, every part of life and circumstances, every member of
the community, “ful-filled with grace and heavenly benediction.” And
this latter state is what the Apostle looks for. (Cambridge
Bible for Schools and Colleges)
up to - The “fulfilling” is to be limited only by the Divine
resources. Not, of course, that either Church or soul can contain the
Infinite; but they can receive the whole, the plenitude, of those
blessings which the Infinite One is willing and able at each moment to
bestow on the finite recipient.
You may be filled
[word study]) means to be filled (plural and passive
voice = saints
acted on by outside force) to the brim (a net, Mt 13:48, a building, Jn
12:3, Acts 2:2, a city, Acts 5:28, needs Phil 4:19). It means to make complete
in every particular and so to cause to abound. It means to furnish
liberally diffusing throughout and pervading thus taking possession of
and ultimately controlling the one who is "filled up".
filled up is in the
which some writers have referred to as the "divine passive", indicating
that it is God Who brings about the action in this case of filling the
Just as a balloon
inflates when we blow into it, so the Bible (and our obedience to the
truth it reveals) deepens and expands our
capacities so that we are filled increasingly (progressive
sanctification), like an expanding balloon, with the fullness of God.
When we are filled with His fullness (which will never end for God is
infinite!), we will begin to love like Him, we will begin to give like
Him, we will begin to reach out to the lost like Him, etc. What a
glorious way to live -- surely this is life abundant! Why are believers
not praying this prayer in our churches and our families? We have not
His fullness I fear because we ask not. If you are a pastor reading
these words, I challenge you to test God to answer this earth shaking
prayer in your local church. What would happen in your church if you and
your people committed to praying this prayer for the next 365 days, not
in mechanical repetition, of course, but from the heart with a sense of
desperation, pleading for God's power, love and fullness. I think God
tells us what would happen. He says...
Test Me now in this if I will not
open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing
until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10)
And this is the confidence which we
have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He
hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know
that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1John 5:14-15)
God will answer
this prayer from His children and will do so exceeding, abundantly
beyond all that we can ever ask or think!
Of God -
O'Brien explains that "The genitive of God is subjective and
thus refers to God in all his perfection, including his presence, life,
and power. That fulness or perfection is the standard or level to which
they are to be filled." (O'Brien,
P. T. The Letter to the Ephesians. W. B. Eerdmans. 1999)
- Fulness of God is the fulness which
God imparts through the dwelling of Christ in the heart; Christ, in Whom
the Father was pleased that all the fulness should dwell (Col 1:19-note),
and in Whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9-note).
all the fullness of God - i.e., as in Colossians 2:9 (and see note
on Ephesians 1:23), the totality of the Divine riches, whether viewed as
Attributes as in God, or Graces as in us; whatever, being in Him, is
spiritually communicable to the saints, the “partakers of Divine nature”
(2Peter 1:4). The believing reader will find inexhaustible matter in
such a phrase for thought, prayer, and faith. (Cambridge
Bible for Schools and Colleges)
pleroo) describes the full measure of
something with an emphasis on completeness.
Paul wrote "For in Him all the fulness of Deity
dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete
(pleroma), and He is the head over all rule and authority." (Col 2:9-note;
OF OUR FULLNESS
fullness - The means of our fullness is the Holy
Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-note),
and the measure of our fullness is God Himself (Ep 4:11-16 see notes
4:16). It is tragic when
Christians use the wrong measurements in examining their own spiritual
lives. We like to measure ourselves by the weakest Christians that we
know, and then boast, “Well, I’m better than they are.” Paul tells us
that the measure is Christ, and that we cannot boast about anything (nor
should we). When we have reached His fullness, then we have reached the
limit. In one sense, the Christian is
already “made full in Christ” (Col 2:9-note;
where “complete” means “filled full”). Positionally, we are complete in
Him, but practically, we enjoy only the grace that we apprehend by
faith. The resources are there. All we need do is accept them and enjoy
them. Paul will have more to say about this fullness (Ep 5:18-21-see notes
Ep 5:18; 19; 20; 21) (Bible
Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
commenting on filled to fullness - The phrase “fullness of God” can be
either of two grammatical constructions. It can be an objective
genitive; in that case, the fullness of God would be the fullness of
grace God bestows on us. Or it can be a subjective genitive; in that
case, the fullness would be God’s own fullness, that which fills
himself. Because of the preposition eis, which means “unto,” it seems
that the second is to be preferred. Overwhelming as the petition may be,
Paul seems to be praying that we (and all other Christians) may be
filled up to or unto all the fullness that is in God Himself. How can this be?
Ironside found it so
impossible that he changed the meaning to suggest that some of the
fullness of God is to be in us like some of the ocean in an empty shell.
I think that falls short of the idea. Here is the highest rung of the
ladder, the highest step of the stairs. We are to be filled with all
God’s fullness, an infinite thing. But then, we have all eternity (an
infinite time) to be so filled. I think Paul is praying that we will be
filled and filled and filled and filled and filled—and so on forever, as
God out of His infinite resources increasingly pours Himself out into
those sinful but now redeemed creatures he has rescued through the work
of Christ. (Boice,
J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary)
on fullness of God - See Eph. 4:13. God's "fullness" = his
moral perfections or excellencies, as well as his empowering presence;
i.e., all that God is as God. "That fulness or perfection is the
standard or level to which they are to be filled" (O'Brien, 265). What
does that do to our low expectations of what is available to us in this
life? But with what are we to be filled? The "power of God?" The "love
of Christ?" "The Spirit?" Certainly, but there is more in Paul's mind.
Note well: they are to be filled by God, "and presumably if they are to
be filled up to the fullness of God, it is with this fullness
[emphasis mine] that they are to be filled" (Lincoln, 214) (Ephesians
- “All the fulness of God” is all the
fulness which God possesses, or by which He is characterized... The
pleroma—that with which He is filled—appears to be the entire moral
excellence of God—the fulness and luster of His spiritual perfections.
Such is the climax of the prayer...The whole fulness of God can
never contract itself so as to lodge in any created heart. But the
smaller vessel may have its own fulness poured into it from one of
larger dimensions. The communicable fulness of God will in every element
of it impart itself to the capacious and exalted bosom, for Christ
dwells in their hearts. The difference between God and the saint will be
not in kind, but in degree and extent. His fulness is infinite; theirs
is limited by the essential conditions of a created nature. Theirs is
the correspondence of a miniature to the full face and form which it
represents...The apostle prays for strength, for the indwelling of
Jesus, for unmovable foundation in love, for a comprehension of the size
and vastness of the spiritual temple, and for a knowledge of the love of
Christ; and when such blessings are conferred and enjoyed, they are the
means of bringing into the heart this Divine fulness. (Ephesians
on filled with the fullness of God - In other words, everything that fills
God fills me and controls me and satisfies me. I am living in a realm
now that I didn’t know was possible. I am loving people I didn’t think
were lovable. I have put up with people who used to give me a fit. I am
handling circumstances like never before. God, what is going on inside
of me? God says, "You haven’t seen anything yet. Keep on trusting Me. I
have other levels I want to take you to. Walk in the fullness of what I
have to offer you." That is it. That is the Christian life. Paul is praying that all of God would
dominate all that you are. In other words, that all of God would
dominate all of you. I picked that word "dominate" very carefully
because the word "filled" implies dominate. The
Greek word is
pleroo. It is the word that means "to be filled to the brim." If you
fill a glass of water and fill it to the brim, that’s
pleroo. It is
filled full. There is no room for anything else. There is the implied
meaning of satisfaction. You have a satisfied glass if it is full of
water. What is a glass for? To be filled up. When you put the liquid to
the top it must be satisfied. Nothing else is needed to satisfy the
glass. So in light of Paul’s prayer, Paul is
saying when we are empty of sin and we are empty of self and filled up
with the fullness of God, then we begin to understand what satisfaction
is all about. There is also the implicit meaning of dominance. Whatever
fills a person dominates that person.
What are you filled with? What is
coming out of your life? Look at your life. Are you filled with fear and
jealousy or are you filled with the Holy Spirit of God?
writes that this section is "To Ensure the Plenitude of Christ's Life in
3:19 (R.V.). "That ye may be filled
unto all the fulness of God."
"That." This fourth petition
is the final fruitage and the climax of the strengthening by the Spirit
in the inner man, as it introduces the ultimate purpose of God in the
realization of our wealth and the goal towards which He has been
"Ye may be filled." Is not
this word "filled" (Eph 5:18), with the kindred words "fill" (Eph 4:10),
"filleth" (Eph 1:23), and "fulness" (Eph 3:19; 4:12), the keynote of
Ephesians? Is this not the objective in the realization of God's deepest
desire both for the Church in its corporate capacity and for the
individual Christian? Does God not clearly state the ultimate goal for
the Church, that it shall come "unto the measure of the stature of the
fulness of Christ"?
The Holy Spirit strengthens us in the
inner man that Christ may dwell in every corner and cranny of our lives,
thus emptying us of self and enthroning Christ in us as a living
reality. He strengthens us that we may comprehend ever more fully the
measurable love of Christ expressed in salvation, and that we may know
the unknowable love that made Him our Saviour, thus making Christ so
precious to us that we are satisfied in Him. But Satan is always at work
to destroy the work of the Spirit and to win us back to allegiance to
himself. There is but one safeguard to his cunning wiles; to be filled
with Christ that all such temptation be resisted, and that we may in all
things and at all times be more than conquerors.
"All the fulness of God" --
the grand, glorious sum total of all that God is. There is nothing
conceivable beyond the fulness of God. It is all the divine perfections
of the Godhead as expressed in Christ.
Colossians 2:9. "For in him dwelleth
all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
This is the doctrinal meaning of the
fulness of God, but what does it mean tangibly and practically in
relationship to the Church and to the Christian? Is it not just all that
vast wealth stored in Christ out of which God draws for the achievement
of His purpose (Eph 3:11); the fulfillment of His good pleasure (Eph
1:9); the carrying out of the counsels of His own will (Eph 1:11); the
manifestation of the riches of His grace and glory (Eph 1:7; 3:16); the
working of His mighty power (Eph 1:19); the expression of the richness
of His mercy and the greatness of His love (Eph 2:4)? Is it not also
those unsearchable riches in Christ which the saint appropriates for the
satisfaction of every Spirit-inspired desire; for the supply of every
need of the spirit, soul and body; for the sustenance of life on that
highest plane in Christ in the heavenlies, far above all; and for the
strength to stand and to withstand in the warfare with Satan?
How can we ever hope to become the
recipients of the fulness of God? The very thought is overwhelming. Let
Scripture answer and let us not sin against God through unbelief.
Colossians 2:10 (R.V.). "Ye are made
full in him."
John 1:16. "Of his fulness have all
Are we not beginning to see more
clearly why Paul writes of the unsearchable riches of Christ? At the
same time are we discouraged because we have appropriated so meagerly of
our wealth, and seem to have so little evidence of this plenitude in our
Perhaps there has been the reception
of a measure of that fulness, but this petition is that we "may be
filled unto all the fulness of God." Who could ever measure up to such a
standard as this? Why, then, should we offer this petition?
"Filled unto." What comfort
that word unto gives and what hope it inspires within us! Yet what a
challenge to possess our possessions in Christ and to realize our wealth
to the full! There is no limit placed upon the plenitude that may be
ours except that which we ourselves make. For we shall be filled
according to the measure of our emptiness, our thirst, our
appropriation, our capacity, and our communion with the fountainhead.
Daily we may be "filled unto" -- a
process continuous but never completed while we are here on earth. But
one day the process will be perfected, and we shall be filled full when
we together with all other saints "come unto the measure of the stature
of the fulness of Christ." (The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the
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In Morning and
Evening C H Spurgeon writes...
The love of Christ in its sweetness,
its fulness, its greatness, its faithfulness, passeth all human
comprehension. Where shall language be found which shall describe his
matchless, his unparalleled love towards the children of men? It is so
vast and boundless that, as the swallow but skimmeth the water, and
diveth not into its depths, so all descriptive words but touch the
surface, while depths immeasurable lie beneath. Well might the poet say,
"O love, thou fathomless abyss!"
for this love of Christ is indeed
measureless and fathomless; none can attain unto it. Before we can have
any right idea of the love of Jesus, we must understand his previous
glory in its height of majesty, and his incarnation upon the earth in
all its depths of shame. But who can tell us the majesty of Christ? When
he was enthroned in the highest heavens he was very God of very God; by
him were the heavens made, and all the hosts thereof. His own almighty
arm upheld the spheres; the praises of cherubim and seraphim perpetually
surrounded him; the full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe
unceasingly flowed to the foot of his throne: he reigned supreme above
all his creatures, God over all, blessed for ever. Who can tell his
height of glory then? And who, on the other hand, can tell how low he
descended? To be a man was something, to be a man of sorrows was far
more; to bleed, and die, and suffer, these were much for him who was the
Son of God; but to suffer such unparalleled agony-to endure a death of
shame and desertion by his Father, this is a depth of condescending love
which the most inspired mind must utterly fail to fathom. Herein is
love! and truly it is love that "passeth knowledge. " O let this love
fill our hearts with adoring gratitude, and lead us to practical
manifestations of its power.
Immortal Love, Forever Full
by John G Whittier
Forever flowing free,
Forever shared, forever whole,
A never ebbing sea!
We may not climb the heavenly steeps
To bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
For Him no depths can drown.
But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
A present help is He;
And faith still has its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.
The healing of His seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain;
We touch Him in life’s throng and press,
And we are whole again.
Through Him the first fond prayers are said
Our lips of childhood frame,
The last low whispers of our dead
Are burdened with His Name.
O Lord and Master of us all,
Whate’er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.
The letter fails, the systems fall,
And every symbol wanes;
The Spirit over brooding all,
Eternal Love remains
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G Campbell Morgan wrote the
following thoughts on the phrases "The Love of Christ...the fullness of
God" in Ephesians 3:19...
Here are two great phrases. They
occur in one of the Apostolic prayers for the saints. In that prayer the
ultimate desire is that they should "know the love of Christ," in order
that they "may be filled unto all the fulness of God." The idea, then,
is that the knowledge of "the love of Christ" brings to the soul the
experience of "the fulness of God."
To be "filled unto all the fulness of
God" is to find the ultimate experience of life. Where this is so, there
is no true desire of the soul unsatisfied, no power of the soul
undeveloped or idle. The true meaning of life is discovered, and that
not as an ideal seen but unrealized, but as an actual experience. It is
eternal life; it is perfection; it is satisfaction. How then can it be
attained? By the knowledge. of the love of Christ, for in that there is
the very fulness of God; and so wonderful is it, not only as a vision,
but in its power, that to know it is to be transformed by it into the
likeness of itself. To the finality of this knowledge and experience we
have not yet attained; but if we know anything of the love of Christ, we
know something of the filling of this fulness of God. That is the story
of the beginning, the process, and the consummation of true Christian
The love of Christ captures our
hearts, and the life of God produces rest and quietness. The love of
Christ is progressively interpreted to us by the Spirit, and the fulness
of God brings us more and more into the joy of life. At last we shall
come to full apprehension. Then we shall come to a final perfection in
the final fulness of God. (Morgan, G. C. Life Applications from Every
Chapter of the Bible)
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Our Daily Bread
devotional "Deeper Than The Deep Blue Sea"...
Several hundred miles off the coast
of Guam is the Mariana Trench, the deepest place in the ocean. On
January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Donald Walsh climbed into a
submersible vessel and were lowered into the cold, lonely darkness.
Their descent into the deep, which set the world record, has never been
The depth of the ocean is mind-boggling. The Mariana Trench is nearly 7
miles down. The water pressure at the bottom of the trench is 15,931
pounds per square inch. Yet there is life. Walsh saw flat fish on the
ocean floor, surviving despite the pressure and the darkness.
For most of us, it's hard to fathom just how deep the Mariana Trench is.
But much more difficult to comprehend is the love of God. Paul was
hard-pressed to describe it, but he prayed that his readers would be
able somehow to grasp "the width and length and depth and height—to know
the love of Christ which passes knowledge" (Ephesians 3:18).
The reason we can never reach the depths of God's love is that it is
infinite—beyond measure. If you ever feel alone and unloved, that you've
sunk to the depths of dark despair, think about Ephesians 3:18. God's
love for you is deeper than the Mariana Trench! —Dennis Fisher (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I have a Friend whose faithful love
Is more than all the world to me;
It's higher than the heights above,
And deeper than the boundless sea. —Anon.
You're never beyond the reach of God's love.
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Our Daily Bread
devotional "God's Great Love"...
God's love for us is so deep that we
have a hard time comprehending it. It reaches down to us through the
darkness of this sinful world, even though we are hopelessly
undeserving. The Bible says that before God created our planet, He had
decided to display the depth of His love for us through His Son's death
on the cross (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8).
In my imagination I look back over time and see the Lord raising
mountains to majestic heights, cutting valleys for flowing rivers, and
stretching out vast plains. I envision Him creating the mighty oceans
and beautiful lakes. Then I see Him pause and reflect on the goodness of
His creation. He gazes at that part of the world where His Son will be
born. He knows that Jesus will be rejected and crucified. With a sweep
of His hand He could obliterate the world and spare His Son from the
agony of the cross. But He doesn't.
Because of God's love, the Son came to earth and was slain. On Calvary
He died to pay the penalty for our sins. In John 3:16 we read, "God so
loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever
believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
Oh, how great is God's love for us! —D C Egner (Ibid)
Thinking It Over
What is your response to God's love? Have you
confessed your sin and accepted His forgiveness?
Are you living in grateful obedience to Him?
Eternal life is made possible by
God's eternal love.