Comprehending Christ's Love For Us
Last week we looked at how we, being members of God’s family, are strengthened by the Holy Spirit to do the will of God and hold firmly to our faith in Christ, and that this God-given strength is not for our own gain, but for God’s glory.
Building on this, the Apostle Paul continues further exhorting and encouraging the Church in the next few verses:
…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19
The first thing to note, so we have proper context of this passage, is the qualification Paul uses before he gets to the meat of his statement: “you, being rooted and grounded in love”. The Greek words used here imply a past tense state. We have been, through Christ’s work, firmly rooted and grounded (or established) in love. This was accomplished on the cross, but it is something we must, as Jesus said in John 15:1-5, abide in; an active faith is always growing in love for both Christ and His saints (Col 3:14, 1 John 4:7). In this we bear fruit for the Kingdom and glorify God. The caution here is that if we are not rooted in love for Christ and His church, not abiding in Him, the True Vine, the promises that follow won’t be obtained (John 15:6).
Once rooted in love, we’re told that through the Holy Spirit’s power working in us we may then be able to comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love. One might ask how we, as mere humans, could possibly comprehend the love Christ has for us. Just a few verses back in Eph 3:8 Paul tells us that Christ’s riches are unfathomable, so what gives?
It may be easier to think of Paul saying, “Christ’s love is so big that it’s essentially endless, immeasurable, and never-ending.” In fact, it surpasses knowledge, yet our understanding of it will continue to deepen as our faith grows. And in many ways, the more we comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth of our own depravity and sinful nature, the more we can truly comprehend His love for us. Just as our sinfulness in an unregenerate state is unimaginably vast, so is His love, grace, and mercy in choosing to save us from it.
As we grow in this understanding of Christ’s love for us, we are filled up to all the fullness of God. The Greek work translated ‘filled up’ is plēroō and can also be rendered accomplished or completed. For a better understanding of this, we can look back at Eph 1:23 to see how Christ, as head of church, and we as His body, represent the Lord’s fullness and completed work on the cross: “the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
In this incredibly encouraging passage, we not only are reminded of God’s profound love for us, but we also see the immense privilege and responsibility we have as His saints (literally holy ones) to live our lives firmly attached to Him and remain grounded in love for the Lord and fellow believers. As our faith and love matures, so does our recognition of what manner of unrighteousness we were saved from, and inversely the infinite manner which Christ loves us. In this, we reflect the completed work of Christ in saving us, bringing Him the glory and praise He rightly deserves.