Eph 3:17-19 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
Paul continues his prayer for the church. He expresses a desire that God’s anointed one (Christ) may be permanently housed (dwell) in the center of our being (hearts). The channel by which this takes place (by) is reliance upon Christ for salvation (faith – see Strong’s). This is not an instruction on how to “get saved.” Remember that Paul is addressing those who are already saints (Eph 1:1), and he has already referred to them as the church (Eph 3:10). Paul is praying for us to have a deeper understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of God.
When Jesus is permanently housed in our hearts, we are rooted and grounded. In other words, a foundation (grounded) is laid for us that provides stability (rooted). The foundation for our stability in Christ Jesus is love in its highest form; as Jesus loves us, so we should love each other (Joh 13:34, 15:9, 15:12). Our reliance on Him for salvation, coupled with our sure foundation of Jesus’ love, makes us able.
The Greek word rendered as able means “to have full strength, that is, be entirely competent (see Strong’s). Through the grace of Jesus Christ, we are entirely competent to eagerly grasp (comprehend) the width, length, depth, and height of the love of Christ. This is not like measuring the dimensions of a box.
The width of His love covers all that are His. The length reaches from creation to the end of the world, covering His people in every age. The depth refers not to distance, but to the mystery of His love. I may never understand why He loves us, but I have the full assurance of the Holy Spirit that it is true regardless of how unfathomable that may be! Finally, height as used here does not refer to a measurable distance; instead it refers to an exalted position. While I may not be able to put it in terms of measurement, by His grace I am entirely competent to know that His love passes knowledge.
Strong’s indicates that the phrase “to know” carries the idea of “to know absolutely.” I am absolutely certain that I do not deserve His love. At the same time, I am absolutely certain that He has shown me His love over and over throughout my life. This is not a boast on my part, nor should it be something that anyone else would boast in of themselves. He loved us when there was nothing lovable about us. Our knowing the love of Jesus exceeds (passeth) what can be determined by man’s ability to measure (knowledge, science).
Paul is praying that we might have absolute knowledge of something that cannot be determined quantitatively. We are entirely capable of knowing His love only by the power of the Holy Spirit. It requires unshakable reliance on Christ alone for our salvation. We know the love of Christ by the revelation given us by God through the Holy Comforter. In this, we are filled (furnished, satisfied) with Him dwelling in us. Fulness is explained by Strong’s as that “which is put in to fill up” (the love of Jesus Christ), and the “piece that filled up” (us); this is the fulness of God!
Christ satisfies the soul,
When He has full control;
On Him our burdens roll,
May the sure knowledge of the love of Jesus and our reliance on Him, which is put in us by the grace of God, satisfy our hearts!