Paul finished his masterful dissertation on the church of the Christ, and he began to close the “doctrinal” section of his letter to the Ephesians before beginning the “practical section.” In this transition, he penned a prayer on behalf of his brethren, in which he made at least five distinct requests. The fourth desire in his list is that God “would grant” them to “be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” (Eph. 3:14-19). Ponder, for a moment, the love of Christ. There is no greater subject on which to meditate! How much can you stretch your mind around it?
The width of Christ’s love. Perhaps this is to draw our minds to the truth that the love of Christ embraces all people, regardless of race, culture, social status, economic status, education, etc. When Jesus died on the cross, He literally stretched His arms as wide as they would go to demonstrate the all-encompassing love He has for mankind (Rom. 5:8; Heb. 2:9; 2 Cor. 5:15). No one is excluded!
The length of Christ’s love. Perhaps this is to draw our minds to the truth that the love of Christ “never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8). From eternity past (before the foundation of the world, 1 Pet. 1:19-21) into eternity future (if we can use such terminology), His love for you always has been, currently is and always will be! How far has He gone to prove His love?
The depth of Christ’s love. Perhaps this is to draw our minds to the truth that the love of Christ compelled Him to leave the splendor and glory of heaven (John 17:5) to come down into the depths of the earth (Phil. 2:5-8), in order to reach down and save the vilest of sinners (1 Tim. 1:12-15; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Even though we were “dead in trespasses and sins,” “His great love with which He loved us” (Eph. 2:1-4) drove Him to incomprehensible depths!
The height of Christ’s love. Perhaps this is to draw our minds to the truth that the love of Christ raises one up from the waters of baptism and honors him to wear the name that is above every name—the name of Christ (1 Pet. 4:16), and makes him to “sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6)—i.e., the church (Eph. 3:21). Even more, He has “reserved” (1 Pet. 1:3-5) an eternal home “in heaven above” (cf. Deut. 4:39).
After talking about “the width and length and depth and height” of the love of Christ, Paul then says that it “surpasses knowledge” (i.e., it extraordinarily exceeds any scale on which we could place it)! That is why I wrote with each expression, “Perhaps this is to draw our minds.” The reality is that we will never be able to measure and fully comprehend the immensity of the love of Christ! What a thought!