Love is that love which the Holy Spirit produces and with which He floods the heart of the yielded saint. This inner spiritual condition of heart enables the saint “to comprehend,” vs. 18, and “to know,” vs. 19, the love of Jesus Christ.
Eph 3:18, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth.”
This sentence begins with HINA for “that,” showing this is the second part, yet third petition of Paul’s prayer.
“May be able” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of the verb EXISCHUO, ἐξισχύω that means, “be able, be strong enough, or be capable.” It comes from the root word for power ISCHUO. Although DUNAMAI is the more common term for “ability,” ISCHUO is more forceful and stronger. With ISCHUO, there is more emphasis on the power one possesses than with DUNAMAI. And ISCHUS means, “having strength in reserve.”
The Aorist tense views the entirety of the action of being able to do something.
The Active voice, the believer produces the action of being more than capable.
And the Subjunctive mood is for volitional potential, maybe you will be able to and maybe you will not. It depends on your volition towards the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP). True positive volition is the consistent intake of Bible Doctrine on a daily basis that gives you the knowledge of the mind of Christ, which is noted in the next word, “comprehend.”
Next, we see that it is God’s desire for us to have strength in reserve so that we can “comprehend,” the full dimensional knowledge of the love of Christ. “Comprehend” is the verb KATALAMBANO, καταλαμβάνω that means, “Take over, seize, obtain, grasp, comprehend, understand, or perceive.” It comes from KATA, “in accordance with or corresponding to,” and LAMBANO, “take, take hold of, grasp, seize, etc.” Here KATALAMBANO is in the Aorist, Middle, Infinitive.
The Aorist tense once again views the entirety of the action of comprehending, seizing Bible Doctrine and holding on to it, with a view towards its intended results.
The Middle voice says that the believer performs the action of seizing and holding on to Bible Doctrine, which has a benefit back to himself; comprehension of the mind of Christ.
The Infinitive is for purpose, as this is one of Paul’s petitions on our behalf and he desires that we are rooted and grounded in AGAPE love, so that we can comprehend, even more so, the dimensional love of Christ for us. Therefore, the “power to understand” refers to the “ability to understand,” which is given to us in grace through GAP.
“With all the saints,” SUN PAS HO HAGIOS, means that this petition and desire is for all believers of the Church age, all those set apart for God and His service, not just those at Ephesus or in the early Church. So the petition is that all believers apprehend the multi-dimensional knowledge of Christ’s Love.
“What is,” is the Interrogative Pronoun TIS in the Neuter that introduces a question dealing with “things.” The list of things this is dealing with is given next.
Here we have four dimensions, “breath, length, height, and depth” that describe the multi-dimensional love of Christ in a spatial and poetic way, plus something else, which we are more than capable of comprehending by means of GAP, cf. Rom 8:35-39. These four dimensions have been variously defined to depict aspects of Christ’s love and God’s great plan for our lives; some even use them to define the temple as typology. Here we will define each word and then review its significance regarding Christ’s love.
“The Breadth,” HO PLATOS, “width, breadth, or expanse.” It is the extent from side to side. It is used a number of times, literally and figuratively, to indicate the great extent of something. It is used here and in Rev 20:9; 21:16, to describe the Gog army and a description of the New Jerusalem. This is the first point in space. We could say this represents our salvation.
“And Length,” KAI MEKOS, “length.” It is used only here and in Rev 21:16, regarding the measurement of the New Jerusalem. In these passages it takes on the meaning of space and is translated “length.” In extra Biblical writings, it was also used to describe length of speeches, greatness or magnitude, and even longitude. But in regard to length of space, in fact, this is the first aspect of describing space, as two points are connected to create a line. So Paul spoke of linear space, the “length,” as he prayed for the believer to know the full magnitude of Christ’s love. We could say this is the connection of our salvation with our spiritual life.
“And Height,” KAI HUPSOS, “height.” (Some Greek translations reverse the order of the last two.) Used in Luke 1:78; 24:49 and Eph 4:8 describing the heights of God and godliness. Then in James 1:9 of high positions, “seated at the right hand of God,” and also in Rev 21:16 when John measured the New Jerusalem, he added a third dimension: “The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.” In the Greek language, this word is also used figuratively to refer to the concept of royalty, dignity, sublimity, or grandeur, which all describe what the Word of God is that teaches us what Christ’s love is, and depicts our status as Royalty in Christ.
As the third aspect of measurement, it creates spatial dimensions. As two points can be connected, (breadth), to create a line segment, and two parallel line segments can be connected, (length), to form a square, now two parallel squares can be connected, (height), to form a cube. These three measurements make up what man comprehends as space. But there is one more aspect of our Lord’s love that goes beyond space.
“And Depth,” KAI BATHOS, “depth.” This is the most used of the four measurement words in Scripture. It is both negatively as in Mat 13:5; Mark 4:5, regarding the seed sown on rocky soil whose roots that penetrate it have no depth and it soon withers away, and positively as in Rom 11:33; 1 Cor 2:10 describing the depths, (deepness and richness), of God, His Word, and decisions.
Rom 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
1 Cor 2:10, “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”
What is fascinating about this is that it is a fourth dimension of the knowledge of Christ’s love. In geometry and mathematics, the first three dimensions describe what is called Euclidean space. It is named after the Ancient Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria. Euclidean space is also generalized to mean higher dimensions. But now we have a fourth element and that element is time. In mathematical physics, Minkowski space or Minkowski space-time is a combination of Euclidean space and time into a four-dimensional manifold, also known as the space-time continuum. The space-time continuum adds time as the fourth dimension to the three planes of space. Minkowski space is closely associated with Einstein’s theory of special relativity, and is the most common mathematical structure on which special relativity is formulated. Below is a representation of the 4D’s of space and time.
- Two points can be connected to create a line segment.
- Two parallel line segments can be connected to form a square.
- Two parallel squares can be connected to form a cube.
- Two parallel cubes can be connected to form a tesseract.
Notice the enhancement of the object in 3D compared to 2D. That is a good visual of the enhanced knowledge we gain through GAP of the Love of Jesus Christ, as we grow from spiritual childhood to spiritual adulthood. But now we have 4D knowledge through GAP at Supergrace. We have the added element of time to space that speaks of the never ending love God has for us that He wants us to know, realize, and live in. With the element of time added, we have the addition of envelopment. The following motion picture gives you an idea of the incredible leap of knowledge we gain in 4D Love.
Unfortunately, on paper you cannot see the motion of this image, as you can on the link provided. But notice the cube within the cube that is connected. In that space of motion, the inner cube comes out and then surrounds the outer cube without losing its space and connection. One envelops the other and the other envelops the first, and it continues over and over again. Now, maybe you can imagine the picture of Christ’s love for you, when you know the love of Christ and have it in your heart where Christ is at home. In other words, His love envelops you and your love envelops Him, over and over again, without end.
Comparing Scriptures like Job 11:5-9; 28:12-28, we see that depth speaks of knowledge, the manifold or multifaceted wisdom that we noted in in Eph 3:10.
Job 11:7, “Can you discover the depths of God? … 8They are … Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?”
In order to know and live in 4D love, you must know and live in the 4D wisdom of God, which describes the spiritual adult believer in the supergrace life.
Paul’s petition here is that we lay hold of the vast expanses of the love of God. He wants us to live in four dimensions. When God gave the land to Abraham, He told him to “walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it,” Gen 13:17. Abraham had to step out by faith and claim his inheritance. But we today have an inheritance in four dimensions: breadth, length, height, and depth, and God’s fourth dimension is time without beginning and without end for His love for us! Therefore, Paul is expressing the strongest sense of the greatness of the love of the Redeemer, and to show, in the most emphatic manner, how-much he wished that we should fully understand it.
As such, this four dimensional knowledge of the “Love of Christ” means that this is a higher type of love than what mere humans can have or even comprehend. It is a Godly love. Paul prayed that the believer would be able to comprehend “what is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth,” which is the overwhelming richness of the gospel and love of Christ. Therefore, Paul’s third petition in Eph 3:18-19a, is that all believers would be able to comprehend spiritually and to know experientially, the infinite and eternal love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for them.
Eph 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. 4Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
Eph 2:4-7, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). 6And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Eph 3:18-19, “That you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Having noted the four dimensions of the knowledge of Christ’s love that the believer is to apprehend, (seize and hold onto), for himself, we see that this also describes four categories of believers.
1. Breadth – This is the one dimensional (1D – Breadth), believer who recognizes Christ’s love in paying for their sins leading to salvation, which the believer apprehends at the moment of his faith in Christ. This is the new born baby believer. Many believers remain at this stage and never grow spiritually as they should.
2. Length – This is the two dimensional, (2D, Breadth and Length), believer who recognizes there is a spiritual life for the believer to live, and the love of Christ has given him His Word and sent His Spirit to live that life. This is the growing believer, (adolescent believer), who apprehends the spiritual life through the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Grace Apparatus for Perception, (GAP).
3. Height – This is the three dimensional, (3D, breadth, length, and height), believer who has grown spiritually and apprehended spiritual adulthood. They know the love of God in their lives as they, “love their neighbor as they love themselves,” Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8; Lev 19:18.
4. Depth – This is the four dimensional, (4D, breadth, length, height, and depth), believer who has grown through the three stages of spiritual adulthood, (Spiritual Self-Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy, and Spiritual Maturity), and is in Evidence Testing as a star witness for the prosecution inside the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. They are living the Supergrace life, and know and live in the sphere of “John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” This does not mean martyrdom, although it can include it, but rather, laying down your life means making God your A #1 priority at all times in life that includes a total commitment to God and people as you serve them in your daily walk, where yourself is not even an issue.
Believers in any given generation are spread throughout the four dimensions of spiritual growth, based on their individual / personal positive or negative volition towards God and His Word; with few reaching 3D or 4D. But in this prayer, it is Paul’s and God’s desire that we all attain the 4D or Tesseract Love of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s and God’s desire is emphasized in vs. 19.
Eph 3:19, “And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
“And” is not the typical KAI here, but is TE an unique enclitic particle. As an enclitic particle of connection, it describes a word that depends on a preceding word, clause, or phrase for its formation. It connects a clause or phrase where a close relationship exists and when one depends upon the other. It is rare in the epistles outside of Romans and Hebrews. Here, it connects Paul’s desire to “know the love of Christ” in this verse, with the four dimensions we just noted in vs. 18. Because of its rare usage, it is also emphatic, so we could say, “even or especially to know the love of Christ,” and with the following construction of the Greek word “to know,” we could actually say, “namely, to know,” as the four dimensions are describing the “love of Christ,” and it is Paul’s desire that we come “to know,” GINOSKO, this love.
GINOSKO means, “know, become aware, perceive, understand, be conscious of, or to comprehend intellectually.” “A distinct characteristic of “to know” in ancient Greek thought was that it accented to a certain extent the idea of “understanding” what is known in contrast to “experiencing” something to acquire knowledge (cf. the verb AISTHANOMAI, “to perceive, understand”; Bultmann, “GINŌSKŌ,” Kittel, 1:690),” (The Complete Biblical Library.) As such, GINOSKO means to see things as they truly are; it excludes opinion or speculation. Therefore, “to know” transpires on the plane of reality, and it means the mind reaches out and apprehends certain things; taking them in. It describes the GAP.
GINOSKO is also used of personal relationships. “To know” someone was to be personally acquainted with them, and expresses trust and friendship. As you know, (pun intended). the Biblical concept of knowing God extends beyond mere intellectual apprehension and moves into the arena of obedience towards His Word. So, to have genuine knowledge, one must respond to God who has graciously made himself known to us.
GINOSKO is used here in the Aorist, Active, and Infinitive.
The Aorist tense, views the entirety of the action “to know” the love of Christ.
The Active voice, the believer is the one who actively attains this knowledge.
And the Infinitive functions grammatically as an “appositional” Infinitive meaning it is defining for us what Paul is talking about when he uses the terms, “breadth, length, height, and “depth,” in vs. 18.
All of this describes the intent of Paul’s prayer; that through learning the Word of God via GAP, we enter into a personal 4D love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, we personally encounter His love through the process of fellowship and are affected by this encounter in the gaining of practical spiritual wisdom, which is the character and nature of Christ, that becomes our character and nature.
Next is the phrase, “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,” which transliterated from the Greek reads, “the surpassing of the knowledge of the love of Christ,” HO HUPERBALLO HO GNOSIS AGAPE HO CHRISTOS.
“Surpassing” is the Present, Active, Participle of the compound verb HUPERBALLO, ὑπερβάλλω that means, “Surpass, excel or exceed.” It comes from HUPER in its comparative use that means “above, more than, or beyond,” (this especially complements the 4th Dimension above), and BALLO that means, “throw, cast, put, lay, or rush.” So HUPERBALLO carries the idea resulting from the compounding of doing or going beyond that which is usual or expected, i.e., “outdoing, surpassing, or excelling.”
It is used only here and in 2 Cor 3:10; 9:14; Eph 1:19; 2:7. In all five passages, the participle is used to describe the overwhelming greatness of some attribute or work of God.
Eph 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.”
Eph 2:7, “In order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
And now we have the “surpassing knowledge of Christ’s love.”
Next, we have the possessive Genitive noun, “knowledge,” which is GNOSIS that means, “knowledge, science, doctrine, or wisdom.”
The “surpassing knowledge” we are to “know” is the Accusative of AGAPE and the Genitive of HO CHRISTOS for, “the love of Christ,” or “Christ’s love.”
No one knows how to love instinctively. Everyone has to learn how to love. No one is a natural lover. True love depends upon the capacity of the soul and you have to learn to love. AGAPE love is that impersonal and unconditional love of God that is expressed through our souls. It is freedom from mental attitude sins because you cannot love and have mental attitude sins in the soul at the same time. If we are ever going to get into the plan of God for our lives, as to fulfilling the reason why we are here, we are going to have to know how to love Him as He loves us.
Paul is simply telling us that the love of Christ, exemplified in His magnanimity to the Gentiles, is too large to be confined by any geometrical measurements. It is wide enough to rescue people from sin’s degradation and even from the grip of Satan himself, Eph 2:1-5; 6:11-12. It is long enough to propel us through the spiritual life while here on earth, Eph 1:4-6, 18; 3:9. It is high enough to raise both Gentiles and Jews to heavenly places in Christ Jesus as we grow to adulthood, Eph 1:13; 2:6; 3:17. It is deep enough to reach the whole world and reach beyond time and space, Eph 1:9-10, 20. The love of Christ is the love He has for the Church as a united body, Eph 5:25, 29, 30, and for those who trust in Him as individuals, Eph 3:17.
Only the Holy Spirit can lead a believer into this vast knowledge and experience of the love of Christ. Since it is infinite, it is beyond human comprehension, but it is not beyond the reach of the positive believer, 1 Cor 2:6-16. What Paul is praying for is a deeper experience between Christ and His people. He yearns for Christ to settle down and feel at home in their hearts and enjoy an ever-deepening fellowship.
Therefore, Paul prayed that believers might be able to comprehend the vast dimensions of Christ’s love, with the result that they might know experientially that love that surpasses human knowledge. To fully comprehend the sacrificial love of Christ is beyond the capability of any human being. But, with the power of the Holy Spirit and GAP, the believer can come to know the spiritual phenomena of Christ’s love, and His continued love for believers. Yet, no matter how much knowledge believers have about Christ, His amazing love surpasses that knowledge, and the more we know of that love, the more we should praise Him for it. It is like exploring a diamond mine. The farther and deeper we go, the more treasures we discover and the more desire we have to acquire all that God desires to provide for us. However, the mere knowledge of His love is not the end; rather, it issues into a final purpose, namely, “that we may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
“That” is HINA once again, the 3rd use in this prayer giving us the 4th petition.
“May be filled up,” is Aorist, Passive, Subjunctive of the verb PLEROO, πληρόω, “Fill, make full, supply fully, or complete.” It has the idea of attaining a standard of measurement or reaching the saturation point or level of containment. It is the idea of totality or fullness. Thus, the word means “to fill something completely” or “to complete a measure.” The fullness or completed measure here is the knowledge of the love of Christ exercised in our lives.
The Subjunctive mood is for potential. Based on the volition of the individual believer, they will either be filled up or not be filled up.
The Passive voice, says that the positive believer receives the filling up of God.
“To all the fullness” is EIS PAS and the noun PLEROMA that means, “that which fills, complement, fulfillment, or that which makes something complete.” The fullness we are to have is “of God,” HO THEOS in the Genitive.
This is a reference to the Super-Grace life and blessings; the sum total of superabundant blessings, which completes the Royal Priesthood. This refers to the perfect happiness, the wealth, the success, the promotion, the prosperity, and all the blessing from God the Father provided for every believer as a part of the Royal Family. The provision was made in the Divine decrees in eternity past, but is only realized by those believers who achieve supergrace status in the Church Age.
This means that Paul’s and God’s desire in this prayer is that the believer might realize the total nature and significance of what has transpired in Christ. Believers have various levels of capacity, which can be increased, and they all can be recipients of those qualities which constitute the “fullness of God.” The concept of Christian maturity comes to the fore here, a principle noted again in Eph 4:13, in a more corporate setting. The “fullness of Christ” is that completeness, that maturity of character, which is already realized in Christ both as an individual and as the Body of which believers are a part of.
Knowledge of His love is both intellectual and personal, cf. Phil 2:1-2, both individual and corporate. The goal of this knowledge is fullness; being all that God wants us to be, cf. Eph 4:13.
Phil 2:1-2, “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Eph 4:13, “Until 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 fulness of Christ.”
Therefore, this “surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ that fills us up to all the fullness of God” is where we get the phrase, “Life Beyond GNOSIS.” You have to get past GNOSIS before you understand how much God loves you and before you can love God. You have to get beyond the GNOSIS stage.
In vs. 19 we noted the phrase “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”
This surpassing knowledge, as we saw in the Greek above, is HUPERBALLO GNOSIS. It tells us that the love of Christ is beyond what mere human knowledge of love can comprehend, BDAG defines HUPERBALLO as, “to attain a degree that extraordinarily exceeds a point on a scale of extent, to go beyond, surpass, or outdo.” To go beyond the extraordinary love of Christ, it takes a supernatural influence, (called the Holy Spirit, your human spirit, and the Word of God working in conjunction), to come to know this type of love. It tells us that we need grow spiritually to a certain level, in order to know this type of love. Therefore, the believer is exhorted to grow to a spiritual stage of adulthood called the “Life Beyond GNOSIS,” to know and walk in the love of Christ. Then, when we get to vs. 20, we will see the next stage of spiritual growth called the “Life Beyond Dreams,” which is noted in the phrase, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.”