For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

(Eph 3:14–19)

A few observations…

  • This is a love that “surpasses knowledge.” Although love is not devoid of knowledge, it will not be limited by it. Naturally, understanding Christ’s love includes believing the facts of the cross, resurrection, etc., but it moves way beyond mere creedal confessions and becomes profoundly personal (Gal. 2:20). Read Rev. 2:1-5 and note the net effect of a mere creedal Christianity. We need the power of God to show us the love of God in Christ. And, we must pray for it. Otherwise, we risk a fallen faith just as the Ephesians had fallen.
  • This appreciation of Christ’s love is not done privately, but is to be enjoyed and expressed “together with all the saints.” Just as Paul prays for the Ephesians, so we should pray for one another to experience the power of Christ’s love and look for tangible evidence of it in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
  • Why does Paul think it so important to grasp the limitless dimensions of Christ’s love? “That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Essentially, that you may be mature in your faith; that you may be all that God intends for you to be. This is God’s goal for his people both corporately and personally (see Eph. 4:12-13).


  1. I think many of our translations throw us a curve here by having Paul say he wants us to “grasp” something that “surpasses knowledge.” The NLT says that we may “experience the love of Christ” which I think is better. Most other translations have “grasp,” “comprehend,” “understand” or the like all of which are fairly cognitive in their meaning.

  2. Ah…keen eye, Louis, and this is an important term in the thrust of Paul’s passage.
    The term for “grasp” (NIV 2011) is “καταλαβέσθαι” and takes on various nuanced meanings which speak to your point. Only one of the meanings/usages suggests a cognitive act. Of course we cannot experience what we do not comprehend (all due respect to Christian mystics), but I’m with you; Paul wanted us to “seize” the fulness of Christ’s love.

    Louw and Nida show:

    (aor κατέλαβον, pf κατείληφα, pf pass κατείλημμαι, aor pass κατελήμφθην)
    a acquire
    b attack
    c seize
    d overpower
    e understand

    Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Vol. 2: Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition.) (133–134). New York: United Bible Societies.

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