Ephesians 3:16-19 Part Four
The name pretty much says it all. If you want to go back to part one, you can do so here. That being said, I’m going to plow ahead with part four.
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may 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; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. — Ephesians 3:16-19
Picking up where we last left off, we come to this intriguing little phrase about being rooted and grounded in love. To many, that would seem almost nonsensical because love is a feeling, right? wrong. Many a pastor have delved into 1 Corinthians 13 at a wedding to explain what the outworkings of love are. As valid as that is, there is something very important that gets missed; namely, that God IS love according to 1 John 4. So if we follow the logical progression from beginning to end, we see that we need an active might in the inner man so we may develope the very character of Christ in our beings so we can derive our strength from the attributes and knowledge of God (being rooted and grounded in love) so that we can actually know love (to know the love of Christ). But since “God” and “love” are interchangeable in this instance, it takes God on the inside to allow us to understand God at all. Similarly, it takes a deep rooted love in the inner man to comprehend what love is. What that tells us is that the Knowledge of God requires an experiential revelation on the inside… not mere academic study. As good as academic study is (hey, I’m in Bible School), you can read and study all day and still be subject to deception and religious infidelity. On the other hand, it is the people who actually KNOW God who make the best martyrs.
So check this out… The point of being rooted and grounded in love is to spend your life in the pursuit of the Knowledge of God. To be said another way, might in the inner-man comes through the self-revelation of God, but we need to seek that revelation with what little might we do have. When we seek that revelation, God grants that revelation to us, thus resulting in the active might that Paul desires the Church to have. Heavy stuff.
Now we come to my favorite part of the prayer… the end. Why is it my favorite? Because it deals with the end.
“That you may comprehend with ALL the saints…” So here is the real crux of the prayer. In the introduction verses (v 14-15) Paul mentions that it is through Christ that the WHOLE family is named, both on earth and in heaven. So this prayer is more than just a general asking for might and sticking power in the spirit. Rather, this prayer is intimately tied to the end of the age where the whole family will be together before the throne of God and heaven and Earth have finally united at the end of all things. It is only in the context of the whole family of heaven and earth that we will truly understand the depth of the love of God, both in the sacrifice of his Son and His love for all of creation. It is only in the corporate expression of unencumbered love that the church will have in the next millenium that we will understand the fullness of the love of God. I’ve said a number of times to people that know me that when we see who all “made it”, I’m going to be just as surprised by who IS there as I will be by who ISN’T there on that day. When the entire family is united, it will be like stepping back and beholding a mural sized tapestry that tells the story of the love, patience, mercy, and forebearance of God. After all, that is our blessed hope.
It is in this context that the church is filled with the fullness of God. We have resurrection power living in our frame right now (1Cor 15), but it should be obvious to anyone who has tried to do something stupid recently that we have not done away with pain or sorrow yet. This leads me to say that the church has not yet been filled with all the fullness of God. The church, as a whole, does not have power over death. Christ does, but the Church does not yet. The church has not banished sin from among its ranks. Jesus is the perfection of holiness, but the church is not. This prayer, as relevant and important as it was for the first century church, is extremely forward looking. This prayer is the Apostle asking that (1) God would give the church might to suffer, (2) the Church would pursue the knowledge of God until the return of Christ, and (3) that the church on earth would be connected with the saints in heaven that we may finally understand the love of God in all of its dimensions.
All that being said, here is my paraphrase of Ephesians 3:16-19:
That the sovereign God would cause you to have grace to suffer well and remain unshakeable in your faith for the glory of His Son. That, as you pursue the knowledge of God, He would cause the very character and nature of Christ to come to fruition in your life, that in the Day of the Lord you would stand with the faithful who have gone before and worship the God who gave you life in spirit and in truth.
Thanks for sticking around for this study, I hope you appreciated the effort. I know that I and my prayer room team will never look at this prayer the same way again.
PS: This series on Ephesians 3:16-19 is dedicated to the members of my prayer room team this last semester: Aaron Perry, Matthew Ter Wee, Matt Dettman, Kendall Beachey, Han Man Kim, Carmen Merrell, Brian Shaklee, and Davisha Flowers. You were all awesome and without you this study wouldn’t have happened. Thanks guys!