May be able to comprehend with all saints - Ἱνα εξισχυσητε καταλαβεσθαι . These words are so exceedingly nervous and full of meaning, that it is almost impossible to translate them. The first word, εξισχυσητε , from εξ, intensive, and ισχυω, to be strong, signifies that they might be thoroughly able, by having been strengthened with might, by God's power. The second word καταλαβεσθαι, from κατα, intensive, and λαμβανω , to take, catch, or seize on, may be translated, that ye may fully catch, take in, and comprehend this wonderful mystery of God. The mind must be rendered apt, and the soul invigorated, to take in and comprehend these mysteries.
What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height - Here the apostle still keeps up the metaphor, comparing the Church of God to a building; and as, in order to rear a proper building, formed on scientific principles, a ground plan and specification must be previously made, according to which the building is to be constructed, the apostle refers to this; for this must be thoroughly understood, without which the building could not be formed. They were to be builded up a heavenly house, a habitation of God through the Spirit; and this must have its latitude or breadth, its longitude or length, its altitude or height, and its profundity or depth.
It is supposed by some that the apostle is here alluding to the famous temple of Diana at Ephesus, which, as I have already had occasion to remark, was reputed one of the wonders of the world, being in length 425 feet, in breadth 220; it was supported by 127 pillars, each 60 feet high; was builded at the expense of all Asia; and was 220 years in being completed. I cannot, however, allow of this allusion while the apostle had a nobler model at hand, and one every way more worthy of being brought into the comparison. The temple at Jerusalem was that alone which he had in view; that alone could be fitly compared here; for that was built to be a habitation of God; that was his house, and that the place of his rest: so the Christian temple, and the believing heart, are to be the constant, the endless residence of God; and how august must that edifice be in which the eternal Trinity dwells!
But what can the apostle mean by the breadth, length, depth, and height, of the love of God? Imagination can scarcely frame any satisfactory answer to this question. It takes in the eternity of God. God is Love; and in that, an infinity of breadth, length, depth, and height, is included; or rather all breadth, length, depth, and height, are lost in this immensity. It comprehends all that is above, all that is below, all that is past, and all that is to come. In reference to human beings, the love of God, in its Breadth, is a girdle that encompasses the globe; its Length reaches from the eternal purpose of the mission of Christ, to the eternity of blessedness which is to be spent in his ineffable glories; its Depth reaches to the lowest fallen of the sons of Adam, and to the deepest depravity of the human heart; and its Height to the infinite dignities of the throne of Christ. He that overcometh will I give to sit dawn with me upon my throne, as I have overcome and sat down with the Father upon his throne. Thus we see that the Father, the Son, and all true believers in him, are to be seated on the same throne! This is the height of the love of God, and the height to which that love raises the souls that believe in Christ Jesus!
May be able to comprehend with all saints - That all others with you may be able to understand this. It was his desire that others, as well as they, might appreciate the wonders of redemption.
What is the breadth, and length, - It has been doubted to what this refers. Locke says it refers to the mystery of calling the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Chandler supposes there is an allusion in all this to the temple at Ephesus. It was one of the wonders of the world - exciting admiration by its length, and height, and dimensions in every way, as well as by its extraordinary riches and splendor. In allusion to this, the object of so much admiration and pride to the Ephesians, he supposes that Paul desires that they should become fully acquainted with the extent and beauty of the spiritual temple. But I do not see that there is clear evidence that there is allusion here to the temple at Ephesus. It seems rather to be the language of a heart that was full of the subject, and impressed with its greatness; and the words are employed to denote the “dimensions” of that love, and are similar to what would be meant if he had said, “that you may know how “large,” or how “great” is that love.” The apostle evidently meant to express 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 they should fully understand it. On the phrase “depth and height,” compare notes on Romans 8:39.
The great and glorious work committed to us in acting a part in the plan of salvation is wonderfully high and exalted. We cannot weigh its merits. We are to walk by faith; and as we strive to appreciate the possibilities, and realize the immensity of the plan of salvation, it is our privilege to pray with the apostle Paul that we 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” (Ephesians 3:18). Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. Let the mind dwell upon the beauties of His character until by beholding you become changed into the same image. A life of prayer and faith will lead us to speak of His praise and tell of His power.... HP 248.2Read in context »
The significance of the Jewish economy is not yet fully comprehended. Truths vast and profound are shadowed forth in its rites and symbols. The gospel is the key that unlocks its mysteries. Through a knowledge of the plan of redemption, its truths are opened to the understanding. Far more than we do, it is our privilege to understand these wonderful themes. We are to comprehend the deep things of God. Angels desire to look into the truths that are revealed to the people who with contrite hearts are searching the word of God, and praying for greater lengths and breadths and depths and heights of the knowledge which He alone can give. COL 133.1
As we near the close of this world's history, the prophecies relating to the last days especially demand our study. The last book of the New Testament scriptures is full of truth that we need to understand. Satan has blinded the minds of many, so that they have been glad of any excuse for not making the Revelation their study. But Christ through His servant John has here declared what shall be in the last days, and He says, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” Revelation 1:3. COL 133.2
“This is life eternal,” Christ said, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. Why is it that we do not realize the value of this knowledge? Why are not these glorious truths glowing in our hearts, trembling upon our lips, and pervading our whole being? COL 133.3Read in context »
The sinner so recently dead in trespasses and sins is quickened by faith in Christ. He sees by faith that Jesus is his Saviour, and alive forevermore, able to save unto “the uttermost [all] that come unto God by Him.” In the atonement made for him the believer sees such breadth and length and height and depth of efficiency—sees such completeness of salvation, purchased at such infinite cost, that his soul is filled with praise and thanksgiving. He sees as in a glass the glory of the Lord and is changed into the same image as by the Spirit of the Lord. He sees the robe of Christ's righteousness, woven in the loom of heaven, wrought by His obedience, and imputed to the repenting soul through faith in His name. FW 106.2Read in context »
O what an assurance is this, that the love of God may abide in the hearts of all who believe in Him! O what salvation is provided; for He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. In wonder we exclaim, How can these things be? But Jesus will be satisfied with nothing less than this. Those who are partakers of His sufferings here, of His humiliation, enduring for His name's sake, are to have the love of God bestowed upon them as it was upon the Son. One who knows, has said, “The Father himself loveth you.” One who has had an experimental knowledge of the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of that love, has declared unto us this amazing fact. This love is ours through faith in the Son of God, therefore a connection with Christ means everything to us. We are to be one with Him as He is one with the Father, and then we are beloved by the infinite God as members of the body of Christ, as branches of the living Vine. We are to be attached to the parent stock, and to receive nourishment from the Vine. Christ is our glorified Head, and the divine love flowing from the heart of God, rests in Christ, and is communicated to those who have been united to Him. This divine love entering the soul inspires it with gratitude, frees it from its spiritual feebleness, from pride, vanity, and selfishness, and from all that would deform the Christian character. FE 178.1Read in context »