“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Today we are handed a fragment of a prayer that begins in verse fourteen and we learn the purpose of it from verse thirteen:
So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:13-19)
The gist then appears to be:
- Since Paul is concerned his suffering for the faith may cause the church he serves to be discouraged, he is bowing his knee and summarizing a prayer, which is included in cannon of the word of God to encourage us when we are disheartened due to suffering (our own or others.)
- He reminds us we are all descended from Adam (whose Jewish surname credits his maker as his father, which is how Christ is the Second Adam) while implying the poor folks in Hell are disowned by mentioning both everyone still living on this earth and the saints already in Heaven.
- He asks God to pour out of his abundance the power of his holy spirit to strengthen us in who we really are on the inside
- The goal of this requested out pouring is to prepare our hearts for Christ to live there more fully by increasing our faith.
- Love is compared to a good, firm soil to hold the roots of our faith.
- He prays God would enable us to grasp the multiple dimensions (complexity?) of Christ’s love that goes beyond our awareness.
- Being filled with the fullness of God, probably another reference to abiding in Christ and our hearts as living temples. More of Jesus in us.
In the presence of suffering, then Paul’s answer is to remind us God is our Father, pray for more of the Holy Spirit’s power in us, increasing our faith, and strengthening our connection to Jesus so our hearts reflect him more fully, and to these ends to grasp how much he loves us.
Thank you, God, for being our loving Father, thank you for the power of the holy spirit at work in us. Grant us the grace to, like Paul and like Christ Himself, be the sort of people who, in the midst of our own suffering, concern ourselves with how it would effect others and pray for them. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.