Ephesians 3:17-21 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted
and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth,
and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is
able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power
that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all
ages, world without end. Amen.
Please consider what the Word of God is saying. Do not assume that you do not need help in this area of your life. It is especially in times when we think we do not need it at all, that we need it the most. Consider all the times Scripture says something like, I bring you to remembrance or remember. Paul is making the point that we are to be grounded in the love of God. This is a love we do not come by naturally but by God.
Paul is praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in
their thinking. He is praying that their thinking would fall in line with the Word of God. He
is teaching that the Jew and Gentile are equal before God as the one new man. There
was to be no more Jew, no more Gentile, just children of God. This is critical because if
their thinking does not line up with this, they could fraction into a Jewish Church and a
Gentile Church. Paul was teaching it was most important for them to think correctly.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”
This goes hand-in-hand with what Paul said in verse 16, “To be strengthened with might
by his Spirit in the inner man.” This is one action. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts
by faith” is an explanation of how it is that God will strengthen you in the inner man!
When Paul says “inner man” here he is talking about the mind, the thinking process.
Paul’s phrase, “the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16) is synonymous with the heart
(Ephesians 3:17). And the heart is another reference to the thinking. Paul is praying
that the Ephesians would be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in their thinking.
“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love”
Paul prays that they would “be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner
man” so the result would be that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” in order for
that to transpire you must be rooted and grounded His love.
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and
grounded in love,
Illustration: Try holding your breath. You can only hold it for a certain length of time.
Eventually you take a breath or pass out and then take a breath. That is just natural.
Fight as much as you will, this will be the outcome of your effort. When you became a
child of God the most natural thing in the world was this, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart, it should permeate you, it should exude from you, it should touch
everybody around you. It should be a way of life, but some people seem to be holding
I used breathing as an illustration but know this, loving others is not as easy for us as
breathing. If loving others is so natural and easy, why are there so many exhortations in
Scripture to love one another? If it is like breathing, we should not need to be told to do
it at all. It should just be automatic for believers.
“Rooted” means: “to cause to take root, to become firmly rooted or fixed.” It suggests
the thought of something that took place in the past, but whose effects persist in the
present, because of their relationship with Jesus.
“Grounded” means: “to lay a basis for, to build upon a foundation, to build, to be
founded, to be grounded.” He will be your foundation, and the foundation of your life will
be His love. Like buildings, our lives are to be built deep into the foundation of God’s
To be rooted in something means that you’re getting your nourishment from it, your life;
from the water, and from the nutrients and minerals in the ground. You are absorbing all
the life of the love of God. That is what is making you live! That is what is making you
alive, you are drawing upon the love that is in Christ Jesus. Rooted pictures a sturdy,
growing tree that sinks down roots that enable it to withstand drought and the fierce
storms of life. To be grounded in love pictures a solid building with a foundation that
goes down to the bedrock. It can withstand a flood or an earthquake, because it is built
on the rock.
We cannot handle life unless we have a solid foundation, unless we are rooted and
grounded in love. Many times, we question God’s love for us due to our situation. Our
emotions cause us to feel like God has forsaken us. But Scripture teaches that God’s
love is just as real in times of adversity as it is in times of blessings. God’s love to us is
Consider Calvary as evidence of God’s love for us:
1 John 4:9-10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent
his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love,
not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for
The living God showed His love by meeting our greatest need and redeemed from us
from an eternal separation from Him.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us.
Please notice our condition when God demonstrated His love for us, “while we were yet
sinners.” God loved us when we hated Him. He reached out in love and met our
greatest need while we were His enemies.
Ephesians 2:1-6 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the
prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of
wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he
loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
This was our condition; we were dead in sin. We had an appointment with God’s wrath.
We have all sinned against a holy, righteous God. We have rebelled against His
commands and defied His moral law. Because of this, we all deserve His wrath. We do
not deserve God’s love or mercy.
Any time that we are tempted to question God’s love for us, we need to look to Calvary.
If God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us when we were His enemies,
surely, He loves us enough to care for us now that we are His children. In the midst of
the worst adversity, I can be assured of God’s love for me because of Calvary.
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be
“God is for us” This is a concise summary of the Gospel. God is on our side. Think
about it! Meditate upon it! The immutable God, has loved us from eternity past has
made provision for your salvation.
Romans 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall
he not with him also freely give us all things?
“But delivered him up for us all” The word “delivered” means: “to turn over to
judgement.” Who delivered up God to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not
the Jews, for envy; but the Father, for LOVE.
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us
accepted in the beloved.
God’s unfailing love for us is a fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true
whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our
faith create it. But the experience of that love, and the comfort it is intended to bring, is
dependent upon our believing the truth about God’s love as it is revealed to us in the
Scriptures. Doubts about God’s love will deprive us of the comfort of His love.
Ephesians 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and
length, and depth, and height;
“May be able to comprehend” Unless they were “rooted and grounded in love,”
“because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” (Romans 5:5.) it would be
impossible for them to comprehend the exceeding riches of the love of Christ.
“May be able,” It means “to seize, or to grasp for your own.” Paul is praying that we may
have the power to lay hold of, or comprehend Christ’s love for us. This is not something
we can accomplish apart from God’s divine power.
Every child of God knows the love of Christ in some way, but we do not all know it to the
same extent. Some are babes in Christ, who, like all babies, are quite self-centered. They assume that Christ loves them because they are so loveable! But as you grow in
Christ, you begin to see how wretchedly sinful your heart was and, apart from God’s
preserving grace, still is. And yet, wonder of wonders, He still loves you! You grow
deeper in Christ’s love as you realize that He loves you in spite of all your failures and
sins. Comprehending Christ’s love requires God’s supernatural power, because it is not
“With all saints,” This is a reference to all believers. It references all those who are set
apart from the world unto God. Paul wants all believers to understand the love of God.
“What is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” We are presented with four
dimensions: “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”
These are the dimensions of God’s love for us. Verse 17 ends with love and verse 19
starts with love, and these four dimensions are talking about God’s love for His people.
What is the breadth of His love?
Chapter 2 verses 11 and following tell us that His love is broad enough to take the
Gentiles, who were called uncircumcision, and to bring them together with those who
were far off (verse 13) and make them near by the blood of Christ. To take Jew and
Gentile and make them one (verse 14) and break down the middle wall of partition and
abolish the enmity.
What is the length of His love?
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Now look at chapter 2:
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his
grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
The length is from eternity in the past till eternity. Christ’s love extends from eternity to
eternity. It is an eternal love that will not let us go! 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Charity
never faileth”; that’s its length, it’s eternal. God tells us, “I have loved thee with an
everlasting love,” Jeremiah 31:3.
What is the depth of God’s love?
How deep is His love? The depth of His love caused Him to leave the glory of heaven
and His exalted position there and come to this earth to be born as a baby. It moved
Him to go to the extreme suffering of the cross, where “For he hath made him to be sin
for us, who knew no sin:” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
His love is deep enough to reach us when we were dead in trespasses and sin. As
Charles Wesley wrote, “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die
for me?” His love is truly amazing!
What is the height of God’s love?
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath
blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
His love lifts us up to our exalted position of being seated with Him in the heavenly
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly
places in Christ Jesus:
You cannot know the love of Christ or grasp these four dimensions without having first
been strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the inner man and having Christ dwell in your
heart through faith:
Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye
might be filled with all the fulness of God.
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” This is Christ’s love to us.
The word “know” in this verse expresses experiential knowledge. Paul was praying that
they would experience the love of God that surpasses knowledge.
How can we know a love that surpasses knowledge? There is so much more to know
about the infinite love of Christ. However, this does not mean that we cannot know
anything about it, or that we can know only a little about it. In fact, we are to grab hold of
the breadth and length and depth and height of the love of Christ. We can understand it.
“That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Paul asks that we would “be filled.”
We cannot fill ourselves with the fullness of God. It only comes from Him. Note, it comes
from Him as we are filled with His Word.
The word “filled” has the idea of being “controlled.” For example, in the Gospels it says,
he was filled with anger, he was filled with rage, he was filled with wrath, filled with
malice. It means that one attitude dominated or controlled them. Muse on this thought.
Paul says later in this Epistle that believers are to, “Be filled with the Spirit,” meaning
that we are to be controlled by Him. So, the question is how are we controlled by the
Spirit? We appropriate the controlling grace of the Spirit through the means of letting the
Word of Christ richly dwell within us. I think the same is true with the fulness of God.
When we are controlled by the Word, we are controlled by the Spirit, and thereby
controlled by the fulness of God.
McKee Road Baptist, we need more than a casual acquaintance with the Bible. God’s
Word is to dwell in us abundantly. It is to saturate us. It must become part of our very
being. It must transform the way we think and act. This can only happen as we read it,
memorize it, and meditate on it to the point that it controls us.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that
we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
“Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”
Paul again alludes to God’s power. To be able one must have power.
In other words, we can have confidence that God will grant this request to grasp and to
know all the dimensions of His love; in fact, He will do more than what we can ask or
Jeremiah 32:17 Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy
great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:
Consider this: This all-powerful Creator loves us:
“Exceeding Abundantly.” Simply said it is “above or beyond, above or beyond what we
can ask or think.” God is unlimited in power.
“According to the power that worketh in us.” (Consider, Ephesians 1:19-20.) In other
words, there is an extraordinary power available to believers, a power that can
accomplish far more than we ordinarily think or imagine. It comes by the Spirit. It is
provided by the riches of God’s glory.
Paul put it this way in Philippians:
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Can we do all things through Christ? Consider the Scripture verses that precede verse
Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I
know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to
be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
What Paul is saying here is that whatever circumstance he finds himself in, he can
handle it through God’s enabling power. This spiritual truth applies to all who live in
dependence upon Christ:
Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages,
world without end. Amen.
“Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus.” It is fitting to say that glory be to God
in the church and in Christ Jesus, because it is through them that men and angels will
see God and will glorify Him.
God saves people who were formerly dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), seats them
with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), and builds them into His Holy
Temple (Ephesians 2:21), He is glorified.
“Throughout all ages, world without end.” This is a mixture of time and eternity. The idea
is that God is to be glorified forever and ever, beginning in this age and continuing into
“Amen.” Here, we all are invited to ascribe glory to God by saying along with Paul, “Amen!”
Oh, how we fail to realize Christ’s love for us. This is one reason why it is
so important to mediate upon his love for us. We need to muse upon it. The times we
think that God has forgotten us, the times that we do not believe that he loves us,
should be a reminder that we are not thinking on his love for us.
Consider His love for you tonight!