14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
“For this reason” (v. 14) is a repetition of 3:1, following the unity of the Jews and Gentiles, written up to 2:22, into the family of God. The Apostle Paul prays to God the Father (verse 15). This is the same as Lord’s Prayer. When we pray, we also begin by calling out to God, our Heavenly Father.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church in 3:16-21 is also our prayer. The first is a prayer to strengthen the “inner man” (verse 16). It is a prayer for the Holy Spirit to strengthen us, our inner man.
In Ⅱ Corinthians 4:16 says: Though our outer man is withering, our inner man is being renewed daily. The inner person , the heart or soul, part of the spiritual side compared to the outer person. The outer man in Corinthians refers to our physical body. When a man gets old, his body will decline. The outsider becomes weaker. It is inevitable.
I think there has been a lot of interest in anti-aging in recent years. We are resisting aging. It may work to some extent, but it has its limits. We cannot escape the reality that the outer person, the physical body, is weakening. Our “inner man”, on the other hand, can be renewed daily, called sanctification. We will be sanctified. Every day we are transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
So the prayer to strengthen the inner man is, in other words, “Strengthen the spirit, strengthen the faith, sanctify daily, transform into the likeness of Jesus Christ.” I think it can be said to be a prayer of “please.” How is that possible? By the Holy Spirit. We can’t do it on our own. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives.
Something similar is said in verse 17, using a different expression. It is a prayer that Christ may live in me. By believing in Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus lives inside of us, but it is not a temporary relationship, not an occasional visit, but a prayer that he will always live inside of my heart. .
The Christian life is rooted and grounded in the love of God (v. 17). The love of God, the love of Jesus Christ, is beyond human comprehension (v. 19). The apostle Paul asked the Ephesian Christians to understand the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s love . It is also a wish for us (verse 18).
Let’s take a look at the breadth, length, height, and depth of Christ’s love.
1. breadth of love
Some people have said, “Universal breadth,” I think that breadth shows the infinite capacity of God.
This breadth is the love of Christ that extends to all mankind. God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). The way to be saved was opened not only to Jews but also to Gentiles (even Japanese). And the way of salvation was opened to us too. Weu can see God’s love here.
On the cross, Jesus prayed, “Forgive their sins.” Anyone can be saved if they look to Jesus Christ. No one is not invited by God. In 2023, God wants as many people as possible to believe in His Son Jesus Christ and receive salvation & eternal life. Let’s intercede and pray for our family, relatives and friends to be saved.
These four dimensions of breadth, length, height, and depth are, of course, Christ’s love, but if applied to us, they can also be said to be the four dimensions of our faith. It means that we pray in faith for others. Those on the list probably do not think they need salvation. But everyone needs help. Because we cannot enter the holy kingdom of heaven unless our sins are forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. For unless he obtains eternal life that overcomes death through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, he will be swallowed up by death.
The love of Jesus is wide. Let us also not think narrowly, think broadly and have faith. Let’s think and pray that this person will be saved, not that this person will be saved and that person will not be saved. Prayers are powerful. So don’t give up and use the key of prayer to say, “Please open the door of salvation.”
2. length of love
God’s love is everlasting love. Length can be said to be the love of Christ, which expresses perseverance.
One day Peter asked Jesus a question. ” Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother if he sins against me? Seven times? ” “ Until seven times I do not say, until seven times seventy” (Matthew 18:22). Peter thought that he would need great patience even seven times. I think we are too. But Jesus was different. He said to forgive seven times seventy times, it means not 490 times, but infinitely. This is the love of the Lord Jesus. We fail dozens and hundreds of times, but God forgives us.
Peter denied Jesus three times, but Jesus forgave Peter’s sins and weaknesses, healed him, and raised him up. Peter later wrote in a letter: The Lord is patient with you, not wanting any of you to perish, but all to repentance (Ⅱ Peter 3:9).
What is the length of faith? Our life of faith will continue. It is said that the Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Let our faith grow & mature. We have a goal. Keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:1 says Let us also lay aside all burdens and sins that beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
3. height of love
Christ’s love is higher than heaven. It’s a height that comes down from the sky. That is the incarnation. God, Jesus Christ, was born as a human baby to save humans. It’s Christmas. It is a love that cannot exist on this earth. Now the Lord Jesus is interceding for us as the High Priest in heaven.
We can go to heaven through Jesus Christ. What is the height of faith? When we look down at the scenery from inside the plane, everything looks small. There are houses, buildings, and cars. We can see the ship. When viewed from the ground, they appear large, but when viewed from above, they appear small. This is God’s point of view.
Aerial view of Tokyo
From a human perspective here on earth, the problem may seem big. The devil may seem strong. But that’s not the right way to look at it. We can see from heaven. This is God’s perspective, the correct perspective. The problem seems small. The devil looks tiny.
Let’s put our faith in God Himself, who governs everything and rules history. Look up to the heavens and pray to God. I believe God will provide the solution.
4. depth of love
The love of Jesus Christ is so deep that it hangs on the cross. He came down from heaven to this earth and fell to the abyss of the cross, to save us. It is a deep love that lifts those who are at the bottom. He died on the cross, but before he was resurrected, the Lord Jesus descended to the bottom of hell. So that we don’t have to go to hell.
Our sins are cast into the depths of the sea. Our sins are forgiven and sanctified by the blood of the cross of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to go to Hades. Because the love of the Lord Jesus is so deep, we can go to the heights of heaven.
What is the depth of faith? Jesus said to Peter the fisherman, He said, ” Put out into the deep, let down the nets and catch the fish ” (Luke 5:4). Peter fished all night, but he caught nothing. But Peter obeyed Jesus and rowed out into the depths and let down the nets. What do you think then? There were so many fish that the net was about to break.
Miraculous catch / by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494)
The Lord Jesus invites us to “paddle out into the depths.” There is a deeper spiritual realm. There is work by the Holy Spirit that we do not yet know. We can’t experience it unless we paddle out into the depths. The key to that is a flexible mind. Don’t settle for shallow water. Let us respond as Peter responded to Jesus’ invitation.
God is glorified through the church (v. 21). In this age of individualism, the church tends to be marginalized, but it is at the center of God’s plan. Certainly salvation is through Jesus Christ. However, we can grow spiritually in the field of church. The love of the Lord Jesus is wide, long, high and deep.
God’s glory will be revealed through churches where our faith grows broader, longer, higher, and deeper, and where such Christians gather. We can pyay “Lord, extend my faith, lengthen my faith (give me patience), increase my faith (give me God’s perspective), so that I may go deeper ( Bless us to sail out into new realms and see the glory of God）.”