on Ephesians 3 :18
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!
on Ephesians 3 :18
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.
on Ephesians 3 :18
3:18 That being rooted and grounded - That is, deeply fixed and firmly established, in love. Ye may comprehend - So far as an human mind is capable. What is the breadth of the love of Christ - Embracing all mankind. And length - From everlasting to everlasting. And depth - Not to be fathomed by any creature. And height - Not to be reached by any enemy.