We covered Ephesians 3:18-19 recently at Perryville Second Baptist Church. Strange interpretations have been given on these words “the breadth and length and height and depth…”
Some very old writers said it refers to the cross as the cross has four directions and Paul gives four directions here. And truly, the cross is a display of God’s love, isn’t it? But I don’t think that is what is referred to here in the text. Others have said that it is talking about God Himself. That since God is infinite, that’s what Paul is referring to. And no doubt God is infinite. And it’s true that contemplating God’s love means contemplating God Himself.
John Bunyan said, “As there is in God’s nature a length and breadth and depth and height that is beyond all that we can think: So we should conclude that all this is love to us for Christ’s sake.” So, really, the focus of our text is on God’s love specifically. And I thought it would be a good Christmas reminder to consider this love.
Paul gives these 4 dimensions, breadth, length, height, and depth to help us understand that the love of God is immeasurable. It extends past time and space and emotion. You cannot go high enough to ever get out of the need for God’s love. You cannot get low enough to escape God’s love. You cannot outrun God’s love. You cannot quantify God’s love.
Now, Bunyan breaks down these words – breadth, length, height, and depth – a bit and so I thought I would share this with our reader.
There is a Breadth in God’s love
Thus, God’s love goes farther than our sin and covers us and cleanses us. In love, Christ died for us. In love, God gave Christ to be our propitiation. In love we were predestined, justified, and adopted. God’s love has done what is necessary to take away our reproach.
There is a Length in God’s Love
Bunyan says, “God has a long arm, and he can reach a great way further than we can conceive He can.” I don’t know where you are spiritually this Christmas, but I know this: No matter where you are, God’s love can reach you. Maybe you feel your arm is too short to reach God, but His is not too short to reach you.
There is a Depth in God’s Love
Jonah was swallowed by the great fish. And there in the depths of the ocean, God’s love still found Him. Are you sinking this Christmas season? Are you sinking in sin or the mire and muck of this world? Are you sinking in the oppression of the Evil One? Are you sinking in persecution or suffering?
When you feel you are at your lowest, God’s love is still there, for it is deep. Bunyan says God has “arms that are long and strong and that can reach to the bottom and also beyond of all misery and distress that Christians are subject to in this life.”
In fact, consider the depth of God’s love in the sending of the Son. Christ stepped down from the glories of heaven to the womb of the virgin to the lowly manger. Christmas is literally love coming down to us. Behold the depth of God’s love!
There is a Height in God’s Love
There are many mountains, if you will, to climb between us and heaven. And yet God’s love goes over them all. Bunyan says, “For them that are godly, there is the power of God, the merits of Christ, the help of angels, and the testimony of a good conscience to bring them [to heaven].”
So whether there is a valley you cannot seem to escape or a mountain you cannot seem to get over, God’s love is deeper and higher than them both. It is enough to forgive us our sins and to sanctify us and to cause us to walk in His ways and rejoice in His truth and to love Him and live for His glory.
Does your faith rest in Christ this Christmas season?
John Macarthur sums up Ephesians 3:18 this way:
“In whatever spiritual direction we look we can see God’s love. We can see love’s breadth reflected in God’s acceptance of Gentile and Jew equally in Christ. We can see love’s length in God’s choosing us before the foundation of the world for a salvation that will last through eternity. We can see love’s height in God’s having ‘blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ and His raising us up and seating us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus’. We can see love’s depth in God’s reaching down to the lowest levels of depravity to redeem those who are dead in trespasses and sins. God’s love can reach any person in sin, and it stretches from eternity past to eternity future. It takes us into the very presence of God and sits us on His throne.”
This is the immeasurable love of God. And Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can separate the Christian from the love of Christ because God’s love surpasses all things we could ever face in this life. Rejoice in this love, dear saint.