Today we will be looking at the text of Ephesians 3:19.
Paul writes, “…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
In context, Paul is writing to the church about being rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. He is encouraging the readers of the early church to to be strengthened in Christ and to allow Him to dwell in their hearts through faith. Just prior to verse 19 Paul exhorts the church to know the height and depth and width that is the love of Christ.
Christ’s Deep Affection for the Church
Looking at verse 19, “…and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” and going back to the Greek roots of two of the words: LOVE and KNOWLEDGE — we will soon clearly see that there is something special about the rich affection Christ has for the church…and we’ll see that it extends much further than we may have previously thought.
The Greek word for love here is agape — a word you’ve likely heard if you’ve spend more than a day at church. Besides simply meaning love, or friendly love the word is better translated as affection or beloved…it’s also translated as love feast.
Agape is metaphorically the effect or proof of love — it’s the proof of the true and real benefits conferred by God through Christ.
When my friends show me affection by giving me a hug or placing their hand on my shoulder, I feel a sense of satisfaction and I know that they love me and care about me.
To think of Jesus as being affectionate toward us changes the way we view ourselves in him and changes the way we view him! Christ as an affectionte savior goes beyond Christ as simply the salvation of my soul.
It is expected that Jesus loves us. It’s no secret that Jesus has saved us from death. But for him to be affectionate is something all-together different. For him to show me affection tells me that this is something is is deeply more intimate than previously thought. He not only saved me and loves me but he cares for me and purposefully wants to comfort me as well!
Experiencing the love of Christ that surpasses KNOWLEDGE
The Greek word for knowledge here is gnosis. The root of the meaning of gnosis is intelligence and comprehension. However, it goes much deeper than that. From gnosis is derived gnosticism—a cult of pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis, knowledge.
The church is well acquainted with gnosticism — Mother Church for years has taught that material things are evil, fun is evil, pleasure and enjoyment are evil. And likewise, she has taught that knowledge, or using your logic, will save you alongside giving your life to Jesus. We have in the US a deeply logical (knowledgeable) church.
The Surpassing Greatness
The verse we are looking at though tells us that Paul wants his readers to “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” and that they “be filled with all the fullness of God.”
We are told that we are to know the love (affection) of Christ that surpasses knowledge (comprehension, logic, reason, intelligence).
Let’s re-write this verse: …”and to know the affection of Christ that surpasses comprehension and reason and intelligence, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
So what’s the point?
The point is this: the affection of Christ extends must further than the shell of our church walls. This love, this wild and dramatic love, this affection which comes from the very Son of God surpasses our logic, reason, and intelligence for one reason. That reason is so that we will be filled with all the fullness of God.
How Does This Change Anything?
This changes everything. Think about it — it doesn’t make logical sense that a serial killer who killed children for years and years gets the exact same affection from Christ as does the priest who has committed his life to serving the poor in the Dominican Republic.
This means that the prostitute who walks down the church aisle on Sunday morning has the same access to the Father as the pastor’s two year old.
This means that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have access to Jesus and access to his unfathomable love.
This means that every protester, protesting Trump’s win, has the Father of Lights smiling down on them.
Am I suggesting that there’s a Heaven for Everyone and a Hell for no one?
No! That’s not what I’m saying. By saying that God’s love is bigger than we may have originally thought and saying that God smiles down on his creation even when they’re acting like idiots, I’m not suggesting that we can live like Hell and get away with it. I’m not taking away Hell…But I am suggesting that there is a lot more grace and a lot more surpassing knowledge of love than what may be preached from some pulpits on Sunday morning.
Christ’s love runs a lot deeper than only touching those who confess him and live for him.
The truth is this: Christ died for ALL. While we were still sinners Christ died (Romans 5:8).
Jesus died for all of our sins..the sins we were going to commit as well as the ones we already committed. Salvation did not come the day you went to the church alter and prayed the sinner’s prayer. That’s the day you came to the realization that salvation was there for you all along.
To comprehend the love of Christ is to understand that Christ died for all and that all are cared for and appreciated by God. That serial killer on death row has a Heavenly Father who loves him. He may have killed twenty small children, but God is very protective of his life. Just like a good father would be.
If my son went on to be a mass murderer, I’d be sad that he went that way, but there would be no way I’d be able to separate my love for him. Despite his sin, I’d still love him and would be able to find areas in his life where I could be proud of him. My affection for him would remain the same as when he was born.
The same is true of Christ.
This is what life is about: to be filled with the fullness of God and give it all away.
Let’s stop looking at people as evil, wicked sinners and waiting for God to send them to eternal torment for their sins and let’s start looking at people as our brothers and sisters in Christ since that’s who they are! Jesus didn’t save some and leave others for the fires of Hell. We were all predestined for salvation from the foundation of the world — the only difference between some of us is that some of us believe what Jesus did while others haven’t become believers in his affection yet.