This coming Lord’s day I will be preaching on Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-19, a passage with significant Trinitarian grounding and emphases. Due to the fact that, in God’s grace, we will be celebrating baptisms, I will probably shorten my sermon somewhat, and try to leave out rabbit-trails and investigations as much as possible.

One of the challenges of this section (although not the largest–that would be the grammatical and causal connections between all the phrases), is the referent in Ephesians 4:18. The Ephesian church is to comprehend “the breadth and length and height and depth,” but of what?

The short answer, it seems to me (and most other solid commentators), is the love of Christ, an answer favoured by the context, and the parallel of Romans 8:35-39. But if anyone is interested in a discussion of the other options, Muddiman has a three-page section (p170-173) in his Ephesians commentary (Black’s New Testament Commentaries) that may be worth investigating. The options he gives are:

  1. The symbol of the cross
  2. The dimensions of the heavenly Jerusalem
  3. The terminology of opponents
  4. The wisdom of God
  5. The immeasurable love of Christ, which he favours.

For what it is worth, Charles Hodge (Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Evangelical Masterworks Edition, Revell, n.d.) also mentions the possibility of it referring to the economy of salvation (p189), although he concludes too, against those that suggest this, that it is the love of Christ.


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