Filled Up to the Fullness of God


“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Paul had much for which to be thankful, many reasons to praise his God, as well as a profound interest in seeing his readers come to share the same knowledge and appreciation of those blessings. So, in a letter that focuses on praising God for his many spiritual blessings in Christ, the apostle more than once includes prayers on their behalf. In the first chapter, he prays that they would come to have fuller wisdom and knowledge of the great and wonderful things God has done (Eph. 1:15-21). Now he again shares with them his prayer to the Father for them to grow in faith and spiritual maturity.

Paul’s prayer provides a picture of the spiritual growth that every Christian should pray for and strive for. Such growth in the Lord will impact our lives in significant and practical ways.

We need to grow in spiritual strength, power in the inner person provided through his Spirit. This empowerment is further explained in the second half of the epistle as strength of faith, strength to walk worthy of our calling, strength to serve God, strength to stand against evil, and strength to persevere. Paul’s concluding exhortation is “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the full armor of God.” All the elements of our spiritual armor are suited for our struggle to resist evil and to stand firm: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God, are at our disposal, along with prayer (Eph. 6:10-20). Such provisions from the Spirit are crucial for our spiritual strength.

God also grants us strength as, through faith, we allow Christ to dwell in our hearts. Faith believes, trusts, and obeys. Jesus promised to abide with those who hear his voice, love him, and keep his word (John 14:23; Rev. 3:20). When we live by faith in the Son of God, like Paul we can say, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). As we look to Christ, think of him, and reflect on his words, we grow in his grace and likeness. And when Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, there also will dwell the “peace of Christ” and the “word of Christ” (Col. 3:15-17).

We need to grow in deeper understanding. Paul is especially concerned that Christians come to a fuller comprehension of love—the love of God manifested through his Son. This happens to the extent to which we are “rooted and grounded” in love. The aim is to be fixed in love like a firmly planted tree, and established in love like a house built on a solid foundation. As we come to be settled in God’s love for mankind, we may be inspired to grow in our love for God and for one another. Of course, this implies a knowledge that is more than intellectual. It is knowledge based on experience. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Our spiritual growth is realized the more we appreciate God’s love for us and for our souls. The dimensions of love refer to the extent and vastness of God’s love. God’s love is as vast as his wisdom, as Paul summarizes his discussion of the gospel: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33). Indeed, the greatest manifestation of God’s wisdom and power is his love. God is love. The love he demonstrated in Christ surpasses knowledge. So, to know the unknowable is a paradox. We pray and endeavor to know more and more of the love of Christ, yet the full extent and depth of it can never be fully comprehended this side of heaven. Grasping and experiencing Christ’s love is, for the believer, the key to greater spiritual strength as well as to being filled to the fullness of God.

The aim of this prayer is that we might grow to be filled up to the fullness of God, to be filled to the full with God himself. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). These blessings may be ours “according to the riches of his glory” (3:16). Let us pray that we may more fully know him and enjoy his fellowship.

Dan Petty