Can I Know the Unknowable Love of Christ?

By Mark D. Roberts

September 26, 2018

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19


In Ephesians 3:18, Paul prays that we might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” In verse 19 he adds, “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” The Greek of this phrase reads very literally, “[that you might have the power] to know the-surpassing-knowledge-love of Christ.”

Iceland's Coast.How can we know that which surpasses knowledge? At first, this might seem contradictory. It doesn’t seem possible to know the unknowable. But Paul is not saying that Christ’s love cannot be known, only that it will always exceed our knowing. No matter how much we understand the love of Christ, we will never completely understand it. Yet, we are able to fathom Christ’s love truly, however imperfectly.

If you think about it for a while, you’ll come up with all kinds of analogies for our incomplete knowledge. For example, I know something about how computers work. After all, I took a computer course in college… in 1977. Admittedly, computers have changed just a bit since then. So, my knowledge of computers is stunningly incomplete, even though I grasp some basic truths about them. And so is my knowledge of Christ’s love.

Remember, though, that when Scripture speaks of knowing, it almost always envisions a relational, experiential kind of knowing, a knowing that includes but goes beyond intellectual understanding. You and I are privileged to know the love of Christ, not just as an intricate idea, but also as something to be felt, treasured, and embraced. Yet, even in the realm of personal knowing, there is always more of Christ’s love to be experienced. To put it plainly, Christ loves you more than you can understand and he has still more love for you to experience.

Something to Think About:

What helps you to understand the love of Christ for you?

In what ways do you struggle to know Christ’s love?

When have you experienced the love of Christ most profoundly?

Something to Do:

Ask the Lord to make his love known to you in a new and expansive way. Then, pay attention to how this is happening in your life. It might not come right away, but God will, in his time, help you to experience his love in a deeper way.


O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing, ’tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee! Amen.

“O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus,” by Samuel Trevor Francis, 1875. Public domain.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Nothing Can Come Between Us and the Love of God (Romans 8:31-39)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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