Knowing the Unknowable?

by Jerry Senn

"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 breath and length and height and depth, and so know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God." 
— Ephesians 3:14-19

Paul is saying something that’s confusing to many of us. How can we comprehend what “surpasses knowledge?

“He’s saying that although the love of Christ is too big to ever fully grasp or comprehend, Christians can live in the knowledge of his love, even though we’ll always feel ‘out of our depth.’

“By way of illustration, the deepest part of the ocean known to scientists is the Challenger Deep Gorge in the great Mariana Trench in the north-west Pacific Ocean. It is seven miles deep, a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall. There is no submersible currently able to survive the crushing pressures at the bottom to explore it. But even though we can’t plumb the depths of the ocean to fully comprehend it, we still want to enjoy swimming in it and not just stand on the beach analyzing it – to play in the surf off the coast of the Cornish coast, or dive down to marvel at the tropical fish of the Great Barrier Reef or bathe in the sun-kissed waters of the Caribbean.

“Likewise, Paul wants his readers to dwell prayerfully on the vast dimensions of Christ’s love and then to live daily in the reassurance of it, so that despite the shame of our sin, the hostility of the world and the lies of the evil one, we remain confident in the gospel, swimming in the bottomless ocean of Christ’s love, ever exploring more of the unknowable. It takes God’s power to live by such confident faith in the love of Christ, so like Paul, we need to pray for it – for others as well as ourselves.”

“And as God deepens our knowledge of his measureless love, we will gradually be ‘filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ (v 19).” (Richard Coekin, “Ephesians For You,” p 107).