Tag Archives: Ephesians 3:18

“The breadth and length and height and depth” by John Calvin

“By these dimensions, Paul means nothing other than the love of Christ, of which he speaks afterwards. The meaning is, that he who knows it truly and perfectly is in every respect a wise man.

As if he had said, ‘In whatever direction men may look, they will find nothing in the doctrine of salvation that should not be related to this.’ The love of Christ contains within itself ever aspect of wisdom.

The meaning will be clearer if we paraphrase it like this: ‘That ye may be able to comprehend the love which is the length, breadth, depth, and height, that is, the complete perfection of our wisdom.’

The metaphor is taken from mathematics, denoting the whole from the parts. Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge.

Therefore this admonition is very useful: what is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind.

The love of Christ is held out to us to meditate on day and night and to be wholly immersed in. He who holds to this alone has enough.

Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful, nothing, in short, that is right or sound. Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

–John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Volume 11, Trans. T.H.L. Parker (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965), 168-169. Calvin is commenting on Ephesians 3:18.

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