And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.
The word rendered "fulness" represents completion, perfection, and sufficiency. If a vessel having some water in it were filled to the brim, this word would represent its condition in relation to its contents. If a picture were drawn in rude outline, and if the limning were then made perfect, this word would represent the completed state of the artist's work. If the crew of a ship, or the guard on the walls of a fenced city, were deficient in number, and if the men were so increased as to meet the need, this word would represent the complement. Fulness and God must be combined, must ever be inseparable.
I. A LARGE RECEPTIVE CAPACITY ON THE PART OF CHRISTIANS. "That ye might be filled." This is not asking for fresh powers and for new susceptibilities, but for the entire contact of existing faculties and capacities with appropriate and adequate objects. The capabilities of human nature are many and various. Man can receive into himself a varied and vast knowledge. He can admit to his nature the images of all the objects which awaken the various emotions of the human soul. The receptive capacity of man may be illustrated by reference to three things.
1. The extent and variety of possible knowledge.
2. The number and character of the objects which arouse the various internal spiritual affections.
3. The influences which are formative of character and productive of conduct.
II. GOD THE STANDARD, AS WELL AS THE SOURCE AND CAUSE, OF COMPLETENESS. To creatures made in God's image, and renewed in God's image, God Himself must ever be the standard of completeness. Between God and all His creatures there is, we reverently acknowledge, a vast difference; but the pitcher may be full as well as the river, and the hand may be full as well as the storehouse. There is a fulness which is as really the attribute of that which in capacity is small, as of that which in capacity is infinite. The sweet little flower, "forget-me-not," is as full of colour as the bright blue sky over its tiny head. The vine of the cottager may be as full of fruit as the vineyard of the wealthy vine grower. The baby, which smiles on its mother's breast, may be as full of joy as the seraph before the throne. The vast difference which exists between God's nature and ours, does not prevent that nature in some respects being a standard. The fulness of man may be as the fulness of God. God is full, and man, in his capacity, may be full as God. Two things occur to us here.
1. The standard of completeness does not generally appear to be God, even among Christians.
2. The lack of fulness is largely traceable to the non-recognition of this standard.
III. A DEGREE OF APPROXIMATION TO THE DIVINE STANDARD NOW ATTAINABLE.
1. The primitive constitution of men admits it (Genesis 1:27). Fulness and God are inseparable, and equally united are fulness and the image of God.
2. The redemption that is in Christ Jesus specially provides for this fulness. It restores lost truths and lost objects of hope and love and joy, and directly aims to fill us with all possible good.
3. The experience of every Christian is that of having supplied to him, by the Saviour, that which, being essential, has nevertheless been lacking. He comes as wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and those who receive Him are complete in Him.
4. The exceeding great and precious promises of God show, that those who lack fulness or completeness are straitened, not in God, but through themselves.
5. The steps by which this fulness is said to be reached are portions of ordinary Christian experience. First of all, there is the strengthening of the "inner man" by the might of the Spirit; secondly, there is the coming into the heart, and the dwelling in the heart, of Christ by faith; thirdly, there is the confirmation of all love in the heart; and fourthly, the subjective knowledge of the love of Christ. The man who knows the love of Christ, and who is rooted and grounded in love, and in whom Christ dwells, and who is inwardly strengthened by the Holy Ghost, is in a position to be filled with the fulness of God. The receptive capacity of such a man is restored, while Christ and His love are in themselves fulness, and lead to a fulness distinct from themselves.
(S. Martin, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.