Knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge

And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19 ESV)

How do we know something that surpasses knowledge? What does this even mean?

In his famous prayer for the Ephesians, Paul prayed that they would know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge. And he gives us what happens when we know Christ’s love:  we will be filled with all the fullness of God. If you want to be filled with the fullness of God, know how much Christ loves you.

The key to understanding this perplexing statement is stepping back and asking, “what did Paul have in mind to say?” His intent is clear:  we can know Christ’s love, but that love transcends knowing. So he prays that we should know Christ’s love (it can be known), although that love is beyond our knowledge (we just cannot fully know it). 

There are a few attempts to interpret this passage that are incorrect. First, the secret is not in the Greek words used here for “to know” and “knowledge” (same root words: verb ginosko and noun gnosis). It is a play of the same words, which might appear paradoxical. Second, it does not mean mental knowledge versus experiential knowledge. This interpretation is imported into this passage. Third, it does not mean mere human knowledge versus revealed knowledge from the Spirit. Again, this meaning is thrust upon this verse.

In conclusion, stick to the simple, clear meaning of the passage: Paul prayed that we should know Christ’s love, but that love is beyond what our brains(the flesh) can now handle. Think how much Christ loves you!


What is the meaning of the Greek word “gnosis”? Did you know another word, translated knowledge in the New Testament? (See Colossians 3:10).

Apply the Word

Knowing how much Christ loves you will transform your life. Not merely at salvation, but much more now that you are saved! Know and believe in that love!


Pray Paul’s prayer for your life right now in Ephesians 3:14-19.

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