Breadth is an important concept that appears many times throughout the Bible. Understanding what Scripture means by “breadth” can deepen our comprehension of God’s word and lead us to a greater knowledge of His character. In this post, we will examine the key passages that discuss breadth and analyze what they reveal about the meaning of this term in a biblical context. We will also highlight some key takeaways about how breadth should inform our faith and walk with Christ as Evangelical and Charismatic Christians.
- Breadth represents abundance, fullness, and completeness.
- God’s love, mercy, and power have infinite breadth.
- We are called to have breadth of heart ourselves.
- Breadth enables us to walk in newness of life through the Spirit.
- Knowing the breadth of Christ’s love compels us to obedience.
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Now, let’s explore the meaning of breadth throughout Scripture in more detail.
Breadth in the Old Testament
The concept of breadth first appears in the Old Testament, where it communicates ideas of abundance, fullness, capacity, and completeness.
In Genesis 13:17, God promises the land of Canaan to Abraham with its length and breadth:
“Arise, walk in the land through its length and its breadth, for I give it to you.” (NKJV)
The breadth here indicates the vastness of the territory and God’s intention to give the fullness of the land to Abraham. It is an expansive, comprehensive blessing.
Later in Isaiah, the prophet laments the small number of Israel’s inhabitants according to the nation’s ample breadth:
For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, Takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah The stock and the store, The whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water; The mighty man and the man of war, The judge and the prophet, And the diviner and the elder; The captain of fifty and the honorable man, The counselor and the skillful artisan, And the expert enchanter. “I will give children to be their princes, And babes shall rule over them. The people will be oppressed, Every one by another and every one by his neighbor; The child will be insolent toward the elder, And the base toward the honorable.” When a man takes hold of his brother In the house of his father, saying, “You have clothing; You be our ruler, And let these ruins be under your power,” In that day he will protest, saying, “I cannot cure your ills, For in my house is neither food nor clothing; Do not make me a ruler of the people.” For Jerusalem stumbled, And Judah is fallen, Because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, To provoke the eyes of His glory. The look on their countenance witnesses against them, And they declare their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves. “Say to the righteous that it shall be well with them, For they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, For the reward of his hands shall be given him.” As for My people, children are their oppressors, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, And destroy the way of your paths.” The Lord stands up to plead, And stands to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment With the elders of His people And His princes: “For you have eaten up the vineyard; The plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people And grinding the faces of the poor?” Says the Lord God of hosts. (Isaiah 3:1-15 NKJV)
Despite having the broad or wide land of Israel, the number of people was insufficient to fill it. This demonstrated their unfaithfulness to God’s purpose for broadly blessing them as a nation.
The Psalms also pick up this imagery of breadth to communicate God’s vast blessing and abundance:
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:5 NKJV)
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11-12 NKJV)
God’s mercy and truth extend to the full breadth of generations and His grace surpasses the span of the heavens. His blessings are infinitely broad.
So in summary, the Old Testament introduces breadth as indicative of totality, abundance, width, capacity, and completeness. It is often linked to the broadness of God’s blessing, power, and provision for His people.
Breadth in the New Testament
Moving to the New Testament, we see breadth take on new layers of meaning for followers of Christ. While still retaining a sense of fullness and abundance, breadth also communicates spiritual concepts like freedom, renewal, and love.
One of the most significant passages is Ephesians 3:14-21, where Paul prays that the believers would comprehend the breadth of God’s love:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, length, height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV)
Here, Paul prays for the Ephesians to grasp the full dimensions of Christ’s love, including its breadth. He indicates that comprehensively understanding the breadth of God’s love leads to being filled with His fullness, as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of Christ’s love compels spiritual maturity.
Romans 8:1-4 also ties breadth to life in the freedom of the Spirit:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4 NKJV)
Walking in the breadth of new life through the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill God’s law in a way the Old Covenant could not provide. Breadth here conveys the idea of fullness, abundance, and freedom in newness of life by the Spirit’s power.
So in the New Testament, breadth continues to represent concepts like fullness, abundance, and completeness. But it takes on new dimensions related to renewal, liberty, and comprehending the full measure of Christ’s love. For Christians, understanding breadth means understanding the comprehensive spiritual blessings we have in Christ through the Spirit.
Key Takeaways on the Biblical Meaning of Breadth
In synthesizing the meaning of breadth throughout the Old and New Testaments, several key takeaways emerge:
1. Breadth represents abundance, fullness, and completeness. When Scripture describes something with breadth, it indicates its vast extent, full measure, completeness, and capacity. God’s blessings are exceedingly broad.
2. God’s love, mercy, and power have infinite breadth. From the breadth of generations to the breadth of the heavens, God’s attributes and grace extend farther than we can imagine. His love encompasses all who call on Him.
3. We are called to have breadth of heart ourselves. As God’s people, we are exhorted to have hearts enlarged to receive more of Him. Breadth of heart enables greater maturity, wisdom, and love.
4. Breadth enables us to walk in newness of life through the Spirit. The fullness of freedom in Christ allows us to fulfill God’s righteous requirements in a way the law never could. His breath brings comprehensive renewal.
5. Knowing the breadth of Christ’s love compels us to obedience. Comprehending the vastness of God’s love motivates us to be filled with His fullness. This knowledge spurs spiritual maturity.
These key themes help unpack the richness of the concept of breadth in Scripture. Above all, breadth reminds us of the magnanimous extent of God’s blessings, power, grace, and love. As Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, meditating on the breadth of God’s promises deepens our awe, faith, and intimacy with Him. We serve an infinitely broad God!
Breadth in Key Bible Stories
To further understand how breadth features in God’s interactions with His people, it’s helpful to do a brief survey of stories involving breadth throughout Scripture:
Genesis 13:14-17 – After Lot separates from Abram, God promises the land in all its breadth to Abram and his offspring. The breadth indicates the vastness of God’s gift.
Genesis 32:12-13 – Jacob reminds God of His promise to multiply his descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. This conveys the broad scale of God’s blessing.
Exodus 8:1-15 – To convince Pharaoh to let His people go, God smites the land of Egypt with an abundant, pervasive plague of frogs in all the territory. The breadth of the plague showed God’s power.
1 Kings 4:29 – God gave Solomon exceedingly broad wisdom and understanding, described as “broad as the sand on the seashore.” This imagery indicates the comprehensive extent of Solomon’s wisdom.
Psalm 119:96 – The Psalmist declares that he has seen a limit to all perfection, but God’s commandment is exceedingly broad, surpassing all bounds. God’s truth is infinitely broad.
Isaiah 60:5 – Isaiah prophesies that the abundance of the sea will be converted to God’s people as the wealth of the nations comes to them. This conveys the breadth of blessing to come.
Matthew 23:5 – Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for broadening their phylacteries as part of their hypocritical practices to widen their reputation. True breadth comes from piety, not ostentation.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13 – Paul exhorts the Corinthian church to open wide their hearts also to make room for him, communicating the need for breadth of heart in showing Christian love.
In each case, we see how breadth relates tangibly to God’s blessings, power, wisdom, truth, and commands. These stories demonstrate breadth in action during God’s interactions with His people.
Applying the Biblical Concept of Breadth
After exploring the definition of breadth and seeing how it weaves through Scripture, we are left with the practical question: how should this concept inform our Christian faith and lives? Here are some key applications:
1. Praise God for His infinitely broad love, grace, and power. Thank Him that His blessings have no limit, but reach as far as the heavens.
2. Regularly pray for greater comprehension of the breadth of God’s love through the Spirit. Ask for a greater revelation of just how wide, long, high, and deep Christ’s love is.
3. Examine your own heart for areas where you need to grow in breadth. Are there sins, hurts, or limitations that are artificially constraining the capacity of your heart? Give them to God in repentance so you can walk in the freedom and fullness He intends.
4. Meditate on Bible stories demonstrating God’s powerful breadth. Reflect on times He showed His infinite capabilities to redeem impossible situations, break strongholds, and surpass human understanding. Let it build your faith in Him.
5. Lean on the all-surpassing breadth of God’s Word. No matter what situation you face, His truth contains principles and promises broad enough to guide and deliver you. Study His Word to align your life to its breadth.
6. Ask the Spirit to give you an enlarged, broad heart of wisdom. Pray for breadth of understanding, insight, compassion, and maturity beyond your natural tendencies. Desire to grow into the full measure of Christ.
7. Look for opportunities to broaden someone else’s limited perspective. We all have blindspots that constrain our thinking and growth. Lovingly broaden others’ horizons by speaking redemptive truth into limiting mindsets when the Spirit leads.
Our wise and abundant God has so much more He wants to show us! As Evangelical and Charismatic Christians, embracing the biblical meaning of breadth opens us up to deeper intimacy with Christ and the fullness of life He intends for us. We serve a God of awesome breadth – may we respond with breadth of heart ourselves.
In exploring the concept of breadth throughout Scripture, we have seen it convey rich themes of abundance, fullness, renewal, freedom, and the infinite extent of God’s blessings. Appreciating the biblical meaning of breadth leads us into greater revelation of who God is and how He wants to move in our lives through His Spirit. With a broad God, nothing is impossible or too wonderful to comprehend. May we walk in ever-increasing comprehension of the breadth Christ’s love by the Spirit’s power working within us!