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'The Blessings of God's Grace - An Exposition of Ephesians'
1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus.
Paul had been chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, a messenger or herald sent by Him with the authority to preach and teach in His name. Paul emphasises that he had not been commissioned by any church, nor was he self appointed, but rather was chosen "by the will of God" to proclaim the Gospel.
That his commission came to him directly from God without human intermediary is a point which Paul frequently makes in his epistles; for example to the Galatians he declares himself, "an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)" (Gal. 1:1 NKJVTM).
Paul addresses the Christians in Ephesus as "saints" or "holy ones", since they are among those who are chosen and set apart for God. They are sanctified by their faith in Jesus Christ.
They are "faithful", not only because they believed in Christ initially, but also because they were standing firm in the faith at the time of Paul's writing. Whilst the letter was originally intended for the Ephesian believers, its teaching applies to all Christians, in every place, throughout all time.
2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul greets the believers, as his custom was, by stating his wish that the grace of God (His unmerited favour), and the peace of God (wholeness and spiritual rest), might be given them by God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). At the very beginning of a letter which focusses on the grace of God, Paul makes clear that there is only one Mediator between God and men. The Lord Jesus Christ is the unique channel through which the grace of God flows out to mankind. The apostle John writes that grace and truth have come to us "through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
That God's grace is offered to man in the person of His Son was first revealed to a group of humble shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem, by a host of angels who announced that His birth brought "peace on earth, good will toward all men" (Luke 2:14).
It is because God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and receives Him might experience the freely given, undeserved love and forgiveness which is implied by the word "grace".
Having finished his greeting, Paul, almost without pause, proceeds to show that through Christ we have received "grace upon grace" (John 1:16), and "abundance of grace" (Rom. 5:17).
It is worthy of comment that Paul refers to God not as "the" Father but as "our" Father; for having received the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ, every believer is a child of God, being born of His Spirit. Through His grace we have been admitted to all the privileges of belonging to His family. These privileges are described by Paul as "blessings" - the blessings of God's grace.
Blessed with Every Blessing.
3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
The giver of a gift is always greater than the gift. Since God is the source of all blessings He should be blessed and praised for what He has freely given to us in Christ. Paul extols God for the measure of His blessing poured out upon all believers - a fulness which includes every blessing that there is.
If His blessings are so great, and so freely given, how great and generous is God? His purpose in freely lavishing His blessings on us is that He might bring praise of the highest nature to "His glory", which is His person, who He is; for God's glory is His own essential being and nature.
God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and all that God gives to us is in and through His Son, so that the Son may have the pre-eminence in all things (Col. 1:18). God has blessed us (given us a benefit, something for our good) with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has not withheld one thing from us. Since He has invested all He has in His Son, then to have the Son is to have all things.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32 NKJVTM)
Christ is the fulness of God and we share His fulness. All that God is, and has, is ours in Christ (Col. 2:9 - 10).
Since, as Bruce points out, the verb "blessed" is in the perfect tense, it indicates a finished action. God has blessed every believer perfectly, once and for all.
The words "heavenly places" refer to the eternal and spiritual realm, where Christ now is, sitting at the right hand of God. Those who are in Christ share in all the blessings of His exalted position, for God has "raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). As Paul writes to the Philippians, "our citizenship is in heaven" (Philip. 3:20 NKJVTM).
Because Christ... is now exalted to the heavenly realms, those who are in Him belong to those heavenly realms too. (F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians, 1961).
As a consequence, believers may daily experience a foretaste of the heavenly glories to come. Even whilst we live in this world, we are not of this world (John 17:16), for Christ our Lord has an eternal and heavenly nature, and have been born again to share His nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
The Blessing of Election.
4. Just as He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love.
A better rendering might be, "in love, He chose us before the foundation of the world." Paul first tells us why God has chosen us and showered His blessings on us: it is because He loves us (Rom. 5:8). God's love is the motive for all that He has done to bring us the benefits listed in the following verses.
Having established why the choice was made (because of His love for us), Paul next tells us when it was made - "before the foundation of the world". Before the world was formed, God had a plan for the salvation of mankind, and determined in Himself that all who would receive Jesus Christ His Son would themselves receive full rights as His sons. Paul emphasizes that our salvation, and the plan of it, find its root and origin in God. Since God Himself is eternal, His choice of us, based on His grace, is necessarily eternal. As Bruce puts it:
So far as the personal experience of believers is concerned, their entry into the relationship described by the words "in Christ" took place when they were born from above. But from God's point of view it has no such temporal limitation. Those He chooses are objects of His eternal choice and that eternal choice is so completely bound up in the person of Christ that they are described as "in Christ" before the cosmos was made. Here is a mystery before which we do well to acknowledge our own limits of understanding."
As a result of our becoming God's children, we are holy and without blame before Him. God has made the believer holy once and for all in His sight through the death of Christ (Heb. 10:10). The words "without blame" indicate the removal of all guilt, which again God has accomplished by Christ's sacrifice once and for all (Heb. 9:14).
The Blessing of Conformation.
5. Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (NKJV™).
The word used for "predestined" is "proorizo", of which Vine writes:
This verb is to be distinguished from "proginosko", to foreknow; the latter has special reference to the persons foreknown by God; "proorizo" has special reference to that which the subjects of His foreknowledge are predestinated. (W.E.Vine, Expository Dictionary, 1940)
So what is in view in this verse are those whom God determined shall become His sons, nor the basis on which they are elected, but the future state which He has predetermined for them. God has foreordained that every believer in Christ will be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. This work of grace begins when we are born again, and continues day by day; God's purpose being that we might exhibit the practical fruit of holiness in our every day lives. Those who are considered holy in God's sight should demonstrate this by holy living, for the Scripture declares God's will to be our entire sanctification; as expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "may the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely", and in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, "for this is the will of God, your sanctification." Peter also writes, "be holy for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:16).
The process of sanctification in a believer's life reaches its fulfilment when Jesus Christ comes again. In that day, the bodies of dead believers will be resurrected, and those of living ones changed, so that we shall all be "like Him". This, ultimately, is what is meant by the phrase "the adoption of sons" which literally means "giving a son his place" (Philip. 1:6 & 1 John 3:2).
As Bruce says: "Those in Christ must become like Christ in increasing measure here and in fulness hereafter."
This ultimate purpose is "according to the good pleasure of His will". God was always pleased with His only Son (Matt. 3:17), and our bearing of that precious image of Jesus throughout eternity will bring unending joy to His heart.
6. To the praise of His glorious grace that He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
This purpose of making us His children will be "to the praise of His glorious grace". God's grace may be described as glorious in two ways. Firstly, because it emanates from His own glorious being, but secondly because it effects such a glorious change in the lives of those who receive it!
In 2 Cor. 3:7 - 18 Paul describes it as the glory which excels, and which shall remain eternally. It is the power which transform helpless sinners into God's children, sharing His likeness. When we finally bear God's image perfectly, we will never cease to praise Him for what He has done for us!
The grace of God in redeeming the sinful children of Adam and adopting them as His own sons will be throughout eternity the most glorious theme of praise to His name. (F.F. Bruce).
All God's blessings are bestowed on us freely through the beloved Son. The words used in some translations "He has made us accepted in the Beloved" are better rendered in the New Revised Standard Version, quoted above. The verb used for "accept" is simply "to grace", or "to favor by grace". In other words to bestow freely and without merit on our part. We receive all of God's blessings, undeservedly and unreservedly, when we receive Christ.
The Blessing of Redemption.
7. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Before we received Christ we were in slavery to sin, which results in death (Rom. 6:23). Under Old Testament law, in order to set a slave free, a ransom or redemption price had to be paid. When the ransom was paid, the slave belonged to the one who paid the price, who was then able to grant him freedom. Christ has paid the price to set us free, with His own precious blood (1 Pet. 3:18). Since He did this for us, we now belong to Him (1 Cor. 6:20), and being His, we are free indeed (John 8:36).
Since the Lord Jesus Christ died to take away the sin of the whole world (see John 1:29 & 1 John 2:2), He has paid the redemption price for all men, but only those who receive Him as Saviour receive the benefit of what He has done for them, and are redeemed.
Redemption is the theme of the Old Testament book of Ruth. Ruth was a Moabitess who had married an Israelite before being widowed. As was the custom according to the law of Moses, Ruth was considered the property of her dead husband, Mahlon, and any claim made by a relative on the estate of the dead man had to include an offer of marriage to Ruth. Only a near kinsman could redeem the estate, and Ruth with it, to keep the husband's property and lands in the family line. Ruth and the property were redeemed by the wealthy and godly Boaz. Ruth's redemption resulted in her being forever part of the family and gave her an enduring inheritance. It brought her great joy and the full assurance of her acceptance into the commonwealth of Israel. She is listed as one of the ancestors of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).
Similarly, Christ, by redeeming us, has given us an everlasting inheritance and made us unalterably part of God's family, that we might have the full rights of sons and the full assurance of belonging to Him forever.
Ruth belonged as a loved wife, not as a slave, to the one who bought her. So we belong to Christ, not as slaves, but as the loved bride of the heavenly bridegroom who gave His life's blood to redeem us. The believer is no longer a slave to sin (Rom. 6:6). Being redeemed by Christ, he is free to, "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).
Forgiveness is a blessing which is closely linked with redemption, for as Jesus said in Matthew 26:28, "this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins".
Forgiveness is the prerogative of God, for all sin is committed against Him alone, and is an offence to His nature. As the Psalmist David says:
Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight. (Psa. 51:4 NKJVTM)
Since God is the "wronged" party, only God can forgive our sin. But, thankfully, He delights to do so.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (Psa. 86:5 NKJVTM)
Again and again during His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus emphasised our need of forgiveness, and freely forgave all those who sought Him in repentance and faith. What he said to a paralysed man (Luke 5:20), and to a sinful woman (Luke 7:48), He still says to all who believe in Him as Saviour and Lord: "your sins are forgiven." (See also 1 John 2:12).
Forgiveness can be understood in terms of "the slate" being "wiped clean". Years ago, when people were generally poorer, the local shop owner kept a slate on which he wrote with chalk the amounts owed to him for food items he had sold without payment. When the price was fully paid, the slate could be wiped clean. What a blessing to find that on God's slate, there is nothing left to pay, for Jesus paid it all! That is why God says:
"THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." (Hebrews 10:17 NKJVTM)
The Scripture describes God casting our sins "into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7:19), and removing them utterly, "as far as the east is from the west" (Psa. 103:12).
God's forgiveness for sin is complete and final, and is granted freely by grace to all who put their faith in Christ.
The Blessing of Revelation.
8,9. Which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.
God's grace has been freely lavished on us according to His wise and all knowing plan. This plan is called a "mystery" since it was not previously known to men, but only to God. Now however, God has revealed His plan through the Gospel, and as God's people we have been given an understanding of this "mystery", and therefore of God's wisdom, through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:7 - 10).
God's purpose before the world began was to save men and women by Christ's death and resurrection. No one could have understood this plan before Christ came, but now that all things have been accomplished for our salvation, the Gospel can be preached so that all might believe and be saved.
10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.
God has determined that His Son will be the ruler over all things in existence. To "gather together in one all things in Christ" does not mean that all will be saved, but rather that all things will be made subject to one head - Christ, who will be the absolute ruler over all.
Through the Gospel, God is already putting this purpose into effect, and it will be completed when the appointed time has come. Every time believers submit to Christ's Lordship they are showing the present outworking of God's eternal purpose, which will only be fully realized when all the universe shall bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philip. 2:10 - 11).
The Blessing of Adoption.
11. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
Rather than "we have obtained an inheritance", the text may be read "we have become God's inheritance", His own special possession (Deut. 32:9). As believers in Christ, we have been adopted as His children and admitted to the community of His chosen people.
From eternity God determined to take a people as His own, out of every tribe and nation. This purpose is being fulfilled in Christ. Whenever anyone believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, they become part of God's people, as was God's intention "before the foundation of the world."
The word "predestined" refers to God's foreknowledge, which is one aspect of His omniscience. Paul does not imply that God elects men by His own predetermined choice without reference to human responsibility. God never arbitrarily chooses some to inherit life and some to inherit death, for He offers eternal life to "whoever believes" (John 3:16). But whilst believers come to know God at a certain point in their lives, God never "comes to know" anything. He already knows all things, and has personally known us even before He created us; for God's knowledge is absolute. Therefore, as Vine remarks, "God's foreknowledge involves His electing grace, but this does not preclude human will. He foreknows the exercise of faith which brings salvation."
When God has decided to do something, all His wisdom, love and power combine to overrule events to achieve what He wishes to do. Even the sin of men can be turned by Him to serve His own purposes. In particular, that sin of sins, man's crucifixion of the Saviour, was overruled by God and made the means through which we can enter into God's blessings (Acts 2:23).
12. That we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Those who "first trusted", or "trusted before", are not the first people ever to become Christians. Rather, the reference is to those who believe God's word before seeing its fulfilment.
We have not yet seen the consummation of God's purpose - Christ ruling the universe as Lord of all - but have believed on Him as Lord and trusted Him as Saviour. Those who have accepted Christ by faith share His blessings now, and look forward to the day when they shall certainly share His glory. The fact that we shall be in heaven shall be "to the praise of His glory"; and it will be our unending joy and duty to set forth His glorious praise.
13,14. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
We became part of God's chosen people when we believed the Word of Truth, the Gospel message which brought us salvation (1 Cor. 15:1 - 4 & 1 Thess. 2:13). Having been saved, we received from Christ the Holy Spirit, just as God had promised (Acts 1:4 - 5). An owner seals his property to mark it as his, so the fact that as believers we have received the Holy Spirit is a token that we belong to God.
In the case of the first Ephesian believers, this receiving of the Holy Spirit occurred after instruction and prayer from Paul (Acts 19:6). Details are not given of the subsequent outpourings of the Spirit on those who were converted later under Paul's ministry, but clearly they too had received the Holy Spirit. It was the expectation of the early Church that every believer should receive this outpouring, accompanied as it always was by miraculous evidence of "speaking in tongues and prophesying"; and it was certainly the practice of Paul, and of Peter and John, to pray with new converts soon after conversion, in order that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
It is quite possible that at the time of Paul's writing, there may have been some in the church who were so recently converted that, like the Samaritans, "the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen on them." It might even have been the case, as with the first Ephesian believers, that there were some who had not yet been fully instructed about the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless we notice that Paul includes them in his teaching about being "sealed with the Holy Spirit", it being something unthinkable that a believer in Christ would not receive, at some time after conversion, the "promise of the Father."
Such should be the expectation of God's servants today. God has promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, bearing in mind the conditions made clear by Peter on the day of Pentecost:
Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 NKJVTM).
There has never been anything different promised for Christians in different "ages" or "dispensations", but "the same gift He gave us" (Acts 11:17).
For Paul, it was a matter of great theological importance that the gift of the Holy Spirit was not for the privileged few, but for the whole Church of Christ.
The word "earnest" or "guarantee" used to describe the Holy Spirit, would in modern Greek be translated "an engagement ring". The ring is the promise of the husband to be, that at a certain time he will come to take the bride home as his wife. They already belong to each other, but they have not yet entered into the fulness of their married relationship.
So God has given us the Holy Spirit as the token that we are His, and as the guarantee that Christ will come to take us to be with Himself; that we may enter fully into all the blessings of our relationship with Him. Not only shall we enter into His rest, but He shall take full possession and enjoyment of His own people, who are "to the praise of His glory".
The fact that God will dwell among those He has redeemed; and that we are His and He is ours; will be the endless theme of our worship and the cause of our highest praise of His most excellent being - His glory (Rev. 21:3).
Ephesians 1 v 15 - 23. Knowing God Better.
As Christians, we already have a relationship with God as our Father. We became His children when we received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour (John 1:12). Paul's prayer is that we may grow to know God more fully and intimately.
15,16. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.
Paul spent two years evangelizing the whole of Asia Minor from his base in Ephesus. He did not personally visit all the villages of this region, but many of his converts did. In addition, many of the outstanding miracles which were done during that time caused the Word of God to be spread even to the outlying regions of the province. Luke records:
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them (Acts 19:11 - 12).
As one might expect, news of these incredible events spread rapidly. As a result, many were converted and churches sprung up throughout the region. The work and witness of the new believers continued after Paul's departure, and many more converts were added to the church in his absence. Though Paul had never met these Christians, he had heard how the work was going on and that the new believers were standing firm in the faith.
Reports of their love for other believers had also reached Paul, and love can only be noticed by others when it is demonstrated. The Ephesian believers did not forget "to do good and to share" with their fellow Christians in distress, and so evidenced the love of God in their hearts (1 John 3:17 - 18).
Paul continually thanked God for their faith and love, and prayed earnestly for their spiritual development; for even though, as believers, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings, we must continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).
This prayer, together with those found in his other epistles, reveal the manner of Paul's prayer life. He was consistent and well organised in his prayers; and he was persistent too, just as Jesus had urged his disciples to be, for this is the way to get answers from God (Luke 11:5 - 8 & 18:1 - 8). One of the reasons Paul so often writes of his own prayer life is to give us an example to follow.
17. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Paul asked God to give the believers, "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him". We know Christ as our Saviour, but God wants us to know Him more.
The natural mind is not able to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). Only our renewed spirits can have fellowship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Only the Holy Spirit, who is God and who knows God fully, is able to reveal Him to us.
When Paul told the believers at Ephesus that he prayed for them to know God better, he meant know Him personally, not just know about Him. We cannot know God unless He chooses to make Himself known to us (Matt. 16:16 - 17), and the action of God in making Himself known is called revelation. Wisdom is the insight which enables us to understand what is revealed. Paul's prayer reveals that the knowledge of God is not for the favored few. God's will for all believers is that through the wisdom of His Word and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we can all get "better aquainted" with God.
18. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Paul wanted the believers to understand the fulness of what God had done for them. "The hope of His calling" is what God has done for us in relation to our past, present and future. He chose in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be conformed to His image, and when we see Him we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). This is our ultimate goal - our hope.
"The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" is a reference both to the glory that will be ours because we are saved, and the glory that will be His because He has saved us. God wants us to appreciate how great this glory shall be when He reveals us to the whole universe as His children, redeemed by His blood, and sharing the image of Jesus; a community through whom He will be glorified throughout endless ages.
The Pre-eminence of Christ.
19,20. And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.
We can know God because His power is at work in our lives; the power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him to the highest place in the universe.
Paul struggles to find words which adequately describe the power which sets us free from sin so that we may walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). He describes it as "exceeding great" and "mighty", but such power can only be fully understood in terms of what it has accomplished. God's raising Christ from death released a power which can raise sinners from spiritual death to eternal life.
It is important to note the sense of Paul's argument. He is not saying that since God had the power to raise Christ, He also has the power to save us. Rather, it is by God's unique action of raising Christ from the dead that He has delivered us from our sins. Every individual act of salvation has been brought about by the unique act of Christ's death and resurrection. Christ's resurrection has the potential to raise every sinner to share God's life, and this potential becomes realised by all who put their faith in Him.
In chapter two Paul will tell us that God has made us alive spiritually. But in chapter one he tells us how this was accomplished: by the death, resurrection, and exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:19). When we receive Christ by faith, we receive what He has already accomplished for us through His death, resurrection, and exaltation.
Many were raised from the dead during Christ's ministry, but they died again since their nature was not changed in their resurrection. Christ's resurrection was of a different order, for by the glory of the Father He has been raised to eternal, immortal life, which only He could attain and has obtained (Rom. 6:4, "the glory of God" being a reference to His Divine person and nature).
Christ's resurrection differs from any previous one in the following ways:
The Lord Jesus Christ was raised from death never to die again; He lives forevermore (Rom. 6:9).
He was raised with a spiritual body, one that is suited for an eternal existence (1 Cor. 15:44).
He was raised as a life giving spirit (1 Cor. 15:45).
In this glorified state, as both God and man, He fills all things with His presence (Eph. 4:10).
Paul's inference is that the immortality which Christ has obtained is not for Himself alone, but will also for all who believe in Him. We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, to share His nature (1 Cor. 15:51 - 52).
20. And seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.
The right hand of God signifies the place of highest honor and authority. This is the position which our Lord occupied in His pre incarnate existence. As the eternal Word He always was God and was with God (John 1:1 - 2). But now he has returned to His throne by way of the cross, being exalted by virtue of His humiliation and perfect obedience (Mark 16:19). Christ, who is both God and man, shares God's glory as the regent of His power. He rules with God, as God, yet retains His glorified humanity in order to represent us in heaven as our mediator, advocate and faithful High Priest. The fact that Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God demonstrates that He is Lord of all (Acts 2:36), and consequently, we are assured of His power to save and keep His own (Heb. 7:25).
21. Far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
The Lord Jesus Christ is not only above all, but far above all. The Redeemer has been given universal sovereignty. The name of Jesus is the highest name now and will never be equalled in future (Philip. 2:9 - 11). Whatever powers there may in heaven, or on earth, or in the coming age, they must all submit to His authority (Matt. 28:18).
In 1 Cor. 15:27 - 28, Paul gives one notable exception. When God has put all things in subjection to His Son, then shall the Son, in a voluntary act of humility, subject Himself to the Father, that "God may be all in all." Christ is the absolute ruler with God, but not without God. One might say that there is no hierarchy in the Godhead, but that through eternal love the Divine Persons submit to and delight in each other.
22. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church.
God has made Christ the supreme ruler of the universe, having put all things under His feet (Heb. 2:8). We are yet to see Him fully demonstrate His authority in the world, but we know that He will one day take up His power and reign (Rev. 11:17).
In the scope of His universal rule, Christ's relationship with the Church is unique. For to us He is the Head, and we are His Body; His life is our life. We depend on Him and owe all to Him, a relationship which Paul compares in chapter 5 to that of a husband and wife, since "it expresses a vital unity" (F.F. Bruce).
Christ is head over all creation, but not one with it; whereas He is Head of the Church and one with it. Notice that Christ is the Head "over all things" to the Church. Just as the wife has no right to make a decision independently of her husband, nor can the Church make its own plans without Christ. As "Head over all things" He is interested in every detail of what happens in His Church. Whether we preach the Word or clean our local church building, Christ takes a personal interest in all we do to serve Him. That is why we are admonished:
Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men (Col. 3:23 NKJV™).
23. Which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Believers share the fulness of the One who is fully God, who fills all things with His presence. Although He is at this time sat at the right hand of God, the omnipresent (present everywhere at once) Christ resides in all His fulness within every individual believer (Col. 2:6) as well as in His Church; which is the complete expression of His nature and person on earth. As Ellicott says, "the Church is the complete image of Him in all His glorified humanity"; for she exists entirely in Him and for Him.
No believer can ever be filled with part of God. We are either filled with all of God or we do not have Him in our lives at all.
Copyright (2009-2014) Sharon Full Gospel Church, United Kingdom. Reg. Charity No. 1050642 www.sharonchurch.co.uk