Ephesians 1:23


Monday, 18 July 2016

…which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:23

The meaning of this verse is one which is highly debated, and the wording is somewhat obscure. It should be taken together with the previous verse for context –

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Paul says that it is “the church which is His body.” John Chrysostom says that, “…the complement of the Head is the Body, and the complement of the Body is the Head.” Christ Jesus is fully God and fully Man. In His deity, there is no lack. He is a member of the Godhead and they are in eternal fellowship and harmony with one another. In His humanity, there needs to be something to complement who He is. It would make no sense to come as a human if there were no humans who would be affected by His coming.

But humanity is fallen and needs a Redeemer. In coming as their Redeemer, He would be incomplete without a group of redeemed. He is also the Savior, King, High Priest, etc. A savior without saved would be no savior. A king without a kingdom and subjects is not truly a king. It is the church which fills these roles and which complete who Christ is. This does not mean that He is lacking in anything in His being, but that His roles are complete in those whom He heads.

In order to show that this is the case, and that it is not Christ who is lacking in His being, Paul immediately follows up with the thought that the church is “the fullness of Him  who fills all in all.” It is the church which “fills up” or “makes compete” the roles of Christ. His glory and His power are seen in the fact that He is our Head. Without such a body, these would only be known to Himself. But as His body, we are able to acknowledge them. And yet it is Christ “who fills all in all.” He is transcendent over all things and it is He who does the filling of the church. Charles Ellicott states that “we are infinitely more incomplete without Him than He without us.”

He is the Vine, we are the branches. Together we form a whole, but the branches are dependent on the Vine. He was the crucified One; we were crucified with Him. He is the glorious One; we too now share in His glory. Christ is the Head; we are the body.

Life application: God did not need to create, but He did. He became the Creator when He created. Likewise, Christ did not need to redeem us, but He did. When He redeemed us, He became the Redeemer. In all things, Christ is the preeminent One through the things He has accomplished. Let us never forget that Christ truly is our All in all.

Heavenly Father, the fact that You created shows that You care about Your creation. And the fact that You sent Jesus shows that You care about Your redeemed. What kind of love! It is beyond comprehension that You have done so much for us. We deny You, we mock You, and we shake our fists in Your face in defiance. And yet, You continue to hold out those beautiful nailed-scarred hands to us in love. Thank You for patiently waiting for our often tardy response. Thank You for Jesus our Lord. Amen.



Ephesians 1:22


Sunday, 17 July 2016

And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, Ephesians 1:22

The idea of placing all things under the feet goes back to the Old Testament. In the 8th psalm we read –

“You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet.” Psalm 8:6

These words from the psalm speak of man, but in the greater sense they speak of Christ who took on the nature of man. Adam (man) fell and lost his right to the world. Christ came to reclaim that. Through His work, He has been granted all power and all authority. In this, the “He” is emphatic. “He (emphatic – meaning God) put all things under His (meaning Jesus’) feet.” The meaning is that all things are in subjection to Him, not because He was simply set over these things, but because God has granted Him these things as a gift. Christ has all authority over all things.

The next words show a surprising concept which should not be missed. God “gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” All things are “under His feet,” and He is “head over all things to the church.” What this means is that we are, as Paul explains in Romans 8:17, “joint heirs with Christ.” The next verse will bear this out, but even without it, if Christ is the head, then the church must be (as verse 23 will show) His body.

Therefore, we see the exceptional magnitude of the inheritance we possess because of Christ. We are subject to Him as our Head, but all things are below us (as we are members of His body). This takes us back to the authority of man at the beginning. God gave us dominion over the animals of the earth. He gave us the right to subdue the earth and to fill it. We were subjected to God, but were granted authority below Him.

The devil gained control over that, and man has been subjected to him. However, Christ regained that control. Now all who are in Him are again a part the original intent for creation. A Man (meaning Christ) is its head, and we are His body. We share in the inheritance of what Christ has obtained. It is truly a marvelous thing which God has done for us in Christ.

Life application: When you see the wicked advancing in the world’s system and seemingly getting away with their wickedness, don’t let it trouble you. They will have their moment of ease and supposed power, but they will be swept away like the dust beneath your feet. Our inheritance is so far superior to what they think they have, that there is simply no comparison at all.

Lord God, Jeremiah asked why the way of the wicked prospers. He was confused about why things worked out that way. We often feel the same. We see utterly wicked people, such as in our governments, who seem to get away with everything. They are not held accountable for their evil. But their supposed victory is temporary and it is just a passing vapor. Our inheritance is so very much greater. The world can have its depraved party which will end. In Christ, we have an eternal inheritance which can never be taken away. Thank You for this sure and grounded hope! Amen.


Ephesians 1:21


Saturday, 16 July 2016

…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. Ephesians 1:21

While reading this verse in order to analyze it, I raised my arms in victory. “YES!” Who cannot get excited at such marvelous words!

In this verse, Paul completes the very long and continuous thought that he began in verse 3. To keep it in context, the previous verse is cited with it here –

“…which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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.”

God worked the exceeding greatness of His power toward us in Christ. When His earthly mission was complete, he seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places “far above all principality and power and might and dominion.” The words which are translated as “principality and power” give the idea of government and the authority committed to that government. Christ’s position is above all such things. As there are both earthly and heavenly hierarchies, it signifies that He is the ultimate authority on earth and in heaven; He is God.

The words “might and dominion” further describe the first two words. This “might and dominion” is “the actual force and the moral force of dignity or lordship in which it is clothed” (Charles Ellicott). All governments, and all of the power associated with them, are far below the authority and power of Christ. Their ability to rule, and the scope of their rule, is finite. In contrast to this are Christ’s might and dominion, both of which are infinite. Paul refers to this same idea several times in his epistles. Two examples are found in Philippians 2:9 and in Colossians 2:10.

Paul’s next words further show Christ’s supremacy. He says that Christ’s authority is over “every name that is named.” A name signifies a position, title, area of authority, and so on. If the name is given to something by another, it then implies authority over that thing. For example, Adam was given the right to name the animals. Thus, he was set as the authority over them. In the naming of his wife, Eve, he was demonstrating authority over her.

In Exodus 3:14, the Lord proclaimed His name, I AM THAT I AM. He is the self-existent One. Nobody can claim authority over Him because He is before all things, and His name signifies His eternal nature and His infinite Being. Christ follows in the same way, proceeding from the Godhead. He has a name, but it is above all others. This is confirmed by the words of Revelation 19 –

“His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.” Revelation 19:12

No authority can be claimed over Christ because His unknown name identifies His infinite Being and His eternal nature. Where all others are named in a knowable way, Christ is named in an unknowable way. Only as He reveals Himself, slowly and eternally in the stream of time, can we comprehend His true Being. Thus He is above “every name that is named.” And this is true “not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Christ is the eternal Logos, the Word of God.

This age began at the creation of the universe, which He created. He was before it, and thus He is above it – including all that is in it. In the age to come, He will reveal Himself eternally to His subjects, all named, all fully known, all subjected to Him. We will ponder that Name which is above every name for all eternity, and yet we will never fully know it. There will always be something more of Himself to reveal to His creatures.

Life application: Take time to hail the name of Christ – the eternal Word of God. And don’t stop! Eternity itself will be filled with the ceaseless praises of our heavenly Lord.

Lord God, who can withhold their praises for You? You were there at the beginning, forming the universe according to Your wisdom. You are here today, working out Your marvelous plan for the objects of Your affection. And for all eternity, You will endlessly and ceaselessly reveal Your infinite goodness to us. Surely it is right to praise and exalt You for the glory You possess. Great are You, O God, and greatly are You to be praised. Amen.




Ephesians 1:20


Friday, 15 July 2016

…which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:20

These words now explain “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” of the previous verse. The “which” of this verse refers especially to “the working” of the previous. This is marvelously described by Albert Barnes –

“The ‘power’ which was then exerted was as great as that of creation. It was imparting life to a cold and “mangled” frame. It was to open again the arteries and veins, and teach the heart to beat and the lungs to heave. It was to diffuse vital warmth through the rigid muscles, and to communicate to the body the active functions of life. It is impossible to conceive of a more direct exertion of ‘power’ than in raising up the dead; and there is no more striking illustration of the nature of conversion than in such a resurrection.”

In the resurrection, God’s mighty power was on display in such a marvelous way that it becomes the believer’s very point of  hope. We can understand creation because we can see it, we can analyze it, and we can contemplate it. In so doing, we understand the marvelous majesty of the Creator. We can consider how immense His power must be by that which He has created. The same is true with the resurrection of Christ for the believer.

In the resurrection, we can understand the power of God in a new way. Nothing, not even death, could hold back God’s power in the reanimation of the body of Christ. As this is so, then if we are in Christ, we can then be assured of this in us as well. We can trust that the power of God which worked in Christ will also work in like manner in us.

In this Epistle, Paul highlights this marvelous moment, but then he goes beyond it. God raised Christ from the dead, but He also “seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.” This is a confirmation of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 28 –

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18

Christ, at the right hand of God, is in the position of power and authority. It means that in Him is all of the power of creation and resurrection. The greatest powers ever contemplated are endowed in Him. Because of this, we have the absolute assurance that we too will be resurrected, just as He was. It is a guarantee that cannot fail.

For now, we are to look to Christ with eyes of faith and to behold the majesty of God, who stepped out of the eternal realm, in order to restore us once again to intimate fellowship. This He did through Jesus Christ, and this He continues to do now through Him. All things are being brought to their fulfillment through Christ, who even now sits on heaven’s throne.

Life application: Are you sure that there is ground beneath your feet? You should be as sure in your faith that Christ has all things under control as you are of the fact that the ground is really there. Don’t doubt, but look to Christ who has gone before us into the heavenly places.

Lord God, we stand in awe of your marvelous power which is on display throughout the heavens. In Your creation, there is more power than we could ever truly imagine, and yet you are the One who brought it all into existence by simply speaking. If all of this came from You, then how marvelous You are! Why should we fear when Christ has gone before us in death and in resurrection. If He has done that for us, then we too have the same sure hope. Thank You for displaying Your magnificent power in such a grand act of love! Amen.


Ephesians 1:19


Thursday, 14 July 2016

…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power… Ephesians 1:19

Paul continues his prayer here for the saints in Ephesus (and thus us!) concerning the opening of the eyes of our hearts to the magnificence of what Christ has done for us. In this verse, he continues with his use of superlatives, beginning with the words, “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power.”

The Greek words for “exceeding greatness” are used to describe what Paul actually cannot describe. He uses pen and ink in a struggle with the thoughts of his mind to relay to us the immense magnitude of the greatness of what God has done for us. It is this which is now revealed though the mystery of Christ. His words further disclose to us the grandeur of the riches of God’s divine grace which is working toward us.

The Pulpit Commentary states that, “The whole energy of the Divine Being is turned on to our feeble, languid nature, vivifying, purifying, and transforming it, making it wonderfully active where all was feebleness before, as the turning on of steam suddenly wakens up a whole mass of inert machinery.”

Paul then notes that this immense working of God is “toward us who believe.” We are the objects of God’s marvelous workings in the stream of time and human existence into which Christ stepped. The actual workings will be described in the next verses, but in order to show us the spectacular nature of them, we are given the matchless words of this verse now.

To complete this preparatory thought, he says that this exceeding greatness of God’s power, which is directed towards us as believers, is “according to the working of His mighty power.” Vincent’s Word Studies notes that the words “His mighty power” are insufficient to translate the Greek. Rather it should be “the strength of His might.” The word for “strength” is a word used only of God which denotes both “relative and manifested power.”  The word “might” refers to “indwelling strength.” And the word “working” denotes “the active, efficient manifestation of these.”

Taken together they reveal more than just a latent “power,” but rather an active working of God which is connected to the words “exceeding greatness of His power” of the preceding clause. As Vincent’s states, “The magnitude of God’s power toward believers is known in the operation of the strength of His might.” As you can see, Paul’s words are very carefully used to reveal to our minds the opulence of God’s mighty power working towards us. As stated, the actual use of this power is yet to be described. Paul will list it as he continues to show us the greatness of what God has done in and through Christ the Lord.

Life application: If Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, struggled with just the right terminology to describe the glorious workings of God in Christ, then we should be attentive to these nuances and contemplate them when they are explained to us. In this, we can then truly begin to state what our minds have begun to grasp – “How great Thou art, O God.”

Lord God, help us to remember that even if by the world’s standards we might seem like a failure, that in Your eyes we aren’t. When our hearts are directed to You, and when our lives are lived in accord with Your word, then we are doing what is right. A spouse may leave, friends may reject, but You are ever-faithful, and ever-true. You are a Husband to the widow, a Father to the fatherless, and our Comforter in times of need. Help us to remember the words of Your servant David who said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?” Our hope is in You and we shall praise You, even through the storms of life. In You we will hope, for You are the help of our countenance. You are our God. Amen.