Ephesians 1:22-23

 

And he has put all things under His feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”.

God has placed all things under the feet of Christ.

There is nothing in all of creation whether on earth or in the heavens, which is greater than Christ. He reigns over all things.

To say that God has put all things under Christ's feet is to suggest the total victory by Christ against everything that would stand against him.

All of the demonic hordes are under His feet.

All human powers and institutions are under His feet.

Every culture that blasphemes the name of Jesus is under His feet.

Every political leader is under His feet, even those who seek to put themselves above His reign.

There are strongmen and religious systems, dictators of the left and the right, corporate power and political parties, all opposed to the rule of Christ. Yet even these are under His feet.

Media figures and artists mock Christians and scoff at the gospel. They blaspheme against Jesus in a way that they would not dare against Muhammad. Even these are under the feet of Christ.

He could snuff them all out in an instant, but that is not His way. He allows the way of grace to unfold and to play out in all possible ways before bringing judgement, so that no one can argue that His judgement is harsh or unfair in any way.

Not only has God placed all things under the feet of Christ, He has made Christ the head of all things.

The authority of Christ is over all human and demonic forces. He actively directs the affairs of men and angels.

It is not as if Christ were sitting back patiently waiting to see how things play out. He is actively directing society, culture, politics, and every institution to maximise His own glory.

As Paul says in Romans,” in all things God works for the good of those who are called to His purposes”. So Christ manipulates even the opposition to achieve His ends. Christ manipulates even the opposition to achieve His outcomes.

All of this is for quote the church quote. Christ to love for His people, His flock, is so huge that he directs everything for the sake of the church.

When Paul speaks of the church he does not think of an institution or a human creation that controls the preaching of the faith. The church is an organic thing, a body, that consists of many people in congregations large and small who claim the allegiance to Christ above all other things.

So Christ is head over all things for the sake of the church, of the believers, around the world.

In some places, at some times, the church grows best under conditions of difficulty- opposition and even persecution. In other times and places it is peace and co-operation with civic authorities that moves the gospel forward.

Whether we are in times of peace or persecution, Christ is with us and bringing out the best possible outcome for the church.

When times are chaotic and difficult we must always remember that Christ is the head over all things.

Paul now briefly turns his attention to the church.

The church is the Body of Christ. Christ no longer lives on the earth, but the church does. We are the physical representation of Christ on the earth today.

To say that the church is the Body of Christ is to say that it is the physical agency by which Christ’s will is brought into being.

The church makes disciples by bringing people to the new birth or salvation and then training people to be mature disciples. The church is the light in the darkness, seeking to proclaim the name of Christ to those who do not know him yet. This is called mission or evangelism.

Mission takes many forms. The word itself conjures up visions of ministers going to primitive people to tell them about both Jesus and civilisation. Despite the tremendous advances in communications and technology in recent decades, many people have no knowledge of Jesus.

In many parts of the world, the mission of the church is going forward with such rapidity that something like one third of the world claims to be christian. In the west the church is losing ground rapidly and must adjust to becoming a missions frontier.

The compassionate ministries of the church are also a form of mission. Here the church aims to be the Body of Christ by being His hands and feet to the neglected parts of society- the poor, the very young, the chronically ill, and the aged .

In all kinds of ways the church is Christ's body, being a physical manifestation of the grace of God in the world.

The church is the fullness of Christ.

In a sense this is an aspirational or idealistic statement. Paul says that the church has not yet reached the fullness of the measure of Christ and that the church will not be mature until it does (Ephesians 4:13).

But the church is the fullness of Christ in the sense that he promised he would be with us until the end of the age, and that wherever two or three meet in His name there He is in the midst of us.

Wherever the church gathers for worship or prayer, He is with us, in us, and fills us.

There seems to be a contradiction here. If Christ fills us whenever we meet, why does Paul say we have not yet received the measure of the fullness of Christ? Why do we need the five fold ministry gifts to move us into a deeper fullness of Christ?

When we are saved, we receive the fullness of Christ. Nothing is held back from us. However, sin, immaturity of faith, lack of understanding, prevent us from receiving as much as we might. As we mature in Christ, as we learn more from the Bible, as we grow in faith and understanding, we move to deeper experiences of faith and of the Holy Spirit .

The baptism in the Holy Spirit is one such step. As the Holy Spirit manifests in the gift of tongues, we find ourselves enabled and motivated to pray for things in a new and powerful way. We might experience a miracle as we take a faith step in praying for someone, or the joy of helping someone come to salvation.

All of these experiences increase our capacity for receiving more of the fullness of Christ.

The same is true for the church. As individual congregations move in faith to share the gospel or pray for miracles, the collective faith of the church grows exponentially. If the congregation senses that it is being opposed by satanic forces, it's faith will grow to understand how to overcome . As the congregation worships in the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of Christ is made manifest amongst them.

So churches can experience a collective increase in their capacity to express the fullness of Christ.

The last phrase of the verse is difficult to understand. “Of him who fills all things in every way.” How can we understand that Christ fills all things?

We should not think of this as being a kind of pantheism which suggests that Christ fills physically the creation.

Paul said in verse 22 that Christ has put all things under his feet. Christ rules over all things, and so all of the creation is under his rule. In that sense He fills all things.

As the creation is renewed by the restoration of people to God, the glory of Christ will literally fill all things. In the book of Revelation we are told that in the New Jerusalem there is no need for the sun and moon, for the glory of God lights it and the Lamb is it's lamp (Revelation 21:23)

Key points in these verses:

  • All things are under the feet of Christ

  • Christ is completely defeated His enemies

  • He is head over all things, actively moving things forward for His glory

  • While Christ would be justified in bringing judgement against those who oppose him, in grace he holds back to allow people time to repent

  • Christ’s authority is for the sake of the church.

  • the church is the Body of Christ

  • the church does the will of Christ in the world

  • the church, and the individuals who make it up, have the fullness of Christ

  • We are able to grow in our capacity to receive Christ

  • The glory of Christ fills all things