|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 12
Meditation Title: Head over the Church
Eph 1:22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way
Our heading of this meditation shows we have jumped to a conclusion that this particular verse doesn't make explicit. Here is a lesson for us: read Scripture carefully and don't jump to conclusions! Let's state simply what these verses say and then examine it afterwards. These verses say that God had made Jesus ‘head' over everything, and of course that includes the church. When Paul uses the analogy of the church being Christ's ‘body' today, it is natural to see Christ as the head of that body, but these verses are actually bigger than that. It is language that Paul uses again and again in this letter and in the one to the Colossians.
Note: “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work,” (Eph 4:15,16) so there Paul does clearly state that Jesus is head of his body. Later on in the letter he says, “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church , his body, of which he is the Savior.” (Eph 5:23). There he is quite explicit. To the Colossians he said, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church .” (Col 1:17,18), again being quite explicit that Christ is the head of the church which is his body, but later he says, “you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Col 2:10) where he speaks of Christ as head over all things.
So we find Paul uses the word ‘head' specifically as part of the analogy where he speaks of the church as Christ's body, and also to mean ‘Supreme Lord' (Good News version) and (as the Message version puts it) ‘is in charge of it all, and has the final word on everything'.
So let's now look more carefully at each part of these verses. First, “God placed all things under his feet.” This picture is one where Christ rules over everything. We see this elsewhere in Scripture, e.g. speaking of mankind, “You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” (Psa 8:6) which reflects God's mandate to mankind in Gen 1:26-. So Paul tells us that the Father has placed everything under the Son's rule. He continues, “and appointed him to be head over everything.” Just so that don't miss it, first he spoke of “all things” and now “everything.” In other words nothing is outside Christ's jurisdiction. As we have pointed out previously, this is a claim and a teaching that is found in no other world religion and it separates Jesus Christ out from any and every other religious figure.
But now notice something that is quite amazing: “for the church.” God has made Christ head over everything for the benefit or in the interest of the church. What does that mean? How can it be? Well the ‘church' (which means ‘called out ones' in the original Greek) simply comprises all those who have come into relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Now one of the things about the church is that it is constantly growing with more and more people coming to God through Jesus, and Jesus uses the church to bring this growth about (see Eph 4:15,16 above). Now Christ is constantly working to bring more and more people back into relationship with his Father and because, as we've just said, he uses the church, his body, to do that, he is constantly working in his rule over all things to help the church bring that about. So, whether or not the whole universe is aware of it and whether or not they cooperate, Christ as in the role of ruler over all things, is constantly working to bless the church and work in the affairs of the world to bring about the addition of more and more people into his body.
So Christ has been granted the position of ultimate ruler over the universe to work to bring this about. As we've noted previously, the psalmist spoke prophetically about this: “The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion ; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:1,2) So David the psalmist saw the ‘I AM' speaking to David's lord, the Messiah, to bring about a rule where the Father grants rule to the Son to oversee all things, to rule in the midst of his enemies, to draw people to Himself.
There is a final phrase to note: “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” This is the church described as “the fullness of him”. Now many different commentators have considered this differently, so we will simply suggest that because Christ is linked to us by his own Holy Spirit who he has placed in us (see 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19, 2 Cor 6:16), Christ may be ‘located' at his Father's right hand in heaven, but in reality his expression or his life is extended to every believer who has been born again, and therefore if you wanted to ‘measure' Christ's presence, the fullness or completeness of him is thus found in every believer past, present and future.
But Paul's also described Christ as the one “who fills everything in every way”. This is simply a reflection of the fact that Christ is God and as the psalmist saw (see Psa 139:7-12) God is everywhere, although He is distinct from His creation. So it's like Paul is saying, “but don't make the mistake of thinking that Christ only resides in believers and the body at the right hand of the Father in heaven; he is also, because he is by essence God, everywhere!” Are you beginning to catch something of the greatness of Christ as revealed in this letter? If not, pray and read these things again. It is incredible, but it is true.