|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:15-23 God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer. Even the best Christians need to be prayed for: and while we hear of the welfare of Christian friends, we should pray for them. Even true believers greatly want heavenly wisdom. Are not the best of us unwilling to come under God's yoke, though there is no other way to find rest for the soul? Do we not for a little pleasure often part with our peace? And if we dispute less, and prayed more with and for each other, we should daily see more and more what is the hope of our calling, and the riches of the Divine glory in this inheritance. It is desirable to feel the mighty power of Divine grace, beginning and carrying on the work of faith in our souls. But it is difficult to bring a soul to believe fully in Christ, and to venture its all, and the hope of eternal life, upon his righteousness. Nothing less than Almighty power will work this in us. Here is signified that it is Christ the Saviour, who supplies all the necessities of those who trust in him, and gives them all blessings in the richest abundance. And by being partakers of Christ himself, we come to be filled with the fulness of grace and glory in him. How then do those forget themselves who seek for righteousness out of him! This teaches us to come to Christ. And did we know what we are called to, and what we might find in him, surely we should come and be suitors to him. When feeling our weakness and the power of our enemies, we most perceive the greatness of that mighty power which effects the conversion of the believer, and is engaged to perfect his salvation. Surely this will constrain us by love to live to our Redeemer's glory.
Verse 23. - Which is his body. The Church is Christ's body in a real though spiritual sense. He is the Head, his people the members; he the Vine, they the branches. He dwells in the Church as life dwells in a living body. He fills it with his life, replenishes it with his strength, feeds it with his body and blood, beautifies it with his comeliness, calms it with his peace, brightens it with his holiness, and finally glorifies it with his glory. All things are delivered unto him of the Father; and all that he has he has for the Church: "My beloved is mine, and I am his." The fullness of him that filleth all in all. The grammatical structure of the words would lead us to construe "fullness" with "the Church," and to regard the Church as Christ's πλήρωμα. Some object to this, inasmuch as, in point of fact, the Church is often very empty, and therefore not worthy of the term "fullness." But it is not meant that the Church has actually received all the fullness of him who filleth all in all, but only that she is in the course of receiving it. The Church on earth is an ever-changing body, perpetually receiving new members, who are at first empty; so that it must always in this state be in the course of filling, never filled. It is in the course of being filled with all Divine things - with all the treasures of heaven. As the empty cells of the honeycomb are being filled with the sweet essences of flowers, so the empty vessels of the Church are being filled with the glorious treasures of God; or, as the courts and compartments of a great international exhibition get filled up with the choicest products of the lands, so the Church gets filled with the handiwork of the grace of God. When the Church is completed, it will be a representation of the fullness of God; all of God that can be communicated to men will be made manifest in the Church. For he whose fullness the Church is, is he that filleth all in all, or filleth all with all. He possesses all things, and he fills all space with the all things. He fills the ocean with water, the organic world with life, the firmament with stars, the entire creation with forms innumerable, alike beautiful and useful. So also he fills the Church. Thus appropriately concludes this chapter, beginning (ver. 3) with thanksgiving to him who had blessed the Ephesians with every blessing of the Spirit in Christ Jesus, and now ending with a sublime picture of the Infinite One filling the Church with these Divine blessings out of the infinite stores of the kingdom of heaven. Thus we see the quality of richness, exuberance, overflowing abundance which is so conspicuously ascribed in this Epistle to the grace of God (comp. Psalm 36:8; Psalm 103:3-5; Matthew 5:3, etc.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Which is his body,.... That is, which church is the body of Christ; as an human body is but one, consisting of various members, united to each other, and set in an exact proportion and symmetry, and in a proper subservience to one another, and which must be neither more nor fewer than they are; so the church of Christ is but one general assembly, which consists of many persons, of different gifts and usefulness, and are all united together under one head, Christ, whose name they bear, and are made to drink of the same Spirit; and these are placed in such order, as throw a glory and comeliness on each other, and to be useful to one another, so that it cannot be said of the meanest member, that there is no need of it; and the number of them can neither be increased nor diminished; and this is Christ's body, his mystical body, which becomes his by the Father's gift to him, and by his own purchase; to which he is united, and of which he is the only head; and which he loves as his own body, and supplies, directs, and defends:
the fulness of him that filleth all in all; besides the personal fulness which Christ has as God, and his fulness of ability and fitness for his work as Mediator, and his dispensatory fulness, which dwells in him for the use of his people, the church is his relative fulness, which fills him, and makes up Christ mystical; and which is filled by him, and is complete in him: and then will the church appear to be Christ's fulness, when all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be gathered in; and when these are all filled with the grace designed for them; and when they are all grown up to their full proportion, or are arrived to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; which will be a glorious sight to see, and very desirable: and this shows the certainty of the saints' perseverance and salvation: for if anyone member, even the meanest, could be lost, the church would not be the fulness of Christ: and this may be further concluded, from its being his fulness, who
filleth all in all; which may be understood either more extensively; for he fills both worlds with inhabitants; he fills all places with his omnipresence, and all creatures with proper food and sustenance: or with a limitation to the church and people of God; he fills all his churches and ordinances with his gracious presence; and he fills the various societies of his saints with members and with officers; and these with the gifts and graces of his Spirit, suitable to their place and station; he fills all and every of the saints, all the vessels of mercy, whether greater or lesser, all sorts of them, of larger or meaner capacities; he fills all the powers and faculties of their souls, their hearts with joy, their minds with knowledge, their consciences with peace, their wills with spiritual desires, submission and resignation, and their affections with love to himself and people: in short, he fills them with all grace and goodness, and the fruits of righteousness; and so makes them meet for usefulness here, and for happiness hereafter; the fulness of the earth in Psa_24:1 is by the Jews interpreted of the souls of the righteous, and of the congregation of Israel (h).
(h) Zohar in Gen. fol. 50. 2. & in Exod. fol. 21. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. his body—His mystical and spiritual, not literal, body. Not, however, merely figurative, or metaphorical. He is really, though spiritually, the Church's Head. His life is her life. She shares His crucifixion and His consequent glory. He possesses everything, His fellowship with the Father, His fulness of the Spirit, and His glorified manhood, not merely for Himself, but for her, who has a membership of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Eph 5:30).
fulness—"the filled-up receptacle" [Eadie]. The Church is dwelt in and filled by Christ. She is the receptacle, not of His inherent, but of His communicated, plenitude of gifts and graces. As His is the "fulness" (Joh 1:16; Col 1:19; 2:9) inherently, so she is His "fulness" by His impartation of it to her, in virtue of her union to Him (Eph 5:18; Col 2:10). "The full manifestation of His being, because penetrated by His life" [Conybeare and Howson]. She is the continued revelation of His divine life in human form; the fullest representative of His plenitude. Not the angelic hierarchy, as false teachers taught (Col 2:9, 10, 18), but Christ Himself is the "fulness of the Godhead," and she represents Him. Koppe translates less probably, "the whole universal multitude."
filleth all in all—Christ as the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the world, constituted by God (Col 1:16-19), fills all the universe of things with all things. "Fills all creation with whatever it possesses" [Alford]. The Greek is, "filleth for Himself."
Ephesians 1:23 Parallel Commentaries
Ephesians 1:23 NIV
Ephesians 1:23 NLT
Ephesians 1:23 ESV
Ephesians 1:23 NASB
Ephesians 1:23 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible