Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
We have here the intimate relation of Christ with his Church described in two aspects - first external, and then internal.
I. EXTERNALLY, THE CHURCH IS A BODY OF WHICH CHRIST IS THE HEAD.
1. The Church is joined to Christ. Christ maintains the closest possible relations with his people. His ascension, instead of removing him from us, by taking him to a distant heaven, brings him nearer to us, by his passing into the spiritual universe, through which he can have immediate contact with individual souls.
2. There is one life in Christ and the Church. The same blood pulsates through the head and through the members of the body. The blood of Christ must not only be "applied to" Christians, as some people say, but in them, drunk as wine of life (John 6:56). Thus, by close communion with Christ in faith, submission, and obedience, the very life of Christ will flow through us, so that we can say, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me."
3. Christ presides over the Church. He is the Head of the body. The Church is not a republic; it is a kingdom, and Christ is its King. His thought teaches, his will commands, his Spirit gives grace and order to all the movements of the body.
4. The Church is one in Christ. The head has but one body. Through Christ a common sympathy should spring up among Christians, just as, through their connection with the head, the various organs of the body co-operate harmoniously. When the influence of the head is lost, convulsions or confused movements are the consequence. So sectarian enmity is a proof of severance from Christ. Nevertheless, variety is possible and even necessary in a highly organized body. There are many members, and all the members have not the same office. The essential unity consists in the subordination of all the parts to the one head.
5. Severance from Christ is death to the Church. A Christless Church is a headless trunk. We may retain the doctrine and ethic of the New Testament, but, nevertheless, amputation of the Head means death. Even a partial severance of connection involves paraylsis - loss of spiritual power and loss of spiritual feeling.
II. INTERNALLY, THE CHURCH IS THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST. It is filled with Christ. He is not only the Head above it; he is the life within it. He does not only teach, bless, command, and lead from without; he inspires his people and lives in his Church. Christ fills "all in all;" i.e. the Spirit that was in Jesus of Nazareth is in the whole universe, inspiring all creation and all providence with wisdom and goodness, purity and grace. The same Spirit is in the Church. As yet, unhappily, the Church is not filled with Christ. Though Christ is received into the heart of Christians, every door within is not yet flung open to the gracious Guest. But in the perfect time, when his authority is everywhere established, his presence will be universally immanent. In the ideal Church, Christ fills the affections with holy love, the thoughts with higher truths, the imagination with heavenly visions, the will with obedient actions. He fills all and his graces are seen in all. Already he begins the blessed indwelling. We look forward to his great triumph, when he will as fully fill his people as he will absolutely conquer his foes. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.