Ephesians 1:22, 23
And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
The Resurrection was the point of conjunction between his crucifixion and his coronation. The headship to which he was exalted had a twofold relationship: he was made "Head over all things to the Church," and he was made Head of the Church itself.
I. HIS HEADSHIP OVER ALL THINGS. It is no new thought that our Lord is at the head of the natural order of things; for" without him was not anything made that was made;" "By him all things consist;" he upholds "all things by the word of his power," for "the government is upon his shoulders." But by virtue of his mediatorship the elements are made subject to him - all kings and nations, all angels in heaven, all fallen angels, all the advances and discoveries of science, are made tributary to the welfare of the Church. Therefore no weapon formed against her shall prosper Christian people ought to derive comfort and aspiration from the thought that he who is the Foundation of their religious hopes holds in his hands all the complicated threads of providence and directs the course of human history. It is the one Divine hand which clasps together the two great books of nature and revelation. This thought ought to give fresh breadth and strength and healthiness to all our thoughts about him. Above all, let us see in this fact the Divine guarantee for the safety of the Church. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Jesus "filleth all in all," and therefore has the inexhaustible resources of the universe at his disposal for the good of the Church.
II. HEADSHIP OF THE CHURCH. There is a double relationship involved in this headship - one representative, the other vital.
1. The representative relation. He was Head as he was Savior (Ephesians 5:23). Believers were in him from eternity, for they were chosen in him (ver. 4). "The covenant which was confirmed before of God in Christ" (Galatians 3:17) was that in the terms of which they are saved; the promise of life is said to be in him (2 Timothy 1:1), as all the promises are "yea and amen" in him (2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus grace is said to be given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2 Timothy 1:9); and believers are said to suffer with him, to be quickened and raised together with him, to sit together in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). Christ, indeed, as Head, stands for the whole body: So also is Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12). Thus the representative relation extends from eternity to eternity. These passages of Scripture prove the groundlessness of the notion that Christ only became Head after his resurrection with the view of proving that the saints of the Old Testament dispensation do not belong to the body or Church of Christ. He was Head just as he was Savior; for "he is the Head of the Church, and he is the Savior of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). Christ was not and could not be Savior without death, yet he was the Savior of Old Testament saints ages before his death. There is no passage asserting that he became Head through resurrection. The resurrection only declared his headship as it declared his sonship. If Christ was not Head before his incarnation, the Old Testament saints had no Mediator. Christ was the Head of all believers because, as being the last Adam, all believers were in him.
2. The vital relation. Christ is the Head of the body, the Church, holding the same relation as the head does to the natural body.
(1) As to life. His life is the life of the members. "Because I live ye shall live also" (John 14:19); "The life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). If the head is severed from the body, life becomes extinct. The life of the Church depends upon its union with Christ; therefore it is a blessed truth, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:16, 17). Thus the apostle can say, as if his life were merged in the very life of the Redeemer, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," the Mainspring of all my activity, the Source of all my holy desires, the Fountain of my blessedness. In a beautifully spiritual sense, believers can say," In him we live, and move, and have our being."
(2) As to motion. It is the head which directs all the movements of the body; so it is Christ who "worketh all in all" (1 Corinthians 2:6) and "fills all in all."
(3) As to strength. The members of the body have no power of self-motion; they derive their power from the head. So all our power to fight against sin is derived from Christ. Therefore the apostle prays for the Ephesians that they may be "strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16); and he says of himself, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).
(4) As to sympathy. The sensations of the limbs are telegraphed back to the brain, which shows itself in constant sympathy with every part of the body. A pain in the smallest nerve is felt in the head. So Jesus Christ knows all our sorrows and our trials, and "cannot but be touched with a feeling of our infirmities." He says to Saul, "Why persecutest thou me?" and says to the whole company of the redeemed, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). It is out of this close connection that the members themselves ought to realize the power and the blessing of mutual sympathy.
(5) As to subordination. Jesus Christ is not only Head of the Church, but Head over the Church. The apostle says, "The Head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the Head of Christ is God" (l Corinthians 11:3). It is implied here that the body is subordinate to the head, though the subordination is in its nature different in the three cases mentioned. Christianity is not only Christ, but it is subjection to him as Savior, Lord, and Guide.
III. THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST. The Church thus regarded refers not to any one body of Christians; for there is no denomination on earth that contains all the disciples of Christ, nor is there any denomination of which it can be said that all its members are disciples of Christ. It refers to the whole number of God's people, redeemed by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 5:25). The Ephesian Epistle sets forth the doctrine of the Church in this sense. We never read in it of Churches, but of the Church. The idea is that of one organic whole, represented under various images, borrowed at one time from a temple, at another from a house, at another from the head with its different members, but it always signifies a union of those united to Christ by faith, whether they belong to earth or heaven. The Church is here described as at once the body and the fullness of Christ.
1. The body of Christ; The most impressive illustration of the body is supplied by the same apostle in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. He shows an analogy between the Church and the human body in important particulars.
(1) As the body is one organic whole, because animated by one spirit, so the Church is one by virtue of the indwelling Spirit. It follows, therefore, that believers must be one in faith, love, and obedience. But this union must have outward expression in the recognition of all Christians as such, and in mutual helpfulness and harmony.
(2) As the unity of the body admits of a diversity of members and organs, the unity of the Church admits of a like diversity in gifts and offices.
(3) As all the members of the body are mutually dependent, each existing for all, so members of the Church have beneficiary relations to each other for the purposes of edification or service.
(4) It is God who has made the distinction among the members of the body; it is he who bestows spiritual gifts according to his good pleasure. Thus the body exists with a community of condition, feeling, character; all the members bound up in one bundle of life, so united to Christ that all his relationships are theirs - his people their people, his Father their Father, his home their home.
2. The Church the fullness of Christ. As the body is not complete without the head, so the head is not complete without the body. The Lord Jesus Christ is not complete without his Church. How can this be? He himself says, "My strength is made perfect in weakness;" but is his power not always perfect? It is declared to be perfect in our weakness. So the Church serves as an empty vessel, into which the Savior pours his mediatorial fullness. Every fresh convert added to the Church adds to his fullness. His fullness is manifested by the variety of gifts and graces he bestows on his members, who are always growing up into him who is the Head (Ephesians 4:15), growing to a stature, to a proportion, till we are filled with the fullness of God. This view of the Church suggests
(1) that if we are vessels of mercy, we are empty vessels till the Lord fills us with his Spirit.
(2) It suggests the high dignity of the Church.
(3) It suggests the rich love of God who gave Christ as the Head of the Church.
(4) It suggests the absolute safety and ultimate triumph of all true believers. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,