Ephesians 1:22
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.

And gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church.
In this scripture let these four things be seriously regarded.

1. The dignity and authority committed to Christ. "He hath put all things under His feet"; which implies full, ample, and absolute dominion in Him, and subjection in them over whom He reigns. This power is delegated to Him by the Father: for besides the essential, native, ingenite power and dominion over all, which He hath as God, and is common to every person in the Godhead (Psalm 22:28), there is a mediatory dispensed authority, which is proper to Him as mediator, which He receives as the reward or fruit of His suffering (Philippians 2:8).

2. The subject recipient of this authority, which is Christ, and Christ primarily and only. He is the first receptacle of all authority and power. Whatever authority any creature is clothed with, is but ministerial and derivative, whether it be political or ecclesiastical. Christ is the only Lord (Jude 1:4). The fountain of all power.

3. The object of this authority, the whole creation; "all things are put under His feet." He rules from sea to sea, even to the utmost bounds of God's creation; "Thou hast given Him power over all flesh" (John 17:2). All creatures, rational and irrational, animate and inanimate, angels, devils, men, winds, seas, all obey Him.

4. And especially, take notice of the end for which He governs and rules the universal Empire. It is for the Church, i.e., for the advantage, comfort, and salvation of that; chosen remnant He died for. He purchased the Church; and that He might have the highest security that His blood should not be lost, God the Father hath put all things into His hand, to order and dispose all as He pleaseth. For the furtherance of that His design and end, as He bought the persons of some, so the services of all the rest; and that they might effectually serve the end they are designed to, Christ will order them all in a blessed subordination and subserviency thereunto.

(J. Flavel.)

That Jesus Christ hath a providential influence upon all the affairs of this world, is evident, both from Scripture assertions, and rational observations, made upon the actings of things here below. But my business, in this discourse, is not to prove that there is a providence, which none but atheists deny. I shall choose rather to show by what acts Jesus Christ administers this kingdom, and in what manner; and what use may be made thereof. First, He rules and orders the kingdom of providence, as follows.

1. He supports the world and all creatures in it by His power.

2. He permits and suffers the worst of creatures in His dominions to be and act as they do.

3. He powerfully restrains creatures by the bridle of providence, from the commission of those things to which their hearts are propense enough.

4. Jesus Christ limits the creatures in their acting, assigning them their boundaries and lines of liberty; to which they may, but beyond it cannot go.

5. The Lord Jesus providentially protects His people amidst a world of enemies and dangers.

6. He punishes the evil doers, and repays by providence, into their own lap, the mischief they do, or but intend to do, unto them that fear Him.

7. And lastly, He rewards by providence the services done to Him and His people. Out of this treasure of providence God repays oftentimes those that serve Him, and that with a hundredfold reward now in this life (Matthew 19:29). This active, vigilant providence hath its eye upon all the wants, straits, and troubles of the creatures; but especially upon such as religion brings us unto. What huge volumes of experiences might the people of God write upon this subject! Secondly, We shall next inquire how Jesus Christ administers this providential kingdom. And here I must take notice of the means by which, and the manner in which He doth it. The means, or instruments He uses in the governing the providential kingdom (for He is not personally present with us Himself), are either angels or men; the angels are "ministering creatures sent forth by Him for the good of them that shall be the heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Luther tells us they have two offices, to sing above, and watch beneath. These do us many invisible offices of love. They have dear and tender respects and love for the saints. To them, God, as it were, puts forth His children to nurse, and they are tenderly careful of them whilst they live, and bring them home in their arms to their Father when they die. And as angels, so men are the servants of providence; yea, bad men as well as good. Yea, there is not a creature in heaven, earth, or hell, but Jesus Christ can providentially use it, and serve His ends, and promote His designs by it.But whatever the instrument be, Christ uses, of this we may be certain, that His providential working is holy, judicious, sovereign, profound, irresistible, harmonious, and to the saints peculiar.

1. It is holy. Though He permits, limits, orders, and overrules many unholy persons and actions, yet He still works like Himself, most holily and purely throughout.

2. Christ's providential working is not only most pure and holy, but also most wise and judicious (Ezekiel 1:20), "The wheels are full of eyes." They are not moved by a blind impetus, but in deep counsel and wisdom. The most wise providence looks beyond us. It eyes the end, and suits all things thereto, and not to our fond desires.

3. The providence of Christ is most supreme and sovereign.

4. Providence is profound and inscrutable. The judgments of Christ are "a great deep, and His footsteps are not known" (Psalm 36:6). There are hard texts in the works, as well as in the words of Christ. The wisest heads have been at a loss in interpreting some providences, (Jeremiah 12:1, 2; Job 21:7). The angels had the hands of a man under their wings (Ezekiel 1:8), i.e., they wrought secretly and mysteriously.

5. Providence is irresistible in its design and motions; for all providences are but the fulfillings and accomplishments of God's immutable decrees (Ephesians 1:11).

6. The providences of Christ are harmonious.

7. The providences of Christ work in a special and peculiar way, for the good of the saints.Inferences:

1. See to whom you are beholden for your lives, liberties, comforts, and all that you enjoy in this world. Is it not Christ that orders all for you? He is, indeed, in heaven, out of your sight; but though you see Him not, He sees you, and takes care of all your concerns. When one told Silentiarius of a plot laid to take away his life, he answered, "Si Deus mei curam non habet, quid vivo?" "If God take no care of me, how do I live? how have I escaped hitherto?"

2. Hath God left the government of the whole world in the hands of Christ, and trusted Him over all? Then do you also leave all your particular concerns in the hands of Christ too, and know that the Infinite Wisdom and Love, which rules the world, manages everything that relates to you. It is in a good hand, and infinitely better than if it were in your own.

3. If Christ be Lord and King over the providential kingdom, and that for the good of His people, let none that are Christ's henceforth stand in a slavish fear of creatures. It is a good note that Grotius hath upon my text; it is a marvellous consolation (saith he) that Christ hath so great an empire, and that He governs it for the good of His people, as a head consulting the good of the body. Our Head and Husband, is Lord general of all the hosts of heaven and earth; no creature can move hand or tongue without His leave or order; the power they have is given them from above (John 19:11, 12). The serious consideration of this truth will make the feeblest spirit cease trembling, and set it a singing (Psalm 47:7), "The Lord is King of all the earth, sing ye praises with understanding": that is, (as some well paraphrase it) every one that hath understanding of this comfortable truth.

4. If the government of the world be in the hands of Christ, then our engaging and entitling of Christ to all our affairs and business, is the true and ready way to their success and prosperity.

5. Lastly, eye Christ in all the events of providence; see His hand in all that befalls you, whether it be evil or good. "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein" (Psalm 111:2).

(J. Flavel.)

I. THAT THE CHURCH IS THE OBJECT OF PREEMINENCE IN THIS WORLD; ITS PROSPERITY AND COMPLETENESS ARE THE GREAT PURPOSES FOR WHICH THE WORLD EXISTS. The illustrious rank of this institution, the Church, may be judged of when you recollect that —

1. The Church is the realization of the highest Divine idea or thought respecting this world.

2. And then, another element in the Church's magnificence, arises from the fact that the Church was brought into existence by the most remarkable and interesting means. There was a vast preparation for it, as if to direct the minds of all to this as a nobler work — a creation which stood higher than all the rest. The great design of the Church had existed in the eternal counsels of God, and then when it was to be completed, He sent his only Son into our world, who took upon Him our nature, bled, suffered, agonized, and died, that justice might be satisfied, and sinners return to God. He gave His life for those who were dead in trespasses and sins. Now, dear brethren, if you are to judge of the importance of an end by the means employed for its attainment, then what end can be so noble as this? Surely you must at once perceive that the Church takes a place of preeminence, which nothing can approach and nothing can rival. And then another fact which gives it so much interest is that —

3. It supplies a special manifestation of the Divine character and perfections. The unswerving rectitude of His government, the infinite purity of His character, the exhaustless fertility of His resources, the infinite wisdom of His mind, the exalted benevolence, the tender pity, the matchless mercy of Ills heart, are all illustrated. His moral attributes shine forth most conspicuously here. Still further, the Church's preeminence consists in its being —

4. The source of the highest and purest blessing to the world. The Church is emphatically "the light of the world." It is called "the salt of the earth." It soars above everything else. It takes the highest position; and looking down in pity and love on all besides, seeks to raise them to a loftier elevation and to invest them with a holier character. It says to them, "Come and join us, and in joining us you will be rendered pure and happy for time, and blessed to all eternity." This being the case, you cannot wonder at another feature in the Church's elevation, and that is, that —

5. It is the object of special Divine love and complacency.

II. THE SUBORDINATION OF ALL OTHER THINGS TO THE CHURCH. Christ is "Head over all things to the Church" evidently implying that these things are under the dominion of Christ for the good of the Church. Hence —

1. All things have been and still are working in aid of the Church.

2. The Church should use all things for its own progress and advantage. All inferior things are given for the use of man, and he is only required to employ them wisely and becomingly. So all things are intended to be subordinate to the service and welfare of the Church, and all that is demanded is, that the Church should use them in a prudent and Christian spirit.


1. He has the ability and the authority to render all things subservient to the Church. When you remember what He has accomplished, you will feel that He is able also to accomplish this. Surely, you must conclude that "the government is upon His shoulders," because He is "Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."

2. His love to the Church will secure this result. For His love to the Church was no common affection.

3. That the Saviour's position, as Head over all things to the Church, and its consequent elevation, are the reward of His mediatorial work. "Therefore God hath highly exalted Him, and gave Him a name above every other name." And in the context it is implied that because of His work He is raised "far above all principality and power, and might and dominion"; all things are put under His feet, and He is appointed Head over all things to the Church. Then, be assured, He will secure His own triumph, and His own reward. The Church's completeness will be His richest recompense. It was "for this joy that was set before Him, that He endured the cross and despised the shame"; and when He shall behold this, He will see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. As Christ, therefore, is Head over all things to His Church, all things shall work together for the Church's good.

(J. C. Harrison.)

The brow once crowned with thorns now wears the diadem of universal sovereignty; and that arm, once nailed to the cross, now holds in it the sceptre of unlimited dominion. He who lay in the tomb has ascended the throne of unbounded empire. Jesus, the Brother-Man, is Lord of all: He has had all things put under His feet. This is the true apotheosis of humanity.

(John Eadie, D. D.)

Under His "over all" Headship, everything that happens benefits His people — discoveries in science, inventions in art, and revolutions in government — all that is prosperous and all that is adverse. The history of the Church is a proof extending through eighteen centuries; a proof so often tested, and by such opposite processes, as to gather irresistible strength with its age, a proof varied, ramified, prolonged, and unique, that the exalted Jesus is Head over all things to the Church.

(John Eadie, D. D.)

Sosomenes relates that when the Holy Family, in their flight into Egypt, reached the termination of their journey, and approached the city of Heliopolis, a tree which grew before the gates of the city, and was guarded with great veneration by the heathen citizens, as the seat of a god, bowed down its branches at the approach of the infant Christ. Likewise it is related (not in legends merely, but by grave religious authorities), that all the idols of the Egyptians fell with their faces to the earth. I have seen pictures of the flight into Egypt, in which broken idols lay by the wayside.

(Mrs. Jameson.)

A little prior to the death of Julian the apostate, Sibanius Julianus, it is said, a teacher of paganism, tauntingly asked a Christian instructor, "What is the carpenter's son doing?" "He is preparing a coffin for Julian," replied the Christian.


Evangelical Magazine.
We have seen in mountain lands one majestic peak soaring above all the rest of the hills which cut the azure of the horizon with their noble outline burning with hues of richest gold in the light of the morning sun; and so should the doctrine of Christ incarnate, crucified, risen, and reigning, be preeminent above the whole chain of fact, doctrine, and sentiment which make up the sublime landscape — the magnificent panorama — which the Christian preacher (or teacher) unfolds, and makes to pass in clear form and brilliant colour before the eye of his people's faith. —

(Evangelical Magazine.)

So intimately connected are the head and the body, that one cannot exist without the other. In her freaks, no doubt, Nature does produce strange monsters, which, though deficient, some of this and some of that part, contrive to live; and it is marvellous to see what formidable lesions the body can suffer, of what valuable members it may be maimed, and yet survive. But the loss of the head is the loss of life. Death descends on the knife of the guillotine. A bullet whistles through the parting air, the lightning flashes, the sword of the headsman gleams in the sun, and — there is a corpse! before the eye has winked, the man is dead, stone dead.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

"If," says , "a man should come up to embrace thee, to kiss and honour thee upward, and beneath with a pair of shoes beaten full of nails, tread upon thy bare foot; the head shall despise the honour done unto it, and for the foot that smarteth, say, Why treadest thou upon me? So when feigned gospellers honour Christ our Head, sitting in heaven, and oppress His members on earth, the Head shall speak for the feet that smart, and say, Why treadest thou on Me?" Paul had a zeal toward God, but he did tread upon Christ's feet on earth, for whom the Head crieth forth of heaven, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" Although Christ sitteth on the right hand of His Father, yet lieth He on earth; He suffereth all calamities here on earth, He is many times evil entreated here on earth.

(Bernard Gilpin.)

1. The term "Head" frequently conveys the idea of supreme dignity and preeminence. In this sense it is properly applicable to Christ.

2. The "Head" is also frequently designed to express a state of supreme power and authority. In this sense of the term, Christ is the Head of the Church in opposition to all who sacrilegiously usurp the title.

3. The title "Head" is sometimes more literally used, as expressing the relation which that part of the body sustains to the members with which it is vitally connected. Strong and expressive as this figure may appear, Christ is, in this sense, as to all the purposes of spiritual life, the Head of His body, the Church. This idea deserves our particular attention.

I. It denotes the STRICT AND INTIMATE UNION that subsists between Christ and His people.


III. It implies that THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COMMUNICATES OR IMPARTS FROM HIS FULNESS to every individual member of His mystical body.

IV. This relative character of Christ supposes THE ABSOLUTE NEED WHICH HE AND HIS PEOPLE HAVE OF EACH OTHER, in order to the completeness of the body.

(W. Roby.)

1. The closeness of Christ's union with His members.(1) He has taken our nature.(2) By His sufferings He has procured for us all things spiritual and temporal.(3) He unites us to Himself more closely than the angels.

4. He communicates to us the whole life of grace and glory which we have.(5) He directs and moves us

(a)outwardly, by signifying His will;

(b)inwardly, by sending His Spirit.(6) He strengthens us with aids outward and inward.

2. Christ, whom God hath given to be Head over believers, is also Head over all creatures.(1) The necessity of this Could He not bind Satan and cause him to deliver up his prey, how should we be ever set at liberty? Could He not dissolve the works of Satan, and swallow up death, and create life in us, our case were lamentable.(2) A spur to thanksgiving'.(3) A ground of confidence. What need we fear any creature, when we have Him who is over every creature? If He be ours, who can hurt us?

(Paul Bayne.)

I. HE HATH PLACED ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET. I believe it will be necessary to remark both the nature and the extensiveness of this dominion; for you will observe it is the effect of Divine appointment. "He," that is, God the Father, "hath put all things under His feet," therefore it is very different from that dominion which essentially belongs to His Divine nature. This He alway possessed; this, therefore, He could not obtain. "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth"; "All things are delivered unto Me," etc. The question is, How He obtained it? that is, whether He obtained it by an actor bounty, or by an act of grace, or by an act of recompense? The angels obtained their preeminence by pure bounty; the saints obtained their preeminence by pure grace; but the Saviour obtained His as a recompense. And as it was thus obtained, so you will observe with regard to its extent that it is universal, it is boundless. "He hath put all things under His feet."

1. He hath put all beings under His feet. Angels, devils, men. Not a being in the universe but is either His servant or His slave.

2. And God hath put all things under His feet. The ordinances of nature; the heavenly bodies; the elements, etc. What a dignity does this attach to our Lord and Saviour! What an enemy must this render Him to those who are His adversaries!

II. GOD HATH MADE HIM TO BE THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO HIS CHURCH. His mediatorial power and dominion are peculiar, and principally for the sake of His own people. Let us explain. When God delivered Joseph from prison, He raised him also to a state of distinction; he was made governor, not of a mere village, or town, or province, but over all the land of Egypt, then the most renowned monarchy in the world; and without him, as the expression is, no man was to lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. But what was the end of this dispensation: Was it the mere aggrandisement of this youth? No; but the preservation, the welfare of one particular family, his own family; a family of little note in the world, living in obscurity, and now on the verge of famine, and yet a family of singular importance; a family attached to the worship of God, who were the depositories of His laws, heirs of the righteousness of faith, to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. To Joseph they all repaired for support: he had all the stores at his disposal, and all the command of them. By him they were preserved and nourished; and that his exaltation was peculiarly and principally for their sakes, appears undeniable, in that as soon as he was removed by death they were in bondage, and enslaved and in the lowest state of degradation, for there arose another king which knew not Joseph. Thus was Joseph a striking representation of the Messiah who was to come, and who came to give His life a ransom for us; who came not only that His people might have life, but that they might have it more abundantly. What would have become of them but for His exaltation on their behalf? But, says He, "Because I live, ye shall live also."

III. THAT THIS CHURCH IS HIS BODY. We shall observe four things; and —

1. The body has its progress as it passes from one state and condition to another; so it is with the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church, the apostle says, grows in "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

2. There is another article of resemblance. Though the body is of one substance, yet it has various parts, and all these have a mutual relation, not only to the head, but to each other. So in the Church there is the intellectual eye, the active hand, the speaking tongue, etc.; all equally useful and necessary in their respective places.

3. The body is united to the head. It is of the same flesh and blood and constitution as the head. So we are assured that Christians are joined to the Lord, and are of one spirit with Him.

4. The members depend upon the head, so does the Church rely entirely upon Christ. Take away the head, and what becomes of the members? The head is the watching part, the guiding part, the governing part, and all the members yield to it and obey it. There are the eyes placed to see; there are the ears placed to hear; the tongue to speak, and the palate to taste; there all the senses have their residence. All the parts of the body are influenced and governed by the head: down from the head to the feet, animal life descends and flows through the whole frame of man by means of nerves and ligatures. Thus Jesus is the life of the Church, and holds communion therewith.

IV. THIS BODY IS HIS FULNESS. How is this? There are only two conceivable ways: either because the Church fills Him, or because He fills the Church. It is true in both senses. We are the recipients of this fulness; therefore so far it may be called our fulness. But then He is the author and the source of it; therefore it must be called His fulness. What are we in ourselves spiritually considered?

V. THIS FULNESS IS THE FULNESS OF HIM THAT FILLETH ALL IN ALL, which is designed to show us His greatness and the infinite degree of His fulness: that it is not the fulness of a stream, if it be as wide as the Nile or the Ganges, but the fulness of a fountain, which supplies the streams; not the fulness of a lighted candle, which fills only one room with light, but the fulness of the sun, which enlightens the world, so that nothing is hid from the heat thereof. "He filleth all in all." He fills the universe with worlds. How many can the eye see: how many more does the telescope enable us to behold? "He filleth all in all." He fills heaven with His glory, the earth with His goodness, and hell with His wrath. He fills all the Scriptures of truth: all its types, all its prophecies, and all its promises He fills all ordinances; without Him they are as clouds without water, or as wells that are dried up. He fills all creatures. "The eyes of all wait upon Him, and He giveth them their meat in due season; He openeth His hand and satisfieth the desires of every living thing." He fills all His subjects; philosophers with wisdom, mechanics with skill; and there is no creature in heaven or in earth that is not under His control. "The fulness of Him that filleth all in all." He has filled His people in all ages of the world. He filled the patriarchs with faith; the prophets with capacity to foretell future events; the apostles with the Holy Ghost. He fills all common believers; He fills their understanding with knowledge; their consciences with peace; their wills with holy desires; their affections with love to holiness; their lives with all "the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God."

(W. Jay.)

If a stream be a symbol of the multitude of the believers, Jesus is the fountain. If a tree be an image of the whole Church, Jesus is the root and the trunk. If a kingdom represent the disciples of this dispensation, Jesus is the prince. Or does the conjugal union in the person of the wife illustrate the relation of the Church to our Saviour? Then, as the husband is the head of the wife, so is Jesus the Head of the Church. Or, if the human body, in its parts, and as a whole, represent the Church and the Saviour, then Jesus is the Head of the body. We will briefly attempt to define the sovereignty of Jesus Christ as here declared, and then inquire into some of the circumstances which this headship involves — circumstances, the consideration of which may tend to produce confidence and repose of soul.

I. "AND HATH PUT ALL THINGS UNDER HIS FEET, AND GAVE HIM TO BE THE HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH." We must supply the antecedent, "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory." "The Father hath put all," "and gave Him." "Gave," here means, as you know, appointed, or constituted. The pronoun "Him" distinctly refers to Christ, "Christ" being the antecedent in the twentieth verse. And there can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word "Head": it expresses the highest authority, and the supreme power. This explanation is confirmed by the words, "and hath put all under His feet." Ancient conquerors sometimes trampled the vanquished Under the feet of their horses, and crushed them with their chariot wheels. Our Lord Jesus Christ, then, now reigns supreme. His mind devises, His will determines, His lips decree, and His power executes. Jesus does not now serve; He ordains and exacts service. He does not now obey; He commands. He does not now submit; He rules. And Jesus asserts and maintains His sovereignty in every sphere with special relation to His Church. And it may help further to develop this topic if we remark, still briefly, that Christ's Headship in His humiliation is distinct from His Headship in His exaltation. In His humiliation He was the Head in the sense of substitution and representation. That Headship was, however, mere representation; the Headship of which our text speaks is dominion. The former was temporary; this is forever. That was for man only; this is over all. That was in humiliation and sorrow; this is in a state of exaltation and joy. That was the foundation; this the beautiful and sublime superstructure. We must also remark that Christ's Headship to His Church is distinct from His Headship over all. The two are one in design, but they are distinct in character and manifestation. As the Head of the Church, Jesus dwells in the highest and best affections of those who compose the Church. He rules them by conviction, and by persuasion, and in love.

II. WHAT DOES THE HEADSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST INVOLVE? Universal government, then, is really in the hands of that Being whom you trust with yourself, and whom you trust as your Saviour. His authority is not nominal, but actual; and His power is not in word and in boast, but in deed and in truth. No hireling power supplants Him; no flattering sycophant blinds Him; no lawless opposition awes Him. And, brethren, the redemption of a countless multitude, glory for the redeemed, and honour to God, will be the result of Christ's dominion. Not a slave among them; not a captive; not a prisoner; none widowed; none orphaned; none poor; not a sinner a sinner still; not sufferer a sufferer still; not a sinner nor a sufferer — no, not one! It was not always so. Time was when poverty, sickness, oppression, death, and evil of every kind, ran riot among the subjects of this very King; but the Head, Christ Jesus, shall then, from all these evils, have saved them; and having saved, glorified them. And God shall be glorified in them. As the maiden in the mirror sees what manner of person she is; and as the fisher in the clear lake beholds his full length image; so God in this glorified multitude shall see Himself — His power — His righteousness — His wisdom — His love — Himself. And in this glorified multitude, the angels, as in a crystal sea, shall behold their God. But, brethren, look at the process. The process is as remarkable as the consummation is glorious. The establishing of righteousness and blessedness among fallen men is an object of eternal purpose. The goings forth of the Head, Christ Jesus, are of old, from everlasting. The promise of this Headship relieved the expulsion from Eden of its dark and dense gloom. Abraham rejoiced to See the day of this King Jesus. As "the Angel of the covenant" He was with the Church in the wilderness, and with the Church upon Zion. From Adam's fall until the incarnation of Jesus, the world was in a course of preparation for the founding of His empire. The world was allowed to grow weary under human dominion; and at the climax of its groaning this empire was born. The King Himself is a martyr King; and He passed through death to reach His throne.

(S. Martin.)

A glowing prophecy of a second and yet more glorious Incarnation of Christ. There was a first coming, and there is to be a second coming, of the Saviour. He is supreme in heaven. He is also to be supreme on earth. Christ is to fill all with Himself — all governments; all laws; all policies under the government; all commercial and industrial organizations; all societies; all circles; all households; all individuals. All are to be filled with the mind, and will, and spirit of the Head; and Christ is to be the brain of the whole world. In other words, all physical economies and civil organizations, just as much as spiritual economies and religious organizations, are to be absolutely filled and dominated by Him. This is what I call the second Incarnation. It is the injection, as the first Incarnation was the lapse, as it were, into the human body, of the mind and will of Christ — the Divine Christ, subjecting Him to the law of matter, to its limitations and its infirmities, as we are controlled by the physical laws which surround us. So there is to be a more glorious Incarnation, by which the sum total of the globe itself, and all its members, are to be gloriously filled full of the mind, and feeling, and will, and disposition of Christ. As one little body bore about His spirit, so this greater body, the comprehensive race and the globe, is to bear about in it the mind and will of God; and everything is to move harmonious from pole to pole, and round and round the world. The whole world is to be as perfectly harmonious as the whole body is harmonious under the control of an intelligent, healthy, right minded man. This is poetry indeed, but it is the poetry of prophecy: It is the ideal of progress. It is that bright conception toward which, whether men know it or not, they are certainly drifting or steering. Will not that be the millennium? You may think it is fantasy. It is poetry now, but it will be fact yet. For there is to be a second great Incarnation; and as the Spirit Divine filled the body of Christ, and filled it full, so that great body which is the Church, which is the whole human race, is yet to be filled full of Him who filleth all things with all things. All the processes of society are to exhibit more of Christ; so that at last the day shall come when in all the earth, like a man without a pain from head to foot, mankind shall be without a sadness, or a sigh, or a sorrow; when the whole globe, in all its parts, shall be filled full of Him who filleth all things, who is the head and animating brain of the time and the world; and the globe, no longer singing a requiem, no longer singing of things gloomy and sad, clothed with light and inspired with joy, shall go chanting in its rounds, and the heaven and the earth shall sing together; and so the consolation shall come.

I. If this be so, then, first, dismiss the unworthy conceptions of Christ's saving which have sprung from a judgment formed upon the inchoate and undeveloped state of things that has existed hitherto. Many men seem to think that the gospel is sent into this world as a life boat, to pick off from the foundering wreck as many of the great population as they possibly can, and let the rest go down. But Christianity is not a mere wrecker's boat. In saving men, we ought to do it with the feeling that we are aiming toward the final consummation — the salvation of mankind. I believe the world will come to its final state as my tulips will come to blossom next spring. They are in the winter now, but they are in the bulb, and will come forth. And the world is coming to blossom yet. Not in my day, and not in your day, but ere long in ages to come. As it takes a great many years to bring an orchard into full fruitfulness, but as at last the trees come to maturity and begin to bear fruit, so by and by men will begin to be fruitful unto God, and the whole globe will be a great tree of the Lord, filled with Divine fruit on every side and on every branch.

II. This whole globe is my Lord's; and when I speak about anything that concerns His kingdom, whether it be science, or art, or learning, or politics, or anything else, I am talking about my Father's business. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."

III. If these views be correct, then all those tendencies which now alarm and discourage Christian men, as, for instance, the insurrection of science against faith, have no real cause of fear in them. Now, as I have already said, the globe itself, that is, the realm of natural material laws, is to receive a second Incarnation of Christ. Science is now making the swaddling clothes of Christianity. If it takes from the world many ecclesiastical notions which men would not otherwise give up, very good. The world will be the wiser for it. If there be many superstitions which are supposed to be religion, but which are not religion, and they are taken away, very good. The world will be the better for it.

IV. If these views be correct, we shall not see the true glory of redemption here. We cannot imagine it. We shall not be in a condition to see it until we have passed from this mortal state. We are told that a man in the midst of a battle is the least able to describe the battle. The smoke and the noise, and the intensity of the conflict, prevent him from having a large view of the movements of the whole field. We are secluded. Each age is, as it were, but a note in the whole period of time. It cannot be that we rise so high, or stand at a period so late, that we see the whole disclosure. Then only shall we understand the nature of Christ, then only the comprehensive plan of His mercy, then only this second and greater Incarnation, by which He interjects the whole globe and its processes with His Spirit, when we reach the other world. Then and there only shall we be furnished with that vision by which we may see His grace, so that worthily we may worship Him, rejoicing that He is lifted above all kings, all princes, all principalities of every name.

(H. W. Beecher.)


1. For guidance.

2. For strengthening and establishing all the dependencies.

3. For reconciling the whole body to God.

4. For the spiritual government of the body.



1. The Church has the fulness of Christ's love.

2. The Church possesses the fulness of Christ's redemption.

(J. F. Crossman, M. A.)

Now in the Word of God the Church is compared to a variety of objects — to "a vine," to "a building," to "a temple," and in our text to "a human person," made up of two parts, the head and the body, the head representing Jesus, the body representing the collective members of the Church of Christ "And gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body." Our subject presents us with several important ideas or principles.

I. The idea of IMPORTANCE. The head is everything to the body — it sees for the body, it hears for the body, it smells for the body, it tastes for the body, it masticates food for the body, it thinks for the body, it schemes, it purposes, in one word, it does everything for the body. So Jesus Christ is everything to the Church.

II. The idea of INDISPENSABLENESS. Lop off this limb and then that — amputate one of your members and then another, the limbless trunk of your body will still be alive; but let that body be beheaded, and it dies in a moment. So it is with the Church of Christ.

III. The idea of IDENTITY. The same fluid which courses through the body flows through the head, and the same food which is the nourishment of the body is the sustenance of the head. The component parts of the one are the component parts of the other. And just so it is between Christ and all believers. There is a sameness of nature. Christ and all Christians are alike in their desires, in their aims, in their pleasures, in their friendships, in their enmities, in their principles, in their motives, in their standard, in the one grand object ever before them — the glory of God.

IV. The idea of SYMPATHY. If your foot be crushed the head will feel it; if any other member of the body, however distant from the head, be in pain, the head will feel it — and such is the sympathy between Christ and all His suffering people. Am I speaking to any who are heavy hearted and cast down? What is the cause of your sorrow? Is it the shading of your prospects? Is it the presence of disease in some beloved member of your family? Is it that you are going down the hill of adversity, and because your pride is being humbled at every step? Is it because you have just received some deep wounds from a quarter whence you least expected them? Or, is your grief some secret silent sorrow which your tongue re. fuses to divulge? It matters not what may be the sorrows, there is sympathy in the living head for the sorrows of all the suffering members of "the mystical body." And oh, fellow Christians, what a sympathy is the sympathy of Christ! It is a sympathy which knows all our griefs, and all the particulars and details of all our sorrows. It is a sympathy which supports us under all our griefs, nay, it is a sympathy which makes use of those sorrows as a means of fetching us back from our wanderings; nay, more, which will make all our sorrows to "work out for us a far more exceeding and as eternal weight of glory."

V. The idea of GLORY. The glory of the head is always reflected upon the members of the body. Now just consider what the glory of Christ is (John 1:1). Oh, what an honour to belong to the body of such a Head! Then consider the works of Christ — "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." What an honour to be a member of the body of such a Creator! Then consider the possessions of Christ. With mortal lips and with human tongue He said it — "All things that the Father hath are Mine." Oh, the honour of being a member of the body of such a possessor! Then look at His immensity; our text speaks of it as "the fulness of Him who filleth all in all." Oh, the honour of being a member of that body! That man can well afford to part with dust and ashes who is in possession of gems, and precious stones, and priceless rubies; nay, who can call kingdoms; nay, who can call the world; nay, who can call Jesus his own! That man can afford to trample under his feet all the pleasures of his fellow creatures, who can say, "My beloved is mine, and I am His."

VI. The idea of THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY. For where lies the head, there will lie the body; and where reigns the head, there will reign the body too. As our Head, even Jesus, once lay in the sepulchre, so shall we His followers lie there too; and as Jesus our Head is now reigning in glory, so shall we reign in glory too.

(Alfred Pope.)

I. THE TEXT AFFIRMS THE SUPREME POLITICAL POWER AND AUTHORITY OF IMMANUEL. Just as in Israel there was established a Theocracy, the Almighty claiming to be recognized as the Head of their civil and ecclesiastical polity, and just as all judges and rulers were expected to recognize their power as delegated to them from above; and just as the Divine right and title were not subverted nor destroyed when rulers and people sank into sin and idolatry; so now on earth there is established a larger civil and ecclesiastical government, of which Jesus is the Head, and of which the Theocracy was the symbol; and all rulers and all subjects are required to acknowledge their lawful Lord who sits upon the holy hill of Zion, the stability of whose government and the legitimacy of whose claims upon all are no more affected by the godlessness of the nations and the impiety of their rulers than were the claims of the Shepherd of Israel set aside by the wanderings of His flock, or the usurpations of her hirelings.

II. THE POWER OF CHRIST AS KING OF NATIONS IS SUBORDINATED TO HIS PURPOSES AS KING OF SAINTS. He is Head over all things to the Church, or for the Church — for her peace, her prosperity and perpetuity; so that He is now described as putting His honour on His people, even as the head puts honour on the body. Jesus is the Head of His new creation. But more particularly we remark —

1. He is Head over all things, that He may bring together the materials, and build them up into a Church unto Himself. He is the head cornerstone, living', tried and precious, upon which there must be reared a blemishless, indestructible fabric, composed of living stones selected from the quarry of humanity, polished and prepared by the Spirit of all grace, and cemented together by the binding of undying love.

2. Christ is Head over all things for the beautifying of His Church; that is, He exerciseth His power over all things so as to promote and advance the beauty of His Church. The beauty of a Church is her purity in doctrine and her holiness in practice, her strict unbending conformity to the law and the order of her exalted Head; and the administration of her wise and her gracious Ruler is all ordered and arranged, so that at length she may be presented in the heavens a glorious Church, without spot and blemish or any such thing. In order to this she is tried with the storm and strengthened with the sunshine; the fire and the flood are brought to bear upon her goodly fabric, so as to purge out all that is polluted and profane, and hasten on the perfection of her coming state.

3. Jesus is Head over all things in order that He may perfect His body the Church. Of all those who are given unto Him, of them He can lose none. Time, with its thousand vicissitudes, must roll along whilst there remaineth one, whose name is written above, alive or unacquainted with the grace that is in Christ. Its plans and its purposes shall have existence until the completion of Christ's body the Church; its discoveries in science and improvements in arts; its advances in civilization; its augmentations in commercial zeal; its treaties and its friendships; are all the secondary causes in His hand for finishing His plans, and for making one with Himself all His covenant children.

(J. Macnaughton, M. A.)

I. Let us meditate, first, upon THE IMPORTANT STATEMENT, that "God hath put all things under Christ's feet, and made Him Head over all things."

II. But the text tells us — and this is the second point — THAT IT WAS FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHURCH THAT GOD PUT ALL THINGS UNDER CHRIST'S FEET — that He was made Head over all things. Although exalted at God's right hand, angels and principalities and powers being made subject to Him, He has not abandoned the designs which He entertained, or lost the feelings which He cherished, towards men, while He tabernacled with them upon earth. His exaltation has produced no change of feeling towards His former associates, as it too often occurs among the weak and depraved children of men. He has carried up with Him to the right hand of His Father and the throne of the Universe the same feelings of love and compassion towards His people His whole conduct upon earth so strongly expressed. Even now He entertains those very feelings which once prompted Him to leave the glory He had with His Father before the world began — to lead upon earth a life of poverty and ignominy and shame — and at last to endure the cruel and ignominious death of the cross. We may be assured, then, that He will not leave unfinished a work which He has already done, and suffered so much to effect, but that He will bring to bear upon its accomplishment all the power and authority with which He has been invested. Conclusion: Thus extensive and thus absolute is the power with which Christ has been invested, and which He is continually exercising, and this power is at all times directed to bear on the interests of the Church — to promote the conversion, the sanctification, and the everlasting redemption of all those whom the Father gave Him. In the scheme of Divine Providence, the establishment of general laws, and the arrangement of the most important transactions, does not prevent an equally careful attention to, and an equally certain provision for, the most minute. Christ does indeed direct and overrule for the good of His Church the councils of monarchs, and the conflicts of armies, and the fortunes of nations, but amid all these great events He does not neglect the least circumstance in the life and history of any of His chosen people — of any individual member of His body. While He is opening up channels for the extension of His Church and the spread of His gospel, by overthrowing dynasties, or by destroying systems of wide and commanding influence — He is at the same time providing the food with which the most obscure of His people is fed, and the raiment with which he is clothed. Christ's kingdom not being of this world, the good of individuals, or the good of the whole, or of the many, can never come into collision, as is sometimes the case in matters which have a reference to this world's business and this world's interests. Everything connected with the sanctification and final happiness of each individual believer is as carefully attended to, and as effectually provided for, as if Christ had been made Head over all things for his sake alone. (W. Cunningham, D.D.)

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