“He exercised this power in Christ by raising him up from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens-far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also the one to come. And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”
If you remember back to verses 8 and 9, Paul is praying that the believers in Ephesus would have the eyes of their hearts enlightened so that they know what is the hope of his calling, the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the Saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the mighty working of his strength. These verses, 20 through 23 go on to what this power is.
First, God demonstrates his power by raising Jesus from the dead. This is a foundational doctrine of our faith. One of the earliest creeds in the Christian Church is found in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5 where Paul writes ,”For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.” When Adam ate of the fruit, he brought sin and death into the world. Romans 5:12 says “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” But by God’s power, Jesus was raised from the dead. As Stott writes, “First, he arrested the natural process of decay, refusing to allow his holy one to see decay. Then he did not just reverse the process, restoring the dead Jesus to this life, but transcended it. He raised Jesus to an altogether new life (immortal, glorious and free), which nobody had experienced before, and which nobody has experienced since- or not yet.” The Christ we serve is a risen Christ. And the power that has raised Christ from the dead has given us a new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away, and see, the new has come.” Paul writes in Philippians about our hope for the future. “…But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.”(Philippians 3:20-21) So not only do we have a new life here in the present, we look forward to a glorious future with him!
Next, he seated him at his right hand in the heavens far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. Psalm 110 is a prophetic Psalm that speaks of Jesus. Verse one says, “This is the declaration of the LORD to my Lord: sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” Peter quotes this Psalm in his sermon in Acts 2, and then says in verse 36, “Therefore let all the House of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” We tend to worry too much about our government, world governments, etc. forgetting that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t stay informed and involved. But we shouldn’t let it consume us. We know the ending to the story!
Lastly God subjected everything under Jesus’ feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills things in every way. We, the church, are the body, and Christ is the head. We may not see it, but the devil has been defeated. I love how Alistair Begg put it in his sermon (accessed on truthforlife.org) for this passage. He says, “The devil is a defeated foe. It is a checkmate. That is absolutely assured. You can continue to play out with your pieces on the board, but you cannot affect the ultimate outcome.” He goes on to say that the reason we have trouble is that we take our eyes off of Jesus and we turn them to ourselves. Ouch! We need to remember who Christ is and all that is ours in Christ!
Let’s go back to the idea of Christ as the head of the church. Paul uses this idea in several of his letters. In Colossians 1:18 he writes, “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.” The whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 12 discusses the importance of unity in the body of Christ. We’ll explore this more as we get into the later chapters in Ephesians. This first chapter has so much in it! Pastor Terry Morrow summed it up better than I could in his book “Walking in Grace-Ephesians.” He writes that Paul has pointed out six things in this chapter. “1. We are selected by God to be holy and blameless (vs. 4). 2. We are his children by predestination (vs. 5). 3. We have full redemption by the sealing of the Holy Spirit (vs. 13-14). 4. We have a hope, a calling to the glory of his inheritance (vs. 18). 5. We have been given power to live victorious lives because of what Christ attained (vs. 19-20). 6. We are now members of the body of Christ (vs. 23).”
Martin Lloyd Jones said about Ephesians, “If Romans is the purest expression of the Gospel (as Luther said), then Ephesians is the most sublime and majestic expression of the gospel.” Spurgeon wrote, “The Epistle to the Ephesians is a complete Body of Divinity. In the first chapter you have the doctrines of the Gospel; in the next, you have the experience of the Christians; and before the Epistle is finished, you have the precepts of the Christian faith. Whoever would see Christianity in one treatise, let him ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ the Epistle to the Ephesians.” It has been called “the Queen of the Epistles,” “the quintessence of Paulinism,” and “the divinest composition of man.” It has been a little more challenging and rewarding than I was expecting, and it’s taken more to prepare each post. So thank you for your patience as I prepare each one.
Grace be with you!