Commentary on Ephesians, 1:22,23

Ephesians 1:22,23

“22 and he subjected all [things] under his feet and gave him [as] head over all [things] to the church,

23 which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all [things] in every [way].”  LEB

“and he subjected all [things] under his feet”

As creator, God, and King, all things are subject to Christ. We live in a world where Christianity is hated. Even in America there is growing animosity toward Christianity, and a deliberate attempt to squelch its influence. Our government at all levels, local, state, and federal, are becoming more and more anti-Christian. There are laws that require us to be tolerant and supportive of all faiths, except where Christianity is concerned. We are becoming the outcasts, the target of attacks. Some look upon Christians as being as dangerous as terrorists.

However, we shouldn’t wonder that Christians are becoming the dregs of the world, for we cast a bright light upon their sins and lifestyles. Christianity is a faith that requires holiness and righteousness, and it’s a faith that requires us to take a stand against those things that aren’t. And when we do, we are silenced. Everyone seems to have a voice that is allowed to be heard, except for Christians.

This animosity isn’t so much against Christians, as it is against our Leader, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Matt 10:22). He also said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (Jn 15:18). We are hated because of our identification with Christ. Jesus represents holiness, power, authority. He taught things nobody else ever has, and people don’t like what He taught. He’s a light that shines upon their darkness and sin. They don’t like the idea that they’re accountable to Him. They don’t like the idea that we need to submit to His authority.

But submit they will, either now or when they stand before Him in judgment:

“for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. ”  ESV (Ro 14:11,12)

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  ESV  (Phil 2:10,11)

“and gave him [as] head over all [things] to the church, which is his body”

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body,”  NIV

The NIV words this in a way that makes it more understandable what Paul was actually saying. We have here a reference to feet, head, and body. The all things really means all things. Everything in the universe is under the authority of Christ. “Under His feet” gives us a picture of all things being beneath Him, that He is holding everything down in complete subjection to Him.

The reference to Christ as the head, refers to both authority and intelligence. The brain is the control center. It was by His infinite intelligence and wisdom and knowledge and understanding that everything in the universe was created. Everything was designed exactly the way He wanted it. Everything is in subjection, and must fulfill the purpose it was designed for. Everything He created has a specific reason for existence, and everything is working together according to a grand plan.

This is all for the church, or for the benefit of the church. The NLT is helpful at this point:

And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church.”

God is working in this world and in this universe according to a grand plan, and in the center of that plan is the church, which is Christ’s body. He is the head and feet, and we, the Church, are His body. We are literally one with Christ. I mentioned that the Church is the center of God’s plan, and we have this pictured for us here. We, the body, are between the head and feet. That should be a great comfort and encouragement to every one of us. Everything God does is for the benefit of the Church and for His glory. God has chosen to glorify Himself through His people, who has His Son as our head.

Not only should we be comforted and encourage by all this, but it should also serve as an exhortation, or better still, a warning. Our head (brain) controls our body. Our body can only do what it’s told to do. Our feet can only go where our minds direct. With Christ as our head, we are to be and do and go as He directs.

I don’t think that we as individual Christians and as individual churches take this seriously enough. The worldliness of churches today concerns me greatly. The worldliness of Christians today concerns me greatly. I especially have America in mind. We have strayed so far from where we were 60 years ago. I believe if Christians from the 1950’s were given the opportunity to return to life in America today, they would be shocked by what they see in churches today.

The line of separation between the world and the churches of the 1950’s was very distinct. There was a large gap between the lifestyle of the Christian and the  lifestyle of the non-Christian. Today that line is no so distinct anymore. That gap between lifestyles is not so great anymore. With every passing decade, the separation between the world and the church becomes more and more narrow. So much of what used to be considered worldly, has become the “Christian” norm.

I don’t want to make any enemies here by going into a lot of details about what I consider to be worldliness in our churches today, and in the life of the average Christian, but I encourage you to take a close look at yourselves and at many churches today, and compare what you see with what the Word of God teaches. Pay attention to every word you read, and be honest about what you’re reading. Are our lives truly in harmony with Christ, who is our head? Are our churches today truly in harmony with what is patterned for us in the New Testament? Are we really where we would be if Christ were here on earth and reigning visibly as our King?

In the book of Colossians, I have two notes about churches in the margins of my Bible.

First I’ll give you the scriptures:

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him,   
7 firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness. 8 Beware lest {anyone take you captive} through philosophy and empty deceit, according to {human tradition}, according to the elemental spirits of the world and not according to Christ, 9 because in him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you are filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”  (Col 2:6-10) My note next to verse 8 says: The worldly church  The other passage is Col 3:1 “Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”  LEB My note regarding this verse says: Is a church more like Heaven or more like the world?  My point in going down this trail, is that when I read the New Testament, I see serious indications that many churches today are not communicating properly with the Head. The messages being received are coming out garbled. I was in communications in the Navy, and if the messages received were coming out garbled, we knew that the problem was either with our receiver, or we were on the wrong frequency. If church leaders are receiving garbled messages, and I believe many are, the problem is obviously not with the Transmitter. The problem has to be with either the receiver (church leaders), or they aren’t on the same frequency (mixed signals) as the Transmitter. Either church leaders aren’t walking as close to the Lord as they should be, or they simply don’t understand the Word of God as they should. In other words, they’re not receiving on the same frequency as it’s being transmitted on. Therefore, the awareness of the will of God is not where it should be. You may object to that and say that it’s simply a difference in how we interpret the Bible. In some cases perhaps, but I’ve come to realize that we often have a tendency to interpret the Bible through the lens of personal bias, through what we already believe to be true about something. Therefore, I think we tend to look for scriptures that support what we believe. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “we can make the Bible say anything we want it to.” I think there’s some truth to that.  Furthermore, we tend to rationalize and justify what we believe and do. Therefore, I have to believe that many pastors succumb to this practice in order to justify their approach to church ministry. I think in their case, more consideration is given to the end rather than to the means. To put it another way, I think what we’re talking about here is deception. I believe there are many church leaders today who are simply deceived.  Don’t misunderstand. I’m trying not to come off sounding like a self-righteous judge, but surely you have to agree that there are issues with many churches today, and I’m simply trying to identify the source. We’re all a part of the same body, and so it’s important that we exercise care for one another. Part of the responsibility teachers of God’s Word have, is to sound an alarm where it’s needed. Things just can’t be allowed to go on unchecked. All of us need to be encouraged and warned to make an honest evaluation of ourselves before God. Returning to our analogy, in military communications  (at least back in my day!), if the frequency is just slightly off, much of the message will be readable, but much will not be. That’s the way I see many churches and church leaders today. The frequency they’re on may be close, but not exact. Therefore, they’re receiving mixed signals. Since they’re mostly tuned in to the correct frequency, most of what they receive is correct. However, part of what they’re receiving is incorrect because they’re also hearing through the frequency that is being transmitted by the world. The two frequencies are being mixed. In other words, the leaders are allowing the ways of the world to influence their walk and ministry. I key in on the leaders because “as the leaders go, so goes the people.” Individual churches, and we as individual Christians, must be certain that we are in true harmony with the Head. Let’s be certain we are truly seeking to be holy and separated from a dark and evil world. Christians are distinct and have been set apart from the rest of the world. Let’s be certain that we’re living a distinctly Christian life, and that our churches are distinctly Christian, set apart from the world. “the fullness of the one who fills all [things] in every [way].” And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence.” NLT  The word fullness is the Greek word “pleroma.” According to the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, it has the idea of completeness. That it refers to the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, and riches of God and of Christ. Thus the Church is complete in Christ. It has no lack. The Church is filled with the presence and power and riches of Christ. We as individual Christians are a part of that. We have all that we need to fulfill the will of God in our lives. The presence and power of Christ is always available to carry out everything God has called us to do. “who fills all [things] in every [way].” Here’s what the Bible Knowledge Commentary says about this: “However, it is better to understand the word “fills” as in the Greek middle voice: Christ, the Head of the body, fills (for Himself) the church with blessings. The verse could then be rendered, “which is His body, which is being filled by the One who fills all things with all things (blessings).” These verses clearly reveal the deity of Christ.