“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:19-23).
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the single greatest act of all time. It is above all others because it demonstrates the unlimited power and ability of God to do all He has promised to do for His children. It declares that He is God’s Son (Rom. 1:3-4). Take away the resurrection and you strip the Gospel of its credibility. Note that Paul tells us that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is available to us.
What did God do for Jesus? He raised Him from the dead; He exalted Him by seating Him at His own right hand in heaven (Mark 16:19; Psalm 110:1); He put all things under His feet (Col. 1:16-17); He made Him “head over ALL things to the church, which is His body.” The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that raises those who are dead in sin to live in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-5).
Many commentators attempt to distinguish between the “principality, and power, and might, and dominion” however, it seems to me that Paul’s main object is to show the Lord’s universal Lordship. The same idea is expressed in Matthew 28:19 where Jesus is said to be given “all authority” both in heaven and on earth. No mere mortal can be said to be “head over all things” nor of any mortal can it be stated that he sits above “all rule and authority and power and dominion…not only in this world, but in that which is to come.” The pre-eminence of the name of Christ is eternal; it shall never be eclipsed by any other name. No other name is worthy to be coupled with, or compared to the name of Christ (Phil. 2:9-11).
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” The church is the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5; I Cor. 12:13-27; Col. 1:18, 24). The body is made up of ALL Christians (I Cor. 12:13; Acts 2:47). Christ is head over the body (Eph. 4:23). This pictures the church as a living organism―an organism that is directed by its head. It emphasizes the working relationship between Christ and His church; the head directs, and the body follows those directions; the head commands, and the body obeys. Note also that this is THE church, not “a” church. It is the ONE body of Ephesians 4:4. Thus Paul elevated and glorified the church of Jesus Christ in a manner that staggers the imagination.
The expression “in Christ” which is used frequently in Paul’s writings is synonymous with being in the body. You can’t be “in Christ” without being “in the body.” The same thing which puts one “in Christ” also places him in the body or church of Christ. “Christ, but not the church” is impossible and anti-biblical. Those who make light of the church on earth understand nothing of what Paul teaches here. Salvation is limited to those who have obeyed God’s plan of entrance and have continued faithfully in the body (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23).
There is one head over the church, and Christ is that head. He is head over ALL THINGS to the church; thus, he is head over and directs its worship, its laws, its teaching, its plan of salvation, its moral standards, etc. These things are not left to men. No pope, bishop, church council, convention, synod, prophet, priest, rabbi, preacher, elder, editor, prayer book, creed book, Book of Mormon, Watchtower, discipline, lectureship, president, or anyone else has the right to dare rob Christ of this God-given authority. We ought to pray as Paul did that all may have the eyes of their heart opened to these powerful and important truths!
Paul M. Wilmoth, Instructor of Preaching Tennessee Bible College