"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" The Exaltation Of Christ (1:20-23) INTRODUCTION 1. In expressing his prayer that the Ephesians might know "the exceeding greatness of His Power toward us who believe" (Ep 1:19), Paul makes reference to the working of God's power in... a. Raising Jesus from the dead - Ep 1:20a b. Seating Jesus at His right hand in the heavenly places - Ep 1:20b -- At this point, Paul digresses slightly to expand upon the idea of "The Exaltation of Christ" - Ep 1:21-23 2. This is a theme worthy of Paul's digression and our own careful consideration for several reasons: a. Without "The Exaltation of Christ", none of the spiritual blessings already described would be possible! b. There are some who say that Jesus... 1) Has yet to start His "kingly reign" (e.g., some pre- and post- millennialists,) 2) Or did not start it until 1914 (e.g., "Jehovah's Witnesses") c. Some amazing things are said by Paul in this passage, not only about Christ, but about His church! [Since the Holy Spirit saw fit to lead Paul into this "digression", we will take the time to consider what is revealed, beginning with the fact...] I. CHRIST IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD (20) A. SEVERAL PASSAGES PRESENT CHRIST AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND... 1. "received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" - Mk 16:19 2. "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God" - Ac 2:33 3. In the book of Hebrews... a. "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high"
- He 1:3 b. "seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens" - He 8:1 c. "after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" - He 10:12 d. "endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" - He 12:2 4. "where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God" - Col 3:1 5. As a point of interest, one passage has Jesus "STANDING on the right hand of God" (at the martyrdom of Stephen) - Ac 7:55-56 B. IMPLICATIONS OF CHRIST SEATED AT GOD'S RIGHT HAND... 1. Fulfillment of prophecy - cf. Ps 110:1-7 2. As indicated in this prophecy (and compared with 1Co 15:25- 26) Christ began His "kingly reign" when He sat down at the right hand of God a. He shall "rule in the midst of [His] enemies" b. At the right hand of God He shall "judge among the nations" c. He shall reign "till He has put all enemies under His feet" 3. As Peter indicated in his sermon on Pentecost, by Christ's resurrection and exaltation He has been raised to sit on "David's throne", and is therefore truly "Lord" - Ac 2:30-36 [But how extensive is the "reign" or "authority" of Christ? Does He have only "partial" authority? As we return to our text, we find Paul saying that...] II. CHRIST IS FAR ABOVE ALL OTHERS, ALL ARE UNDER HIS FEET (21-22a) A. CHRIST IS FAR ABOVE... 1. "all principality and power and might and dominion" - a likely reference to angelic beings and evil spirits - cf. Ep 3:10; 6:12 3. "every name that is named" - this would include authorities here on earth 4. "not only in this age but also in that which is come" - both in the present dispensation, and in the one to be ushered in at the consummation of all things -- Sounds like Christ's authority is all inclusive, doesn't it? B. ALL ARE UNDER HIS FEET... 1. As Christ Himself said: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" - Mt 28:18 2. As Paul described Christ: "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" - 1Ti 6:15; cf. Re 19:16 3. As Peter wrote: "angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him" - 1Pe 3:22 4. As John wrote: "the ruler over the kings of the earth"
- Re 1:5 -- Can anyone say that Jesus has NOT begun His "kingly reign" in view of such statements? [Indeed, Christ was granted all this dominion when He ascended to heaven to sit down at the right hand of God, as prophesied by Daniel (Dan 7: 13-14), and as revealed by Jesus to the seven churches of Asia (Re 2:26-27; 3:21). Clearly, from the viewpoint of Christ and His apostles, He was reigning over all when the pages of the New Testament were being written. But there is more amazing truth revealed in Paul's "digression" and that is...] III. CHRIST IS HEAD OVER ALL THINGS "TO THE CHURCH" (22-23) A. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE PHRASE "TO THE CHURCH"? 1. Christ exercises His authority over all things "in the interest" of the church (Hendriksen); i.e., the rule of Christ is for the benefit of His church! 2. Because Jesus is Lord, all things work together for our benefit - cf. Ro 8:28 a. This is not to say that Christ will prevent hardship, persecution, even death b. But through Christ all such things can used to our benefit and ultimate glory! 1) "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him" - Ro 8:35-39 2) "...the world or life or death...all are yours"
- 1Co 3:21-22 3) Even the sufferings brought on by Satan can be used by God to "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" us! - 1Pe 5:8-11 B. WHAT IS "THE CHURCH", THAT IT SHOULD BE SO BLESSED? 1. It is "His body", i.e., the body of Christ - Ep 1:23 a. Those who have been "called out" into the "assembly" of God's people are like a "body" to Jesus - cf. Ep 5:28-30 b. As such, Christ loves it and gave Himself for it
- cf. Ep 5:25-27 c. Thus, He is not only the "head" of the body, but the "savior" of it as well - Ep 5:23 2. The church is also called "the fullness of Him who fills all in all" - Ep 1:23 a. Hendriksen suggests that this means "the church is Christ's complement...filling or completing Him who fills all in all" b. Hendriksen continues: "As to his divine essence Christ is in no sense whatever dependent on or capable of being completed by the church. But..." 1) "as a bridegroom he is incomplete without the bride" 2) "as a vine he cannot be thought of without the branches" 3) "as shepherd he is not seen without his sheep" 4) "and so also as head he finds his full expression in his body, the church" (New Testament Commentary, Exposition of Ephesians, William Hendriksen, p. 104) CONCLUSION 1. With this "digression" of Paul we have seen... a. The exalted position that Christ now holds, as "head over all things" b. The exalted position of His Church, which is viewed by Christ as: 1) His "body" (which He loves, nourishes, and cherishes - Ep 5: 25,29) 2) His "fullness" (the perfect complement to His being) 2. How can anyone say... a. That Christ is not yet "ruler over the kings of the earth"? b. That the church is not important, a non-essential concern for those following Christ? 3. In view of such truths concerning Christ and His Church... a. Are we freely submitting today to His authority? - cf. Ps 110:3 b. If you have not done so yet, will you allow Him who is "head over all things" ADD you to His church? - cf. Ac 2:47