The Fullness of Him
Ephesians Series #046
October 6, 2019
“Father, we’re so thankful for all that You have given us. As we have taken the time over these last six or seven months to work our way through this first chapter of Ephesians, it is amazing to come to grips with all that You have provided for us, all that You have given us, that we cannot even imagine.
“We can’t even think through all that is included in that phrase that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies. That our lives are so rich and so different from what they would be if we had not believed in Jesus, so different from what it would be if we did not have Your Word, if we did not have God the Holy Spirit indwelling us and teaching us, filling us with His Word, if we did not have a day by day walk with You. We can’t even imagine how different everything would be apart from that.
“Father, as we have worked their way through this, I pray that we will have been not just impressed but overwhelmed with all the riches that we have in Christ, and that we have been provided so much. Even as we have studied on Thursday nights in 2 Peter, what resonates throughout this chapter is the sufficiency of Your grace, the sufficiency of Christ, the sufficiency of the Cross.
“We pray that we might not take that lightly, and that we might be attentive, focus upon Your Word today, and that God the Holy Spirit would indeed help us to understand the implications and the application of what we study. In Christ’s name, amen. “
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1. We will connect the dots with Ephesians 1:22 and following. But we’re going to look at this last verse, the centerpiece of which is the last clause of Ephesians 1:23, “… the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
You think you might know what that means. Good luck. It’s one of those phrases we run into where we think that we have some idea of what that is actually talking about. But then when you start to study, you start to look at the words, you start to look at some of the grammatical constructions that are inherent to this section, you realize that it’s not simple. It is integrated to many other passages in Scripture.
One of the things that we will see is that this in many ways is the Apostle Paul stating in his elevated language basically the same thing that Peter has emphasized in 2 Peter 1:2–4—that God’s power, His Word is made available to us, so that we can deal with any situation, any problem in life.
That we are constantly being filled by the Lord Jesus Christ. And that references not only in terms of reproducing in us the character of Christ, but it is also filling us with power to be able to handle whatever situations come along in our lives.
It seems like in conjunction with what we’ve been studying on Thursday nights in 2 Peter 1, and what we’re going through in Ephesians, especially this last section in the prayer, that there’s repetition and repetition of how God’s power is made available to us in this life.
We can’t even imagine the extent of His power: His ability to overcome any situation that we have in life—and that He has given that to us. All of this is wrapped up in this phrase “the fullness of Him.”
Review: first part of this last section in Ephesians 1 is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers. That’s a prayer he would’ve prayed for any of the believers that he was ministering to and involved with in any of the churches. It is a great example to us of the priorities we should have in prayer.
That we should be thinking in terms of calling upon God, appealing to Him to increase our understanding of His Word, our understanding of Who He is, developing that intimate walk with Him that is moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, so that we can experience in our lives the reality of that which He has already given us.
This is expressed in these verses, as he expresses the main point of the prayer in Ephesians 1:17, “… that—indicates the main point—the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom …”
That should be uppercase Spirit: it’s God the Holy Spirit, who is the One who produces in us wisdom from the revelation that God has given to Him. Specifically, in this sentence he’s talking about the revelation that he is coming to, to the Ephesian believers from this letter.
It’s related to the mystery doctrine that he talks about—that which has previously been unrevealed—but it’s emphasizing the Spirit. This is an awkward phrase to translate, and it’s awkward when I try to explain it. I’m not sure everybody caught this.
I keep going back and reviewing it to help you understand this. That when you have this phrase “Spirit of Revelation,” that is not, as many people think, an attitude that is receptive to revelation; it is talking about a role of God the Holy Spirit in revealing, disclosing something to us.
You will see that in most translations: I don’t know of any, there may be one or two, that translate this with an uppercase “S,” which I think is a great misinterpretation by most translators. But this section from Ephesians 1:15–23 grows out of what? It grows out of the statement of how God has blessed us in Ephesians 1:3–14.
When we go back and think about that context, what did we see? We saw that it starts off with our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Then in Ephesians 1:7 it shifts from God the Father to God the Son, and in Ephesians 1:13 it shifts to God the Holy Spirit.
Again and again, if you read through the entirety of Ephesians, you discover that Paul stops here and there and talks about what the Father has done, what the Son has done, and what the Spirit has done—very Trinitarian.
When we get to this prayer, which grows out of his expression of all that God has blessed us with, he talks about the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in Ephesians 1:17. He talks about the Lord Jesus Christ who’s been resurrected, raised, seated in the heavenlies, and if you don’t interpret this as the Holy Spirit, you’d lose the Trinitarian focus here. Once again, you’ve got to come back to understanding how an author uses phrases, how he expresses things and things of that nature.
The focal point of prayer, as we’ve pointed out, is these three things:
- That you may know what is the hope of His calling—or the confident expectation that we have—because we accepted His invitation to trust Christ as Savior: the invitation to salvation.
- That we may know what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance or His possession among the saints.
One writer that I read said that this must be not referring to God’s possession but our inheritance, the general inheritance that all believers have, because when you look at the church, we’re not such a great possession.
This isn’t focusing on the church now, it’s focusing on the church in the future, of what we will be when we are raptured and resurrected, and we are with our Lord in perfection in the heavenlies as the bride of Christ. That is God’s treasured possession; that’s what he’s looking at here. That is the wealth, the riches of who we are, the wealth that He has provided for us.
- Third part of what he was requesting: that you may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.
It brings in this issue of God’s omnipotence once again. That it is God’s power that is provided for us. It is God’s power that we need to understand and realize, and we had to learn about it, and you don’t learn about it experientially.
Back in the late ’70s and it’s still with us, there was an aberration that developed within the charismatic movement, which was an aberration itself, called “Power Evangelism.” It was also called the “John Wimber Movement” or the “Vineyard Movement” and several other names. But he wrote two books, Power Evangelism and Power Healing. The emphasis is all wrong! It’s on miracles and signs and wonders and all of this.
That isn’t what is emphasized in these passages. This power is already given to us and it is power to overcome the challenges, the difficulties, the temptations, the failures that we experience in this life.
As he develops his thoughts, the Apostle Paul goes on to say that the example, the illustration of this power is seen in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
If resurrection from the dead was easy, we’d see a lot more of it. We’ve seen it once or twice over the course of history as a result of God’s miraculous power through Elijah, through Elisha, the power that Christ had to raise some from the dead, and also the apostles. Ultimately, those people were just resuscitated, as it were, back to their mortal bodies and their mortal life.
But Jesus Christ was completely transformed when He was raised from the dead and had a resurrection body, which is the pattern for us. That is the kind of power that Paul is saying is available to us.
Christ was not only raised from the dead, but He ascended to heaven where He was seated at the right hand of the Father, which is a position of authority and power, and indeed that put Him above all things.
That phrase when we get into Ephesians 1:22, “And He—that is God the Father—put all things under His feet …” The “all things” there relate to all of God’s creation—all that He has created and brought forth ultimately out of nothing—everything in the inanimate as well as the animate, the angels as well as man.
He is in a position, not in terms so much of His deity but of His humanity, because as God the Son He created everything along with the Father and the Son, and so in His deity He has always been in a position of authority over everything.
The Doctrine of the Ascension and the Session emphasizes who He is as the risen and glorified God-Man. The humanity is lifted above the angels, as we will see, and put in this rulership position.
This opening phrase, “He put all things under His feet,” is a quote from the psalms.
The verb that’s used here is interesting. It’s applied many times to us in authority relationships where we’re not too comfortable, because we’ve all been in positions where we had somebody who was less than capable or shall we say, less than friendly that we had to submit to as someone in authority. It doesn’t matter who you are, we’ve all had to deal with that.
In this phrase, it is God the Father who put all things under His feet. The verb is HUPOTASSO, and it says basically that God the Father subjected all things to Him— subordinated all things to Him. The Father is the One who did this. He’s the one who performs the action of the verb.
There is a parallel passage in 1 Peter 3:22, Jesus “… has gone into heaven and is at the right hand—present tense; that’s where He is now, seated—at the right hand of the Father, angels and authorities and powers”—so that includes fallen angels as well as demons.
Which is why I think that in Ephesians 1:21 when it says that He was seated far above all principalities and powers and might and dominion, that those terms are not restricted to just demons: it involves every angel, fallen or elect.
1 Peter 3:22, “Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of Father—and that—angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”
God subjected them in Ephesians 1:22, but here it says God “having made them subject to Him.” It is an aorist passive participle; it’s the same verb, so we see this subordination.
God the Son in hypostatic union—the humanity of Christ, the Son of Man—is at the right hand of the Father in authority over all things.
The phrase that we see at the beginning of Ephesians 1:22, “And He put all things under His feet …” comes directly out of Psalm 8:6. I included Psalm 8:5 here because it gives us the context.
Psalm 8 is talking about the creation of humanity. It goes back to Genesis 1:26–28, that God made man in His image and likeness, “male and female He made them.” So, men and women in terms of their essence, in terms of their being, in terms of their humanity, are in the image and likeness of God equally.
But there are role distinctions, just as there are role distinctions in the Trinity. In Psalm 8:5 the context is talking about God’s creation of man, “For You have made him—that is humanity, mankind—a little lower than the angels.”
The angels have all sorts of powers and abilities and intellectual ability far beyond anything that we can imagine, and we have been made lower than the angels, and yet we will be “crowned with glory and honor.”
Psalm 8:6, “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands.”
That’s the original creation. Man was created to rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field; and to be fruitful and multiply. He was to rule as God’s vicegerent.
There’s a difference between the word vice-regent and vicegerent. Vice-regent is like a vice president. It’s someone who is secondary, and if the first guy is unavailable, then the second guy takes his place. We don’t do that.
A vicegerent is a representative of the one in authority. We were created to be a representative of God, that’s one of the ideas in being in His image and likeness, to rule in His place as His representative over all of His creation, all that He has made.
Psalm 8:6 is alluding to that, “For You have made Him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under His feet.”
This is then picked up in Hebrews. The first Adam failed. We have passages in Romans 5, as well as in 2 Corinthians 5 that talk about the first Adam and the second Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:24–28 also relates to this.
Hebrews 2:7–8 quotes—that’s the part that’s in italics—Psalm 8:6–7, “ ‘You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with the glory and honor and set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ ”
The writer of Hebrews is going to apply that to Jesus as the Second Adam. The first Adam was created sinless and failed; he became spiritually dead because he failed in the temptation in Genesis 3.
The Second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the only other human being created in the same way Adam was created; that is, without sin, no sin nature. He is born of a virgin conception and virgin birth, in order to block the transmission of the sin nature and the corruption of sin.
He was born like Adam was created; that is, sinless, without sin, and yet He never sinned, so He did what Adam was unable to do.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to say in Hebrews 2:8, “For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing—that is, God the Father left nothing out—He left nothing that is not put under Him. You can’t think of anything that’s not under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he says—But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
Satan is still going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. He has not incarcerated or punished the fallen angels and Satan. That doesn’t happen until He returns at the Second Coming.
Hebrews 2:9 goes on to say, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels—a man, emphasizing His true humanity—is made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.”
He is our substitute. He died spiritually, which means He bore the penalty of our sin on the Cross.
Go back to Ephesians 1:22, “And He put all things under His feet.”
This is a metaphor to describe a military victory. When a conqueror has defeated his enemies, he would bring—there are pictures of this in the Scripture—where they would bring their enemies before them, force them to bow down, and they would put their foot on their neck. It is a visual image of authority and conquest over one’s enemies. It is a reminder to the readers of Ephesians 1 that this is predicted in Psalm 8 and also in Hebrews 2.
Then the next thing He says is, “and.” Now the word “and” can have a number of different meanings and a number of different nuances. It can just link a number of things equally as you’re building a list, but there are other times when “and” has the idea of “in addition to” in a special sense, in which case it would be translated “also.” This is technically called the adjunctive use of “and.”
It also has what is called an ascensive use, and you just have to really pay attention and think a lot about the context to see which it is. “He put all things under His feet …” and in addition …
It’s an emphasis; it’s usually the last thing in a paragraph and in addition, something special. That approaches the idea of the ascensive, which is even to really mark out an emphasis on this last clause, “and He—that is God the Father—gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”
This is his point: he is building through this whole prayer at the end of Ephesians 1 to emphasize who Christ is as the Head of the Church. And as the Head of the Church, what He is providing for us as Church-Age believers, who are members of His body.
This becomes foundational for the rest of Ephesians, because the key idea in Ephesians is to teach the Gentile Ephesian believers that they have now been brought together with Jewish believers and united in one body.
It is through this new entity—this new body of Christ, the church—that God is going to impact the world during this Church Age. It is to these Church-Age believers, Jew and Gentile united as one in the body of Christ, that so much has been given. And to whom much is given much is expected.
We’re told that “He—that is, God the Father—gave Him to be head”—this is actually two accusatives here. He gave Christ and He gave Him headship, both of which are expressed as direct objects. “He gave Him to be head—or gave Him headship, or I would translate it, because headship is a metaphor, it should be translated—gave Him authority.” He put Him in a position of authority over the body of Christ.
We see this in a number of different places in the New Testament. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:3 and following he builds on this to make application to marriage and to the church, but he begins by saying, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
I’ve retranslated that underneath to bring out the sense of what he is saying. He says, “I want you to know that the authority of every man—and this is not ANTHROPOS, this is ANER, which is referring to the male—I want you to know that the authority of every male is Christ …”
Men, the authority over you is Christ: you’re answerable to Him. It may not be tomorrow or next week, but that is one thing we will be answerable to at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We are the spiritual head of our family. We’re the spiritual authority in our family.
Now that’s not a bully position, and too many men want to take it that way. That’s just your sin nature talking. Remember, the leadership role that Christ talked about was to be a servant, not to “lord it over” like the Gentiles. There are too many men who have misunderstood that. The emphasis in authority is on leadership, not on domination. That’s the idea here. So even if you are the spiritual authority, you have to learn to lead and exercise that authority in a biblical way, which is energized by humility and not arrogance.
“I want you to know that the authority of every male is Christ, the authority of every woman—every female—is the male—the husband here—and the authority of Christ is God.”
There’s a hierarchy of authority here in leadership. Christ is our example, men, and we are in turn to imitate that example toward our wives and our family.
Ephesians 4:15–16. This is another important passage, very important, and we will get there eventually. Paul says, “… but speaking the truth in love …”
That doesn’t mean it’s soft, that doesn’t mean it’s sentimental. Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with and difficult to say because sometimes that which needs to be said needs to be talked about, and it’s not always pleasant. It’s not always something that is good, not always something that is going to be easily accepted by those you’re speaking the truth to, but it’s grounded in humility and not in arrogance, not in anger, not in resentment.
It’s really easy to do that, for our sin nature to just take over, and we can be irritated just because we have to talk to somebody about something that we think is unpleasant, and we’d really would rather not have to talk about it.
We start off from a position of being irritated, and then we become a little angrier. Part of it is just because we sort of resent the fact that we even have to do this, but that we have to learn to control the sin nature.
“… but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things …” We are to grow. All things are to grow up: every aspect of our person mature; that’s the idea of growing—“… into Him who is the head …”
That expresses the idea. He is the One that we are imitating. He’s the One whose character we are to be conformed to, “growing up into Him who is the authority Christ.” We are to be like Him.
Ephesians 4:16, “… from whom—that is from Christ—the whole body …” We’re talking about the church, the body of Christ. This is another key passage in Ephesians talking about the body of Christ.
Here it extends the metaphor a little more relating to applying the whole idea of bones being joined together at the joints and the sinews and the muscles and everything—“… joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share,—we’re all parts of the body of Christ; one body, many members as we’ll see, and that is what—causes the growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (I reference the almost identical statement in Colossians 2:19.)
Then we come to Colossians 1:18–19, “And He is the head—that is, the authority—of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He—that is, Christ—may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.”
What does that mean? The word translated “the fullness” is PLEROMA, which is the same word in Ephesians 1:23, “… the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
It indicates here that the fullness that dwells in Christ is full deity: all of the attributes of God, the essence of God including His omnipotence. So Christ is fully God, and the essence of God dwells in Him.
Back to Ephesians 1:22. We’re reminded He “… gave Him to be the authority over all things to the church.” He has headship over the church.
The word “church,” EKKLESIA, is based on two words: EK, which is a preposition, and KLESIA, which has to do with called out, so you’ll hear people abuse Greek and say that that refers to the called out ones. I hear that occasionally on the radio and turn it off. That person doesn’t know anything about Greek. Words do not mean the totality of their component parts. You can’t take EK and add it to KLESIA and say this is what it means.
Because once you take two parts and put them together, it’s going to be used in a different sense, and so it just referred to an assembly. It could refer to the political assembly that ran a city, Apollos; could refer to a synagogue, and it is used to refer to a synagogue.
For example, in Matthew 18 when Peter is talking to Jesus about forgiveness, and in that whole chapter, it talks about how you deal with somebody who’s offended you. Jesus said after you go with one person, then you go with two or three, then if they still haven’t responded, you tell it to the assembly.
Well, there’s no church in existence at that point. A lot of translations translate it as church. It’s not church, it’s just talking about an assembly of people, and in the context of Israel at that time, that’s talking about the synagogue. It’s not talking about the church because it doesn’t come into existence until Acts 2.
It’s the general word that means assembly, and it is applied as a technical sense to what we know of as the church, which doesn’t begin until the Day of Pentecost in AD 33.
Then we have a relative pronoun at the beginning of Ephesians 1:23, “which.” “Which” is a feminine relative pronoun. It refers back to a feminine noun, EKKLESIA. So he is telling us that this assembly that he’s talking about is His body. The church is the body of Christ, so this is one place where these two words, EKKLESIA and body, are used in synonymous relationship to one another.
The body is described as the body of Christ. Now this is very unusual phrase. You’ve heard it so much; you don’t think it’s unusual. If we were talking about something else, we would perhaps say “body of Christians.” That would be normal; it’s a group of Christians. But it’s the body of Christ singular, because we are all one in Christ.
The word “body” here is the Greek word SOMA. You know it if you talk about a psychosomatic illness. Psycho indicates your mental attitude, which may affect your physical bodily health. In many places it refers to a physical body. It is used nine times in Ephesians, only one of which does it refer to a physical body. So the other eight times it refers to the Church, the body of Christ.
This is the focal point in our understanding the main theme in Ephesians, so we want to look at what the Bible teaches about the body of Christ, that is, the church.
1. The body of Christ came into existence on the Day of Pentecost in AD 33 with the baptism by means of the Holy Spirit.
There are eight different baptisms in Scripture. Five of them are dry, three of them are wet. The baptism by the Holy Spirit is a dry baptism. It is not experienced at all. The main idea in baptism is to identify one thing with something else. And at the instant of our salvation, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
One of the confusing things that comes along is that in Matthew 3:11 and the parallel passages in Mark and Luke and in Acts 1, you have an active-voice verb BAPTIZO, and John the Baptist is speaking and says, “I baptize you with water, but One will come after me who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit—or by means of—the Holy Spirit.” He uses the same structure in both places.
Well, that means that He is saying that I perform the action with water, but someone coming after me will perform the action and use the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body …”
In English this becomes very ambiguous because it looks like it’s the Holy Spirit Who is doing the baptizing. Here you have a passive voice verb, and in Greek the way the agent of baptism, the one who is performing the action of a passive voice verb, is expressed, is the preposition HUPO, not EN.
The same preposition EN is in Matthew 3:11. John says, “I indeed baptize you in—using the preposition EN in Greek: by means of—water, but the One who comes after me will baptize you in—EN: by means of—the Holy Spirit.”
Every time the Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to baptism, it’s always following an EN preposition. It’s translated into English as “by,” which is also how we express the person who performs the action in a passive-voice verb.
For example, if you say, “John hit the ball:” it’s an active-voice verb, John performs the action and hits the ball. But if you make it a passive voice, the subject becomes the ball, “The ball was hit by John.” We express the agent who performs the action with the English preposition “by.”
Just like in Greek, they would use the preposition HUPO, not the preposition EN. Here the one who performs the action of baptism is not the Holy Spirit. It’s not stated, but from comparing with all the other passages, Christ is the One who performs the action of baptism. It’s not the Holy Spirit.
People talk about the Holy Spirit baptism as if the Holy Spirit does it. Well, they just haven’t read the Greek or analyzed it correctly. It is God the Son who uses the Holy Spirit the same way John the Baptist used water to bring about a new identification, and that identification according to Romans 6:3–6 is His death, burial, and resurrection. That’s what breaks the power of the sin nature.
That did not happen historically until the day of Pentecost. That’s what separates us from all believers in all other dispensations; we are unique:
- The power of the sin nature is broken
- We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection
- We are united together in one body, the body of Christ.
2. All Church-Age believers, and only Church-Age believers, are members of the body of Christ.
I think this is important because there are some who think that since the Tribulation is after the Cross, that those who believe in Jesus as Messiah in the Tribulation are members of the church, but they’re not.
They don’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit, they’re not baptized by the Holy Spirit because baptism by the Holy Spirit enters you into the body of Christ, and the body of Christ is where during the Tribulation? Heaven with the Lord.
Tribulation believers are not Church-Age believers. They’re not baptized by the Holy Spirit. They’re going to be different from Old Testament saints because they have more information, but they’re similar to Old Testament saints.
Ephesians 5:30, “For we—believers—are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”
We’re members of Christ’s body, every one of us individually, but we are one in the body of Christ.
3. Through this extended metaphor, Christ is the head or the authority over the church, just as the human head where the brain resides … although there are few people where we question that, don’t we? Just as a human head with the brain is house controls and is the authority over the physical body.
It’s interesting in the ancient world, they thought it came from the center of the body, and in modern times we understand the function of the brain, the brain controls the body.
Ephesians 4:15–16 is really an interesting passage on this, “… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Christ is the head, and the body functioning together edifies itself. It grows and matures.
Right before this, we learned that when Jesus ascended, back in Ephesians 4:9, He gave gifts to men, then there are four gifts that are mentioned: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers—for the equipping of the saints to do the work of the ministry.
The work of the ministry is what this “edifying itself” is talking about, but it doesn’t come naturally, we have to be trained by those who teach us. The evangelist teaches us how to evangelize and pastor-teacher teaches us what the Word of God means, so that we can apply it. It’s not apart from the Word of God; it’s on the basis of the Word of God.
Then we have an analogy with Christ in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.”
Christ rules over the church.
4. During the Church Age, Christ is at the right hand of the Father, which is the command post. The Father runs things; the Son is seated, it’s a position of authority. His ministry is primarily directed to the church during this Church Age.
Remember what we read in Hebrews and in Ephesians 1: we don’t see all these things yet, that He is exercising authority over everything. Now He is exercising authority over the church as our High Priest, our Advocate, and our Intercessor.
- His priesthood: Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, and Hebrews 4:14–15
- Our Advocate: 1 John 2:2
- Our Intercessor: Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25
5. Christ is the head of the church, and He’s not the head of the cosmos—I didn’t spell it with the K. He’s not the head of the universe, He is not head of everything.
In this dispensation, He is just the authority over the church. He doesn’t take up authority over all things until He conquers His enemies at the end of the Tribulation, when, according to Psalm 110:1, God makes His enemies His footstool.
Then we come to the fun part of the passage, Ephesians 1:23, the church “is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all and all.”
That’s self-explanatory, so let’s bow our heads and close in prayer. No. This is fun; I think it’s fun. It takes a lot of mental sweat, and I’m not going to go through all the details with you because I’d lose all of you in about 30 seconds.
We have here the use of a noun and a verb based on the same root. The noun is “fullness,” and I’ve put the block over here directly under it, so you would see what that describes, and this is the term PLEROMA, which basically means fullness or something that has been completed.
It has been brought to us in a state of completion. Then as a noun, it can have either an active sense, that which fills, or a passive sentence, that which is or has been filled. Y’all got that, right?
I had to read through this stuff like 10 or 15 times to really catch what was going on here. So I understand that this is not simple. It’s not simple for me, and I dwell in this kind of material all the time, so I know it’s not simple for you. Trust me, I’ve boiled this down. There are at least six or seven different descriptions of what this phrase means all based on very technical grammatical arguments. But the idea is the fullness of Him.
Who’s “Him?” “Him” is Jesus.
What’s the fullness that He has—that which He has received?
Remember, we looked at Colossians 2:9? The fullness of deity dwells in Him fully. He’s receiving that fullness from the Father. He’s always had it. There’s not time and He didn’t have it, but He within the framework of the roles of the Trinity, there is that dependency.
There is that “fullness of Him who fills all in all.” That second “fill” over here is the verb PLEROO. It’s used a lot of different ways and basically means to fill up a container with something, that’s the idea.
We see a form of this verb used in Ephesians 5:18, “to be filled by means of the Spirit.” It doesn’t tell us the content of the filling. That comes from Colossians 3:16, “let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.”
When PLEROMA is used with the verb PLEROO, it normally has the idea of completeness—or the absence of many missing elements. Let’s just break this down a little bit for feeble minds.
1. The noun fullness, PLEROMA, can have a passive sense: that is, something which has been filled, which would be talking about Christ receiving something in His humanity, filling of deity.
This is what He in turn fills us with. He makes all of God’s essence available to us to empower us to live the spiritual life. That’s what that’s saying.
2. Christ received fullness in hypostatic union from the Father,
“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell …” Colossians 1:19
“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9
This is talking about Christ in hypostatic union in His humanity, because in His deity, He’s fully God. So it’s talking about how God is filling Him, providing Him with all of what He needs from God’s essence to be able to accomplish His mission on the earth. In turn what happens, Ephesians 1:23, “… the fullness of Him—that is all of these attributes, the essence of God, everything God provided for Him—fills all in all.”
He in turn is filling us with that. That’s why I said this is the same thing as what we find over in 2 Peter, that God has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness, so that we can handle whatever situation occurs in our lives, whatever comes our way.
3. This indicates that Christ is the One who is filled by the Father, and is in turn filling or completes the church.
See, some people take the view that this is the church completing Christ, and Jesus Christ doesn’t need to be completed. He is complete. He’s completing the church; the church receives His fullness.
Ephesians 4:10, “He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”
Remember what the next verse says? That “… He ascended and He gave gifts to men.” How are we filled with all things? By learning what the Word of God says. That is what fills us, and when we apply it, that is our path to being empowered to handle the circumstances and situations in life.
Because what God is after, as we studied earlier in Ephesians 1:3–5, we are not predestined, we’re foreordained. God has established a goal for us, and that is to be conformed to the image of His Son. He is building Christ-like character in us. He’s not making us a little God, but He is building that character in each of us.
Also, 2 Peter 1:3, “… as His divine power—there we go. It’s God’s power. It’s His essence—as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
We have to know Him, and that comes from studying His Word. We don’t get it indirectly by the Holy Spirit just teaching us apart from His Word. We have to study the Word and learn the Word, and it is the power of the Word. That’s what Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in truth.”
The means of sanctification is by means of the truth. What is the truth? The truth is the Word of God. “Thy Word is truth.” This is why studying the Word the way we do is so vital. We have to learn what the Word says, what it means, and that challenges us then to make that part of our life and apply it.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to work our way through this difficult passage, understand its significance for us. It tells us that You’ve just given us so much, and as Paul concludes this section at the end of chapter 3, He says “it is above all that we ask or think.” It’s beyond anything that we would ever ask for. We can’t even imagine it.
“Yet You have given it all to us. You’ve given us the potential to live out an incredible spiritual life. Doesn’t mean it’s free from adversity, free from heartache, free from difficulty. Our Lord Jesus Christ experienced all of those and a rejection to a level that we can never imagine, yet You sustained Him through it all, and He never lost His confidence, His stability, His happiness, His joy; it was always there.
“That’s what You’ve provided for us, and we just barely even think about this. Father, we pray that we would be challenged with this.
“Father, we know that some may be listening who’ve never trusted in Christ as Savior. We know that there are some who may be listening who have no idea how to have eternal life, and it is very simple, simply to believe or trust in Christ as Your Savior. He is the One who not only gives us eternal life, but all of these blessings become ours as well, but we have to learn about them. We have to learn what You’ve given us, how to live on the basis of those things, and we get a real purpose and meaning in life that is beyond anything that we can imagine.
“So Father, we pray that You would challenge every person listening to this message either now or online, later, whenever, with the importance of making Your Word just dwell within our minds all the time. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”