Head Over All Things to the Church

“…and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body…” (Ephesians 1:22-23)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:22-23

There is one more feature of Christ’s exaltation that is mentioned in the closing verses of this chapter.  It is his present rule over all things “to the church” (Ephesians 1:22).

Paul puts it this way: “And he [God, the one who raised Christ and set him at his right hand] put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vs. 22-23).

When the apostle uses the expression, “put all things under his feet”, he means that God put everything in subjection to Christ. There is nothing in heaven and earth that has not been put under his authority. Indeed, we do not see everything freely and fully submitting to Christ now, but it all will one day (Philippians 2:10). For, as Paul puts it in his first letter to the Corinthian church, Jesus must reign until “he has destroyed all rule and authority and power” and “put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Corinthians 15:25). When that happens, “the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” (v. 28).

What is special to note is that Jesus, in his present heavenly reign, governs all things “to the church” (Ephesians 1:22). That is, he rules over everything with constant reference to the present welfare and future glory of his church. It is, after all, “his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (v. 23). As the late Professor John Murray insisted, Christ can never be separated from his church. It is part of him and never leaves his mind and heart for a moment. He sees all of its trials and sufferings, its triumphs and advances, and rules over all things with its ultimate good in view.

Here Paul describes the bond between the Lord and his church not simply using the metaphor of the body, but also in the terms of the church being “the fullness of him who fills all in all”. What this difficult statement means has been widely debated. We shall content ourselves by affirming that Christ is so intimately connected with his church that it can be said to be “the fullness” of him, even as he is of it.

It is profoundly comforting to know that our universe, with all of its uncertainties, is under the control of the risen Lord (Revelation 5:1-10). Although it may fall to us to suffer greatly for his sake, we can be sure that he will never forsake us, and that in all things he is at work for our good (Romans 8:28).

Closing Thoughts:

  • Do you find comfort in knowing that your Lord and Saviour Jesus rules the universe from the throne of God?
  • Does it help you to face the difficulties of life knowing that you are a member of his body and that there is never a moment when you are not known, loved and cared for by him?

– Andrew Young