Ephesians

The Fullness of Christ – Ephesians 1:22-23

22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:22-23 NASB)

Observations

  • God the Father put all things in subjection. God the Father has the ultimate authority to give or take authority, to put things in subjection to whom.
  • God the Father delegates authority but ultimately holds all authority.
  • If you think about it, it makes sense that if someone is far above all rule and authority, it means those people and things vying for rule and authority must be in subjection to Him.
  • Jesus Christ, God the Son, did not fight for or seize any power for Himself. He was a passive recipient. God the Father did the work, putting all things in subjection.
  • We have this metaphor: all things are in subjection “under His feet.”
  • If these things are under His feet, they are not actually part of Him. They are separate from Him, other than Him, and lower than Him.
  • If He is head over all things to the church, and the church is His body, then the church is not separate from Him. The church is one thing that is not under His feet. The church is His body, they are one flesh so to speak.
  • So, the church is not one of the one things that is under His feet. The church is His body. Your body is not under your feet. Your body is above your feet, and is an actual part of you.
  • Yet your body is under your head. Your head tells your body what to do. But it is not that your body is in subjection to your head. There is no resistance or warfare between your head and your body. When there is something like that, there is some terrible disease happening. In a healthy body, your head tells your arm to move, and it immediately and seamlessly does it.
  • The idea of rule and authority and subjection suggests resistance and the assertion of power to force conformity to an edict.
  • So, God the Father put all things in subjection under Christ’s feet, and then wrapped him up as a present and gave Christ to the church. What?!! He gave his only begotten Son to the church. It’s like someone said, here is Elon Musk or Bill Gates, I’m giving him and everything he owns to you as your personal slave. It’s crazy.
  • The church, this seems to say, is the “fullness” of Christ.
  • Christ is the One who fills. The church is the fullness.
  • Christ may fill all in all, but it is not the fullness until the church received the gift of Christ. Without the church, things are filled, but existence as a whole is not full. That is a quite a heady thought.

Questions

What does it mean for things to be put in “subjection”?
What is the “fullness” of Him?
Is this verse simply a nonsense pipe dream?
So, there is a lot of injustice and suffering and evil. The actual evangelical church in America is staunchly backing a guy who forcibly strips immigrant children from their families and puts them in cages. How are these things in subjection under his feet? How is Christ head over the church, and how is the church as His body doing His bidding as the head, in this circumstance? It doesn’t seem like this is any kind of fullness of love or justice or even the slightest hint of good.
I think one possible answer is that this will only be fulfilled in the next life in the future. Heaven is where God’s will is always followed. It is then that every tear will be wiped away. It is then that Satan and his minions will be thrown into the lake of fire. Now it is not so. We must pray for the kingdom of God to come, for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. In general it is not so. Now we see our current here and now existence as the most real and most important perspective, obviously. But then we will see that this time is a shadow, and our eternity in heaven with Christ is the reality. From God’s perspective, all the suffering and evil has been dealt a death blow by Christ, and all things already are in subjection to Him.
Also, this ties into Ephesians 1:20, that the power of subjection is like the power of the resurrection. There is a time when the power is absent and withheld, to make the demonstration of the power of new life all the more powerful.

Reflections

When I look at myself, I see wretchedness. Even as I proclaim my own sinfulness and wretchedness, I do it in a prideful way as if I am an elite confessor of sin. If only all these other unenlightened people would see their own sinfulness and lean on Christ the way I do! Even my wretchedness is wretched. I am a common sinner, a lazy do-nothing unremarkable human enslaved to sinful thoughts, passions, prejudices, hatreds, and habits.

This view of the self would not seem to be a joyful or helpful one, except for the fact that it is true. But faith says that I am not defined by my own view of myself. I am defined by God’s view of me. God says that even though I am wretched, He finds beauty and pleasure and is praised by all of creation when He showers me with dignity and love and costly redemption. I am the one God loves, the one whom Christ stepped out of infinity and eternal time to die for. God says, I am the one who defines the selfless love of God, that I am the recipient of His great gift. Christ did not come and die for just an arcane display. He came and died for us, the church. All things may be placed in subjection to Him, but it is all for nothing without the church. It is a great emptiness. We are the substance of His love, His very bride. He put all things in subjection to Christ and then gave Christ to the Church. And far from being defined by my clear and genuine wretchedness, I am instead defined by this: I am defined by the fullness of Christ who was given to me by the Father. I am his fullness. This is something which seems too great to grasp; God has gone too far. I the wretched man cannot be of such significance! But scripture says, this is true. It is so.

And though we live in troubled times, full of injustice and tumult and suffering and great evil, it does not diminish the precious value of our faith. Our faith is the true subjection, the true substance. We say, I do not now see that all things are in subjection under His feet, but I do believe. I believe Christ emptied Himself completely to the point of death, even on a cross, for a truly wretched man such as I. And I am undone, I do not deserve such honor and such love. God has made it right that I should be so honored. I find tremendous solace in this in the midst of my struggle with disease and failure and the frustrations of living on this planet in this historic moment. It will all be a flash in the pan in light of eternity. God’s will will be done in heaven, and heaven shall be my dwelling place forever. I so look forward to those times! Praise God forever, amen.

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