The Immensity of God’s Resources, Part 3 of 3, (series: Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
“And God placed all things under his feet.” This is the reason that all His enemies, and death itself, shall be put under the feet of Christ, and it is taken out of Psalm 8:6 which is regarding One that is transformed into a man, more specifically, the Son of man, the man Christ Jesus, who is often called the Son of man. “all things”may include “all things”animate and inanimate, the whole creation and universe of things, the world and its fullness, the earth and all that is in it and on it, the beasts of the forest, and the cattle on a thousand hills, evil angels, the devils, men born again by the power of His grace upon them. He is heir of the world. The Father has delivered all things into His hands, and given to Him all power in heaven and in earth, and He rules over all creatures and things.
But when he says, “God placed all things under his feet,” it is obvious that God is exempted, for when David, or the Holy Spirit by him, said the above words, in Psalm 8:6 nothing is more clear and evident, than that God the Father, who made all things subject to Christ as Mediator, is Himself not subject to Him; since His power as such must be equal to or greater than His: this exception is made to secure the government, power, and honor of the Father; for though he has made his Son higher than the kings of the earth, yet not higher than Himself; and though he has made him His King over His holy hill of Zion, yet not over Himself; and though it is His will that all men should honor the Son, as they honor the Father, yet not above Him, or more than He; nor has He relinquished the government, either in the world or in the church, by subjecting all things to Christ.
When Paul says, “God placed all things under his feet,” he did not leave out any person or any thing; there is no one person or thing that is not subject to Christ; the subjection is universal, and it can be either voluntary or involuntary. Whether they will or not, they are, and must be His subject; God has left nothing on this earth but that which He has put under His power, there is nothing that is not put under Him (see Hebrews 2:8). But it must be observed that though the Holy Spirit is not mentioned, yet He is equally exempted; since He is one God with the Father, and was jointly involved in the mission, and installation of Christ, as Mediator; nor can the Holy Spirit be considered among the “all things” put in subjection to Christ, for they relate to only creatures. And though the gifts and graces of the Spirit are put into Christ's hands, and are at his disposal, yet the person of the Spirit can never be thought to be put under His feet.
“and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” “The church” does not mean those who are just professors of religion, or a family of faithful persons, or a particular congregation, though it is sometimes used in this sense; but the whole body of God's born again people, the church, which is built on Christ the rock, for which He gave Himself, and which is the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. Christ is the head of this church, and this headship of Christ is the gift of God; and it is an honorable gift to Him, as Mediator;
it is a glorifying of Him, and a giving Him in all things the pre-eminence; and it is a free grace gift to the church, and a very special, valuable, and excellent one, and of infinite benefit and advantage to it; and which is expressed in His being head "over all things" to it; to overrule all things for its good; to communicate all good things to it; and to perform all the good offices of an head for it.
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
“which is his body,” that is, the church is the body of Christ, which the apostle explained in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 through a metaphor: “The human body is just one entity, consisting of various members, united to each other, and designed by God in an exact proportion and symmetry, and in a relationship of codependence between the parts. Now the church of Christ is likewise one general assembly, which consists of many persons, who have different gifts and usefulness’s, and are all united together under one head, Christ, whose name they bear, and are made to drink of the same Spirit. And these are placed in an order that will throw a glory and attractiveness on each other, and to be useful to one another, so that it cannot be said of the most insignificant member, that there is no need of it; and the number of them can neither be increased nor diminished; and this is Christ's body, his mystical body, which becomes His by the Father's gift to him, and by his own purchase; to which he is united, and of which he is the only head; and which he loves, supplies, directs, and defends as if it was his own body.
“the fullness of him who fills everything”; besides the personal fullness which Christ has as God, and His fullness of ability and fitness for His work as Mediator, and His dispensatory fullness, which dwells in Him for the use of His people. The church is His virtual fullness, which fills Him, and which is filled by Him, and is complete in Him. Then will the church appear to be Christ's fullness, when all the elect, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be gathered in; and when these are all filled with the grace designed for them; and when they are all grown up to their full proportion, or are grown-up to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; which will be a glorious sight to see, and very desirable. And this shows the certainty of the saints' perseverance and salvation: for if any one member, even the most insignificant, could be lost, the church would not be the fullness of Christ.
“in every way” may be understood to mean either more extensively, for He fills both worlds with inhabitants; he fills all places with His omnipresence, and all creatures with the proper food and nourishment; or, if limited to the church and people of God, He fills all His churches and ordinances with his gracious presence, and He fills the various societies of His saints with members and with officers, and these He fills with the gifts and graces of His Spirit, suitable to their place and station. He fills all of the saints, all the vessels of mercy, whether greater or lesser, all sorts of them, of larger or lesser capacities; He fills all the powers and faculties of their souls and their hearts with joy, their minds with knowledge, their consciences with peace, their wills with spiritual desires, submission and resignation, and their affections with love for Him and His people. In short, He fills them with all grace and goodness, and the fruits of righteousness; and so makes them implements of usefulness here and for happiness hereafter.