The Immensity of God’s Resources, Part 1 of 3, (series: Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
Lessons on the Book of Ephesians
By: Tom Lowe Date: 2/5/17
Lesson 6: The Immensity of God’s Resources (1:20-23)
Ephesians 1:20-23 (NIV)
20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Dear reader, as you read this lesson; notice the emphasis with which the Apostle affirms the supremacy of Christ’s nature, Ephesians 1:21-22. This is a psalm of ascension. We can almost follow His tracks, as all the evil powers which rule the darkness of this world drop far beneath Him. The ascending Lord is high over all, and if we claim our right as members of His glorified body, we also shall stand above all our spiritual adversaries; and it is easier to descend on an enemy from above him than to seek to assail him from beneath. Notice that Christ needs the Church as much as the head needs the body, because it is through the Church that He fulfills Himself. Ask Him to fill all of you with all of Him.
20 He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.
The King James Bible seems to have a better translation: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
“He exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.”The raising of Christ from the dead was an awesome display of “power.” The "power" which He (God) exerted on that occasion was as great as that which He brought to bear during the six days of creation. It was capable of imparting life to a cold and "mangled" body, to open again the arteries and veins, and teach the heart to beat and the lungs to heave. It was able to diffuse vital warmth through the rigid muscles, and to communicate to the body the active functions of life. It is impossible to conceive of a more direct exertion of "power" than in raising up the dead; and there is no more striking illustration of the nature of conversion than in such a resurrection.
The same power that produced the marvelous miracle of Christ's resurrection now works in the hearts of believers. To appreciate this, we must bear in mind the apostle's full doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus, embracing not only the reviving of His dead body, but the transformation of that body into a spiritual body, and the designation of Jesus as a second Adam, who would transmit or communicate to His spiritual seed both a renewed soul and a glorified body, as the first Adam transmitted a sinful nature and a corruptible body to his natural seed. The power that accomplished all this, works in believers, and can surely work in them all who need transformation.
There are many articles of faith contained in this verse, such as, that Christ died, that He is raised from the dead, that He was raised from the dead by God the Father, and that His resurrection was by the power of God: the resurrection of any person is an event requiring great power, but Christ's resurrection from the dead was an instance of peculiar and special power; for he was raised from the dead as a public figure, representing all his people, for whom he became a surety; and he was raised again for their justification, and to bring great glory to Himself, after He had been born into a family with very low standing indeed. Christ's resurrection
is called a begetting, and He is said to be the first begotten from the dead. And the regeneration of men is often compared to the resurrection from the dead. Just as Christ's body was really dead and lifeless, prior to His resurrection, so men, before their conversion, are dead in trespasses and sins, and destitute of spiritual life. And, just as Christ's human nature could not help itself, could not raise itself, neither can dead sinners convert themselves, or bring themselves out of that state and condition in which they are by nature; and as the resurrection of Christ was the pure work of God, and a display of his almighty power, so the work of faith, of grace and conversion, is entirely the work of God, which is begun, carried on, and finished entirely by His power; and while Christ's resurrection was meant to bring Him glory, so is the regeneration and conversion of men meant to provide the enjoyment of the heavenly inheritance.
From another point of view, the Resurrection was the act of the Son’s own will. Jesus, speaking of His life said, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:18). But where it is viewed as the Father’s acceptance of the work of the Son, or as the Father’s testimony to Him, it is always attributed to the Father as His act. (See Acts 2:24; 3:15; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30:37).
“And seated him at his right hand” (also see Matthew 20:21), expresses the great honor and glory conferred upon the human nature of Christ; such honor has never been given to any of the angels, nor has any angel ever been exalted to the glory to which He is exalted; and this shows that the Father has approved of His work on earth. Therefore, God has “seated him at his right hand,” where he enjoys rest and relief from His labors, and is out of the reach of every enemy. He will never die again, for He will live forever to intercede for His people, to assist and protect them, and bring them where He is, for He is their head and representative, and they are already set down in the same heavenly places. There must be a spot in the heavens where His glorified body exists, and is in immediate contact with some manifestation of the glory of the Father. There Stephen saw him; and he came from there to meet Saul on the way to Damascus; and his promise to his people is “Where I am, there shall ye shall be also” (John 14:3).
Have you noticed that in Scripture imagery the ascended Lord is always on the throne; “a Priest upon his throne” (Zechariah 6:13); not pleading before it, but exalted upon it, “the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). “His right hand” is a glorious metaphor that implies that we will have a share in the throne (Revelation 3:21), not merely sitting near it. From eternity the Divine Son had been “with God” (John 1:1); “beside the Father” (John 17:55; A.V. “with thee”); now as the Incarnate after Death and Resurrection He appears in the same exaltation; in this capacity, as well as in that of one-third of the Godhead, He now “reigns;” wields “all power in heaven and earth.” And this sitting, like Resurrection, is the act of the Father’s accepting and glorifying will. The idea is that great power was displayed by this, and that a similar exhibition is made when man is renewed and exalted to the high honor of being made an heir of God. (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33).
“In the heavenly realms.” This phrase evidently means in heaven itself, the highest heaven, called the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:22), and paradise (2 Corinthians 12:4). This is where the Lord’s actual ascended Body exists.