The Reign of Christ (Ephesians 1:18-23)

Date: 11/26/2017
More audio from All Saints Church
Type: Sunday Sermon
Topic: Kingdom
Organization: All Saints
Price: FREE

Ephesians 1:18–23 - I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 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.

Paul’s Prayer (vv 18-19a) - After greeting the Ephesians, vv1:3-14 is one long sentence in Greek (the longest in the NT) which is a “eucharist” (a eulogy of thanksgiving). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ . . .” In v18, Paul explains his prayer for them. Paul refers to the “eyes of your heart [which have been] enlightened” (perfect tense). Many commentators consider “enlightenment” to be baptism (see Col. 1:12–13; Eph. 1:13/Acts 19:2-4; see WBC). That makes sense of the grammar. In the NT world the heart and the eyes were faculties of “thought, judgment, and emotion” (Sacra). Paul prays that believers may know three things: a) The Call is God’s action in history of His eternal election and predestinating purpose to bring a person into relationship with Himself. b) The Inheritance is “used as a synonym for his people, Israel (cf Deut 4:20;…Pss 28:9; 33:12; 68:9…)” (WBC). Paul prays they would have a deeper knowledge of being God’s “inheritance” rather than what God will give them. c) His Power is qualified by “us who believe.” “By this, he simply wishes to emphasize that nothing is impossible for God. The power of God that is at work in the believer is the same power (mighty strength) that is manifested in the resurrection, exaltation, and universal dominion of Christ” (NIBC).

Christ’s Power (vv 19b-22) - The last item of the prayer (above) is for believers to realize that God has all power, as defined by the resurrection of Christ and seating Him in the chair of heaven’s rule (Ps. 110:1-2; Ps. 110 is referred to in the NT at last 28 times!). The NT emphasizes Christ’s ascension to the right hand of the Father as a primary truth; it not possible to overemphasize this as a NT theme: Mat 26:64, Mar 14:62, Luk 22:69, Mar 16:19, Act 2:33, 5:31, 7:55-56, Heb 1:3, 8:1, 12:2, Rom 8:34, 1 Cor 15:25, Eph 1:20, Col 3:1, 1 Pet 3:22. Paul applies the meaning of the ascension: Christ is exalted above all “rule [arches] and authority [exousia] and power [dunamis] and dominion [kuriotetos] (v20). “Dan 7:13–27 provides a key to the connection between heavenly exaltation of a figure to God’s throne and the eventual triumph of God’s elect” (NIB). In the parallel passage of Colossians 1:16, Christ not only is exalted with power, but also created all power, “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers.” On the unique phrase, exalted above “every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” - this likely has reference to the Ephesian context of sorcery (Eph. 19). “Magicians could use the knowledge of such names to enlist the aid of cosmic powers. Angelic powers might be named to facilitate the soul’s journey into the heavens either at death or as part of a mystical vision. For the apocalyptic visions of the rise and fall of earthly rulers, the angelic or demonic figures behind the human community were also perceived as a real threat. Consequently, the vision of Christ’s exaltation found in Ephesians removes believers from the influence of all other powers” (NIB).

The Church’s Place (vv 22b-23) - Like chapter 4:11ff, Paul here speaks of the Church Militant, not simply the local congregation as a “body” (1 Cor. 12). “Christ is head of a body that fills the entire cosmos” (NIB). The phrase “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all”  is difficult. It may mean “(a) that which is filled with Christ. The sense would then be that the church contains the fullness of Christ (so NEB); (b) that which is filled by Christ. The church is filled by Christ not only with his own life and presence but also with the gifts and blessings he bestows; (c) that which fills up Christ . . . (d) he who is the fullness of God . . . Christ the fullness of God is perpetual

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more