Last week's section focused on what Paul prayed for believers Those ideas lead naturally into seeing the power of God and the exaltation of Christ. This exaltation has not had an earthly equivalent. Maybe the closest thing will happen next month when King Charles will be coronated in England. Britain has not had a coronation in this century (last time was Queen Elizabeth II in 1953). News outlets are already starting to run stories about all facets of the spectacle that surely will be broadcast over the globe. Anyone who wants to see it will be able to see it in some form, whether live or recorded. However, no matter how elaborate or meaningful Charles' ascension to the throne of England will be, it will be absolutely insignificant if compared to God the Father's exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of power.
This exaltation is what we celebrated on Easter Sunday. Many of the sermons looked at the resurrection and the empty grave. The sermons will usually look at the gospel accounts and declare the risen Christ and the gospel He secured. These sermons will be rightly directed at the heart of Christianity, the resurrection. In this section of Ephesians the curtain is slightly pulled back to show the fuller picture of what happened after Jesus left the tomb. The Christ was exalted far above all powers, forever.
Paul connects the power and strength of God to the resurrection of Christ. He does not focus on His wisdom, love, grace, or mercy. He focuses on His strength. He connects this strength to His earlier use of power toward us who believe. He wants the reader to understand how the raising of Jesus pictures our being raised and God's ability to provide for us through His power. So the power that is working on our behalf is the power which raised Jesus from the dead. We can trust God in that He is working things for His purposes, because He has power to raise the dead.
This power to raise the spiritually dead is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. In the next section Paul begins unpacking our spiritual deadness and how God's mercy through Christ makes us alive. This power also sustains us in Christ. It is God's power to hold that which He had secured.
God's power also grows us progressively into the image of Christ. As we fight the fight of faith, He supports us through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit Who is the pledge of our inheritance, provides us power to live like Jesus.
His successful mission led to Jesus being returned to a place of honor in the Godhead. God exalts Him above all things. Paul lists the powers over which Jesus is exalted. The list is exhaustive and impressive: rule, authority, power, dominion, every name, and every time. There is nothing left that could overrule Jesus. There is not a time, now or in the future, where anything will rise above Jesus. What He accomplished secured His position in the cosmos for all eternity.
He is placed as the Head of the church. His position is not just as a leader, it is far deeper. We are part of Him and He is part of us. He not only controls and manages, but He is the Head. He thinks for the church, He leads the church. He is an example to the church. He is part of and is the church. He gives life to the church. We exist as part of Him.
In twenty-three short verses we have moved from being blessed, chosen, adopted and sealed to being the body of Christ. The unique relationship of the individual to Christ and His church develops throughout this letter. So at this point there is a transition in preparation for the next section, which is a further explanation of the relationship between humans and Christ. Paul jumps back to before the Ephesians knew the gospel in the next section.
The final observation and application I will attempt deals with Jesus' headship. Paul makes a statement that I almost missed. I saw something in the text, but could not get it into focus. As it was floating in my thinking, I started reading Calvin's commentary on the text. This statement in Calvin brought the text into better focus. Calvin says, "He was made the head of the Church, on the condition that he should have the administration of all things. The apostle shews that it was not a mere honorary title, but was accompanied by the entire command and government of the universe" (Calvin, 217). Paul says, "...gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body..." Christ's sacrifice for us was a gift, our inheritance is a gift, and His headship is a gift, given to us by the Father, for administering, not just the universe, but also the Church.
The Church is not complete without Christ as Head. He is what gives the body life, focus, purpose, and meaning. The body needs the Head and the Head needs the body. The relationship is mutually necessary. God has chosen the Church as the means by which glory will be brought to Him in the world. So we are the working parts of the Head, Jesus. As He commands, we move and work. As we grow He is brought glory which in turns glorifies God. We receive our very life and meaning from Christ.
This relationship is why Paul says God "gave Him" to the church. The One Who is over all things in the universe is guiding the Body and using the Body to complete His work for the Father. In chapter four Paul will talk about "work of service," which describes the tasks given to the members of the Body. These things are directed by the life giving Head of the Church. Each day we are presented tasks by God's Head of the Church. We should receive these tasks as gifts to be enjoyed and completed.