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Ephesians 1:22-23

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Alexander Pope, a famous English poet and satirist from the eighteenth century, observed in his Essay on Man that “order is heaven’s first law.” Whatever Pope himself meant by this statement, these words in themselves agree with biblical revelation. For example, in the creation account of Genesis 1 we see that God instituted perfect order when He created the universe. First Corinthians 14:33 tells us that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace,” and there certainly can be no peace without order. One of our Creator’s greatest desires is that His creation would be well ordered.

Of course, because God is sovereign over all and “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3), we can see an established order in creation. We can depend on physical laws, and we see that, generally speaking, people suffer predictable consequences for their actions. Yet at the same time, we see that, in a sense, creation has a certain degree of “disorder” or “chaos.” Humanity violates our Creator’s moral law all the time, throwing families and nations into upheaval and confusion. Satan and impenitent sinners alike manifest profound disorder in their thinking and arrogant foolishness by continuing their irrational war against the Lord.

The apostle Paul in today’s passage assures us that this state of affairs will not last forever. Although many things seem chaotic to us, the Lord contains them all within the boundaries of His sovereign rule. This is the point of Ephesians 1:23, which speaks of the fullness of Christ filling all in all. The sense here is not a physical or spatial filling, although the Son of God, according to His divinity, possesses the attribute of omnipresence (He is present in all locations); rather, the idea is that the exalted Christ pervades all of creation with His controlling power. God directs all things to their appointed ends in His eternal plan to make His reign manifest over all creation and unite everything in heaven and earth in submission to our Savior. Jesus, in turn, will hand the kingdom over to His Father in order that “God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:20–28). Currently, this reign is acknowledged in a special way in the church, which is Christ’s body (Eph. 1:22–23), but at His return the entire universe will see Jesus as the point of order in creation, and the “chaotic” rebellion against His righteous rule shall end (Rev. 19:11–21).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Because the faithful church bows to Christ willingly today, it receives special graces and gifts not found in the outside world. Churches faithful to God’s revealed Word enjoy the blessings of discipline, growth in servant-like love for others, the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit, and many other blessings besides. These are the kinds of churches to which we must belong and serve.

For Further Study
  • Job 38–41
  • Jeremiah 31:35–36
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
  • 2 Peter 3:1–13

The Exaltation of Christ

Dead On Arrival

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From the May 2011 Issue
May 2011 Issue