Ephesians Chapter 1: "The will of God"
We begin with the salutation: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”, and at once, though we may not immediately realise it, are brought up against one of the characteristics of the letter: “by the will of God”. It is obvious, of course, for God worketh all things according to the counsel of His will, but it is not too obvious to be given constant stress.
Consider the following:
- “according to the good pleasure of His will” (1:5);
- “the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which he hath purposed in Himself” (1:9)
- “who worketh all things after the counsel of His will” (1:11).
Three times within the first chapter in addition to the address, Paul seems to be determined from the start to leave us in no doubt as to where the purpose lies. We were never really in doubt, but it was always possible to behave as though we were: it is never really easy for our minds to reconcile themselves to the thought that they have absolutely no say whatsoever in the destiny of the universe, but that it all was determined from outside, by the Creator, without whose will we should have no part nor lot in this matter. And therefore Paul, who is to stress this greatly so far as the saints in general are concerned, begins with a proper humility by stressing it about himself. He is a messenger of Jesus Christ, because it pleases God that he should be so: if it did not please God, he never could have become this, no matter how much he had wanted it. And all the three other occasions are universals: Paul, the saints in Ephesus and Asia, and all things in heaven and earth, play their part according to the purpose eternally conceived in the mind of God; or in the long run they play no part at all.
This, no doubt, is the same as the thought in John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word” [John 1:1], “The Word was with God” is perhaps almost identical with “He purposed in Himself”: God was accountable to no one for what He did, and is accountable to no one far what He does.
The second verse is quite according to the ordinary pattern of Paul’s letters: “Grace and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2), for this salutation is rarely or never omitted. It would seem that it was to the Apostles unthinkable that they should send a message from themselves to their brethren, without sending first a message from the One who had called them. It could in no way better be brought out that they were not their own, and were not writing nor labouring in their own behalf. The people to whom they wrote were their friends, indeed, but not their personal friends, if we may put it so. God had not chosen them by themselves and for themselves, but for His own name primarily, and as fit companions for each other incidentally. Each stood where he stood by grace, and each therefore invoked grace upon the other when he wrote to him. From God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ they had obtained all, which was worthwhile which they possessed: from the same fountain they would seek these continued blessings on each other. Now comes the phrase, which sets the tone for the letter: “Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3) Paul does not usually begin like this, even though praise and thankfulness is never (except perhaps in Galatians) far from his opening thoughts. But elsewhere he is usually more restrained:
- “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all” [Romans 1:8] (But the thankfulness is because their faith is spoken of throughout the world, a very different matter from that we are now to think of!)
- “I thank my God always on your behalf” [1 Corinthians 1:4] (Because God’s gifts were so richly manifest in their conduct)
- “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [2 Corinthians 1:3] (who comforteth us in our tribulations; the nearest we have yet reached to the thought in Ephesians, but concerned with the particular comfort which Paul had reached in particular difficulties, rather than with the vast universals which we shall meet)
- “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” [Philippians 1:3] (very like Romans in tone)
- “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Colossians 1:33] (since we heard of your faith)
The same thought as this last is repeated in the two Letters to the Thessalonians, in 2 Timothy and in Philemon: and an abundant array of evidence is thus found that Paul had constantly in mind his appreciation of God’s work in the saints. But nowhere else does he rise to the heights which he reaches here:
- “who hath blessed us” [1:3]
- “according as He hath chosed us” [1:4]
- “having fore-ordained us” [1:5]
- “He made us accepted in the beloved” [1:6]
- “in whom we have redemption through his blood” [1:7]
- “having made known unto us the mystery of His will” [1:9]
- “in whom we have obtained an inheritance” [1:11]
This is a selection only, but it established the point. God is thanked, not for anything we have done (which would be a little unreasonable, even though the Pharisee in the parable- did not think so, [Luke 18:11]; not even for anything which we have been empowered to do through His might (as He is in so many of the other epistles); but purely and simply for what He has done and intended for us, utterly irrespective of the use we have made of it, or any fruits which it has borne in us. In other words, this is perhaps the only time, certainly the only time so early in a letter, in which the subject is absolutely fundamental: in which Paul goes right back to the beginning and origin of things. Nowhere else is man left so completely out of account, except as the recipient of all that God has done, by grace, in purpose and through power.
God hath blessed us “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” [1:3]: in this phrase the Scriptural doctrine of heaven going is set out. It is comprehensive, embodying all spiritual blessings; but it has nothing to do with dead persons. Paul was so blessed as he wrote, and the same blessing was accessible to every saint who read his message. The “heavenly places” might be “the heavenly things” or “the heavenly realms”, for the scripture reads simply, “the heavenlies”; and the expression in this form appears only five times in the New Testament, each time in this Letter:
- “all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3)
- “God raised Christ from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in heavenly places” (1:20)
- “God hath raised us up together, and made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6)
- “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (3:10)
- “we wrestle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places” (6:12)
The significance of this group of five passages may not be obvious at once, in its fulness, but there are points, which are clear from the start. For in 1:20 it is evidently the resurrection of the Lord, which is in issue. Yet it is not a mere bald statement of the Resurrection, for the working of God’s mighty power when He raised the Lord is a working which extends beyond Him, to the saints “which He wrought in us”! Of course the Lord was the first and the greatest, and he was also in some sense the only subject of that resurrection. But he was the first and greatest of a multitude, and he was the only because there is no salvation in any other.
We have here, in fact, the doctrine of the Priesthood of Christ, put in non-priestly terms. It is an interesting and profitable reflection that it is possible to talk about the death of Christ without mentioning the word “Sacrifice”, and about His activities at God’s right hand without mentioning the word “priest”. Sacrifice and priesthood are the oldest and the most complete pictures of what the Lord was to do for his saints, but they are not the only ones, and when the reality is achieved, it is possible to speak in other terms and this is what the apostle does here. God has taken the Lord Jesus to heaven, literally, and He takes the saints with Him thither, in spirit. 1:20 is thus the centre, which gives meaning to 1:3 and 2:6.
But when we say “in spirit”, we are far from meaning that this is something unreal, because it is not in the body. When the Lord said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no-one cometh unto the Father but by me” it was not of a bodily approach to the Father’s throne that He spoke, but it was a real approach, in which the sinner for the first time found himself able to find access to God without the agency of human priest and animal sacrifice. The “mansion” of this passage is the “abode” of John 14:23, where God and the Lord make their home in the company of those who love them and keep their word. This approach is the special privilege of those who have made their covenant with their God, and so, in this dispensation, it comes to pass that the Lord “will show Himself unto them, and not unto the world’’ [John 14:22]
It is the same with the high priesthood of Jesus as expounded in the Letter to the Hebrews, Formally, the Holy Place was open only to the priesthood, and the Most Holy to the High Priest alone, and that but once a year. But now the whole heavenly structure has been thrown open by the death and ascension of the Lord, and, with the veil removed in His flesh, all who will have access to the Holiest of all by the blood of Christ, and are invited to draw near with boldness.
There is, as yet, nothing about invitation in our Letter, for it is concerned only with what God has done for us, and not with whether or not we will avail ourselves of its opportunities. God has worked, and worked successfully, and there for the time being is the end of the matter. His complete purpose is not for this moment to be weakened by the knowledge that men and women do not always appraise it at its full worth. Thus every circumstance of the life of the saints is brought within the compass of God’s operations in the heavenly places. He wrought all that was needed when He raised Jesus Christ from the dead, for this was the guarantee that all who are Christ’s could came into God’s presence through Him. Thus we also, if we are fully His, sit in the presence of God: while we walk on the earth. But it is not to be supposed that we do this only in our quiet moments, when no activity threatens our minds, and when contemplation only is asked of us. The same is true in our activities in the world. When we preach the Gospel to the unbeliever we do it, not as leaving the solace of God’s companionship, and going into unfriendly company alone; but, rather, God brings the arena of exertion into His own presence, and “unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places there are made known by the Church the manifold witness of God.” It is not as though these powers have any right in the heavenly places on their own account, or that they would be there in any case if they were not being preached to. But it is that they come within the reach of God’s operations when they are being preached to, and the saints remain within the reach of God’s helping hand while they carry out their work of witness. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” covers this phase of their lives. But it covers another also, more threatening God is with them even when they do battle with the powers of evil.
We know, of course, that the Lord is of too pure eyes than to behold iniquity, and it might often be our thought that, when temptation comes to us, the very unworthy thoughts which trespass in our minds put us for the time being out of the society of God.. In a sense, the Old Covenant, which came to emphasise the consciousness of sin, said this very clearly, and until purification was carried out, there was no access again into God’s company. But in this Book the superiority of the New Covenant is beautifully witnessed. “Are you going out into the presence of temptation?” says God in effect, “Then you must certainly go out properly equipped.” and so:
“Take up the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and, having done all, to stand. Gird your loins with truth, take on the breastplate of righteousness, and on your feet the readiness to preach which the Gospel gives.” (6:10-17)
Our wrestling, that is to say, is constantly to be carried out with God at our side, around us, and within. It is not that we leave the presence of God in order to encounter evil, but rather that we bring the evil into God’s company, and ask Him to help us in overcoming it. We remain at our Lord’s side whenever we fight His battles: add in seeking to quench the fiery darts of the wicked we are fighting His battle, continuing the conflict which began in the days of His weakness: the days when the dragon sought to devour Him at His birth (Revelation 12:4), but was overcome, and from the presence of God was cast down the accuser of our brethren, the power of sin which said, “You cannot receive this man here, for he is a sinner” (Revelation 12:10). In the atoning death of Jesus sinners were made righteous, and might indeed come before God, in spite of the previously powerful complaints of sin against them. And the tables are turned now, for now heaven is with them in their fight against the sin, which formerly they served.
But this has taken us a long way from 1:3, where we made our last contact with the wording of this Epistle, and we must return. “He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world”. There is no need, and no profit in the exercise, to suppose that God, of predetermined and inflexible purpose, chose this man and that to be redeemed in Christ, but we can usefully expand on “before the foundation of the world”, an expression which occurs some nine or ten times in the New Testament.
The occasions are:
- “I will open my mouth in parables. I will utter things kept secret from the foundations of the world” (Matthew 13:35)
- “Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)
- “The blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:90)
- “Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24)
- “The works were finished before the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3)
- “Else must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 9:26)
- “He was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifest at the end of the times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:20)
- “All that dwell on the earth shall worship Him, every one whose name hath not been written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8)
- “And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 17:8)
No single group of passages could express better the eternal purpose of God. No single group is, perhaps, better fitted to remove misconceptions as to what is meant by predestination, and what by pre-existence. In accordance with the plan of this Epistle, we are being brought to recognise the utter dependence of all that occurs in the working out of the plan of salvation, upon the will of God; and we are being led to recognise how completely that Will had foreseen, and provided for, all that was necessary. Certainly we meet here again the essential idea behind the opening words of John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word: without it was not anything made which hath been made.”
From the least to the greatest it was foreseen. The works of God, which are not finished yet, were finished before they were begun. The saints of God, who are not glorified yet, had places reserved for them in the Book of Life when as yet no name was penned. The Lamb of God, who was in the mind of God at least from the first fall, was slain before the Lamb whose skins clothed the transgressors, when as yet His death was millennia away. He was slain in purpose, and He was slain in type in all the prophets who died in anticipation. And the very kingdom which the blessed will inherit is there in all its essentials in the mind of Him who calleth the things which are not as though they were, and who bringeth again that which is past, long in advance of its bestowal: so that the New Jerusalem comes dawn ready made, just as God intended it to be, when the fulfilment of the ages produces it.
Here, therefore, a book which has so far shut out the thought of failure in individual cases, and worked only on the sublime success of God’s working, tells us that what was determined in the eternal purpose of God for those whom He would ultimately bring to glory. Nothing which was needed was left to chance: granted the needed response on our part, all is sure in the goodness of God:
“Whom He foreknew, He also foreordained to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom He foreordained, them Ho also called: and whom He called them He also justified: and whom he justified, them He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30).
Personal response is, however, beginning to creep into the development. It was God’s purpose that we should be “holy and without blemish before Him in love” (1:4). But it would be a serious mistake to suppose that this is as yet a call to action on our part. On the contrary, it is an indication of what God is able to do with the most unpromising material, if only it is willing to be confirmed to His purpose. The verse sets out what we are not, and assures us that it is possible to become it, if God’s purpose operates in us. Continuing unholiness and flaws are excluded indeed, and it is as clear already as if it had been said, that we may not now “continue in sin, that grace may abound”. Nevertheless, it is the abounding of grace, which is considered, and not our own achievement. This also is of God’s foreordination, and it leads to the sublime relationship of sonship (1:5).
The eternal purpose is powerful here also, and not for the first time we find ourselves echoing the teaching of the prologue to John’s Gospel: “The Word (by which the world was made) came into the world, and the world new him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, but of the will of the flesh, not of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13).There is a birth that is not, in itself, according to God’s will: this is the birth of the flesh. There is another birth, which could not take place unless the will of God were so: this is the birth described to Nicodemus in his discussion with the Lord. “Except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5). The inheritance of blood, the power of human will and lust, has no part in this birth. It takes place as the fruit of love, indeed, but the love is not of human art: it is the compassionate love of the creator, which begets us again by the Word of Truth, according to His will.
Now our sonship is like that of the Lord, but it is also different. It is like it in that it stems from the same source, and arises from the fulfilment of the same divine will; but it is different in that it is dependent. The Lord’s true, only-begotten, sonship comes first, and without it there would have been no other. “To them that receive” him, but only to them, is this power given. Now it is clear that children are brothers of each other, or sisters of each other, and so it is evident that “all we are brethren”. But when the Firstborn of the children is free-born, and the remainder are children by a lesser process, which can be called “adoption” (here, and in Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5); it by no means follows that the One will call the other “Brother”, or that the other has the right to use this name of the One.
And in fact, when we look at the scriptures with care, we do find a distinction made. The disciples never, to my knowledge, call their Lord their brother: they call him Master and Lord, and they say well, for so he is (John 13:13). They speak with bated breath of the exceeding exaltation to which he has been raised. They use his proper name, Jesus, or his kingly title, Christ. But they do not call him brother. They are too well aware of their humble and derived position to do that. The Lord, on the other hand, does use the title about them: those who do the will of his Father are his mother, and sister, and brother (Mark 3:35). He is not ashamed to call us brethren, since he, like the children, partook of flesh and blood (Hebrews 2:11ff). But this is his gracious condescension. From his mighty heights he stoops down and takes our hands and this is becoming in him. But from our lowly exaltation we may not go up to him and link arms: this would be presumptuous familiarity in us. Let us, therefore, with due humility, understand the title “Brethren in Christ” in the spirit in which it was first compiled, and think of ourselves as brethren one of another, because we are in Christ; and of him as our Lord and Master, who nevertheless is willing to stoop down and exalt us into his family. He calls us brethren, but in our calling we are also “my little children’’, and it is seemly in us to recall this and show him the high honour to which the angels also exalt him. For, as our own chapter goes on, it is God’s will, in the dispensation of the fulness of the times, “to sum up all things in Christ” (1:10), all things wherever they may be, so great is the dignity now reposing in him, and to such high office was he eternally called. This, also, we can too easily forget.
When we remember that the Lord was made with passions like our own, we can too easily think of him almost as a competitor. He and we start level, we might think, and all the advantages lie with him. He conquers, and so gains a prize altogether out of our reach. And a rebellious spirit might ask, complainingly, why he should be given such high exaltation over us. But this is grievously to misunderstand the situation. It is not the case that the Lord is in all respects comparable with us. None of us would dispute the lawful right of an earthly Father to leave his belongings to his own son, and none of us would feel that we had any cause to complain when this was done. The rights of the Eternal Father are not less. And although we may not speak of Him as “leaving His belongings”, we must still acknowledge that He has right to do what He wills with His own. The Lord Jesus is “the heir” (Hebrews 1:2 and throughout this chapter), and rebels in the days of his weakness resented the fact (Matthew 21:38). “He was born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2; see John 18:37), and Herod would have killed him for it. But there can be no talk of unfair privilege. Here we have the Creator of the Universe providing, in His purpose, for the one of His appointment, to come and redeem. He is not competing with us, so much as gaining for Himself a glory which would not be complete or possible at all without us: “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see, his seed, He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:10).
In this immense consummation each saint has his part. When heavens and earth are united in allegiance to the Lord, we also, if we are His saints, have received in him a heritage (1:11). Our present hope in Christ leads to that glorious lot in the future time, and in the meanwhile there has been an assurance that trust is not in vain. It was the constant experience of the saints of the first century to have known some inward satisfaction from their fellowship with the Lord was to them the guarantee of the fulfilment of what had been offered them (1:12). “Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (1:13-14).
It is true, of course, that the miraculous gifts of Pentecost were such an earnest. Many of those who heard Peter’s words at Pentecost, concerning the promise to them and their children, and all that were afar off (Acts 2:39), partook of one or other of the open manifestations of the Spirit’s power, as in tongues, or prophecies, or interpretations, or healings. Yet it is surely not primarily of such things that Paul is writing here. He refers to a sealing, a guarantee or undertaking on God’s part that what He has promised is real and shall not fail. For such a purpose, the spiritual revelation of the Mount of Transfiguration was much more to the point than any possession of powers which could be openly displayed (Mark 9:1-8; 2 Peter 1:16-18). The Comforter promised in John 14 and later chapters was much more concerned with assuring the disciples’ hearts than with giving power to their physical witness. It was the assurance that the Father and the Son would make their abode with them. When Paul welcomed tribulation, on the basis that patience, experience and hope that spring from it owe their strength to the “love of God which is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto them” (Romans 5:5). It cannot be imagined that he is speaking about what men call miracles at all.
It must in fact be recognised that, if the Christian hope is a true hope, it is not limited to the future. The abundant riches, “now in this time” (Mark 10:30), which the Lord promises to His disciples, bear witness to this. The serenity which we often had occasion to admire in those who seem to have approached nearest to the realisation of the power of God in bringing them to salvation, serve to persuade us of the reality of the undertaking that, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The Lord’s promise that he “stands at the door and knocks, and if any man opens unto him will come in” (Revelation 3:20), is realised in the days of opportunity. The precious gift of communion with him in prayer which is known to ascend before the throne of grace, when we approach with that boldness which means certainty, is a profound indication that the earnest of the inheritance is not now in all its forms withheld from those who are receptive of it.
Now at last, Paul allows himself to breathe from his spiritual exertions. Our normal punctuation of the first paragraph of his letter shows a stop after the greeting in v. 2, and then no other until the section ends. The piling up of one aspect of God’s causeless will upon another did not permit of the work to be interrupted until the edifice was complete. And with this picture of God’s purpose in front of him, Paul can pause to pray. Let us sum up what he has said before we consider his prayer:
Blessed be God for all his heavenly blessings upon us in Christ, dating from all eternity in His purpose, accomplishing all that is needful without contribution from man, revealing to man what he could never have found out for himself, leading on to the consummation in which Christ will achieve all that has been promised through him, and the saints themselves receive that which has already been confirmed to them by their confidence in God’s present fellowship with them (1:1-14).
If so much is already done, what then can there remain to pray for? Much, and, not least, a thanksgiving of another kind. God has done all the needful, indeed, but what would this have availed if the readers of this letter had been unreceptive. It is possible to frustrate the grace of God, even though we have so far ignored it. Paul looks, almost as it were with anxiety, to find out whether this could perhaps be true of those to whom he writes. From this contemplation he turns with satisfaction. He had heard of their faith and of their fellowship with one another, and for that he can give thanks (1:15-16). The time would come when anything so far-reaching would no longer be possible of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), but for the time being it was true, and Paul could give thanks. Give thanks and not congratulate them. What God had done came from Him, not from them, and the praise must go to Him.
But Paul has reached great heights in this chapter, and it is not to be expected that lesser men will at once have reached so far. A real supplication is to follow. For he can understand what he has written about: his long experience of the goodness and longsuffering of God; his frequent witness of the grace which added to the church daily those that were being saved (Acts 2:47), and, perhaps above all, the vision of Paradise which it was not lawful for him to utter (2 Corinthians 12:4). All these have worked in him a clear consciousness of the riches of what God has done. But with those to whom this letter is written it is otherwise. He has learned more than they, and they, for all their faith and love, are now for the first time seen as mere beginners on the path of spiritual progress:
“I make mention of you in my prayers, that God may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know.” (1:16-18).
They did not know what Paul knew. They were, perhaps, in much the same position as us during very many years of our pilgrimage, knowing the rudiments of their faith, but pot having attained to its heights. These could be reached only by constant climbing, aided by the hand of God: and they would not be attained at all unless such a prayer as this wore answered. They were to learn, if God were gracious to them:
- the hope of His calling (1:18)
- the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (1:18)
- the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe (1:19)
It is not impossible that they might have claimed to know all of these already. For the hope is that of immortality, the inheritance of the Kingdom, the power of resurrection. What more is there to know? There is nothing more, perhaps, but there are different ways of knowing. I can know that the sun will rise to-morrow, and be utterly indifferent to my knowledge; I can know that there is One God, and be even less moved by this than the “devils, which believe and tremble” (James 2:19); and I can know the elementary first principles here set out, and feel and live as though my life was just the same as before. What Paul is asking for on our behalf is real knowledge: an inward fellowship with the things we believe; he wants his readers to have a living friendship with their faith, and to receive from God the spirit of wisdom, of power, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
For this Power is the same as that which was wrought in Jesus, for what God wrought in Jesus was done for all His saints. We do not contemplate the successful course of the Lord’s life, death, resurrection and ascension from the outside, but from within. So that when he was raised from the dead (1:20), he was raised for our justification (Romans 4:27). When he was ascended on high, he led captive the saints in the perfect freedom of the Gospel into the presence of God (2:6). When he received power over every created thing (1:21), with the promise that all things shall be put under his feet (1:22) - this also was with the promise that he should become the head of the body which is his church (1:23).
And this kind of headship is not the headship of tyranny. The Lord is not appointed as ruler over unwilling subjects, who must be obliged to do his will. Even in the fulness of time, the period during which there will be mortal men upon the earth who must be compelled to obedience (Zechariah 14:16ff) is limited. The ideal towards which this period reaches is the time when all shall obey in gladness of heart, do God’s will because it is their delight, and serving Him day and night in His temple. In His present relationship to His church, this is the essential relationship. Just as Paul has hitherto refused to consider the possibility of failure in God’s working, so now he refuses to entertain the idea of compulsion in the relationship between the Lord and his Church. The Lord is the head, and we the body. The head wills, and the body automatically and harmoniously moves in response. The head is crowned, and the body shares in its rejoicing. It is “the fulness of him that filleth all in all’’ (1:23).
If we could see the Lord’s exaltation always in this light, and hear the angelic obeisance’s to the Lord Jesus as they are given to our Saviour; then would Paul’s prayer be answered for us also, and the fulness which dwells in the Lord would be reflected also in the body which serves Him upon earth. Let us therefore pray the prayer again:
“Because we have heard of the mighty purpose which thou hast wrought from all ages, O God, and our minds are persuaded pf the truth of thy Word; give us wisdom to perceive inwardly the present substance of our hope, the present wealth of our calling, and the present power which can operate in us, as it did in the raising of the Lord from the dead. Help us to look to Him as the head of our lives and the determiner of our every motion; and give us the confidence that thy fulness dwells in us, because it dwells without limit in Him. Amen.”