We shall turn again to chapter I, and consider in detail the powers and things that have been made subject to our Lord, in His exaltation to the Father's right hand. As we meditate on the completeness of His authority, let us remember that He is there as the Representative (Hebrews 2: 5-9) of redeemed humanity. And "may the eyes of our understanding be enlightened" by the Holy Spirit so that we may believe, without any doubt or shrinking, that the wisdom and will of the Father have made us sharers of this same authority, and that He verily intends that we should exercise it day by day in growing comprehension and apprehension.
We notice, first of all, that the Risen Christ has been
The act of sitting indicates that, for the time being, certain aspects of His work are in abeyance. Later, the Lord will again "rise up to the prey." But, just now, with "all authority" delivered unto Him, He is awaiting the Father's time, and meanwhile exercising the powers placed in His hands for the working out of the redemption purchased for mankind on Calvary. His session is
"all principality, and power, and might, and dominion." The great princes and authorities, of whom we have previously spoken, are subject to Him. So are the lesser ones: He is far above all "might" (dunameos, a word used usually in the New Testament of spiritual power). This refers to that working of Satanic energy which is becoming increasingly manifest, directed as it is against the bodies and minds of the children of God. The inroads that are being made into Christian communities are appalling, but few in the Church are as yet awake to the fact that fresh powers from the unseen world are flooding in upon us. Nor is the cause of this hard to trace. In the parts of the heathen world, where the Word of God energized by the Spirit of God has penetrated, the powers of the air have fallen back. Demon-possession ever retires before an aggressive evangelism, and its manifestations become less frequent. But, in our so-called Christian lands, the authority of the Word is now called in question by the great leaders of the churches, and there are few theological institutions where it is recognized as the very Word of God. In like manner, the Spirit of God is dishonored firstly, by this very denial of the Word which He has inspired, and secondly, by the disregard paid to His Person and authority. Thus, there is a reversion to heathen conditions spiritually, and as the great Agents for the overthrow of demoniacal powers (the Word of God and the Spirit of God) are discredited, these powers are pressing in again upon our country and people. One single evidence of this fact is the tremendous advance that spiritism is making among all classes; while, as another proof, the very doctrines of the Church, depleted, as they are becoming, of their vital spiritual force, are showing undoubted marks of those "teachings of demons" of which the great Apostle bade his hearers beware.
Christ sits also far above all "dominion" (kuriotetos, lordship). This term is closely allied with the preceding, much as "principalities j and powers" are grouped together, the second term in each case signifying similar action on a somewhat lower plane. In Colossians 1: 16, we find "dominion" connected with "thrones," which throws light upon the relative term "might." In this passage and in that quoted from Colossians, both terms refer directly to spiritual powers, whereas in 2 Peter 2: 10 and Jude 8, the only two other occasions of the use of the word in the New Testament, the primary reference is to earthly dignities.
He sits far above "every name that it named, not only in this world" (aion, age) ; the great names of this age are below our Lord. The writer of Hebrews took pains to point out to Israel that even Moses was inferior to Messiah (Christ), as a servant is less than his Master. But what an effort religious leaders are making today to show that Jesus was only a man, and as such to be ranked with the best men.
On one of the great church buildings of New York, a group of the world's famous ones appears over the door--such as Emerson, Einstein, Confucius, Buddha, etc., and with them the figure of Christ as one among many! Not so speaks the Spirit of Truth; in His setting forth of the majesty of the Divine Son of God, there are none that can be compared; He is "far above" all. In this continued attempt to exalt humanity, there is to be recognized the working of him who deceived our first parents with the falsehood, "Ye shall be as gods."
"But also in that which it to come." The coming age also yields 'j no name that ranks with that of our Lord. In that age, moreover, the now-dominant spirit-forces shall be bound. Their successors, the glorified Church, shall recognize the preeminence of their exalted King. United with Him, as Head and Body, they will have become manifestly His "fulness." He fills "all in all," but has chosen to do so through His Body. Thus, in the age to come, the members of Christ shall have an active ministry for God throughout the limitless extent of His universe.
"Hash put all things under his feet." The feet are members of the Body. How wonderful to think that the least and lowest members of the Body of the Lord, those who in a sense are the very soles of the feet, are far above all the mighty forces we have been considering. Yet so it is. What need for the Church to awake to an appreciation of her mighty place of privilege. Exalted to rule over the spiritual powers of the air, how often she fails in her ministry of authority, or grovels before them in fear.
"Head over all things to the church." We have little grasped the force of this marvelous truth. We think of it as if it indicated that Christ was simply in all things and circumstances and places the Church's Head. Let us reverse the words to bring out mote clearly their deep significance: "Head to the church over all things." His being Head over all things is for the Church's sake, that the Church, His Body, may be head over all things through Him. We need to sit reverently and long before these mighty truths, that their tremendous meaning may grasp our hearts. In this attitude the Spirit of Truth can lift us into their comprehension, which the human mind alone will always fail to compass.
The argument which we have been following has been thus far centered in the Epistle to the Ephesians. We pass, for a few minutes, to the Epistle to the Colossians, that we may view from a different standpoint how completely this whole matter of the Authority of the Believer is based on the working of the Father, and how the efficacy of that working depends on the correlated truth of the subjection of Christ to Him. Though coequal with the Father, the Eternal Son accepted a subordinate place, and undertook the task of reconciling, through the blood of His cross, all things unto God (1: 20). Having for this purpose yielded Himself under the power of death, He was quickened by "the operation of God" the Father (2:12).
Let us read carefully 2: 12-15, noting that the working here indicated is all on the part of God the Father. It is He who (verse 13) quickened the saints together with Christ and forgave their trespasses. It is He who (verse 14) blotted out the adverse decrees of the law, which stood in the way of His people, and nailed the canceled handwriting to the cross of His Son. It is He who (verse 15) spoiled lap-ekdusamenoj, completely stripped) the mighty principalities and powers that had opposed the resurrection of the Lord, and led them captive in triumphal procession in Christ.
A frequent misunderstanding of this passage is that the Lord Jesus "stripped off" from Himself the clustering powers of darkness overthrowing and putting them to an open shame. But a correct rendering shows clearly that the Agent is God the Father. Of what does He "strip".the powers of the air? Of the authority that had been theirs. Death is the penalty of sin; and when Christ, bearing the burden of the world's guilt, went down to death, they sought to exercise their ancient prerogative and hold Him under its power. But, in the wisdom of the Father, the yielding of the Righteous One to death discharged the long-established bond of the Law. Exultantly, the Father nailed the cancelled bond to the cross of His Son; then, "stripping" of their authority the discomfited principalities and powers, He handed this authority to His Son. The "show" (triumphal procession), which the apostle figuratively uses, corresponds to the elevation of the Son above His enernies, mentioned in Ephesians.
Thus, in Colossians there is stressed the Father's working in the active thwarting and overthrowing of the hostile powers, and their subjugation to His Son; while in Ephesians the Son is seen seated above these in all the authority of the Father's throne. The Authority of the Believer is not taught so fully in Colossians, although the statement is made that, in Him His people are "complete" (literally, made full). That is to say, through union with Him, they partake of '; the fulness of the Godhead, which is practically another form of `being "blessed with all spiritual blessings."
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