Click here for study notes: Ephesians 1 20-23 Study Notes

Ephesians 1:20-23, Christ’ Sovereignty:

  • Firstly, we have looked at God’s mystery of Salvation revealed for those whom He has elected. Secondly, we have looked at the appropriate response for this great mystery & spiritual blessings, and that is an attitude of prayer.
  • But we’re not done yet! Let’s read together.
  • In the first section we see Paul’s prayerful report! From verse 19b, Paul’s prayer slightly changes to focusing on the celebration of Christ’s sovereignty.

 

  1. Christ’s Sovereignty:
  • let’s start with verse 20. He worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead. God’s power is miraculous. And the power of the resurrection is “for us who believe” (1:19). Verse 19 does not mean that God’s power is in us (though this is true through the Spirit). Rather, eis emphasizes the fact that God’s power is for us, for our benefit.
  • This power is something we each experience individually. But the plural “for us” suggests that God’s power is for God’s people collectively. But there is more to this power…

 

  • Seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms (1:20). If God’s power is seen most clearly in the resurrection of Christ (1:20), it should also be recognized when He “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”
  • In the ancient world, to be seated at the right hand of a sovereign was to be in a place of honor, power, and glory. This means that Christ shares in God’s authority and even in his worship.
  • This is made clear in Philippians 2:9-11, where God exalted Christ “to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

  • In verse 21, Paul continues to explain the extend of God’s power. Far above all rule and authority (1:21). This means that Jesus is more glorious than all else!
  • Ephesians shows us the various powers Christ has power over:
  • 2:2, before we were saved, we “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
  • 3:10, the “manifold wisdom of God” will be revealed “to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
  • In 4:26–27, we are told not to let our anger “give the devil a foothold.
  • Finally, in the most detailed treatment of the powers in Ephesians, 6:12 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
  • Christ reigns over all powers. There is no name invoked above His, not Satan, nor the Greek god Zeus, not anyone. Now look at how Paul demonstrates God’s power…

 

  • And he put all things under his feet (1:22). This is a reminder of what God will still do. Psalm 110:1, which the early church took as a messianic prophecy, says: “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ ”
  • This is a great comfort, and a frightening truth of God’s power!
  • Appointed him to be head over everything for the church (1:22). In the final words of chapter 1, Paul introduces one of the central “characters” in Ephesians: the church.
  • Not only did God place everything under Christ’s feet, but also he “appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” God gave Christ as head over everything for the church’s benefit or advantage.
  • Curiously, Christ is not identified here as the head over the church or of the church, but rather the head over all things for the church.
  • If we remember that the church’s opponents are the evil powers, Christ’s authority over the powers means that the church, however powerless it may feel in the moment, shares in Christ’s victory. Which leads to verse 23…

 

  • Which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (1:23). Paul concludes his prayer report with Christ as the head, and the church as the body.
  • But Paul does not stop with the conclusion that Christ is the head of the church. Rather, the church is also “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (1:23).
  • The church is the fullness of Christ in that Christ is truly present in the church. He will fill the universe with his presence through the church.
  • The claim that Christ “is filling everything in every way” is another way of expressing God’s plan in Ephesians 1:10, to bring “unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
  • Christ is filling “everything,” in every way.

 

Application:

  • Question 1:
  • Paul focuses on the knowledge of God. He prays that God would give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [we] may know him better” (1:17). How are you encouraged to pray for more than just your own immediate needs?

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  • Question2:
  • How does it comfort you to know that Jesus has authority over every aspect of your life and the evil that wants to overcome you?

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  • Question 3:
  • Many churches seem to be failing or weak, how can we be motivated to trust that Jesus works for us and the church to be united in Him?

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