The book of Ephesians is one of Paul’s prison letters, written during his time under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16-31) around A.D. 60-62. The other prison letters are Philippians, Colossians (which contain 78 of the 155 verses found in Ephesians with only slight variation), and Philemon. It is believed to be an “encyclical” or “circular letter,” which means that it was a general letter addressed to several churches in that day. An encyclical would be produced in several copies with an addressee blank to be filled in by the courier of the letter with the name of the destined church just prior to its delivery. Many scholars believe it is due to this circular format that Ephesians is the least personal of Paul’s letters. Only two names appear (other than names for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) in the letter, Paul (1:1; 3:1) and Tychicus (6:21). This letter is believed to be the “letter to the Laodiceans” mentioned in Colossians 4:16, i.e, the same letter but with the addressee blank filled in with the name “Laodicea.” The longest sentence in the Greek New Testament is found in Ephesians 1:3-14, a total of 202 words.
It appears that the primary purpose for writing this encyclical was to emphasize to the Christians in Ephesus (and other churches in the region) and to all Christians everywhere the blessings or riches of being in Christ. In fact, the words “in Christ” may very well be the most important words within the book. This letter to the Ephesians has two major divisions. The theoretical portion of the book is found in chapters/verses 1:1-3:21, and the practical portion of it is in 4:1-6:24. The first part centers on privileges and benefits of grace—a product of a one-time acceptance of (trusting in) Christ; whereas, the second part centers on behavior or responsibilities—as a natural outgrowth of this trust.
“In Christ” is one of the key expressions of Ephesians. There are two closely related lines of truth in the NT—the truth of the believer’s position and the truth of his practice.
First, the believer’s position. Everyone in the world is either “in Adam” or “in Christ.” Those who are “in Adam” are in their sins and therefore condemned before God. There is nothing they can do in themselves to please God or gain His favor. They have no claim on God, and if they were to receive what they deserve, they would perish eternally.
When a person is converted, God no longer looks upon him as a condemned child of Adam. Rather He sees him as being “in Christ,” and He accepts him on that basis. It is important to see this. The believing sinner is not accepted because of what he is in himself, but because he is “in Christ.” When he is “in Christ,” he stands before God clothed in all the acceptability of Christ Himself. And he will enjoy God’s favor and acceptance as long as Christ does, namely, forever.
The believer’s position, then, is what he is “in Christ.” But there is another side to the picture—the believer’s practice. This is what he is in himself. His position is perfect, but his practice is imperfect. Now God’s will is that his practice should increasingly correspond to his position. It never will do so perfectly until he is in heaven. But the process of sanctification, growth, and increasing Christlikeness should be going on continually while he is here on earth.
When we understand the difference between the believer’s standing and his state, it enables us to reconcile such seemingly opposite verses as the following:
Believers are perfect (Heb. 10:14) and Believers should be perfect (Matt. 5:48); Believers are dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) and Believers should reckon themselves dead to sin (Rom. 6:11); and Believers are a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9) and Believers should be holy (1 Pet. 1:15). The first . . . deals with position, the second with practice.
Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians itself is divided into two halves that parallel this truth: (Chaps. 1-3): Our position—what we are in Christ; (Chaps. 4-6): Our practice—what we should be in ourselves. The first half has to do with doctrine, the second half with duty. . . Someone has well said that the first part of the letter pictures the believer in the heavenlies in Christ, whereas the last part views him in the kitchen.
(Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald)
A study of this epistle will reveal, among other things, (1) that a Christian is spiritually wealthy in Christ, (2) that he does not live differently in order to gain God’s approval but that he lives differently because he has God’s approval, (3) that God will empower him to do anything God requires of him and (4) he is forever spiritually linked with all other Christians in the “body of Christ,” otherwise known as the Church.
Ephesians 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul was the author of this epistle. The name “Paul” means “small and physically, he may have been small in stature. But he was a giant spiritually. He introduced himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” The Greek word for “apostle” is apostolos, which means “sent one” or “one sent on a specific mission,” such as a special messenger or ambassador. Paul was commissioned in accordance with the “will (purpose) of God” for the specific purpose of representing the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Specifically, his mission is found in Ephesians 3:8, 9: “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.” In other words he was sent by God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and to teach the great truth concerning the Church.
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he [Paul} is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) See also Romans 11:13.
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the Word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:24-27) See also Ephesians 5:32.
Paul is writing to the saints in Ephesus—the faithful in Jesus Christ. In other words he is writing to those who are in Christ and thereby judged as “faithful.” The word “saints” comes from the Greek word hagios, which fundamentally conveys the idea of separation, consecration, devotion to service and sharing in God’s purity—the abstaining from earth’s defilement.
Sainthood. There are those who believe that someone must be dead for many years, and have performed miracles, before he can be “exalted” to sainthood. Not so. Paul is writing to “living” people and, as he often begins his letters, he refers to them as “saints.” The “saint” comes from the same Hebrew root as “sanctified” and “holy,” which means “set apart.” The moment we are born again, God sets us apart from the world (sanctifies us) for His use. In addressing the Corinthian church, Paul writes: “to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2). A saint is not someone who has lived a “holy” life, but a forgiven sinner who has called upon the name of Jesus and has been made righteous by the grace of God. (The Evidence Bible by Ray Comfort)
The Hebrew word kadosh in the Old Testament and the Greek word hagioi in the New Testament mean the same. They refer to something that God sets apart and consecrates for His use. The forms of the Greek verb are numerous. Hagion is translated as “temple;” hagia is the “holy place;” hagia hagion is the “holy of holies.” The idea, whether kadosh of the Old Testment or hagios of the New Testament, is that it is something or someone that God has set aside—for Himself. God does this with animate and inanimate objects. He designates facilities and people for heavenly use according to His will and plan.
No man can build a building and say this is “hagion” to God. God has to do that. The same is true regarding a priest. No man in the Bible could take another man and ordain him to be a priest. God had to choose him. He was a “kadosh” man, a holy man. As you know, in the Old Testament it was the household of Aaron. The altar was “hagios,” “kadosh.” In Exodus 20 God gave to Israel the Ten Commandments, but in chapter 19 He said to the people, “You shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” For what? They were to be a blessing to all of the families of the earth. God gave oracles to them that they might be the teacher to all the Gentiles of the earth. The exact nomenclature and revelation from heaven are found in the New Testament, for God is the same yesterday, today, and through all eternity. This is how God works, He chooses and sets aside certain things for Himself.
One of those certain things is you. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The body I live in is holy to the Lord. It is the “hagion” of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in this temple, this house. You are not your own; you are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. . . What God says is that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It does not belong to me. God gave it to me to glorify Him.
(Ephesians An Exposition by W.A. Criswell)
The word “faithful” is translated from the Greek word pistos, which in this passage is used in the passive sense indicating “faithful in duty.” But the most important depiction of these saints, and for that matter the very reason that they could be considered saints, is the phrase, in Christ.
LIVING IN CHRIST
The Christian life is lived first in Christ. We do not use that expression anymore. It is strange to us. We hardly know what it means. That is because we are materialistic in our entire outlook on life. If I go up to a man and ask him, “Are you in business?” he knows immediately what I am talking about and he will answer in kind. If I go up to a man and ask him, “Are you in one of the professions?” he will know immediately what I am saying. But if I come up to a man and I ask him, “Are you in Christ?” he will be mystified and possibly embarrassed. That is the difference between us and these first-century Christians. They lived with that language and to them it was most familiar. “In Christ” meant to be girded and grounded in Him and in His faithfulness, as a vine is anchored to the bosom of the earth from which it receives its strength and life.
Paul uses the expression one hundred sixty-four times: “in Christ for forgiveness;” “in Christ for salvation;” “in Christ for assurance;” “in Christ for holiness;” “in Christ for direction;” “in Christ for service;” “in Christ forever.”
For example, look at the wonderful verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” If a man is in Christ there is new love, there is new vision, a new dream, a new life, a new hope, a new dedication.” (Ephesians An Exposition by W.A. Criswell)
Thus Paul addresses the saints who are at Ephesus who are “in Christ.” To be a saint, another word for “believer” and “Christian,” one must be in Christ. To be in Christ, in deference to W.A. Criswell, means “technically” or “theoretically” more than his explanation. To be in Christ means to be spiritually and eternally linked to Jesus Christ by the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit of God. Every Christian is united with the Person of Jesus Christ—forever. Likewise, every Christian is eternally and spiritually linked with every other Christian. This is why Christianity is not a religion. Religion is man’s attempt to achieve the approbation (approval) of God through self-effort (good works). Christianity is a union or relationship with a Person—Jesus Christ. And this union or relationship can only be established by faith alone in Christ alone (an exercise of a person’s will to trust completely in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for his personal and eternal salvation). It is this very real union with Jesus Christ that makes a person a hagios—a holy (set apart for God) saint.
Paul then expresses his desire that the saints at Ephesus be supplied with grace (God’s unmerited favor), which for the Christian is God’s divine assistance for daily living. In addition, he desires that they be granted peace, but not just any peace. The peace of God is that calm and settled repose and confidence that is independent of circumstances, which again is another quality of being in Christ.
He desired for them the grace and peace from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In this coupling of the Father and the Son, Paul again confirms the Deity of Jesus Christ.
Grace . . . and peace come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul did not hesitate to put the Lord Jesus on the same level as God the Father: he honored the Son just as he honored the Father. So should we (John 5:23).
Let us not overlook the marvelous conjunction of the words “God our Father.” The word, God, taken by itself might convey the impression of One who is infinitely high and unapproachable. The name, Father, on the other hand, speaks of One who is intimately near and accessible. Join the two by the pronoun, our, and we have the staggering truth that the high and lofty God, who inhabits eternity, is the loving Father of everyone who has been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus.
The full title of our Savior is Lord Jesus Christ. As Lord He is our absolute Master, with full rights to all we are and have. As Jesus He is our Savior from sin. As Christ He is our divinely anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. How much His name unfolds to every listening ear! (Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald)
As Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians with a pronouncement of grace and peace, he ends it with the same (vss. 6:23, 24).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
Paul begins and ends with the reality of God. The secular, materialistic, skeptical world has no use for God. It clings to science as a reality as it rejects the reality of God. The world says that “faith” is a matter of gullibility—an outgrowth from superstition, which has evolved from our animal ancestors. To the unbelieving world faith and science are contradictory. They diametrically oppose each other.
The truth is that there is no contradiction between the two. Science can only observe and record the seeable (physical) world. It can never really understand it or suitably explain it. It sees the effects of gravity, but it cannot really explain why gravity works. A law within the realm of physics indicates that when a thing gets colder it contracts; when heated, it expands. Water, when heated, expands; and when brought down to a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit it contracts—only to then expand again as it grows even colder. Science may observe this phenomenon, this apparent contradiction, and record it, but it cannot adequately explain it. As it is often so correctly said, “It really takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a believer in God.”
Where are the answers? Is there purpose in life? Why was I born? Is there a meaning to existence? Where did I come from? What am I? Where is my eternal destiny and home? The answers lie in God. What is inexplicable to my mind is why men who are skeptical will say, “This is a reality,” pointing to a piece of brick or dust or rock. They say a star is a reality and the world on which we stand is a reality. But faith to them is not a reality. To me, however, faith is as powerful and as moving a reality as any other observable phenomenon in human life. If we leave God out of life, we have a different world, do we not? The world to which we are introduced in Christ and the world of a materialistic skeptic are two different worlds.
Paul begins with God and that is the way we want to start. This is the way Paul lived and concluded his life, and this is the way we want to live and conclude our lives, namely, in God. (Ephesians An Exposition by W. A. Criswell)
Paul proclaims “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The world for “blessed,” as it refers to God, in the Greek is eulogetos, which specifically means “inherently worthy to be praised”—and is in all instances ascribed to God the Father and also to Christ (Romans 9:5), for no one else is inherently worthy of such praise. On the other hand, the Greek word eulogemenos is also used in this verse to describe how God blesses His children. The act of blessing is reciprocal between God the Father and His children.
God’s children may bless their Father in many ways. They bless Him with continual praise. They bless Him by exercising a constant living faith, which is the daily trust a believer places in God for the “filling” of (control by) the Holy Spirit in order to produce divine good (works) in the believer’s life. They bless Him with by staying in on-going communication with Him (prayer). They bless Him by serving Him in proclaiming the Gospel to the spiritually lost and in serving other Christians. They bless Him by adhering to the “first and greatest commandment” as given by Christ (Matthew 22:37), which is to love God with all one’s heart, soul and mind; and then to likewise honor the “second commandment” as given by Christ (Matthew 22:39) and which is also known as the “royal law” (James 2:8), which is to love others as one loves oneself. They bless Him by the daily study of His word, progressively becoming familiar with the “mind of Christ.”
While believers may “bless God,” they, according to Paul, are already blessed by God “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Literally, it is “spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Instead of material or physical blessings in earthly places, God has already blessed us with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” Again, in Christ, is the key phrase regarding these blessings.
The expression, in the heavenly places, is used five times in Ephesians.
1:3 The sphere of the believer’s spiritual blessings
1:20 The scene of Christ’s present enthronement
2:6 The scene of the believer’s present enthronement
3:10 The locale where angels witness God’s wisdom portrayed in/through the Church
6:12 The region where the believer is in conflict with evil
By combining these passages together one comes to the understanding that, as Chafer put it, “To be in Christ, which is the portion of all who are saved, is to partake of all that Christ has done, all that He is, and all that He ever will be.” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, The Ephesian Letter, p. 74)
The truth of this passage is that by being in Christ we are spiritually “in Him” wherever He is NOW. Even though the believer sees through a glass (mirror) darkly (dimly) as is stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12, because he remains in his earthly body, which still possesses the sin nature, and thereby cannot spiritually see his union with Jesus Christ and the fact that he is with Him in the heavenlies; this in no way invalidates the fact that every believer is in Christ in the heavenlies even while he lives upon the earth. And in Christ in the heavenlies, every believer is guaranteed every spiritual blessing from God. The fact that every believer isn’t aware of the manifold spiritual blessings he presently has is because he doesn’t bother to claim them by faith. “Faith” is always the key to receiving all that God has for the Christian. Salvation, redemption, justification, sanctification, glorification and so much more is only obtainable by the Principle of Faith. It was just as true in the Old Testament as it is in the New. See the author’s topical Bible study entitled “Principle of Faith” in the Topical Bible Study Section on web site www.bibleone.net.
Paul says that believers are “just as” surely the recipient of every blessing as they were “just as” surely chosen by God “in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we [they] should be holy and without blame before Him [God the Father] in love, having predestined us [them] to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself [God the Father], according to the good pleasure of His [God the Father] will, to the praise of the glory of His [God the Father] grace, by which He has made us [them] accepted in the Beloved [Christ].” In fact, herein is listed a select few of the blessings upon becoming united with Christ, a condition obtained by faith alone in Christ alone, which blessings are as follow.
1. The confirmation that they have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
2. The confirmation that they have been chosen to be holy and without blame before Christ in love.
3. The confirmation that they were predestined to be adopted sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of God’s will for the purpose of bringing praise to God for the glory of His grace by which God made them accepted in Christ.
The first two words of verse 4, “just as,” is a connective which modifies the preceding statement in verse 3. The spiritual blessings which believers are given are in accord with
the divine will. All is done in perfect unison with God’s purpose. And here Paul reminds the Christians at Ephesus that the world and the universe and all that is contained therein will operate according to the plan and purpose of Almighty God. This concept is taught and illustrated throughout Scripture—from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. The difficulty man has with this cardinal doctrine is in reconciling it with another cardinal doctrine of God’s Word, the “free will of man,” which allows him moral choice. The doctrine of Election and the doctrine of Free Will are in fact NOT mutually exclusive. The following is offered in support of this position.
(Start of Topical Supplement)
Election vs. Free Will
The Doctrine of Election is a theological truth that threads throughout God’s Word. Note the following remarks by C. Fred Dickason, Th.D., Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois, as recorded in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary (Hendrickson Publishers).
ELECT. “Chosen” or “selected.” The main OT verb for this is “bahar” a deliberate selecting of something or someone with attendant preference or pleasure. The NT verb “eklegomai” means to choose or select out of a larger group something or someone for oneself. The related adjectives “hahir” and “eklektos” are translated “elect” or “chosen” and are the result of an act of selection. The words are used of choices human (Gen 6:2; Deut 30:19; Lk 10:42; 14:7) and divine for salvation (Eph 1:4), and for service (Jn 15:16).
Various objects are termed “elect” or “chosen” by God: the nation Israel for special favor and purpose (Isa 44:1; 45:4); several individuals, such as Abraham (Neh 9:7), Aaron (Ps 105:26), David (1 Sam 16:8 ff.); Jerusalem (2 Chr 6:6); a remnant of Jews near the second coming of Christ (Mt 24:22; Isa 65:9); the Church, the body of Christ
(1 Pet 2:9; 5:13; Col 3:12; Tit 1:1); Christ Himself (Isa 42:1; 1 Pet 2:6); the “lady”
(2 Jn 1); and angels (1 Tim 5:21). Elect men are chosen by God’s grace (Rom 11:5) and love (Rom 8:33-39; 11:28; Eph 1:4-5) and according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet 1:2); it is never on the basis of human merit (Rom 9:11; cf. 2 Tim 1:9).
Election, as it applies to the salvation of a person, encompasses several steps, e.g., foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification (Romans 8:29, 30). The difficulty in Election in the matter of salvation, for man anyway, lies in reconciling the sovereignty of God with the freedom of man to choose. God chose every person who would be saved before the foundation of the world, i.e., before creation (Ephesians 1:4, 5). Man’s merit or his works have nothing to do with the election process or the act of salvation, since man has no merit and could not generate any merit from the time of his fall in the Garden of Eden onward. Even though man is capable of producing “human good,” this commodity is as “filthy rags” in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6) and is totally insufficient for the purpose of achieving eternal salvation. Only faith alone in Christ alone brings eternal salvation to the recipient. God chose those who are to be saved strictly in accordance with His purpose, pleasure and will (Acts 4:28; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:5; 3:11).
Therefore God, in accordance with His purpose and before time, selected every single person who was to be saved through Jesus Christ. On the “other side of the coin” the Bible clearly spells out that salvation is for everyone and is a function of man’s will. Note the following passages of Scripture.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
And it shall come to pass that whosoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)
To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whosoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43)
Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:18)
For whosoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3, 4)
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men . . . . (Titus 2:11)
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. (1 John 5:1)
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whosoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17)
Therefore it is just as clear in the Word of God that the love and grace of God is provided for every single man and woman within the realm of time through the sacrifice of His Son. What’s more, any person may obtain this love and grace, this gift of eternal life, by exercising his will (choice) to receive by faith (trusting in) Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross for his personal salvation.
How does a believer reconcile “election” with “free agency?” It is fact that the Bible supports both doctrines. To the rational mind they conflict with each other, but it is not totally unreasonable to believe that God has allowed man sufficient mental capacity to understand each doctrine and how they fit together in God’s purpose and plan. Of course the simplistic approach could be to simply deny man’s ability to reconcile these doctrines, relegating the entire matter to the arena of faith.
There is of course merit in the simplistic approach. Reason can never be elevated over supernatural revelation. If every aspect of God’s plan could be reduced to the level of human reason, there would be no need for faith. The reconciliation of these two doctrines may very well fall within the purview of the following two passages of Scripture.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8, 9)
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.(Deuteronomy 29:29)
Nevertheless, the number of words penned in commentary regarding the relationship of these two doctrines over the centuries is legion. On the one hand you have the strictly Calvinistic approach stating that man essentially has no say in his salvation, that even his ability to choose must be activated—maybe even controlled— by God. Then there is the strictly Arminian view that has God’s plan teetering on man’s will. There is truth in both views and maybe even some error. So what is the solution? The following is offered as a possibility and not as a concrete (dogmatic) fact—based on the following:
1. God has elected everyone that is to be saved prior to time and creation.
2. God has offered the possibility of salvation to everyone.
3. Christ paid for the sins of everyone on the cross.
4. Man was created in the image of God, i.e. with a mind, soul and spirit and with the ability to chose (free agency).
5. God has stipulated to man that he must exercise his will and receive (trusting in) His Son for salvation.
6. Although God chose before time in accordance with His purpose, He made His selection in conjunction within an orderly process—a prescribed set of steps (Romans 8:29, 30), which are foreknowledge, predestination, calling (otherwise known as the convicting power of the Holy Spirit), justification (by faith alone in Christ alone) and glorification (sanctification from time and into eternity).
7. Foreknowledge appears to be the foundational or commencement step in the election process (Romans 8:29, 30; 1 Peter 1:2)
8. God’s election was not made in a vacuum. The election process cannot be divorced from all of God’s attributes, such as His sovereignty (Lord over all), His immutability (unchanging), His omnipotence (all-powerful), His omniscience (all-knowing), His omnipresence (present everywhere all at once) His holiness and His justice—all such attributes coming to focus and to appliance at the moment of selection.
The conclusion is this. Since both doctrines are true and since God transcends all dimensions, to include time and eternity past and present, simultaneously, they (election and man’s choice) must transpire in the mind of God at the same instant. God’s election does not precede man’s choice and man’s choice does not precede God’s election. One does not depend on the other; rather, they materialize hand-in-hand and are co-dependent on each other in the mind of God. This concept is impossible to understand by the human mind if it thinks only in the realm of “linear time.” Mankind normally thinks in terms of linear time—the fact that everything has a beginning and an end. Eternity to man is a place of a lot of time, and God is a Person who has lots of time.
The fact is that God transcends time. He is not subject to it. A study of the physics of time reveals that it is a physical property dependent upon mass, gravity and velocity. An understanding of this scientific reality may be achieved by studying various commentary treatments offered by Chuck Missler of www.khouse.org. Once this is understood, it is also important to note that God exists outside the dimension of time. Whereas man views a parade in various increments from a set position along the parade route, God sees both the beginning and the end of it from a position far above it. God exists everywhere, all at the same time. This understanding is necessary when considering what is meant by the “mind of God.”
This may be something akin to the “chicken and the egg first” riddle or an accusation of “fence-riding,” unless of course one takes into account the nature of God. Multiple transactions that are separated by both time and eternity transpiring simultaneously may be impossible with man, who is confined to four dimensions (width, length, height and time), but it presents no difficulty with God who is not confined to any dimension. In fact science now believes there may be upwards to ten or eleven dimensions. God is not only present in each of them, and probably many more, but He also exists everywhere throughout eternity before and after time. In other words He is everywhere (in every dimension) simultaneously. He is at the beginning, at the end and at all in between simultaneously. This then appears to clarify the meaning of “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God . . .” (1 Peter 1:2) and “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined . . .” (Romans 8:29).
Election therefore does not cancel out free agency, and free agency does not cancel out election. Neither doctrine invalidates the other. They compliment each other. God does in fact elect a person to be saved, but He does it in conjunction (partnership) with the person who exercises his God-given capability to accept His Son once the person has been awakened to his sin and need of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. This process—both the act of electing and the person’s exercise of will to receive—happens at the same exact moment in the mind of God who exists before time and creation and at the moment of a person’s salvation, all simultaneously. Both acts—one by God and one by man—are executed together in the mind of God “before the foundation of the world.”
This concept does not invalidate man’s God-given ability and responsibility to choose. Furthermore it does not violate God’s sovereignty or any other of His attributes. In fact, it may very well clarify the concept of foreknowledge and its commencement relationship to the election process. As a person, in time, is faced with the decision to either by faith accept or to reject God’s offer of salvation, God by means of His foreknowledge and attendance fully comprehends the decision the person will make and correspondingly elects or rejects the person in the matter of eternal life. One may argue that this subjugates God to man, but this writer differs with that assessment. Since the ability and obligation for man to make a choice comes from God in the first place, God is therefore supreme in the entire process. The process is totally in accordance with God’s purpose and plan. It is true that God being sovereign could have brought man to eternal life—kicking and screaming—in any manner He would choose. The fact is that He has opted to do it within the parameters of mercy and grace—and the will of man.
Regardless of what position a believer may take regarding these two doctrines, there is one way a person may know if someone is one of the “elect.” He need only apply the test of John 3:18, which is “He who believes in Him [Jesus Christ] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he had not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Furthermore even if a believer is an adherent to the strict Calvinist viewpoint, he is still under the obligation to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone in accordance with the commission given to him by Christ. In the words of J. Vernon McGee in his Thru the Bible commentary, “If God would somehow reveal to me who are the elect ones, I would give the gospel only to them. But God does not do this. He has said that whosoever will may come. That is a legitimate offer to every person.”
(End of Topical Supplement)
Before leaving these few verses (vss. 3-6) for the next passage the following observation should be made regarding the word, “Beloved,” in which the believer has been made accepted or acceptable to God. The word Beloved, as used in verse 6, is the Greek word egapemenos, which is the perfect passive participle of agapao and refers to Christ—the Beloved of God (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). This interpretation is confirmed by the continuation of the thought in the next verse.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.
This passage is a continuation of the previous verses in which was learned that various blessings are inextricably associated with believers who are “in the Beloved,” such as:
The confirmation that they have been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.
See the above discussion on Election vs. Free Will
The confirmation that they have been chosen to be holy and without blame before Christ in love.
The purpose of God’s blessing of election is that those so elected are to be holy and without blame before Christ in love, a condition of position within Christ. God sees each believer in exactly this state. He loved mankind to such much (John 3:16), to the extent of sacrificing His only Son, that as He looks at anyone who has accepted His Son by faith He can only see His Son in whom all believers spiritually reside.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)
All of this, for the believer, is now in effect as a direct result of the love of God in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
The confirmation that they were predestined to be adopted sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of God’s will for the purpose of bringing praise to God for the glory of His grace by which God made them accepted in Christ.
God determined ahead of time that all who would be saved would also be adopted into His family “as sons.” He could have saved us without making us His sons, but He chose to do both. . . . In the NT, “adoption” means placing a believer in the family of God as a mature, adult son with all the privileges and responsibilities of sonship (Gal. 4:4-7). The Spirit of adoption plants within the believer the instinct to address God as Father (Rom. 8:15). (Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald)
God’s blessing of adoption was in accordance with His “good pleasure.” Apparently it brings God great pleasure to have adopted sons who, from the practical side of the equation, will surround Him and be in the image of His Son (1 John 3:2).
The initial words within this passage (vss. 7-10), “In Him,” refer back to “in the Beloved” and this passage is a continuation of the blessings that the believer has “in Christ.” These additional blessings are:
The confirmation that they have redemption through (by means of) the blood of Jesus Christ (His sacrificial death—both spiritual and physical—on Calvary).
This speaks of the price Jesus Christ paid for all mankind upon the cross of Calvary. Man was in the slave market of sin and could only be released from his bondage by means of a very special ransom payment. Because God is Holy and requires no less than holiness the payment had to be one of total righteousness. Man could not pay this price. He was incapable of producing any righteousness through his own self-efforts or works. Only God could pay such a price, and He did so by providing His Son, Jesus Christ, God in human form, to suffer both a spiritual and a physical death in the place of all mankind on the cross of Calvary. Having paid this “price of righteousness” on the cross, every person then has the opportunity to accept by faith alone in Christ alone this payment as his very own and thereby receive eternal life. (Romans 3:24; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9) Upon receiving God’s redemption man is freed from the bondage and guilt of sin and introduced into a life of liberty.
The confirmation that their sins are forgiven.
This is one of the results of redemption—the permanent forgiveness of sins as it matters in man’s eternal salvation. The measure of such forgiveness is given in the next few words, “according to the riches of His grace.” If a person can measure the “riches of God’s grace,” then he can measure how fully God has forgiven the sins of a person who has accepted by faith alone His only Son and His sacrifice on the cross for his personal salvation. (Colossians 1:14)
The confirmation that the bases and the extent for these blessings were in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, which God generously showered upon them in all wisdom and understanding, having made known to them the “mystery of His will,” according to God’s good pleasure that He purposed in Himself, which “mystery” is that in accordance with His administration at the completion of His timetable God would bring back again to their original state all things together in Christ that are in heaven and on earth—all this “in Christ.”
Paul now explains the particular way in which God has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence, namely, by making known to us the mystery of His will. This is the dominant theme of the Epistle—the glorious truth concerning Christ and the church. It is a mystery, not in the sense that it is mysterious, but that it is a sacred secret previously unknown but now revealed to the saints. This glorious plan originated in the sovereign will of God, quite apart from any outside influences . . . Now Paul begins a more detailed explanation of the secret of God’s plan, and in this chapter he is thinking particularly of the future aspect of the mystery. Chapters 2 and 3 will add further light on the present aspect of the mystery.
The time which Paul has in view is indicated by the expression, “the dispensation (administration, Gk., ‘oikonomia’) of the fullness of the times.” We understand this to refer to the Millennium, when Christ will return to the earth to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. God has a special economy or plan of administration for the final era of human history on this earth.
The plan is “to head up all things in the Christ” (JND). During the Millennial Reign, all things in heaven and on earth will be summed up in Christ. The Savior who is now rejected and disowned will then be the preeminent One, the Lord of all, the object of universal worship. This is God’s goal—to set up Christ as Head over all things, heavenly and earthly, in the kingdom.
The extent of the dominion of Christ is found in the words, “the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth” (JND). . . . Verse 10 is sometimes used to support the false doctrine of universal salvation. It is twisted to suggest that eventually everything and everyone will be restored and reconciled in Christ. Paul is speaking about universal “dominion,” not universal salvation.
(Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald)
To reinforce the above comments taken from the Believer’s Bible Commentary the reader should know that the word translated dispensation in the targeted passage is the Greek word oikonomia, which means “administration” or “economy”—or, in other words, the manner in which things are done. Although there has always been one way for man to please God and achieve eternal salvation, which is by faith, the way God has administered His program (plan) toward, through and with mankind has taken various forms. The way He presently deals with the Church, the Body of Christ, is certainly different than how He dealt with Adam, then the nation Israel, and eventually how He will deal with earth during the Kingdom Age (Millennial Reign of Christ upon earth).
J. Vernon McGee in his Thru the Bible commentary puts it this way:
“Of the fullness of times.” What is the “fullness of times?” I can’t go into all phases of that, but God is moving everything forward to the time when Christ will rule over all things in heaven and earth. This is the fullness, the “pleroma,” when everything is going to be brought under the rulership of Jesus Christ. The “pleroma” is like a vast receptacle into which centuries and millenniums have been falling. All that is past, present, and future is moving toward the time when every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus is Lord. This is the mystery that is revealed to us, “That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” We learn this about Christ, that God “. . . has put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we see not yet all things put under Him” (Heb. 2:8). This states very clearly that we have not yet come to that time. We are under a different dispensation today; we live under a different economy. But God has revealed this to us that is to come to pass, something that had not been revealed in the past.
This “mystery” of the coming Kingdom Age (and beyond) is one of several “mysteries” revealed in the New Testament. A list of others follows—taken from The Scofield Reference Bible, page 1014.
One last note regarding this passage is important. Although the ultimate fulfillment of it will be in the Kingdom Age, the aspect of bringing both the Jew and the Gentile into one spiritual body was a very important aspect of the mystery. It was a part of God’s administration from the cross onward, and an understanding of this crucial feature of God’s economy is important in understanding the next few verses of Scripture. With this as the context, verses 11 and 12 have reference to Jews; whereas verse 13 has reference to Gentiles. Verse 14 then considers both Jews and Gentiles in a passage that is probably one of the most convincing verses within God’s Word that inextricably validates the eternal security of the believer. And the important point to remember is that it, along with all other blessings, is the product/result of being in Christ.
Ephesians 1:11, 12
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Here is another very special blessing that every believer enjoys because he is in Christ, even though Paul, by his use of the phrase “we who first trusted in Christ” appears to be referring specifically to the Jews. Every believer will be a full-partaker in God’s inheritance that He has designated for His Son, Jesus Christ. Everything that God has in store for His Son will be in store for the person who by faith alone in Christ alone enters into union (eternal salvation) with Him. This involves many blessings accessible by faith in this life, Christ’s victorious return back to earth in power and glory at the end of the seven year Tribulation, Christ’s 1,000 year rulership over earth during the Kingdom Age and so much more beyond. And this, along with all other blessings in Christ, was predetermined by God for the purpose of bringing praise to Him.
So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32)
To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. (Acts 26:18)
And if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17)
Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:12)
Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:24)
Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? (James 2:5)
To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:4)
As for the Christians of Jewish ancestry, Paul writes, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” Their right to a share is not based on their former national privileges, but solely on their union with Christ. The “inheritance” here looks forward to the time when they and all true believers will be manifested to an amazed world as the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb. . . . The purpose of this predestination was that they “should be to the praise of His glory.” In other words, they are trophies of the grace of God, exhibiting what He can do with such unlikely raw materials, and thus bringing glory to Him.
The apostle speaks of himself and other believing Jews as “we who first trusted in Christ.” He is thinking of the godly remnant of Jews who responded to the gospel in the early days of Christianity. The good news was first preached to the Jews. Most of the nation of Israel flatly rejected it. But the godly remnant believed on the Lord Jesus. Paul was one of that number. (Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald)
Ephesians 1:13, 14
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Paul now turns his attention from the Jews (“we”) to the Gentiles (“you”). Those who have turned from paganism also have a share in the mystery of God’s plan for mankind. Paul outlines the steps by which the Ephesians and other Gentiles had been brought into union with Christ. The steps follow:
1. They heard the gospel.
2. They trusted in Jesus Christ.
3. They were sealed with Holy Spirit.
This process never changes. There is only one plan of salvation for man. First a person must hear the Gospel—the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word “hear” implies understanding, which is accomplished by the Holy Spirit’s convicting and convincing action upon the mind and heart of the individual (John 16:7-15). Once a person understands what Christ has accomplished on the cross for him—the fact that Christ paid the penalty-price for his sins—he then may either reject or receive God’s gift of eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone.
At the very instant a person makes a genuine, willful decision to trust only in Christ, and not in anything else (self-efforts, good works, any institution or process), the Holy Spirit immediately (1) indwells (spiritually enters) him, (2) baptizes (immerses) him into the Body of Christ and (3) seals his spirit for all eternity.
As soon as they believed, they were “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” This means that every true believer receives the Spirit of God as a sign that he belongs to God and that he will be kept safe by God until the time he receives his glorified body. Just as in legal matters a seal indicates ownership and security, so it does in divine affairs. The indwelling Spirit brands us as God’s property (1 Cor. 6:19, 20), and guarantees our preservation until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).
Our seal is called the “Holy Spirit of promise.” First, He is the “Holy” Spirit; this is what He is in Himself. Then, He is the Spirit of “promise.” He was promised by the Father (Joel 2:28; Acts 1:4), and by the Lord Jesus (John 16:7). In addition, He is the guarantee that all God’s promises to the believer will be fulfilled.
Verse 13 rounds out the first of many mentions of the Trinity in this Letter.
God the Father (v. 3)
God the Son (v. 7)
God the Spirit (v. 13)
(Believer’s Bible Commentary, by William MacDonald)
In verse 14 Paul changes his pronouns. He merges the “we” of verse 11 and 12 with the “you” of verse 13 to form the “our” in this verse. Using this skillful literary device, he hints of what he will more fully explain in chapters 2 and 3—the mystery of the union between both Jews and Gentiles into one spiritual body, the new organism called the Church.
And to both the Jews and the Gentiles the Holy Spirit is the “down payment” (earnest payment) that guarantees that they will receive their full inheritance, which will come when the “purchased possession” is fully redeemed. Individually, the “purchased possession” is the person’s body, soul and spirit.
But the inheritance is not yet complete. The mental and spiritual part of man, his soul and spirit, is redeemed at the instant by faith alone in Christ alone he receives the gift of eternal life.
His body will not be redeemed until the Rapture—the time when Christ comes back (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) to “snatch” to Himself all believers living at that time and the bodies of those who are “asleep” in Him. At that time each believer’s body, joined with his spirit, will be caught up to Christ and will be transformed to be fashioned like the glorious body of His Savior (Philippians 3:21). Then he will be fully and forever redeemed (Romans 8:23)—all to the praise of God’s glory.
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
The preceding 12 verses (vss. 3-14) represent a single sentence in the Greek New Testament. Paul, in those 12 verses, traced the entire program of God for His children from eternity past to eternity future. He now shares with his readers his prayer burden for their spiritual enlightenment. After he had heard of the Ephesians’ faith in Jesus Christ and their love for all the saints, he initiated a personal prayer campaign for them. He unceasingly gave thanks for them in his prayers. Often Christians are driven to prayer upon the awareness of difficulties or hard times, for themselves or others, but it is rare to find them so driven as the result of good news. Here Paul finds it appropriate to praise and thank God for the good fortune and report of other brethren—a great example for all believers.
It was their faith in the Lord Jesus that brought them eternal salvation, but it was their love for the saints that demonstrated the reality of their inner conversion to Christ—they showed others their living faith by their divine good (works)—James 2:18. It is important to note that the Lord Jesus is the true object of their faith—not a creed, a church or any earthly person. Only Jesus is worthy of the Christian’s faith—both for salvation and sanctification (Colossians 2:6). The last point regarding verse 15 is that when a believer experiences a living faith, which is a genuine trust in Jesus to provide the filling of (control by) the Holy Spirit, he will in fact love other Christians.
In addition to thanking God for his Ephesian brothers and sisters, Paul prayed specifically for their spiritual illumination so that they might become increasingly more aware of all the components of God’s inheritance and His power. Paul’s prayers were unceasing, specific and appropriate to the current needs of his brethren. He specifically prayed the following for them.
1. That God will give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Even though the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation” (Isaiah 11:2; 1 Corinthians 2:10), this is not referring to Him. The Holy Spirit in fact indwells permanently every believer. Paul is not praying that these Ephesian Christians receive something that they already have. Here he is using a figure of speech that refers to the ability to possess revelation (doctrine) and the ability to properly use it (wisdom).
2. That their “eyes of their understanding” (hearts) be enlightened.
The word “understanding” is the translation of the Greek word dianoias, which means “understanding, intellect or mind.” This is the word used in the King James Version and the New King James Version of the Bible; although, in most ancient Greek manuscripts and the majority of existing Greek manuscripts the word kardias is used, which is translated “hearts.” In Scripture the word “heart” is rarely used as the physical organ (2 Samuel 18:14; 2 Kings 9:24). In most cases it is used figuratively in various ways, such as (1) the inner man (Psalm 44:21; Proverbs 25:3), (2) the mental center (Exodus 7:23; Deuteronomy 29:4; Proverbs 22:17; Isaiah 42:25; 44:18; Acts 16:14; Luke 2:19), (3) the emotional center (Isaiah 65:14; Psalm 27:14; 2 Samuel 17:10; Proverbs 12:25; 25:20; Ecclesiastes 2:20; Nehemiah 2:2; Deuteronomy 28:28), (4) the moral center (Psalm 17:3; Jeremiah 12:31; 17:10; 20:12; Psalm 26:2; Proverbs 11:20; 17:20; 26:23; Job 36:13; Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26), (5) the seat of the conscience (Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 3:19-21), (6) the receptacle of the love and peace of God (Romans 5:5; Colossians 3:15) and (7) the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 3:17).
Therefore, whichever Greek word the reader believes to be correct, the meaning is the same. Paul prayed that their minds or intellect regarding spiritual issues would be improved.
3. That they know the hope of God’s calling.
The word “hope” is the Greek word elpis, which literally means “hope of good with expectation of obtaining it.” In other words it can be better translated “confidence.” It is more assuredly not a “doubtful or unknowing anticipation” for some future happening or event. It is the most certain conviction of a future outcome. Paul is praying that the Ephesian Christians would become more aware of all the facets of their bright future in Christ, whereas, before Christ they had no hope (Ephesians 2:12).
4. That they know the riches of God’s inheritance.
Here Paul prays that they will become more knowledgeable regarding all the riches that they will inherit by being in Christ. This then is akin to becoming more aware of their hope—the confident expectation of the good things that were to come. Their “riches of inheritance” included many things, e.g., a resurrected body like unto Christ’s body, being wedded to Christ for eternity, the right to reign with Christ over the universe and so much more.
5. That they know the exceeding greatness of God’s power, which brought Christ back from the grave and established Him at God’s right hand in the heavenlies above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name in any age.
Paul here prays that they may become more aware of the power of God, which was best displayed in bringing back Jesus Christ from the grave and establishing Him at God’s right hand (the place of privilege, power, distinction, delight and dominion—Hebrews 1:3; Matthew 26:64; Psalm 16:11; 1 Peter 3:22). This exercise of power was far more significant than the power required in creating the universe. Why? Because all the forces of evil were amassed against God in an attempt to frustrate the plan of God for mankind by keeping Christ in the grave.
But God’s power overcame all evil and now Jesus Christ, at the right hand of God in the heavenlies, is seated in his resurrected physical body with dominion “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
Ephesians 1:22, 23
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Paul, in these two verses, first amplifies what he said in the preceding verse when he stated that Christ was “far above all principality (rule) and power (authority) and might (power) and dominion and every name that is names, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” In other words, absolutely everything has been placed under the “feet” (subjugation) of Jesus Christ, and He is now the “head” (in total command and control) over everything.
But what is more significant, at least to Christians, is that this very Person, Jesus Christ, Son of God, has been given to the Church that they (each believer) may become spiritually united with Him—to forever be the Body of Christ. In this the Church has been granted the unfathomable privilege of becoming the one element of all eternity to complement (that which “fills up” or “completes”) God. This is the “mystery” that Paul will reveal in more detail in the chapters that follow. As for man, he can only stand in amazement at the infinite mind and plan of God while admitting his own inability to comprehend them.