Ephesians 1:3-21. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… that you may know… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe… that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
We come now to the end of Ephesians 1 and to the end of our Blessed series. And Paul may have saved the best spiritual blessing for last – the fullness of Christ.
In Ephesians 1:15 Paul started a prayer for the church. He didn’t get too far before he launched into one of the most spectacular Jesus Creeds in all the scripture. Jesus is the resurrected and glorified ruler of the universe and head of the church. But as if all of this isn’t enough Paul adds that Jesus is the one who fills all in all and the fullness of the church.
If you look at verse 23 you see that it says that the body (the church) is the fullness of Christ. This is one of the most debated phrases in the book. Does the church fill (complete) Jesus? Or does Jesus fill the church? And either way works grammatically. But for many it is tricky to think of the church completing Jesus as if he’s not enough without us. In fact, that kind of language is never used anywhere else. But the idea of God or Jesus or the Spirit filling up the church is a common theme:
Ephesians 3:19. …that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Colossians 2:9-10. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
OK so what does it mean that we the church are filled by Christ?
First it means the greatest of all blessings – the presence of God. What Moses could not live without. What David begged for. What humbled Isaiah. What Jesus gave up for us.
The presence of God.
This is the culmination of all of God’s spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. We get to be with God. Even today. Right now. His presence is in us. The church.
Here’s the reality: Jesus Christ is truly present in the church. “Body of Christ” is not just a really cool metaphor. When Christians act by faith in Christ it IS Christ acting. When we think by faith in the gospel it IS Jesus thinking. It is the mind of Christ. Christ expresses his literal thoughts, emotions, and choices in the church. This is the great reality of our union with Christ, especially corporately. Jesus, the one who was filled with the presence of God, now fills us with the presence of God.
The Shekinah glory presence and power of God. Today it’s Christ in his church.
But what does that look like? Read the rest of Ephesians. It might surprise you actually. It’s not a big sound and light show. It’s “be kind one to another,” and “speak truthfully with your neighbor,” and “sing songs to one another,” and “husband love your wives while wives respect your husbands,” and “slaves obey your masters while masters respect your slaves.”
The extraordinary resurrection power of Jesus that fills us with all of God’s fullness is actually the power to do very ordinary things, except now to do them from love and grace.
In the Old Testament God manifested his presence among his people by indwelling the Tabernacle and Temple with his Shekinah Glory. God’s glory was their head that moved the body through the wilderness. In this sense it not only filled the Tabernacle, it empowered the nation. This is what Christ’s presence does for us. It moves us. It activates and animates us. The one who fills all things fills us with his great power.
“To live is Christ” gives us both the presence of God and with it the power of God. This is his fullness in us. Christ fills us so that we can be Christ to the world around us. Not so we can sit still. This doesn’t necessarily change WHAT we will do today (although it might), but it will definitely change HOW and WHY we do what we do.