A Picture of God

[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]There is a phrase that seems out of place, which is not all that uncommon in the letter to the Ephesians. It’s not that it seems like it is saying something incorrectly. It just feels like it is an afterthought. When you read it, you’ll see the point.

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 fillsĀ all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Did you notice the phrase, “to the church”? That’s the unusual phrase. The words are easy enough to understand, but it makes me pause and think, “What exactly does he mean by that?”

There is some debate about whether the phrase should be translated “to the church”, or “for the church”. I’m not going to go into the technical reasons for the different translations, but I am going to trust the opinion of most of the respected translations. It may not matter much, but the most trustworthy translations read, “to the church”.

When you have a correct interpretation and something about the text seems odd, that is a sure sign that you need to pay attention to it. So pay attention to Ephesians 1:22. Let’s see why it’s so odd and then look at the meaning.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”856″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

What makes it odd?

The phrasing is odd. God gave Jesus to be head. That’s a strange way to state it. What did the Father give Jesus? “To be head” is the answer. We understand it, but it is a little awkward. The next phrase makes it even more awkward.

God gave Jesus something: headship. But Paul went on to say that God gave this headship “to the church”. The church is not the recipient of the gift, Jesus is. He is head over all things, not the church. Hence the difficulty. God gave to Jesus to the church.

Some translations help us understand this awkwardness by changing the word “to” to “for”, and it does read a little better. “…and has made him the head of everything for the good of the church.” That is how the International Standard Version translated it. That explanation seems to have a better feel to it.

But it’s a little odd to think that the Father would elevate Jesus and make Him head over all of creation for the benefit of the church. Those are not difficult words, but the concept is certainly difficult. Kings and kingdoms are all about power, majesty, and (frankly) selfish ambition. Don’t you see a king in this manner? He does what he wants for his own benefit and glory. But that is not how God operates.

Let that sink in.

Why it matters

Jesus left everything to come to earth as a human. Then He died for us and was raised again. Then He was exalted to heaven and given the dominion that He had before. Why? For our benefit. For the benefit of His church.

This reinforces a previous point. All of God’s strategies and efforts from the beginning of time have all been about us. It was not for His benefit, but our benefit. And now, the King of kings who is seated on the throne of God, is inextricably tied to His people, the church. The Father placed Jesus as the One responsible for the church. He will see to it, care for it, protect it, even chastise and cleanse it when necessary.

When Paul started the letter, he wrote that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3). The end of this chapter confirms that these blessings are intrinsically tied to the reign of Jesus.

What better thought can help us grasp what hope we have in Christ? This is not wishful thinking. We have Jesus on our side, tied to us. The glory He receives is based upon the glory that comes through it work toward us.

Within the framework of God’s wisdom, you and I have all the resources of Heaven available to us.

A Picture of God

Some people think that God is sitting in Heaven, disinterested in us, ready to pounce like an angry father whose children get noticed because of their annoying behavior. That’s not the picture that Paul had of God. That’s not the picture painted in this wonderful book!

We have a God who has a vested interest in your spiritual success. What more could we ask for?

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