Ephesians 1:22-23 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission

Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kai panta hupetaxen (3SAAI) hupo tous podas autou, kai auton edoken (3SAAI) kephalen huper panta te ekklesia,

Amplified: And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church [a headship exercised throughout the church], (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and He gave Him this authority for the benefit of the church. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: God has placed everything under the power of Christ and has set Him up as head of everything for the Church. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: And all things He put in subjection under His feet, and Him He gave as Head over all things to the Church, (Eerdmans Publishing - used by permission)   

Young's Literal: and all things He did put under his feet, and did give Him -- head over all things to the assembly

AND HE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET: kai panta hupetaxen (3SAAI) hupo tous podas autou,

  • Genesis 3:15; Psalm 8:6-8; 91:13; 1Corinthians 15:25, 26, 27; Hebrews 2:8
  • Ephesians 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

1Cor 15:27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He (the Father) is excepted Who put all things in subjection to Him.

Heb 2:8-note THOU HAST PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.

Comment: " Psalm 8:6 (LXX) is clearly in his mind (cf. Heb 2:8). The Psalmist affirms man’s dominion on earth. Here Paul claims that Christ, as God’s new man, has universal dominion. Man largely forfeited his status through sin but through Christ as the ideal man he is restored to his proper dignity. So far from constituting a threat to the realization of true humanity, the Christian gospel provides the only means by which it can be attained." (Wood)

God the Father put all things in subject under the feet of Jesus, the "idea of placing all created things under the sovereignty of Christ." (Salmond)

Wood - The verb hupotasso refers not only to the supremacy of Christ but also to the subjection of all things to him.

Put in subjection (5293) (hupotasso [word study] from hupo = under + tasso = arrange in orderly manner) means literally to place under in an orderly fashion. Appropriate to the present context hupotasso as used in secular Greek was a military figure meaning to line up under, place or rank under. The aorist tense speaks of an effective action in the past. When did this subjection occur? Paul says it is after Christ was resurrected and seated at the right hand of the Father. In the active voice (God is the subject and one produces the action) hupotasso means to subject, bring under firm control, or subordinate. The indicative mood simply means that this was an actual event. It really happened in time and eternity. God the Father subjected all things to the authority of God the Son.

Hupotasso meant that troop divisions were to be arranged in a military fashion under the command of the leader. In this state of subordination they were now subject to the orders of their commander. Thus, it speaks of the subjection of one individual under or to another. Hupotasso was also used to describe the arrangement of military implements on a battlefield in order that one might carry out effective warfare!

Hupotasso - 38x in 31v - Luke 2:51; 10:17, 20; Rom 8:7, 20; 10:3; 13:1, 5; 1 Cor 14:32, 34; 15:27f; 16:16; Eph 1:22; 5:21, 24; Phil 3:21; Col 3:18; Titus 2:5, 9; 3:1; Heb 2:5, 8; 12:9; Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22; 5:5. NAS = put in subjection(5), subject(16), subjected(7), subjecting(1), subjection(4), submissive(3), submit(2).

All (3956) (pas) means all without exception.

The truth in this verse had its germination some two thousand years prior to the Crucifixion, Burial and Resurrection of Christ, Moses recording God's decree of defeat (and subjection) of Satan...

And I (God) will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He (Eve's seed ultimately the Messiah) shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel (which is what happened to the heels of those crucified as they repetitively pushed to lift themselves up in order to move their diaphragm and move air into their air starved lungs)." (Genesis 3:15)

Under (5259) (hupo) means literally in or into a position below or beneath something. The common Greek term frequently meant not simply to be beneath but to be totally under the power, authority, and control of something or someone. Adam lost his headship over Creation when he sinned. Christ was made Head over all Creation

Feet (4228) (pous) To put or subdue under one's feet means to make subject to someone, an allusion to the ancient manner of treading down or putting the foot on the necks of vanquished enemies as Paul emphasizes the certainty of God's ultimate victory over Satan writing...

And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Ro 16:20-note)

Comment: There is a clear allusion here to the primeval promise of Genesis 3:15, which prophesized the final victory of Christ over Satan. In the meantime, believers, who also in a sense are the woman's seed (Revelation 12:17), can achieve local victories over Satan and his wiles by resisting him "steadfast in the faith" (1Peter 5:9). If we resist him with Scripture as Jesus did, testing and refuting his enticements therewith (Matthew 4:4, 7,10), then he will "flee from you" (James 4:7), just as he did from Jesus, "for a season" (Luke 4:13). The ultimate victory over Satan will be won only by the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns.

Writing to the Corinthians Paul explained that the Lord Jesus Christ...

must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He (God the Father) is excepted Who put all things in subjection to Him (the Lord Jesus Christ). (1Cor 15:25-27)

Comment: Note that this statement in no way implies that the Son is inferior to the Father, but, when death is conquered at the end of the Millennium, then all things will be under the administration of the triune God.

AND GAVE HIM AS HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH: kai auton edoken (3SAAI) kephalen huper panta te ekklesia:

  • Eph 4:15,16; 1Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 1:8; 2:10,19) (Ep 3:21; Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; 1Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 12:22, 23, 24
  • Ephesians 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Gave Him - Jamieson writes "The Greek order is emphatic: “him He gave as Head over all things to the Church.” Had it been anyone save HIM, her Head, it would not have been the boon it is to the Church."

Gave (1325) (didomi) give. Not merely set Him over the Church, but gave Him as a gift ("for her special advantage" Jamieson). The aorist tense speaks of past completed action.

Wuest - Christ is therefore God’s gift to the Church. He as Head over all things and as Head of the Church is a love gift of God the Father to the Church. (Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3)

Head (2776) (kephale) speaks of authority and was commonly applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority (king of Egypt called head, general of army = head, Roman emperor = head). Christ is over them all over the church.

Wiersbe - Because we are believers, we are in the church, which is Christ’s body—and He is the Head. This means that there is a living connection between you and Christ. Physically speaking, the head controls the body and keeps the body functioning properly. Injure certain parts of the brain and you handicap or paralyze corresponding parts of the body. Christ is our spiritual Head. Through the Spirit, we are united to Him as the members of His body. This means that we share His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation. (Paul will amplify this later.) We too are seated, in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6), and all things are under our feet.

Over (5228) (huper) refers to a degree which is beyond that of a compared scale of extent. It means more than, to a greater degree than, beyond, over and above, beyond. Adam lost his headship over Creation when he sinned, Christ was made Head over all Creation

All (3956) (pas) all without exception. Paul refers to the cosmic rule of Christ and implies that Christ is sovereign Head over all things.

Church (1577) (ekklesia from ek = out + kaleo = call) means literally the called-out ones. It was used in secular Greek of the assembly of citizens called out to transact city business. “Body of called out individuals” refers to the invisible Church, composed of only saved individuals. There are many individuals sitting each Sunday morning in church (a building) who sadly have never received Christ as the Head of His body the mystical church (a living spiritually dynamic organism).

John Walvoord in his series in Bibliotheca Sacra on "The Present Work of Christ" writes the following summary regarding the church...

A new work of God, namely, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is that which forms the new entity. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in the formation of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13), and the Father is said to participate in the undertaking by placing Christ as the Head of the body (Eph. 1:22). Christ does not form the body, but is, nevertheless, the source of its life and the One Who directs its activity. In keeping with this doctrine, the Spirit regenerates the individual believer with the same eternal life which abides in Christ (John 10:28; 1John 5:11-12). The time of the formation of the body of Christ is properly traced to the Day of Pentecost when, for the first time, the baptism of the Holy Spirit took place. According to Acts 1:5, Christ declared on the day of His ascension,

“John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in [by] the Holy Spirit not many days hence.”

The expression “in the Holy Spirit” is the instrumental use of the en and is properly translated “by” or “with.” The expression is identical in meaning to that found in 1Corinthians 12:13. Up to this time there is no indication in Scripture that the Holy Spirit had ever baptized believers. All the references in the Gospels are prophetic of the future. Though Old Testament saints were born again and in individual cases indwelt by the Spirit, there is no Scriptural revelation prior to the Day of Pentecost of binding believers together in a living union comparable to that of the church. There were saints in the Old Testament, that is, holy ones, but not believers baptized into the body of Christ. What the Scriptures teach is that a new entity is now being formed beginning on the Day of Pentecost. (Walvoord, John: The Present Work of Christ - Part III. . Bibliotheca Sacra. Vol 121, # 483 Dallas Theological Seminary)

Moule on the church - This great word appears here in its highest reference, the Company of human beings “called out” (as the word Ecclesia implies) from the fallen world into vital union with the glorified Christ. The word occurs nine times in this Epistle (here, Eph 3:10, 21 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32) and always in the same high connection. Cp. for parallels Col. 1:18, 24; Heb. 12:23; and, in a measure, Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 15:9. As it stands here, the word rises above the level of visibility and external organization, and has to do supremely with direct spiritual relations between the Lord and the believing Company. In is, in fact, (see Eph 5:32-33), “the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife,” of the Revelation, only not as yet manifested in bridal splendour. It is “the called, justified, and glorified,” of Ro 8:30; “the Church of the Firstborn,” of Heb. 12:23; “the royal priesthood, the people of possession,” of 1Peter 2:9. All other meanings of the word Church are derived and modified from this, but this must not be modified by them. “The Church of Christ, which we properly term His body mystical, can be but one … a body mystical, because the mystery of their conjunction is removed altogether from sense. Whatsoever we read in Scripture concerning the endless love and saving mercy which God shows to His Church, the only proper subject thereof is this Church. Concerning this flock it is that our Lord and Saviour hath promised, ‘I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’ They who are of this Society have such marks and notes of distinction from all others as are not objects unto our sense; only unto God who sees their hearts … they are clear and manifest” (Hooker, Eccles. Polity, III. 1.)

F B Meyer writes that...

THE CHURCH IS A BODY OF WHICH CHRIST IS HEAD. (Ephesians 1:22) We repeat such words without emotion now; but there was a time when they could not be uttered save at the cost of much that men hold dear. It is as if we were passing over a battle-field, once raked with shell and soaked with gore; or were handling a banner torn and ragged, around which the conflicting foemen fought for half a day. Let us not forget the brave hearts that were harried to death amid the heather and gorse of Scotland, rather than confess that any but Christ might assume this august title.

The Church, as a whole, must take its commands for suffering or warfare from no other lips than Christ's. Whatever course may be dictated by expediency, policy, or human leadership, she dare not move until Christ gives the signal. But if He bids her advance, protest, or suffer, she has no option but to obey. Though every voice that can reach her may be raised in expostulation and warning, she dare heed none but his.

This position of our Lord is as much for each member of the Church as for the whole Body. Because as in the natural body each several muscle, nerve, and vein, as well as the more prominent members, have direct double communication with the head, from which they derive their unity, direction, and energy; so in the spiritual Body of which Christ is head, there is not one single redeemed spirit that is not connected directly with its Lord. It would not be in the Church at all if that relationship had not first been formed. We are related to one another, only because we are related to Him. We are first members of Christ, then members of each other in Him. First Christ, then the Church.

Each member is united to the head by the afferent nerves that carry impressions from the surface of the body to the head; and there is nothing which happens to any one of us which is not instantly communicated to our Saviour. In all our affliction He is afflicted; He bears our griefs and carries our sorrows; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmity. The glory with which He is surrounded does not act like an insulating barrier to intercept the thrill of pain or joy that passes instantly from the weakest and meanest of his members to Himself.

Each member is united to the head by the efferent nerves, that carry volitions from the imperial court of the brain to the extremities of the body, withdrawing the foot from the thorn, or compelling the hand to plunge into the flame. Thus should we receive the impulses of our life from Jesus Christ; not acting on self-prompted energy, or following our own plans, thinking our own thoughts, or doing our own works, but ever subordinated to his will.

In (Ephesians 5:23) the headship of Christ to his Church is compared to that between husband and wife; and we are reminded of one of those deep verses that reveal the unities of creation as they were present to the apostle's thought. As God is the head of Christ, the glorified Man, and as man is meant to be the head of woman, so is Christ head of each redeemed man, as an individual, and of all such together, in the Church. Thus amid the discord and anarchy of creation we are learning the Divine concords, and shall yet find harmony emanating from the Church to soothe, and still, and unify creation. ("The Church")

Ephesians 1:23 which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: hetis estin (3SPAI) to soma autou, to pleroma tou ta panta en pasin pleroumenou. (PPMSG)

Amplified: Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

NLT: And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, Who fills everything everywhere with his presence. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: for the Church is his body, and in that body lives fully the one Who fills the whole wide universe. (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: which is his body, the fulness of Him Who is filling the all in all, (Eerdmans Publishing)

WHICH IS HIS BODY: hetis estin (3SPAI) to soma autou:

  • Ep 2:16; 4:4,12; 5:23-32; Romans 13:5; 1Corinthians 12:12-27; Colossians 1:18,24; 3:15
  • Ephesians 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Which - Referring to the Church, Christ's mystical Body.

Eph 5:29-note for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Col 1:18-note He is also Head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

Col 1:24-note Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.

Col 3:15-note And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Is (2076) (esti present active indicative 3rd person sing. of eimi = to be). Jesus is continually the Head of His Body, the Church.

Body (4983) (soma) refers to an organized whole made up of parts and members. Christ’s mystical body, His church describes the relationship of Christians to Christ the Head, the head being the vital organic center of the whole body."

It is interesting to observe that Paul uses a variety of terms to describe the body of Christ, the church, each description providing a different facet of truth into who we are -- In the Book of Ephesians, Paul uses numerous terms to describe the church; each term gives us a different insight into who we are:

Saints (Ephesians 1:1-note),

Faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1-note),

“us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19-note),

the church in all her glory (Ephesians 5:27-note),

His body (Ephesians 1:23-note),

His Workmanship (Ephesians 2:10-note),

One New Man (Ephesians 2:15-note),

Fellow Citizens (Ephesians 2:19-note),

Fellow Heirs (Ephesians 3:6-note),

God's household (Ephesians 2:19-note),

a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22-note),

children of light (Ephesians 5:8-note),

the brethren (Ephesians 6:23-note),

those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible (Ephesians 6:24-note).

THE FULLNESS OF HIM WHO FILLS ALL IN ALL: to pleroma tou ta panta en pasin pleroumenou. (PPMSG):

  • Eph 3:19; 4:10; John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 12:6; 15:28; Colossians 1:19; 2:9,10; 3:11
  • Ephesians 1 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

NLT - And the church is his body; it is filled by Christ, who fills everything everywhere with his presence.

Amplified - Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself].

The fullness (4138) (pleroma) Total quantity w emphasis upon completeness. The church is the completeness or complement of Christ for as a head must have a body to manifest glory of the head, so the Lord has His body to manifest His glory."

Eadie says fullness in regard to the Church is “the filled-up receptacle.”

Jamieson adds - The Church is dwelt in and filled by Christ. She is the receptacle, not of His inherent, but of His communicated, plenitude of gifts and graces. As His is the “fulness” (Jn 1:16; Col 1:19; 2:9) inherently, so she is His “fulness” by His impartation of it to her, in virtue of her union to Him (Eph 5:18; Col 2:10).

Matthew Henry - Jesus Christ fills all in all; he supplies all defects in all his members, filling them with his Spirit, and even with the fulness of God, Eph 3:19.

Pleroma - 17x in 17v - Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21; 6:43; 8:20; John 1:16; Rom 11:12, 25; 13:10; 15:29; 1 Cor 10:26; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10, 23; 3:19; 4:13; Col 1:19; 2:9. NAS = all...contains(1), fulfillment(2), full(2), fullness(10), patch(2).

Fills (4137) (pleroo [word study]) be completely filled (completed state ~ net or cup filled to brim) Carries idea of permeation such as salt’s permeating meat in order to flavor preserve it. Also gives idea of total control. The present tense means continuously fills.

Pleroo - 86x in 86v - Matt 1:22; 2:15, 17, 23; 3:15; 4:14; 5:17; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35, 48; 21:4; 23:32; 26:54, 56; 27:9; Mark 1:15; 14:49; Luke 1:20; 2:40; 3:5; 4:21; 7:1; 9:31; 21:24; 22:16; 24:44; John 3:29; 7:8; 12:3, 38; 13:18; 15:11, 25; 16:6, 24; 17:12f; 18:9, 32; 19:24, 36; Acts 1:16; 2:2, 28; 3:18; 5:3, 28; 7:23, 30; 9:23; 12:25; 13:25, 27, 52; 14:26; 19:21; 24:27; Rom 1:29; 8:4; 13:8; 15:13f, 19; 2 Cor 7:4; 10:6; Gal 5:14; Eph 1:23; 3:19; 4:10; 5:18; Phil 1:11; 2:2; 4:18f; Col 1:9, 25; 2:10; 4:17; 2 Thess 1:11; 2 Tim 1:4; Jas 2:23; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 1:12; Rev 3:2; 6:11. NAS = accomplish(1), accomplished(1), amply supplied(1), approaching(1), complete(1), completed(3), completing(1), elapsed(1), fill(3), filled(16), fills(1), finished(1), fulfill(20), fulfilled(20), fully carry(1), fully come(1), fully preached(1), increasing(1), made complete(2), made full(5), make...full(1), make...complete(1), passed(2), supply(1).

All in all All (3956) (ta panta en pasin) is the word "pas" which means all without exception. The Amplified adds this explanatory note "for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself."

Wuest - The word “fulness” is pleroma (). Thayer gives the following: “that which is or has been filled; used of a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e., manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; in the NT, the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ.” Alford says, “the meaning being, that the Church, being the Body of Christ, is dwelt in and filled with God: it is His plērōma (fulness) in an especial manner—His fulness abides in it and is exemplified by it.” Expositors comments: “The idea is that the Church is not only Christ’s body but that which is filled by Him. In Col 1:19, 2:9, the whole plērōma or every plenitude of the Godhead, the very fulness of the Godhead, the totality of the divine powers and qualities, is said to be recognized as Framer and Governor of the world, and there is neither need nor place for any intermediate beings as agents in those works of creating, upholding and administering. Here the conception is that this plenitude of the divine powers and qualities which is in Christ is imparted by Him to His Church, so that the latter is pervaded by His presence, animated by His life, filled with His gifts and energies and graces. He is the sole Head of the universe, which is supplied by Him with all that is needed for its being and order. He is also the sole Head of the Church, which receives from Him what He Himself possesses, and is endowed by Him with all that it requires for the realization of its vocation.” “The all things” is “the whole system of things, made by Christ, and having in Him the ground of its being, its continuance, its order (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:16, 17, I Cor. 8:6), ‘with all things,’… the universe itself and all the things that make its fulness”  (Word Studies - Eerdman Publishing Company Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3)