And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
In the previous post we saw that Jesus is above all authorities. In these last two verses of chapter one Paul starts teaching that the church is the body of Christ. This is a theme that will be expanded throughout this letter. Beginning here Paul mentions feet, head and body. The Bible often refers to God as having hands (Isaiah 41:10), arms (Isaiah 53:1), eyes and ears (Psalm 34:15). We have no idea what God the Father looks like. No one has seen God (1 John 4:12) but the Bible teaches we are made in his image (Genesis 1:26). Jesus is the image of the Father (Colossians 1:15) and Jesus said if we know Him we know the Father (John 14:9). So, with this in mind lets look at the last verses of chapter 1.
Under his feet
“And he put all things under his feet“. This is not an expression we often use today, so what does it mean to put things under our feet? In a martial sense it means to be a victor, to dominate.
King David often prayed for victory over his enemies. He knew that his victory over enemies was totally dependant on God (Psalm 18:17). When Jesus died on the cross He won victory over death (Isaiah 52:8) and He now has authority over death (Revelation 1:18). He defeated our greatest enemy – death.
But, God does not dominate us. He gives us the victory through Jesus (1 Corinthians 45:57). We are loved not dominated. However, the enemies of God are under His feet. Amazingly Paul says that we will be used to crush the enemy (Romans 16:20).
Head over all things
“…and gave him as head over all things to the church…” We are used to calling someone who in in charge a head: for example headmaster, head chief, head of department. Paul calls Jesus the head of the Church. Not an Archbishop or a Pope, Jesus Christ is the head of His church.
Jesus came to earth in a human body (Philippians 2:7). He showed us His love, His compassion, His power over nature, over disease, over the spiritual realm, all manifest through His humanity. After He ascended He sent the Holy Spirit who will reside in anyone who believes in Christ and submits to Him as Lord. So, now God inhabits not one human body but a corporate body made up of all believers in Christ, the church.
Here though, Paul is implying more than a person in charge. Jesus is the head of the body of Christ, “the church, which is his body“. Paul teaches this in other letters:
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:5)
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Some see this as as figurative, a representation of headship over a group of people. However there is more to it than that. If you believe that the church is a literal body, and Christ is the literal head, the teaching that follows in this letter and in other places makes a lot of sense. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians that the Holy Spirit lives in us:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, (1 Corinthians 6:19)
That means God lives inside His people by the Holy Spirit. He lives in His body of believers.
What is the church?
The Church is the body of Christ. Christ now manifests Himself through His body, the church, on this earth now. That is truly amazing,
But, you may say the church is full of hypocrites, liars, people trying to make money, teachers who do not agree. Sadly this is true. It begs the question how do we recognise the church. It is certainly not a building, nor is it a denomination, despite our use of the word church. The Bible teaches that the church is made up of people who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation and been born again by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus wants His church to be visible. Jesus told us to love one another:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
That should be the real manifestation of the church, when we love one another as God loves us (John 15:12). Later in this letter Paul will teach about unity (Ephesians 4:3) and we will revisit this topic then.
Who fills all in all.
“the fullness of him who fills all in all.” It may be hard to grasp that God lives in His people. Can something live inside us? Regrettably our experience proves this possible. The devastation a virus can cause, where an invading presence causes disease, makes us scared of something being “inside us”.
God designed us to have the Holy Spirit live inside us. That was God’s plan from the beginning. We are dead in our sins but made alive in Christ when the Holy Spirit takes residence in our heart. When you are filled with the presence of God in your life you truly experience joy ( Psalm 16:11). As the body of Christ and as the temple of the Holy Spirit we are designed to Have God dwell with us and in us.
In the next post we will look more closely at what it means to be dead in sin!