Ephesians 4:7-16; Christ fills the church.

Class Outline:

Wednesday July 7,2021

EPH 4:7-8

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,


"When He ascended on high,

He led captive a host of captives,

And He gave gifts to men."


PSA 2:4-6

He who sits in the heavens laughs,

The Lord scoffs at them.

5 Then He will speak to them in His anger

And terrify them in His fury:

6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King

Upon Zion, My holy mountain."


EPH 4:9-10

(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)


We are still assessing the significance of Christ’s descension and ascension and its result that He fills all things.


His descent - He willingly submitted to the powers of darkness.


LUK 22:53 “but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”


He has ascended to all rule and authority and so to Him every knee will bow and every tongue confess, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father (PHI 2:10).


The church is the fulness of Christ. Paul states this at the conclusion of his first thought (chapter one).


EPH 1:19-23

These [wisdom, hope of His calling, riches of His inheritance, surpassing greatness of His power] are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about 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 every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.


In his account of the sovereign exaltation of Christ, Paul has written of His resurrection (vs. 20) and of His enthronement far above all rule (vs. 21, “far above the heavens in 4:10); and then he goes on to relate the meaning of this double triumph for the church in vs. 22, which is composed of two very important expressions: 1) God made Him as head over all things for the church which is His body, and 2) the fulness of Him who fills all in all. These two expressions have given difficulty to commentators, and it is easy to see why.


To fill something or someone is a rather vague statement. To us, filled is usually known in the physical sense. After dinner, if we are full, we don’t want to eat any more, or if a container is full it doesn’t have any room (or not very much room) to put more in it. We also know fullness in a metaphorical sense: a person is filled with anger or lust or joy. The second is closer to what is meant by Paul, but still, not exactly it.


Filled (active): that which fills (contents).

Filled (passive):  that which is filled (container).


Usually, in Greek literature and in the Bible, pleroma is used in the active sense: the loaves and fishes filled the baskets and the patch of unshrunk cloth fills the hole in the old garment. What is much more intriguing is the word applied to God. God’s fullness dwells in Christ (COL 1:19; 2:9), meaning that whatever fills the Father fills the Son.


We cannot tell 100% from syntax or context which sense Paul is using. Is Paul saying that the church fills Christ or that Christ fills the church?


Christ has given us His very life, so in a way, He would be incomplete if the saved were lost. Also, Christ fills us with His life, and so we are lost without Him.


In the active sense we might think that since the church is Christ’s creation, since it possesses His life, He would be incomplete without it. That’s only a conjectured thought. If a nebula were to bring forth a new star, the universe has not gained anything, but would be incomplete without it. No physical metaphor can explain how Christ could give millions of people His life, and He having lost none of His.


We must be clear that Christ hasn’t given us some things to do and think and that we should try to carry them out. That is law and not life. That He has given us His life, and indeed Himself, means that He has changed us completely, and that He is actually changing us to conformity to His likeness, in some way touching us, molding us, infecting us with Himself. In this way, the passive sense of pleroma works best - He has filled and is filling us. But also, in the active sense - He has soaked into us with Himself, and if He were without us, He would in some manner be incomplete. Perhaps that is why the Holy Spirit has not made perfectly clear which sense, active or passive, is being used.


The fullness to the church is Christ’s life. His will, wisdom, and conscience are infused in each believer.


By will I mean the force that drives Him or motivates Him. His wisdom is knowledge of the truth in full action. His conscience is all that He loves and honors, like love, grace, mercy, truth, righteousness, etc. These things are Him, not outside of Him and somehow, by means of His sacrifice, He has made us to be His life.


COL 3:1-4

If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.