September 19, 2009

Ephesians 1:22-23; A Devotional

And He set1 everything under His feet, and made Him head over the assembly which is His body: the very thing2 which fills every bit3 of everything.
Ok, let us recall Paul's context:
I've not stopped praying for you, recalling you to mind in my prayers; that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation on the knowledge of Him, having your mind's eye enlightened in order to perceive what is the hope of His invitation, what is the glorious wealth of His inheritance in the saints and what is the surpassing greatness of His power into us, the believing, according to the work of His mighty strength according to the work of His mighty strength which was worked in Christ, arousing Him from the dead and sitting Him at God's right side in the celestial realms, far above any ruler, authority, power, or lordship, or any name named, not only in this era, but also in one to come.
If you follow just the bold above, you can see the train of thought that lead Paul to the point that we are at this week. Paul is praying for the Ephesians to understand certain things, and the final one he lists is the power that God worked in Christ. The ultimate power that God worked in Christ (or at least the one that Paul elaborates on the most) is the establishment of Christ in power. First he states how Christ has be set above everything. Now he states how everything has be set below Christ.

But if we are to understand this text, then we must consider the significance of being the body to the one that is over all things. Through Christ, we have obtained power over the same things. It is important to remember that we have no power in of ourselves, nor do we have power individuals, but we have power as Christ's body, and it is only as a body that we have access to Christ's power.

This is an important lesson that we should learn when living the Christian life. Commitment to the body of Christ gives us victory over the things of this world, whether it be the corruption around us, or the corruption in us. I don't mean going to church every Sunday either. I mean commitment to the people that you find there, not only on Sunday, but every day. We are to be attached to the people of God. We are to be one, for together, Christ moves through us and in us. We we are together, we act as a united body being guided by the head, Christ.

Therefore, I encourage you to be committed to the church where ever you go. Know a body of believers intimately, and both serve and submit to it so that you may experience the power of being united to the head, Jesus Christ.

Translation notes

1 'Hupotasso' is a compound word of 'hupo' which means under (where we get our prefix 'hypo' from) and 'tasso' which means to place/set/put/position/establish. What it actually means is to arrange or establish something beneath something else, often in the sense of arranging people beneath another person in terms of authority. Most often this would be translated as 'to subject' since this is the most basic use of the word, but this proved impossible here if Paul's metaphoric image (which is also a quote from the Psalm 8) was to be maintained.

2 Here I had a problem maintaining the rhetoric due to an issue with the English. The Greek is "to pleroma tou pleroumenou". 'Pleroma' can either mean that which fills something, or that which is full. 'Pleroumenou' is the genitive of the participle of 'to fill': thus "of the filling".
Most translations render this "the fullness of Him who fills..." but I do not see the justification of this at all. The word 'of Him' ('autou') is simply not there in the Greek, even though every translation I'm looking at has that (even the message uses 'by Christ'). It seems to be this is based of the assumption that 'pleroma' must be translated at 'that which is full', and what is the body full of other than Christ? Thus it is a translation that is based off of the interpretation.
However, I believe neither is correct. If take the meaning of 'pleroma' to be 'that which is full' then it would read "the fullness of filling all in all", which I don't think makes anything sense. However, if we take it to mean 'that which fills' then it would read "the filling of filling all in all", now it makes sense. It is saying that Christ is filling everything with His body, that is the church.
However, "filling (noun) of filling (participle)" is confusing in English since we have two homographs. My translation above is to deal with this problem.

3 The Greek here reads "all in all". I've chosen here to elucidate what "all in all" would mean. Thus: "everything that is in everything".

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