It has been some time since we’ve had a study – especially one from Ephesians. To give a quick review: Paul has been praying for the believers in Ephesus and begins (Ephesians 1.19) to talk about the power of God (I encourage you to read the past studies in Ephesians one).
How does one describe something indescribable? While impossible, Paul says that God is living in a state of control, power, and sovereignty. He also has unlimited resource (ischus) which He is flowing out into the world and creating dynamite explosions of His power (dunamis).
How do we understand this power of God in our everyday world? Paul gives two examples: Jesus and you. Jesus is a demonstration of the overwhelming power of God working within the life of an individual . . . and so are you.
As we have been looking at the demonstration of God’s power in the life of Jesus, Paul writes that Jesus has been raised to life and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms. We now move onto another aspect of the example of Jesus: He is FAR ABOVE!
In the military we understand the concept of hierarchy: private – corporal – sergeant – major. Or perhaps another example: lieutenant – captain – major – colonel – brigadier general – major general – lieutenant general – general. In both cases, there is a hierarchy and structure to the chain of command.
The same is true in the spiritual. Many of the Jewish rabbis believed that there were anywhere from four to ten different orders of angels (ie: hierarchy). Not all heavenly creatures were created the same. The Bible gives some indication of this, for example: Gabriel and Michael are presented as archangels (angels with high authority) or even the differentiation between angels, seraphim, and cherubs suggest structure and hierarchy (perhaps we’ll save that for a blog one day).
Most scholars suggest that this is what Paul is giving us in the passage – a hierarchy of the spiritual realms: dominions, might, power, principalities. Some basic definitions from the Greek:
- Dominion: one who possesses a dominion, lordship, master, possessor
- Might: the same word used in 1.19 (dunamis) meaning strength, power, ability
- Power: this Greek word for power (exousia) emphasizes authority or the power of rule or government.
- Principality: the leader, the first one, chief ruler
Whether you want to see the four terms above as a hierarchy of the spiritual realms or as some suggest: concepts to describe the physical realm (government, authorities, etc) – I don’t think it matters in the end. The point Paul is making is that Jesus is above them. And Jesus is above both all within the spiritual realm as well as all within the physical realm. In either case, Jesus has the position of control and authority above them all!
We have pressures and temptations pressing in upon us from every direction now days – both physical and spiritual. The world has a mindset and orientation that is constantly trying to vie for your attention. It screams at you about what to wear, how to think, how to define success, what to eat, what your morals should be. It tells you how to spend your free time and how to find rest and refreshment. Movies are a great example. Hollywood has an agenda! I am rather confident in saying that there is not one single movie produced that does not have an agenda. Granted, they are not always bad agendas, but every movie is trying to tell you something. The same for books, television, and every other medium of entertainment.
When Sinclair wrote his classic book The Jungle, his agenda wasn’t merely to tell a good story, it was to confront the horrors of the meat packing industry . . . and it worked. VeggieTales has an agenda within every movie they create. Even the Three Little Pigs, the classic fairy tale for kids, has an agenda. While all these may not be bad or wrong, entertainment is continually pressing in upon us, telling us how to think, act, and behave.
But even outside of entertainment, the world is full of hostilities pressing upon our lives: physical conditions, ailments, addictions, laziness, procrastination, etc. Even the spiritual realm is a part of the hostile conditions: temptations, trials, satan and his cronies. But despite all the possible hostilities within our lives, Paul is adamant that even the strongest of the strong, the grandest of the most grand, the culmination of all the world and spiritual realm can throw at us is but a drop in the bucket compared with Jesus.
The Position of Christ
Paul states that the position that Jesus holds is far above. The word in the Greek is made up of two words: beyond and above. It could be stated: over the top, over and above, greatly higher, high above, or greatly exalted. Perhaps a simple illustration will help.
Imagine that all the world and hell can throw at you is the size of a sunflower seed. Every trial, temptation, ailment, addiction, agenda, or anything else is culminated within the size of the seed. If we were to set the seed on the ground, how much higher is Jesus in order to be far above? Is He one foot higher? Five feet? What about twenty feed above the seed? I would like to propose to you that if all the forces of earth and hell were contained within a sunflower seed, the position Jesus holds is on the scale of the redwood trees. The redwood trees of California grow to the size of 325 feet with the trunks having a diameter of about 35 feet. The height of such trees are like taking 55 average size people stacked on top of one another. That would be the concept of far above. In other words, what can all of earth and hell do when the position of Christ is at the tops of the redwoods? Nothing! My guess is that if we were to stand on tops of the redwoods, you couldn’t even see the sunflower seed lying on the ground.
The position Jesus holds is a position in which nothing of earth and hell has the possibility of touching or moving Him. He is untouchable! Paul is so strong about this in our passage that He makes sure we can’t miss it by using the Greek word and (kai) five times and two uses of every/all (pas). It is not just some things are beneath Jesus – but ALL! Everything you can think of and name are under the feet of Jesus. Paul grabs one after another to say this is under His feet, AND this, AND this too . . . AND this!
. . . far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
Not long ago I came across a great quote by Calvin, who said: “There is nothing so elevated or excellent, by whatever name it may be named, that is not subject to the majesty of Christ.”
Another commentator (MacArthur) wrote: Our Lord not only is above, but far above, everything and everyone else. He is above Satan and above Satan’s world system. He is above the holy angels and the fallen angels, above saved people and unsaved people, for time and for eternity. He is above all names, titles, ranks, levels, powers, and jurisdictions in the universe. God put all things in subjection under His feet. There is no limit on time, as Paul said Christ will be supreme not only in this age, but also in the one to come.
What is it that the world and hell is throwing at you? What trials, problems, circumstances, issues, and hostilities are you within? What if we would quit looking at the hostilities and problems and circumstances and began to focus upon Jesus who sits FAR ABOVE them all? If we could gain a glimpse of the true reality, of Jesus sitting far above all else, then somehow our problems would no longer be our problems. If Jesus is living and reigning within us then all that is going on in Him is going on in us – which means, we are seated far above as well. This does not mean life becomes a bed of flowers which we skip through each morning. Sure, there are still pressings and “problems” in our lives, but somehow in the light of Jesus, in the position He holds and brings us into, those problems no longer have power and control of our lives. Addictions lose grip. Issues and circumstances take their position beneath Christ. Sin no longer has us in its grip. Difficulties and distractions are swallowed up in our realization that we are IN Jesus and He is IN us!
Do you have that? Have you realized and experienced the position of Christ in your life? Has He captured your attention so that He is what you see, not your problems? Is He the big deal of your life? Have you given Him full reign and authority over every area, so that your problems become His? Your circumstances are under His control? Would you embrace Jesus today anew and afresh? Allow Him to reveal Himself and begin to demonstrate His position of power and authority (FAR ABOVE) in your life.
To Him be praise, glory, and honor forever and ever and ever!