Chapter 11

Head and Heir of all things

That title which Isaiah gives to the "Child born" — the "Father of eternity" — leads us on to consider His relation to that eternal state of which He is Author. Here we shall find, indeed, in some sort an opposite line of thought to that which we have just had before us; and yet in fullest accord with it. For if, in what we have looked at, Christ has been seen seeking and working for the Father's glory, until He can give up to Him the Kingdom, which He has taken to bring all things into agreement with His blessed will, it is surely in perfect accord with this to find that Christ is Himself the Centre of all the thoughts and purposes — the counsels of the Father. As in communion with the Son we have had the Father before us, so now in communion with the Father have we the Son. Our joy it is and wondrous privilege to be brought into communion both "with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ."

The Son is as the Word the Revealer of God, and, as the Word made flesh, the Revelation also. Creation, as brought into being by the Word, proclaims in broken and reflected rays the glory of its Creator. This is that house of God of which the tabernacle in Israel was a figure, and which the Son is "over" (Heb. 3:1-6). Even in this from the beginning He has been already serving, and to what service does it not pledge Him in result! For, as over it, and the Revealer, He must maintain the glory of that revelation, amid all the frailty incident to the creature, and it would not be the creature, if it were not frail, nor could other than frailty and dependence suit it.

Moreover, the higher the structure is carried, — the more complex and wondrous it becomes, the frailer it is; the more it climbs Godward, the greater the depth to which it may fall; the more richly the ship is laden, the greater is the treasure which is exposed to wreck.

The service undertaken here by the Son is a service of love. Revelation is for the creature, not for God. The glory revealed in it is not to increase the wealth of the Revealer, but of him to whom it is revealed. God is not making gain out of His creatures, nor are they increasing His wealth at their own cost. "If thou hast sinned, what doest thou against Him? and if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him? if thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? or what receiveth He at thy hand?" Nay, love alone can count its riches in assuming such burdens. And God is love; and His glory is in the out-flow of His goodness; and of this Christ is the only complete expression. What simpler then than that Christ — not simply the Son of His love, but the Son become Man — is the end for which all creation exists? Divine love. as it is exhibited, confirmed, glorified in Him, is the only possible key to the mystery of our being.

Sin has come in, and we think naturally very different thoughts from these. "I knew Thee, that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed," is said in all human languages, in accents of assured conviction. Even the Cross, the most wonderful manifestation of divine love that could be made has been darkened and profaned by such blasphemous accusations. But the answer has been given by the lips of the patient Sufferer Himself, whose lifting up avails and shall avail, to draw men unto Him, and so to God. Yea, "He died for all, that they which live should no more live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again."

He has vindicated then afresh His hereditary title as "Son over the house of God;" and having finally consecrated it as a temple of praise for ever, He will abide the Head of it. For this is the "mystery of God's will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, for the administration of the fulness of times, to head up all things in Christ; both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him, in whom we also have obtained an inheritance" (Eph. 1:9-11, Gk.).

We must not confound this with millennial Kingship, or with anything which is to pass away. The "fulness of times" is not simply the last of probationary ages, but that to which they all pointed and led the way. Headship is not the same as rule over, after the manner of a king, but implies a closer, natural, and, so to speak, organic relationship. The head is the representative and interpreter of that to which he is head, and which would be defective in a terrible way without it. Such is Christ's Headship over creation; and Ephesians here completes the doctrine of the two epistles which precede and connect with it as positional epistles — Romans and Galatians. The three are an ascending series, reaching in Ephesians their highest point and thus the widest view. For in Romans and Galatians His Headship is confined to man, and thus He is the second Adam of a new creation. That by itself would shut out angels; but they are not to be shut out, and the Lord's title here would necessarily include these also.

In the third chapter we find accordingly that "every family" — so it should be translated — "in heaven and earth is named" — or gets its title — "from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." That is, the relationship of God to Christ as Man affects His relationship with all His intelligent creatures. It could not surely fail to be so. Christ's own place in relation to men must in some way avail for more than men; and the heading up of creation in Christ must bind it to God in a manner unspeakably different from its original relationship as creation merely. The character of man so commonly remarked on as a microcosm, — his nature thus putting him in relation to every part of the universe of God — becomes in this way a matter of highest and tenderest interest, as we realize this to be the nature assumed by the Son of God.

That He is the Son has here also its significance, as we see, and how the original and divine relationships shine through the acquired ones. Wonderfully accordant it all is, with all its surpassing blessedness. How "all things were created for" Christ, as well as "by" Him, we can clearly see (Col. 1:16); as well as how, not merely by His power, but in the link of such relationships, "by Him all things consist" (ver. 17).

Thus the Son is the "Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2); and sonship and heirship go together, not merely among the dying sons of men who, under death because of sin, leave their possessions to others; but sonship and heirship go together in things that are eternal, and where again that which is divine shines through and interprets the creaturely and temporal. The thoughts of God reflect Himself and spring out of His affections — out of the depth of His nature. Would only that there were more ability to receive and trace out what His word, the key of all, has opened so for us! Let us remind ourselves that it is in this very connection that we are assured that, "according to the riches of His grace, He has abounded towards us in all wisdom and thoughtfulness* having made known to us the mystery of His will."

{*I cannot find a better word to express here the idea of phronesis, which the common version translates, most unsuitably surely, "prudence." Others give "intelligence," but being on God's part toward us, this also seems hardly adequate.}

Yes, God has thought of us, indeed, as those whom He has called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ, and is training to be His co-heirs in His inheritance. Shall we not respond to His care and seek to grow more into "the mind of Christ"?

How tenderly are our thoughts drawn towards these glories of His by the reminder of our own personal interest in them. As here, where the mystery of His will to head up all things in Christ being spoken of, we are straightway reminded, "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance." At the close of this chapter again, "He has made Him to be Head over all things to the Church which is His body." In Colossians we find, in the verses most characteristic of the whole epistle (Col. 2:9, 10): "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and ye are complete" — filled up — "in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power." Such things as these, which assuredly we should most shrink from putting together, the word of God unites as if to challenge our attention by such connection, as if to make it impossible to possess ourselves of what is our own, without exploring the glories of Christ so linked with it.