The Headship of Christ

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J. N. Darby.

(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)

The question has been raised how far Christ gives up the glory and headship spoken of in Ephesians 1, drawn, as in 1 Corinthians 15 and Hebrews 2, from Psalm 8. He gives up the kingdom, that is certain, when He has subdued all principalities and power. His divine glory into which He has taken manhood is immutable, that is also clear. It is a question of His relative place, not His Person. We must, I think, distinguish between our relative place and conferred authority. This last Christ gives up. He is exalted now, but He has not yet taken to Him His great power and reigned, nor is He sitting on His throne yet, but on His Father's. He is become so much higher than the angels, having by inheritance a more excellent name than they - this is His place. Angels, principalities and powers being subject to Him - that is relative authority, though not yet the reign.

We have a place above angels, as united to Him, and as the fruit of redemption, and shall be made like unto Him. All this, I apprehend, continues - "Glory in the Church by Jesus Christ, world without end." It must be in Him.

I see in Ephesians two things - "Exalted him above every name," and "Put all things in subjection under his feet"; just as Adam was quite above the creatures, and besides had dominion over them, which was God's will, not a necessary consequence nor the same thing, only the second Adam has companions though He be anointed above them. This subjection of all things to His personal authority He will give up, not merely the kingdom looked at as a millennial reign, but the "all things" subjected to Him. He has not to put down angels and saints who delight in His glory, but those who oppose it and who are rebellious against God, and the fruit of creature-will and sin; but administrative authority is given up - not only Godhead of course, but, I suppose, personal exaltation remains. I do not mean merely personal preeminence as Son of God, for that too cannot be otherwise. It is not merely the "Son of Man is set," but "This is my beloved Son." But His relatively taken place remains.

Once made a little lower than the angels, He has now passed through the heavens, not merely angels, principalities and powers being made subject to Him, for that is given superiority as Messiah and Son of Man, but, as to the exercise of authority, He gives it up and is subject; but He does not cease, as to His place taken as Man, to be superior to the angels, even when there is no question of His throne, for that is conferred rule - is given up, as we know from Corinthians, and He takes as Man the place of subjection, the perfect personal place - for rule is not. That refers to what is below us, here even to what has to be subjected - "Head over all things," in this sense, is given up. But the raised Son never ceases to be the Centre of the whole company of heaven, and the saints with Him, "the firstborn among many brethren," "the only begotten." As God He of course possesses all things with the Father, but, as to His place as Man, He is not only the Head of all principalities and powers, but far above all principality and power, and by the necessity of His Person and title always will be - it is His place, when righteousness dwells, when it no longer reigns; He is always "Firstborn," when He no longer reigns in His conferred dominion. Though in another sense we shall reign for ever and ever.

318 This subject occurred to me again, and I looked over what I had written above. It is substantially right, and clearer than I had any thought of when I wrote it. One point seems to call perhaps for correction, for its substance came to me as a new idea. That is that "put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8) in Ephesians 1 is taken as the same as "gave him to be Head over all things to the Church." Now I suppose they must be considered as distinct. Putting all things under His feet includes at any rate an acquired dominion which He has not yet, and which He will give up. In 1 Corinthians 15 He is contemplating hostile, or at least unsubdued power - power which is not of and which does not own Him. Hence He reigns, when God puts them under Him, till all His enemies are made His footstool. But all things are not yet put under Him, as we see in Hebrews, and He is on His Father's throne, not His own. But He is personally exalted far above all principalities and powers. These - "And hath put all things under his feet," "And gave him to be Head over all things to the Church which is his body" - are two distinct things. Death is put under Him when the time comes, and it is the last enemy He destroys, but He is not over it as over that which was created by Him and for Him, and which the Fulness will reconcile by Him to itself. Only in Colossians it was the Fulness - in Ephesians the Man is exalted to God's right hand, and given to be Head over all. But the putting "in subjection under His feet," and being "Head over all things to" are distinct things. It is clear that the exaltation above every name is a distinct thing, for that is so now, but I think the putting all things under His feet, and giving Him to be Head over all things are so too.


319 Popish unity attaches Christ to unity, and hence may and does legalise with His name every corruption and evil; Christian unity attaches unity to Christ, and therefore gives it all the character of grace and truth that is in Him - gives it all His excellence.