J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
I have noticed the distinction between the first Epistle of Peter, that to the Ephesians and that to the Colossians, that the first sets the Christian, on the ground of the redemption and resurrection of Christ, as a stranger and pilgrim in the desert towards the inheritance laid up in heaven, which is a hope. The Ephesians place him seated in heaven, in his Head, with whom he is risen; the hope is the whole accomplishment of the purpose of God, made known to the Church, sealed for it by the Holy Ghost. Colossians presents heaven as a hope, but they were slipping away from the Head, but then the Apostle insists that they were risen again with Him, and their life hid there. He brings them back on the ground of their resurrection with Him.
In Peter, it is always His appearing, His manifestation (as he had seen Him go) a salvation ready to be revealed. In Ephesians we have it not, because the saints are viewed in heaven, and united with Him, waiting the inheritance. In Colossians, being risen, His appearing is recalled, but we appear with Him with whom our life has been hidden. This is clear, but now I ask - Is not the position of the enemy of souls also presented accordingly? In Peter he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour - evidently in persecutions, 'the same afflictions.'
In Colossians the Lord has triumphed over principalities and powers on the Cross, making a show of them openly, and is now raised from the dead. It is the power in which He has taken us up in life hid with Him in God. Triumph is what we have, that life being needed for the position in which the saints are put.
In Ephesians, captivity is led captive. Satan has no power over the saints in heaven, united to Christ their Head, seated there. It is not merely that He has vanquished, triumphed, but the saints are united to Him in the actual condition and title in which He is as having gone up on high, leading captivity captive. In this character, having disposed of Satan, He fills all things. The title of Satan, in virtue of his power over the first Adam, is null and annulled - has only been the occasion of the accomplishment of that work of redemption which, having thereby annulled it, has filled all things in virtue of and according to the power of that redemption. This is a glorious place for the Christ - He fills all things, in virtue and by the power of redemption, with the glory of His Person too, according to the counsel of God the Father. He has united the Church to Him in this place as His Body, but, having received power as Man, power in the Holy Ghost, He distributes, He gives, and places in men that power which, while it builds up the Church He brings to glory, enables the Church to set aside the power of Satan, of the enemy - builds up the Church (positively) as entirely delivered from it, and the vessel of that which He had received as Man, and could place in men in order to the building them up as His Body according to this place into which they were introduced, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
263 As regards the outward conflict with Satan, remark that we contend with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places where all passes, in Ephesians, and we are called upon, 'having done all, to stand.' We are in possession of our place, and our business is to hold good, and hence, being spiritual, the arms of God are what are called for. The proper service in power is 'building up' according to the stature of the Head, the fulness revealed in the Epistle. Hence it is not gaining ground on Satan as if he was in possession, for we are supposed there above, and the object is to grow up to the fulness. Doubtless we have to gain ground here, but it is positive ground in good that belongs to us without question. The object of the enemy is to turn us away from this by whatever sleight and ruse. Hence in conflict the matter is to stand against the wiles, and having done all to stand. Then we go on with our own proper Holy Ghost work in building up in and to the Head.
In John's Epistle, as in respect of the blessing too, the point insisted on is not the opposition of the enemy, but the nature. Such is the divine nature in the sons - such the devil's nature in the wicked. It is not conflict by faith, against an attack from without.
Note, even in Peter, Satan is supposed defeated by the Cross, as shown in resurrection, and hence, when resisted, flees.