Ephesians 1:21 – The Power of the Ascended Christ
...far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.Ephesians 1:21
Do you struggle against temptation? Or do you mourn because you have a child or close friend who has been deceived by wrong teaching or is caught up in what this world has to offer and has turned his back on the Lord? Or do you grieve because of the way others have sinned against you, or because of the havoc and destruction caused by sin in the church? As believers we are certainly being attacked in many different ways.
In Ephesians 1 the Lord encourages us in our struggles by reminding us of the power of our ascended Saviour. In the last verses of this chapter the Apostle Paul prays that the Ephesians may know the power of God which He exerted in Christ in his resurrection and ascension.
So what kind of power does Christ have? Since He ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father, He has been given a place “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (v 21).
To understand what is meant here, we need to realize that this is an allusion to Psalm 110:1, where it says,
The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’
Christ has been given power over his enemies. We know from Ephesians 3:10 and 6:12 that the terms “rule, authority, power, dominion and title” refer to the spiritual forces of darkness and other angelic beings. And from Ephesians 1:22 we learn that Christ’s power extends not only over the spiritual forces, but over all creation. He is the Lord and Master over everyone and everything!
The fact that our ascended Lord has authority over the spiritual forces of darkness and over everything else in this world is a great comfort for us who believe in Him. Certainly the Ephesians were greatly comforted in the knowledge of Christ’s power. According to the Hellenistic worldview of the time, many people believed that the spirit world exercised influence on every aspect of life. Thus they greatly feared the evil spirits! By knowing the most powerful spiritual forces and worshipping or appeasing them, the people attempted to secure their own wellbeing.
It is in this context that the power of Jesus Christ came as a stunning revelation. In Acts 19:11-12 we are told that during the three years that Paul was in Ephesus, God did extraordinary miracles through him, so that even when handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Further, in Acts 19:13 we read of how the evil spirits were willing to obey Jesus but wouldn’t submit to the seven sons of Sceva. As a result, the name of Jesus was highly honoured among all in Ephesus. In fact, in verse 19 we read that many of those who had practiced sorcery renounced their evil deeds and publicly burned their scrolls, turning instead to Christ.
Now that Paul has left these Ephesians for a time, he writes to remind them of the incredible power of the ascended Christ. Jesus Christ is supreme. Everyone is under his authority. No matter how hard the devil rails against Him, and no matter how many evil spirits join together, their collective power will never match that of the Lord Jesus.
The real comfort of our text lies in the message of how Christ promises to use this power. In verse 22 we are told that
God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body.
Christ uses his great power for us, his church!
If ever you fear the forces of evil, or struggle under temptation, deception, or sin, know that Jesus Christ has the power over your life and over all that attacks you. The ascended Christ is using his invincible power to gather, defend, and preserve his church and He will accomplish his goal in our lives. Let us then pray the prayer of the apostle: that we may know the power of God which He exerted in Christ, so that we may take comfort in Him.