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Great are the Offices He Bears (6): Head Over All Things

T Wilson, Glasgow

The term "head" is used in a number of contexts in the New Testament. We read of the Lord Jesus as "the head of the corner" (Mt 21.42 ,et al) in the context of a building metaphor, referring the reader back to Ps 118.22. Closely associated are the expressions "head of the woman" (1 Cor 11.3) and "head of the wife" (Eph 5.23), that set out the divine order in creation and in the marital home. This article will consider briefly the headship of Christ as (1) "the head of every man" (1 Cor 11.3); (2) "the head over all things to the church" (Eph 1.22; 4.15); and "the head of the church: and…the saviour of the body" (Eph 5.23; Col 1.18); (3) "the head of all principality and power" (Col 2.10).

The Head of Every Man (1 Cor 11.3)

Clearly, there is order in creation on which, to a large extent, every creature depends. The well-being of creation requires the sun in its place in order that seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease (Gen 8.22). Creation needs the sun and the moon. Whether men recognise it or not, creation also needs the continued presence of man on this earth, for man’s fear and dread is upon beast and fowl and fish (Gen 9.2). Before the Fall, Adam provided the headship creation needed. He was head over creation, "all things" being put under his feet (Gen 1.26; Ps 8.5-8), over the woman, who was not part of the "all things", and over the race. He should have been able to satisfy the constitutional need of the woman and the children she would bear. How Adam failed, and how grave the effects on creation, and the woman, and the race! And what does man need today? Constitutionally man still needs a head. God has created man with a need of a head from whom he can take character, whose ways he can follow, whose standards he can respect.

God has now intervened in the history of our world to set forth Christ as "the head of every man". Only through the acknowledgement of Christ as Head will it ever be seen that "the head of the woman is the man (aner)". We do not see that abroad in the world today. Had the Fall not taken place, the divine order would have been seen throughout creation - "the head of the woman is the man".

Had an unsaved person, whether Jew or Gentile, come into an assembly gathering in the first century, they would have expressed surprise that the men’s heads were uncovered, while the women had covered heads. He would also note the silence of the women. An inquiry would have revealed that God has intervened in our world to set forth Christ as "the head of every man". He would hear that a man did not cover his head because "he is the image and glory of God". Being the image of God, man was created to represent God in creation as His visible representative on earth, manifesting God’s character in a way that the lower creation could not. In man would be seen God’s goodness and wisdom, and grace, characteristics that could not be seen in a lion or a lizard, a rabbit or a raven. In a creature capable of conscious reflective thought and capable of communion with his Maker, man was able to represent God. As he answered to the law of his being, he was "the…glory of God" (v.7), honouring his Creator. Woman was not created for the same purpose. When she answers to the law of her being, she is "the glory of the man" (v.7). The same answers should be given today.

The Head Over All Things to the Church (Eph 1.22; 4.15)

An early sign of new life is when we see the newly converted rejoicing with them that do rejoice and weeping with those that weep (Rom 12.15). That sense that they belong to one body is grasped long before they learn what blessings flow from Christ being "head of the body, the church" (Col 1.18). As the babe in Christ begins to benefit from gifts that Christ has given to the Church, there is the realisation that spiritual growth requires the exercise of those gifts. Those gifts are the spoil of Christ’s victory at Calvary. They also begin to learn that the Head has the ability to direct those gifts to the blessing of souls, and that the Head has in view the increase of the whole body. The increase of the body is of course spiritual; it is never considered in terms of number of members. Through "the various means which Christ employs for the spiritual blessing and profit" (W Kelly) of the members of the body – that is, "by joints and bands" (Col 2.19) – the body receives nourishment; the body is knit together and increases with the increase of God. The Head of the Body is unfailing in providing the resources the Body needs in order to prosper. He provides for the effectual working of every part that the body might edify itself in love. Where there is spiritual dearth among God’s people, the failure is on man’s side. It is never the failure of the Head of the Body.

The Head, of whom we speak, is the gift God has given to the Church, notes Ephesians 1.22. His gifts are always "good and…perfect" (James 1.17). This gift was given subsequent to the exaltation of Christ "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph 1.21). God has not placed the Church under His feet but has spoken of her as the complement of "him that filleth all in all". The serried ranks of those spiritual beings, about whom we know little, administer matters on His behalf. They implement His will. However, over them stands the One who has been given as a gift to the Church. As the complement or fullness of the One who is higher than the highest of created beings, the Church, which is indivisibly, indissolubly linked with Christ, shares that place of supremacy with Him. As Eve shared in Adam’s place over all creation, so the Church in unique relationship with the One to whom belongs headship over all things, will eternally radiate the features of that lovely Man to the whole universe of bliss; all creation will own that Christ is Head of the Church.

The great purpose Christ had before Him in His ascension far above all things, notes Ephesians 4.10, was that He might fill all things with Himself. The world to come will be Christ everything and in everything; then:

Christ its unmingled object fills the heart
In blest adoring love, its endless part.

But meanwhile we see not all things put under His feet. Nevertheless, every feature, every trait of Christ should be seen in His body. In the day of manifestation, every feature of Christ will shine out in the Church, as it shares unique relationship with the One who will then be seen to be Head over all things. But in the intervening period the Church does acknowledge Christ as Head over all things.

The Head of All Principality and Power (Col 2.10)

One of the reasons for Paul’s writing to the assembly at Colosse was to strike a warning note, "lest any man beguile you with enticing words" (Col 2.4). False teachers were setting before the saints their "philosophy and vain deceit" (Col 2.8) that claimed not to deny Christ but certainly dethroned Him, for they denied that the saints are complete in Christ (Col 2.10). Subtly, they whispered speculatively that angels had a mediatorial role related to man’s spiritual advancement. We need no angel to help us make progress in our spiritual lives; we have Christ. What want we more? No matter their rank, whether principality or power, One of far greater rank is their Head. They draw from Him the resources they need to undertake the responsibilities He has placed upon them, for He is Head of all principalities and powers. Peter offers a wonderful commentary on the Head of all principalities and powers: "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him" (1 Pet 3.22). On that ground every Christian can safely place their feet. Why would we look to an angel when we have direct access to their Head?

To be continued.

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