By Rev. J.A. MacMillan
Chapter 2 The Source of Authority
In the beginning of this article, we made the statement that the soul’s authority dates from its contact with Calvary. Let us now point out the meaning and the depth of this truth. When the Lord Jesus, the Captain (Archegon, Prince-Leader) of our salvation, was raised from the dead, the act of resurrection was accomplished through “the exceeding greatness of His (God’s) power (dunameos), to usward who believe, according to that working (energeian) of the strength (kratous) of His might (ischuos).” In this working there was such a putting forth of the divine omnipotence that the Holy Spirit, through the apostle, requires four words of special significance to bring out the thought. We shall not enter into the expressive meaning and grouping of these words further than to say that their combination signifies that behind the fact of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus there lay the mightiest working recorded in the Word of God.
Having been thus raised from among the dead, Christ Jesus was exalted by God to His own right hand in the heavenlies. Then was seen the reason of such mighty working. The resurrection had been opposed by the tremendous “powers of the air”:-“all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world (aioni, age) but also in that which is to come.” The evil forces of the “age to come” had been arrayed against the purpose of God. They had, however, been baffled and overthrown and the risen Lord had been enthroned “far above” them, ruling with the authority of the Most High.
The Conferring of Authority
In calling attention to the “exceeding greatness of his (God’s) power,” we passed over without comment four words. These are: “to usward who believe.” All the demonstration of the glory of God, shown in the manifestation of His omnipotence pointed manward. The cross of Christ, with what it revealed of obedience to God, of atonement for sin, of crushing defeat of the foes of divine authority, shows us a representative Man overcoming for mankind and preparing, through His own incumbency, a throne and a heavenly ministry for those who should overcome through Him.
Observe in this connection the identification of Christ’s people with Himself, in this crisis of the resurrection. In the first verse of chapter two, the words read literally: “And you, being dead in trespasses and sins,” or, perhaps, to bring out better the thought: “And you, when ye were dead in trespasses and sins.” It will be noticed that we have left out the verb “hath He quickened” which appears in our Bibles. This verb is not in the original; the sentence is incomplete, “being left unfinished,” says one expositor, “in the rapidity of dictation.” We do not accept this as the explanation of the omission, for we believe that the Holy Spirit so arranged the structure of the whole passage, that the fact might be emphasized that Christ and His people were raised together.
Where, then, do we find the verb that controls this passage? It will be seen in verse 20 of chapter 1: “According to that working of the strength of His might when He raised HIM from the dead .(then, putting a parenthesis around the words to the end of the chapter) . . . and YOU when ye were dead.” The same verb which expresses the reviving of Christ expresses also the reviving of His people. That is to say the very act of God which raised the Lord from among the dead, raised also His body. Head and body are naturally raised together: Christ, the Head; His body, the Church (ho ekklesia, the assembly of believers in Him). This is a most important statement, and one of which the definite significance cannot be overestimated.
The same thought in another form, is developed by. the apostle in Romans 6, where the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus are shown to also include His people. The passage in Romans sets forth (I) the death to sin of the believer with the crucified Christ, and.(2) the consequent annulling of the power of sin over him through the impartation of the life of the resurrected Christ. The believer is thus made a full partaker of Christ’s righteousness. But Ephesians lifts (3) the believer with the ascended Christ to the heavenlies where he is made a partaker of Christ’s throne. In this enthronement, there is an anticipation of that future union in the government of the nations which h:- shall share with his Lord, ruling them with a rod of iron and breaking them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, (Rev. 2: 26, 27).
The Location of Authority
That there may be no misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit’s meaning in this presentation of the truth of the elevation o, the Lord’s people with their Head, He presentation of the truth of the elevation of the Lord’s people with their Head. He gives it a second time in chapter 2:4-6. They are made to sit with Christ “in the heavenlies,” Christ’s session is at the right hand of God. His people, therefore,’occupy “with him” the same august position. This honor is not to a chosen few, but is the portion of all those who share the resurrection of the Son of God. It is the birthright of every true believer, of every born-again child of God.
When the Master foregathered with the eleven on the Galilean mountain, at some time during the forty days of His manifestation after His Passion, He said to them: “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” His formal assumption of that authority took place when lie sat down “on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews R: 1 ). 1 -lie right hand of the throne of God is the center of power of the whole universe, and the exercising of the power of the throne was committed unto the ascended Lord. He is still there in full possession of His rights, awaiting the Father’s time when His enemies shall be made the footstool of His feet.
The elevation of His people with Him to the heavenlies has no other meaning than that they are made sharers, potentially for the present, of the authority which is His. They are made to sit with Him; that is, they share His throne. To share a throne means without question to partake of the authority which it represents. Indeed, they have been thus elevated, in the plan of God, for this very purpose that they may even now exercise, to the extent of their spiritual apprehension, authority over the powers of the air, and over the conditions which those powers have brought about on the earth and are still creating through their ceaseless manipulations of the minds and circumstances of mankind.