Earlier this week, we meditated on the massive truth that Jesus Christ is Lord of Creation. He is the eternal Son of God who created all things. Today, let’s think about another realm of His lordship, that is, His authority over His disciples. He is head of the church. Colossians 1:18 states, And he is the head of the body, the church. Robert Gromacki, professor of Bible and Greek at Cedarville University for more than 40 years, writes in his commentary on Colossians 1:18, “The focus on Christ’s preeminence now changes from the old natural creation to the new spiritual creation. The creator now becomes the redeemer.”
The Lordship of Christ extends beyond the created world. His sovereignty also reigns over the church. Literally, it reads, “He Himself is the Head” (only Christ qualifies to be the Head of His body). Paul calls the church the body of Christ. That is, the church is a living organism. As the head, Jesus Christ is the One who gives the body its direction and its life.
The word head (kefalh) refers to functional authority. For example, we read in 1 Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Ephesians 5:23 also teaches functional headship: For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. So, head refers to the functional authority which is part of God’s design. How does Christ carry out His functional authority over the church? It is by means of the authority of the Scriptures. The living Word, Christ, rules His church by the scepter of the written word, the Bible.
One of the marvels of salvation is that believers possess the indwelling Holy Spirit, who is the Author of the Bible. The Spirit of God has revealed the will of God to us in the Scriptures. Therefore, we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). We are not left to ourselves, to decide which church trend is the next one worth following. No, we already have a blueprint for the church; it is the Scriptures. If we align ourselves with the Bible then we live in obedience to Christ, our head. If we stray from the Scriptures then we are disobedient to Christ who is our head. What does it mean that Christ is the head of the church? What are the implications?
There are 5 truths concerning Christ and His position as head of the church.
He is the Originator.
He is the beginning, that is, He is the originating power. Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18, I will build My church. He also made it clear that establishing the church would require His death. He said to them, Have you not read this Scripture: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Mark 12:10). The foundation of the church could not have been laid without the cornerstone. And Christ could not have become the Cornerstone without first being rejected and ultimately crucified. But He did not remain in the grave! Three days later, the Father raised the Son from the dead.
He is the Life (Sustainer).
As the firstborn from the dead, He is the supreme ruler of the dead ones. He who created the natural world out of nothing is the same one to bring spiritual life to sinners and gather them into His body, the church. He has accomplished this through His sin-atoning death and victorious resurrection. In Revelation 1:17-18, John writes of the Lord Jesus, When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
Jesus was also the first to experience full resurrection. Others in the Bible had been raised from the dead, only to die again. But Jesus was raised from the dead unto a glorified state. As the ruler of death and life, Christ will one-day raise all unbelievers to stand before Him for judgment (Revelation 20). He will also call all believers to eternal life (John 6:40). He will do this because He is the living sustainer of the church. As the ascended head, He continues to fulfill His purposes through His body.
He is the Preeminent One.
The Father raised His Son from the dead so that He might occupy the chief place in everything, that in everything he might be preeminent. But there is no resurrection without death. We need to remember that future glory comes through humiliation. The reason the Son of God will one-day receive all the glory He deserves is because He was willing to humble Himself to death—even death on the cross. Without death there is no resurrection. And without humiliation there is no glorification (Philippians 2:9-11).
He is the Fullness of God.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (v. 19). “Fullness” refers to completeness, the totality of deity. This was a word used by the Gnostics to refer to the sum total of divine powers; powers that they believed were shared among lesser gods and angels, supernatural beings who stood between God and man. Paul’s point is to correct that heresy by making it clear that Christ is fully God; the totality of deity dwells in Him. He does not share His glory with angelic beings. Indeed He is the same God who said in Isaiah 42:8, I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other.
This “dwelling” of the fullness of the godhead is permanent, not temporary as the Gnostics believed, or the Christian Science religion of our day teaches. At the incarnation, all the fullness of deity took up permanent residence in the humanity of Jesus Christ, the God-man (Colossians 2:9). To accomplish His divine plan, God the Father subordinated His Son. The Son obeyed by taking upon Himself human flesh—to make His exact representation of deity visible to mankind. As a result, He is the one mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5).
He is the Reconciler.
As Lord of the New Creation, through Him to reconcile to himself all things. Reconciliation refers to a complete change in relationship; to exchange hostility for friendship; a restitution to the state from which we have fallen. It constitutes the removal of the barrier between God and man. When enemies are brought back together it is said they have been reconciled. This is what God accomplished through His Son (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Christ is the one who satisfied God’s righteous demands so that we could be brought back into a peaceful relationship with God. He is the one and only way to return to God, to be at peace with our Creator. The entire creation will one-day feel the effects of redemption. Until then everything lives under the weight of the curse (Romans 8:19-21). Exempt from the possibility of reconciliation are Satan, his demons, and all those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
How did Christ accomplish this reconciliation? He made peace by the blood of his cross. Through His death and victorious resurrection He has made it possible for us to be at peace with God (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 3:18). This good news compels me to ask if you have been reconciled to God through repentant faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important in this life than to know your sins have been forgiven and you belong to Christ. Hear and respond to the invitation of Jesus: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).