The Magnificent Church
The term church occurs nine times in the book of Ephesians with nine additional references to the church using the term body, and one each using household of God and temple, it is apparent that this is one of Paul’s major themes. The church is obviously significant in God’s scheme of things. Please consider a chapter by chapter approach to Paul’s treatment of the importance and magnificence of the church.
1: Christ, the Head of the Church
God the Father raised His only Son from the dead, set Him above every power, and “gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22). This headship emphasizes the authority of Jesus. Christ, our Head, intends that we, His body, cooperate with Him in the saving of the world. A magnificent task for a magnificent body!
2:The Body of the Reconciled
The Lord separated His family from the rest of the world, chiefly by giving them a special law, the Law of Moses. Thus, when Christ came into the world to carry out God’s plan of salvation, mankind was separated into two great parts: Jews and Gentiles. Furthermore, every person in both groups was separated from God by sin. How, then, were these great rifts to be bridged? How were sinners to be reconciled to God?
Jesus accomplished both in one sacrificial act: He died on the cross. And by this death He abolished the law which separated the Jews from the Gentiles (Ephesians 2:15), and reconciled “them both to God in one body” (Ephesians 2:16).
3:The Purpose of the Church
The church is to make known “the manifold wisdom of God…to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose” of God (Ephesians 3:10,11). This reveals that the church, eternal in the mind of God, is to demonstrate the many-sided — that is, the complete — wisdom of God. Just as the works of an architect, a composer, a poet disclose the creators, so the work of God receives “glory in the church by Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:21). How magnificent!
4:The Unity of the Church
God united Jew and Gentile in one body, “thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). Here in chapter four, Paul calls it the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The saved do not create the unity; it is their task to keep or maintain it. Christians will be lowly, gentle, and patient; or in one word, humble. In application, this means they will bear “with one another” (Ephesians 4:2). They will unite around the seven “ones,” seven divine strands — truths, if you will — which are woven together in the one gospel of Jesus Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
5:The Bride of Christ
The view that sees human marriage as the chief interest of Ephesians 5:22,23 misses the point. Paul says that he speaks “concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). Christ is the “Savior of the body,” the church (Ephesians 5:25). He sacrificed Himself for her so that in the present “He might sanctify and cleanse her” and that His return He might “present her to Himself as a glorious church,” a bride “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26,27).
6:The Church at War
This chapter has no direct mention of the church. However, the language of it is kingdom language; the subjects of King Jesus must be armed and outfitted to wage and win the battle against the devil (Ephesians 6:10). We Christians are to don the “whole armor of God.” We do not fight against “flesh and blood” but against Satan himself, “against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11,12). The magnificence of the church lies in the magnitude of the God who loves her.