The Fullness Of Him

Posted in: 2005
By Tom L. Ballinger
Mar 17, 2008 - 10:26:54 AM

August 17, 2005

Part I

Christ as the Head

The superlative, glorious, and magnificent language used by the Apostle Paul, when he first introduces us to the Church of the Mystery, is a “dead-give-away” that we have not read, or heard, of any such church in all of the Word of God. Our introduction to it speaks volumes of its’ uniqueness as compared to other callings.

“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Paul made reference to a church during the Acts period in which he likens it to a “body.” He mentions a “body” of believers, twice, in Romans 12:4-5:

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, twenty-five times, Paul mentions the church as a “body.” The church which he speaks of is not the Church that he reveals in Ephesians and Colossians.
In his discussion of the church as a “body” in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, he designates it as the “body of Christ.”

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Paul never once says that Jesus Christ is the “head” of the “body of Christ.” In reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 concerning the body of believers, as a body, and members in particular, it is written in elementary terms—easily grasped and understood.

But, when the revelation of the Mystery is made known, and Paul introduces us to the new concept of a new Church (Ekklesia), we marvel at the difference between the “body of Christ” and the Church which his body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

We have found Ephesians 1:22-23 very difficult to explain in a single sentence or two. In fact, it is impossible to do. It’s as if the language is almost heavenly. Our attempt to glean a better understanding of Ephesians 1:22-23 is, admittedly, a feeble one, but we just do the best we can with what light we’ve been given.

“And hath put all things under His feet” is written as if the subordination of all things is an accomplished fact. All things are not yet, in actuality, a “done-deal.” Here, again, a Hebrew idiom is used by Paul. He writes as if what is going to take place in the future, has already taken place because the promise of God is certain.

“He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21).

The Apostle was fully persuaded that what God promised, He was able also to perform; therefore, he could say that all things have been put under Christ’s feet. When the Kingdom of Christ is ushered in at His Appearing, yes, His Kingdom, will be the time all things are in subjection to Him.

“And gave Him to be the Head over all things.” Jesus Christ is to be the Head over all things to the Church. The title of “Head” is not a reference to the upper part of the human body. As the “Head” of the Church, He is the chief, or principal personage, or leader, or commander. He holds the rank of being first place of all who are subordinate to Him. Christ is the preeminent One. Like the head of an army, or the head of state. He is the Head over all things to the Church.

But, there is another aspect to being the Head to the Church which transcends the idea of chief, leader, or commander. The word “head” is also applied to the “principal source of a stream; the head of the Nile River’ (Webster’s Dictionary of 1828). Lake Victoria is the source, or head, of the Nile. The waters flow out from the lake; thus, “filling” the River Nile. A “fountainhead” is the “primary source; original source.” Likewise, Lake Victoria is the fountainhead of the Nile River. In this instance, Lake Victoria is the out-flowing source of supply to the Nile; just as the river that flowed out of Eden and watered the garden, parted, and became four heads:

“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads” (Gen 2:10).

The “four heads” were four rivers that supplied water to the Garden. The river in Eden was the out-flowing source of water to what became the four other rivers which watered the Garden.

Paul states that Christ is to be the Head over all things to the Church which carries with it a much more profound and intuitive meaning than simply being “the boss,” or the only leader of the Church.

All graces, blessings, power, love, gifts, authority, goodness, joy, and life to the Church and its’ members flow from its’ source—the Lord Jesus Christ—the Fountainhead. He is to be the Head in the sense that all things the Church, which is His body, requires and needs will flow abundantly from Him; completely filling every member. Keep in mind that the reality of the stream flowing from Christ to His Church is future tense; “and gave Him to be (future tense) the Head over all things.” We can look forward to that day when, like a mighty stream, He fills all things in all places with Himself through the Church.

The concept of Christ being the Head over all things to the Church signifies, or implies, that the Head is to be the Source Who supplies the Church will all His fullness. As the Source of supply, He is the Supplier to the Church which is His Body. Christ, as the Head is the Supplier. This should not be difficult to comprehend, especially when we consider the following:

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: From whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).

Notice the word, “supplieth.” Literally, it means ‘of the supply that is from the Head.’ And, it is from this supply that the Body makes its’ “increase” or growth.

“And not holding fast to the Head, from whom the entire Body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” Col. 2:19 (NAS).

We see that from what Paul sets forth in the revelation of the Mystery that Christ, as the Head of the Church suggests that Christ is much more than the Supreme Leader, He is to be the Head, Who is the everlasting Source, the Fountainhead, the Supplier from Whom the entire Body is filled with of all the graces, gifts, and sustenance required to perform its’ ministry in the “ages to come.” With this being said, as the Head of the Church, which is Body, He will also be Its’—Sustainer.

The Church of the Mystery cannot be the church of the Acts Dispensation. The Acts church must be distinguished from the new one Paul reveals in Ephesians and Colossians.

Tom L. Ballinger

August 24, 2005

Part II

The Church as His Body

The Apostle Paul is the only writer of Scripture who uses the word, “body,” as a figure of the church. Evidently, the concept of the church being a “body” was exclusive to him. Did Peter, James, or John understand truth associated with the church being a “body?”

An examination of 1 Corinthians 12 reveals to us Paul’s perception of what the Acts period church was likened to. It is rather elementary when compared to “the church which is His body, the fullness of Him.” Paul uses the figure of a body in 1 Corinthians 12 as that of the human body.

“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12).

Paul likens the members as if they were different parts of the human body; as a foot and hand (v. 15), as an ear and eye (v. 16), as a nose (v. 17), as an eye, hand, head, and foot (21). Some members are “more feeble,” but they are necessary (v. 22). And, “For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (1 Cor. 12:24-25).

To illustrate the Acts period “body,” Paul likens its’ members as being an eye, ear, nose, hand, head, and foot. Which indicates each member was important to the overall body, but each member had a different function to perform. A eye is for seeing, a ear is for hearing, a foot is for walking, a nose is for smelling and breathing, and etc.

However, the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, is NEVER likened to parts of the human anatomy as was the church during the Book of Acts. When the “Acts of the Apostles” ended at Acts 28:31, the Lord shut down the Church—the Body of Christ. It stopped functioning as the Lord’s Church (Ekklesia). The Dispensation of the Mystery was ushered in, and a new Church was formed (Eph. 1:22-23).

The Jews and Gentiles who lived through the dispensational change were provided a new set of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). This new set of men Who the Lord raised up were for the express purpose of redirecting and maturing of the Acts period saints into the new Body being formed, and to edify the “Body of Christ” until they all came into the unity of the new truth—PRESENT TRUTH. The goal was for the believers, coming out of the Acts Dispensation, to be redirected in their faith in order for them to become a “full grown man;” thereby, attaining to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ …“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).

Notice how the members of the new Body are described:

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same Body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).

This sounds nothing like the Pentecostal Church. The emphasis here, in Ephesians 3:6, is the fact that NOW (after Acts), the members of the new Church are joint-heirs, and members of a joint-body, and joint-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus by the gospel.

They were not joined to the Pentecostal Body, but a new Body “of the twain.” The interested student is directed to the note in the “Companion Bible” on Ephesians 3:6, as well, as Strong’s Concordance # 4789 for “fellowheirs,” #4954 for “of the same body,” and # 4830 for “partakers.”

A “joint-heir” shares the inheritance equally with all heirs. The inheritance is not divided up. In plainer words, as a “joint-heir,” we share the whole inheritance with all of the other heirs.

Members of a “joint-body” speak of absolute equality of the members within His Body.

“Joint-partakers” partake, equally, with other members of the promise in Christ by the gospel.

The Church of the Dispensation of the Mystery has no hierarchy, as did the Church during the Acts period. Today’s Church (Ekklesia), which is His Body, has only One Source/Head, and that is Christ Jesus.

The Church during the Book of Acts was headed-up by the Apostles. This is not truth for today.

(Insertion: If the Church, which is His Body, has no hierarchy, what happened to the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that were given to it (Eph. 4:11? They were to be on the scene until all believers came to the unity of the faith of the Mystery. This never happened, so they just probably died-off. Second Timothy makes it clear that the unity of the faith [belief in the Mystery] was never achieved).

Tom L. Ballinger

August 31, 2005

Part III

In Ephesians and Colossians, Paul initiates a different concept in his use of the word, “body,” to describe the Church of the Mystery. The Greek word for “body” is soma. In 1 Corinthians, he tells us the “body” of Christ can be likened to a human body. However, in Ephesians and Colossians, he doesn’t designate the “body” as being like anything but a body.

Okay, then, what is a “body” in the sense that he uses the word? A “body” is a mass of matter as distinct from other masses, such as, a “body of water” as distinct from a “land mass.” Another definition of “body” which seems most appropriate here is “something that embodies, or gives, concrete reality to a thing.”

The Church which is His Body (Eph. 1:23) is the reality of Christ. As I searched to acquire a better understanding of the word, “body,” I turned to my old stand-by, “Webster’s Dictionary of the American English Language” of 1828 and BINGO! One of Webster’s definitions was; “Reality, as opposed to representation; Col. 2:17.” (Webster almost always gave a scripture reference). A “shadow,” in this instance, is the representation of the “reality.” The “reality is the “body.”

“Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Col. 2:17).

If you walk with the sun to your back, your shadow is cast in front of you. The shadow is not really you. It is your shadow. Your shadow is a representation of you. But, it is not really you. You are the reality of your shadow; that is to say, you are the “body” of the representation of you.

According to Webster’s 1828; “Reality – the actual being or existence of anything.”

Notice the various translations of soma in Colossians 2:17. One version uses “reality” in place of “body,” and three other’s translates it as “substance.”

“These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (NIV).

“Which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (NKJV).

“things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (NAS).

“These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ”

The three words, in the context of Ephesians and Colossians, which describe the Church are the “body,” the “reality,” and the “substance.” All three words mean, substantially, the same thing. “Substance” means “Being. Something existing by itself” (1828). The word “substance” also means “essence;” that is the essential nature of something or someone.

We, as members of the Church, are the Essence; that is to say, the essential nature of Christ.

Jesus Christ was given to be the Head (the out-flowing Source) over all things to the church, which is His Body, or His Reality, or His Substance or His Essence.

As we pointed out earlier, the concept of the Church in the two Prison Epistles is vastly different and much more profound than in Paul’s Acts period letters. The meaning of the word, “body,” as it relates to the Church of the Mystery, has a deeper and more spiritual meaning than did “the Body of Christ.”

The spiritual concept of the calling of the Church of the Mystery causes us to pause as we contemplate its’ uniqueness. Here, we are considering the pinnacle of Truth. Words come to mind; such as, the apex of Truth, the peak, the summit, the capstones, the zenith, or the height. Paul is relentless as he heaps profundity upon wisdom, complexity upon enormity, and depth upon height when he adds the modifier to “His Body” as “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”

How do you explain such lofty and sublime language?

“And gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”

Some commentators have said such things as; the Church, which is His Body, will be the full complement of Him that fills the universe with His presence, power, and activity. The Church which is to be the fullness of Him will fill and “execute His counsels in all things in all places.” John Calvin wrote; “He has made him the Head over his church, that he might rule it as his own body-the whole wide state of his universal kingdom. This is the highest honor of the church, that the Son of God regards himself as in a certain sense imperfect unless he is joined to us.” The expositors and commentators which I checked out don’t seem to have really scratched the surface of the depths of truth to be plumbed.

In fact, Barnes’ comment, below, pretty well sums up what most commentators of Ephesians 1:23 say:

“The exact idea here, however, is not very clear, and interpreters have been by no means united in their opinions of the meaning” (From Barnes’ Commentary).

However, it is clear that our Lord Jesus Christ is the out-flowing Source Who will fill the Church, which is His Body, with all His fullness. I can only stand in wonder and be in awe as to what this will really be—the fullness of Him that will fill the Church of the Mystery.

The magnificence of this is only compounded by the conclusion of Ephesians 1:23; “Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.”

We might consider this rendering of the modifier; “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (NIV).

The Church, which is His Body, is filled-up with His fullness, and the Church fills the totality of created things (all things), and the whole universe (all places) with His fullness—His pleroma.

In the effort to put things in plainer words, which in this case is most difficult, I will say what this is saying to me is; In the Church, which is the Essence of Him, lives the full measure of Christ Jesus, Who makes everything complete, and fills everything everywhere with Himself.

The mission of the Church of the Mystery is almost unfathomable. This mission that the Church will enter into, when the Blessed Hope becomes a reality, will be far superior and infinitely more meaningful as compared to the simplistic idea that we will simply be “trophies of His grace” throughout the ages to come.

“Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Eph. 3:21).

Tom L. Ballinger

Notes the Reader might be interested in studying:

Eph 1:23
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way

“hee skia and to sooma are distinguished as the shadow and the thing itself which casts the shadow: Col 2:17;”
(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 2000 by Biblesoft)

Physiology and anatomy

Eph 1:23
Koppe also regards it as synonymous with "multitude or many," and supposes it to mean all the dominion of the Redeemer over the body-the church. He proposes to translate the whole verse, “He has made him the Head over his church, that he might rule it as his own body-the whole wide state of his universal kingdom.” “This,” says Calvin, "is the highest honor of the church, that the Son of God regards himself as in a certain sense imperfect unless he is joined to us.” The church constitutes the "complete body" of the Redeemer. A body is complete when it has all its members and limbs in proper proportions, and those members might be said to be the "completion," or the filling-up, or the "fulness"-pleerooma (NT:4138)-of the body or the person. This language would not, indeed, be such as would usually be adopted to express the idea now; but this is evidently the sense in which Paul uses it here.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Eph 3:19
[That he might be filled with all the fullness of God.] Among all the great sayings in this prayer, this is the greatest. To be FILLED with God is a great thing; to be filled with the FULLNESS of God is still greater; but to be filled with ALL the fullness of God, pan (NT:3956) to (NT:3588) pleerooma (NT:4138) tou (NT:3588) Theou (NT:2316), utterly bewilders the sense and confounds the understanding.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

This meaning will be clearly seen in the first occurrence of this word in the Bible. In Genesis 2:10 we read of a river which "went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it parted and became four heads (rosh)"; that is, it became four other streams which watered other areas. These streams are called "heads," and they could properly be called this since each one was an autflowing source that supplied. This is the intrinsic, basic meaning of the word "head."

In Eph. I :22,23 we read: "God subjects all under His feet, and constitutes Him as the out flowing source of supply to the ekklesia which is His substance. Did He not say He would build it of Himself?

Pertinent Email from a Reader named Mike;

Hi Tom,
i enjoyed your article. i agree with what you said about christ being the head over the church, which is his body -and how that differed from the illustration about the body of Christ in 1Cor. True enough, the Greek word for head in those texts DO mean source-emphatically. I read a book regarding a different theological topic and it discussed the history of the greek word "kephale" (sp) tranlsated as head. It made reference to how Greeks used it back in the day. When they spoke of Zeus as the creator, they called him the word KEPHALE. They believed that out of his mind (thus, head) he created some of the other gods. Thus, it did mean that he was "the Head of an order of". Thus, he was the SOURCE.

As we know, this could not be said of the Acts body illustration...for it was the apostles, etc. that headed up this body. THEY were the source in a Theonomistic society (like a theocracy but without kings, per se). But under a rule where Christ alone rules over the believers without any one group as a official head, he alone would be the SOURCE and HEAD of that body.