The Corporate Expression of the Heavenly Man
Ephesians 3:17-21, 4:1-10
The fact that the Lord Jesus is the Heavenly Man is touched upon at various points in this reading. Here in chapter four we have the statement that "He ... ascended far above all the heavens ..." while all that follows in the chapter is related to the present expression of the Heavenly Man as here in the world.
We have already noted this feature in John's Gospel; for we have there seen the Heavenly Man in person as both present here in the world and at the same time in heaven. We now meet with it again in Ephesians, but this time in a wider sense; for here we have to do with the corporate expression of the same Heavenly Man in His Body, the Church.
These two are one, not merely by their relatedness, but by their very life; one in their resources, one in their mind, one in their consciousness, one in their nature, one in the laws of their life, one in their purpose, one in their method, one in their times. There is nothing which relates to them as the Heavenly Man in which they are not one. It is not just the oneness that springs from an understanding or an agreement, but that which is the result of being one in substance, one in essence.
Again, we are speaking of Christ as the Heavenly Man, and not of Him as God. In this corporate expression, it is not a case of the Body acting for the Head, or the Church acting for the Lord. There is no independence nor separate responsibility. It is the Lord Himself continuing His own life and work in and through His Body; the whole is one Man. Not that the Lord has given up a personal identity and ceased to be a separate person, but as out from His very heavenly manhood He has given His own substance, His own constituents, His own life, to constitute a Body which is so one with Him, in this utter way, as to be part of Himself. That is the Body of Christ as set forth here. That is the Heavenly Man corporately expressed.
The Body, the Church, was never meant to be something in itself, but from eternity was always intended to be "the fullness of Him that Filleth all in all." Therefore it has no existence apart from God's purpose in Him. These facts, simple as they are in statement, are very profound, and very searching in their meaning. They govern and determine what the Church is. Nothing which bears the name "Church" (in the New Testament acceptation of that term) and is not the continuation of His Son in this universe, exists in the thought of God.
Now this involves several things, and these are presented in the chapter we have before us.
continued with # 81 - (One Life in Christ)