The above title may need some explanation! Surely the emphasis at Easter should be upon Jesus Christ who was crucified on that first Good Friday and rose from the dead on that first Easter morning! Of course it should be. He was the first to rise from the dead and was seen by many in His resurrection appearances.
However what we fail to see, even as mature believers, is what God did for us in the Resurrection of Jesus. Paul puts it plainly in Ephesians as he describes the resurrection of Jesus and then goes on to show that believers are to see themselves as risen with Him in His resurrection.
First of all he focusses on Jesus’s resurrection in Eph 1:19-21. These verses are packed with meaning. We can see that when we examine some of the words used in this passage. There are a large number of words describing God’s power at work in the resurrection of Jesus. If we place the original Greek New Testament word after each of these power words we get some idea as to the power of God involved. For example “what is the immeasurable (huperballō)greatness (megethos) of his power (dunamis) toward us who believe, according to the working (energeia) of his great (kratos) might (ischus) 20 that he worked in (energeō) Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule (archē) and authority (exousia) and power (dunamis) and dominion (kuriotēs), and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
We will look at each of these words in turn to appreciate what Paul was describing in the resurrection of Jesus.
“Immeasurable” (huperballō) is used by Paul in other verses to describe the surpassing glory of God (2 Cor 3:10); the surpassing grace of God (2 Cor 9:14); the surpassing riches of His grace Eph 2;7, and in Eph 3:19 the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
“Greatness” (megethos), found only here in the N.T. is one of the many cognates of (megas) meaning “great”.
“Power” (dunamis) the origin of our English word “dynamite” is often used of God’s almighty power. In the plural it often refers to the miracles or mighty works of God.
“Working” (energeia) is usually used of God at work in power. It is used in a verb form in verse 20. Thus the “working” (energeia) of God in verse 19, “worked (energeō) in Christ.” Verse 20
“Great” (kratos) can mean dominion as well as might or strength. Is used with the next word (ischus) in Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
“Might” (ischus) is usually used of God’s might. However it is also used of believers who are to love God with all their “strength”. This strength needs to come from God Himself as 1Pe 4:11 implies. “… whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies.”
“Rule” (archē) can mean first in position or in time. It can mean “from the beginning” and it can also refer to authority figures. These authority figures include earthly rulers or authorities. But a deeper meaning is seen in the following verses where there is a reference to spiritual authorities, Eph 3:10 “… the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Eph 6:12 “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Col 2:10 “ and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” Col 2:15 “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Jesus is not only the first in power but He rules over every other power.
“Authority” (exousia) means having the authority to exercise power or control. Jesus is the head over all authorities. Col 2:9 “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
“Power” (dunamis) we looked at in verse 19.
“Dominion” (kuriotēs) is found only 4 times in the New Testament. However Col 1:16 shows that Jesus Christ exercises dominion because everything was created by Him and for Him, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
Jesus now sits at the Father’s right hand in glory, having been raised by the Father to do so. He rules over all. He is Lord of the universe. All are to live in submission to Him.
Well, where does the truth behind our title “Easter. We Are Risen” come in? It actually comes in the next chapter. Eph 2:4-7, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–(6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
What incredible truths lie in these verses. Paul emphasises that in the words he chose to highlight those truths. He describes our unity or identification with Christ using three verbs in particular. The first is “made us alive together with. “ This translates the one Greek word (suzōopoiéō) which is made up of (sún) meaning “together with”, and (zōopoiéō) meaning “to make alive”. The reference is to the fact that when we believed in Christ we were raised from spiritual death to spiritual life through our faith union with Christ.
The second verb is no less spectacular. It is translated (6) “and raised us up with him” . It is the combined word (sunegeírō) which comes from (sún) meaning “together with”, and (egeírō) “to raise” . That is, “to raise together with.” God wants us to understand that our faith union with Christ is such that when He raised up Jesus from the dead, He also raised us up with Him.
The third verb is rather mind-blowing. It is translated as “seated us with him.” Again it is a single combined word (sugkathízō) which is made up of (sún) meaning “together with” and (kathízō) “to set or sit down.” God seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. When God raised Christ to glory at His right hand, He seated us with Him in the heavenlies, through our faith-union with Christ.
So how are we to see ourselves as believers in the light of these verses? Well naturally, I am to see myself typing out this article in my home on the Eastern coast of Australia. A 500 metre walk eastwards could have me stepping into the Pacific Ocean and striking out to sea towards South America. The first part of the vision I have painted is true as I sit in my study. (I have no intention of swimming to South America.)
But God would have me see another vision of myself as a believer. That is sitting now with Christ at His right hand. I don’t feel as though I am sitting there in the heavenlies at the moment but that is what God wants me to believe and act upon.
What does it mean then that we are now “seated with Christ” in the Heavenly places? I think the following may be true.
1). We are in the place of acceptance with God. The Bible teaches that God accepts all those who accept His Son as their Saviour and submit to Him as their Lord. We are accepted in the Beloved. We can never be more accepted than we are now. More useful? Yes! More available? Yes! But never more acceptable.
2). We are in the place of honour before God. God honours all those who honour His Son. There are few in the world who bother with Jesus at all. Most people ignore Him or reject Him or see Him as irrelevant. I believe the Lord loves those who embrace His Son in love. What higher honour could there possibly ever be than to be exalted to the right hand of God, as Jesus was. AND we are sitting there with and in Him.
3). We are in the place of authority. Our prayers can have power. Jesus has overcome the powers of darkness and we have the victory in Him. We can speak to the powers of darkness from the authority Jesus has delegated to us, to bind or dislodge evil powers. Not in our own strength or power, but only always from the delegated power we have in Him.
So we celebrate another Easter with its wonderful message that Jesus died to take away our sins on Good Friday and rose again from the dead on that first Easter Day, the victor over sin and death and evil. Soon we will observe His Ascension to remind us of when He rose from the dead and returned to the Father.
But what joy, what blessing, what a privilege to know that God sees us, not just sitting at our desks in our places of abode but as abiding in Christ, sitting with Him now in the heavenly places. We don’t have to do spiritual or mental gymnastics or soar into the heights of hyper-imagination to make it become real to us. It is real! He has told us so! We should live in such a way by being enlightened and empowered by His Spirit to know His wisdom, to experience His strength and grace and to work out in our everyday lives what He is working within us, to His glory. (Phil 2:12-13)
CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! (And we are too in Him! God said so!)
Blog No.160. Jim Holbeck. Posted On Monday 6th April 2015