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Authority, Power, and Dominion

November 26, 2018

Scripture Ephesians 1:15–23

God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

Ephesians 1:20-21 (NRSV)

This letter from the New Testament is intended to support and encourage the faithful in the city of Ephesus in the earliest days of the Christian church. Tradition attributes the letter to Paul, and Paul is mentioned as the author. But, looking back through centuries of study most scholars believe that this particular letter was written by someone very familiar with the churches founded by Paul and the writings of Paul. However, scholars tell us that it is very likely this is not Paul’s writing. Nevertheless, the words in our scripture lesson tell us that the church is now steeped in tradition with prayers and topics such as inheritance, glory, and gifts. The writer makes clear that we receive all of this with gratitude from God’s Spirit. These themes and wording differ significantly from the “frank speech” of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia, which often scold the church members!

(Galatians 1:9, 3:1)

By contrast, the Letter to the Church at Ephesus is more soothing in tone. It might well come from a central authority such as a bishop, an office which we know came into existence in the first 100 years of the church. Regardless of its origin, the writer wants something made clear. There may be powers and authorities in Roman-held Asia Minor and Greece, but God was the authority over all governments, and Christ is the head of the church. In keeping with this, Christ the King Sunday is celebrated as the last Sunday of the liturgical, or worship, calendar to remind us that the church is not our creation nor is it our possession. It is called into being by God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. And, it is the living extension of Christ’s call to the world!

If we believe in God and the Risen Christ, then all authority, power, and dominion is God’s. In one way, we could say that we are just along for the ride. Of course, this is where you and I enter the picture: We are part of this cosmos we read about. But, as members of the body of Christ, we have much to do. Now, we are the hands and feet of Christ!

The season of Advent begins next week. It is a time of preparation. With Christ as King, let us prepare our hearts and minds to seek God’s will and truly to do God’s work: forgiven and strengthened by God, who is Ruler of All.

Stan Reid


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