We are starting a series in Ephesians which is always fun as I get to work my way through the commentaries of brilliant folks. I’m excited to get back into some Witherington, Fowl and Wright as we jump into this letter. I’m already falling in love with this process all over again. In the Witherington commentary on the Captivity Epistles he quotes a German Catholic Priest, Rudolf Schnackenburg. I thought this quote beautifully articulates the role of the church.
The border between cosmos and Church is not solid and rigid but is dynamic: the Church should increasingly expand and take possession of the cosmos in an intensive rather than extensive manner. For her growth takes place in inner strengthening, especially in love (Eph 4:15) which is the divine principle working against the powers of the ungodly. To the extent that the Church through the Gospel inwardly wins back humanity alienated from God and formerly enslaved by the “powers” she reveals to the ungodly powers God’s manifest wisdom and deprivation of their own power. Hence the Church is representative of the non-violent and yet powerful rule of Christ, but still more: she is a power which pervades and transforms the world – if she convincingly conveys to the world the effective healing-power of Christ within her – ie. convinces by her own unity and love (Eph 4:12-14). Does the Church thereby become an organ or the instrument of Christ’s cosmic rule? Only if and only so far as her influence in love is effective (Eph 4:15). In the context of 1:17-23 the view of the Church as the Body and Fullness of Christ is intended to make one thing only clear to the addressees – that, through their incorporation in the Church they have been put under the total beneficent rule of Christ, whose victory over the powers of darkness is certain.
– Rudolf Schnackenburg