Christ's Universal Headship
By Dean E. Boelt
"He has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will, according to His purpose which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and in earth" (Eph. 1:9-10, RSV; cf. Gen. 49:10; Jn. 10:16; 11: 49-52; Eph. 2:11-22; Col. 1:18-20; II Tim. 1:9-10).
Illuminated by the Spirit, Paul here envisions the accomplishment of God's "eternal Purpose" in the Son (Eph. 3:8-11). That will be the uniting of "all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth." Or, as the KJV has it, the gathering "together in one all things in Christ." So shall he "in all things" have "the preeminence," or Headship, pursuant to the good pleasure of the Father (Col. 1:18-19).
As Paul would say, In that all things, thus, shall be "put under Him," nothing [save the Father Himself] shall be left "that is not put under Him" (Heb. 2:8-9; cf. I Cor. 15:24-28). In the diction of Isaiah: "This is the purpose that is purposed" by Jehovah of hosts, "and who shall annul it?" (Isa. 14:26-27, ASV).
The Clear Representation. What is here clearly represented is the universal Headship of Christ. All that is in heaven and on earth—the Father only excepted—is to be united with Him. That includes the unfallen angels, as well as the redeemed part of humanity. So will be fully realized God's appointment of the Son as "the Beginning of the [new] creation of God" (Rev. 3:14), "the Firstborn of every creature" (Col. 1:15), and "the Head over all things" (Eph. 1:22).
As Adam was head of the first and repudiated creation, which shall then have been destroyed, Christ will be manifested as Head of the new and abiding one. It needs to be stressed—as Scripture does—that there will be nothing—absolutely nothing (except the Father)—that is exempt from this Headship. With that exception—as is so now in firstfruit regeneration—Christ will be "all" (Col. 3:10-11). The enemies who "would not" that He should "reign over them" will have been brought and "slain," or forever separated from Him (Lk. 19:27; cf. v. 14).
Those today who, because of satanic blinding, have an inadequate concept of the Lord Jesus, need to redo their thinking by due attention to Scripture's representation of Him, and God's purpose for His preeminence. The Son's question of the Pharisees is one with which all humanity must deal: "What think ye of Christ?" (Mt. 22:41-45).
The Matter of Universalism. In view of the scope of the representation made by the texts cited above, the question of universalism naturally presents itself. That such is the intended meaning of them, however, is precluded by the whole tenor of Scripture, which is against it. The gathering of all things under the Headship of Christ cannot include those who persistently rejected His rule while in the earthly body. They, together with the Devil and all false religion, will be "cast into the lake of fire," and forever banished "from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power" (II Th. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14-15; cf. Mt. 25:41, 46). The only conceivable sense in which they could be said to remain under His authority is that they are eternally excluded from Him thereby.
The resolution of the apparent difficulty posed by the representation of the universal gathering to Christ is apparent. It is seen by due regard for the present situation, as it is considered by God. All accountable persons not now in the Son, or under His Headship, are dead in God's view. That is, they are spiritually separated from Him. Hence, Scripture's consistent portrayal of the case.
The Gentiles, being dead in their trespasses and sins, and the "uncircumcision" of their flesh (Col. 2:13), were "without Christ" and "without God" (Eph. 2:12). In fact, as Peter declares, they "were not a people" (I Pet. 2:10; cf. Hos. 2:23; Rom. 9:25-26). The wrath of God was actually upon them (Eph. 2:3; cf. Jn. 3:35-36). Such, it must be emphasized, is the state of all today who have rejected the Headship of Christ.
The Intended Meaning. When, therefore, our Lord is represented as ultimately to be the Head over all things in heaven and on earth, the meaning is clear. His dominion will be over the regenerated order, as well as over that of the unfallen intelligences. In God's recognition, there will not be any other order. Everything and everyone contrary to Christ shall have been forever banished into "outer darkness" (Mt. 25:30), which term denotes total ostracism from God.
In other words, in that eternal order of things, nothing that has not been gathered "together" to Christ will be considered as existent. So, as it is written, shall the "working" of Christ's power eventually "subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:21).
As regards the state of non-recognition that shall then prevail concerning everyone and everything that is not identified with Christ, both Isaiah and John have a clear word. "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth," declares the former, speaking for God; "and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind" (Isa. 65:17). Beholding a preview of Christ's second coming, John records, "From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them" (Rev. 20:11).
The lesson and exhortation from these considerations should be evident, and are certainly pronounced. If you want to have part in "the everlasting kingdom" of Christ (II Pet. 1:11), you must get into it now, and remain therein until death. If, as an accountable person, you leave this world under the headship of Adam, you shall be forever excluded from the new and abiding creation over which Christ shall reign as the Head.