And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead…
I. THE CHURCH.
1. The English word is formed from κυριακή — belonging to the Lord.
(1) Sometimes a distinction is draw between Church and congregation. Although Christ is Lord of all, yet He bears a peculiarly endearing relationship to the company within the congregation who constitute the Church proper. They are His "peculiar" possession, people, servants, and friends.
(2) Sometimes we call the edifice in which the disciples assemble a church, and properly, because it belongs to the Lord.
2. The word is a translation of ἐκκλησία, and is peculiarly applicable to the people as distinguished from the place. It was borrowed from those Greeks who had free municipal institutions. Slaves were not permitted to form part of the company, and were not eligible to municipal offices and honours, and had no voice or vote. A church, therefore, is a company of free men.
3. The two meanings in combination reach the idea that the Church of Christ is the company of free men whose privilege it is to belong to the Lord.
4. Christians are a "body," an organized community, in which all the members, however humble, find a place and do a work, and not a mere heterogeneous mob. Each member can be helpful to the others.
II. THE HEAD. This implies —
1. That Christ belongs to the body, the Church. He is not outside and merely over it. He is within it as its principal member. He partakes of its moral nature, and then of the moral nature of all its members. He is free as they are, only more gloriously; it is His joy also to be useful, only His devotion is far more sublime.
2. The representation is incomplete. He is Heart too — both head and heart in one; even as He is corner-stone at every corner, and all round the Temple of God. As the Heart, He is the centre of all the vitalizing influences that build the whole body into the fulness of health and vigour; the fountain of the love which is the sweetest outcome of manhood.
3. As the Head, He thinks for the whole body, and plans and guides. The hands cannot think for themselves, though they are noble workers; the feet do not know where to go, but beautiful are they when running errands at the bidding of the love that is in the heart, or of the life that emanates from the head.
III. THE BEGINNING. Of what? Jesus was "the beginning of the creation of God." Here He is at once —
1. The beginning of the resurrection life, being Himself "the firstborn from among the dead," and thus —
2. The beginning of the Church of the living God; the Head of that body in which, even as it exists on earth, there is a spring-seed of that higher life that has been brought within the reach of all.
IV. Christ is consequently eminently qualified to have in all things THE PRE-EMINENCE. It was the Father's pleasure that he should have it. He has it now as His right, and will continue so to have it, until all opposition to its rule be swept away for ever.
(J. Morison, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.