EPHESIANS 3:15—WHO ARE GOD’S FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Ephesians 3:15 says, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named….” In certain churches, you will hear the phrases “the church militant” and “the church triumphant.” Allegedly, Ephesians 3:15 is talking about Christians who remain here on Earth still fighting the battle (“militant”), and Christians who have died and are now enjoying peace in Heaven (“triumphant”). Is this a sound interpretation of Ephesians 3:15? Dear friends, we will examine the context to find out!
The issue of Heaven and Earth first appears in the book of Ephesians in chapter 1. It would do us well to read verses 9-10: “ Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
Ephesians loops back to Genesis 1:1—“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” According to Ephesians 1:10, God the Father will gather all things in Heaven and on Earth in His Son Christ Jesus. These “things” are offices of government, as delineated in Colossians chapter 1: “ For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.  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.  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
The closing verses of Ephesians chapter 2 say: “ Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Prior to the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ, God had the nation Israel as His earthly people. With the salvation and commissioning of the Apostle Paul, God begins to form the Church the Body of Christ, His heavenly people. Israel will be His instrument in the Earth; the Body of Christ will be His instrument in the Heavenly Places. We are “fellowcitizens with the saints;” that is, by virtue of our faith in Christ’s shed blood, we have joined God’s family to become spiritual relatives of those who were saved unto eternal life before the Body of Christ. As believing Israelites were in Christ, saved by the blood of Christ, so are we in Christ (as opposed to being in Adam, lost, unsaved, hell-bound).
We, the Church the Body of Christ, are God’s heavenly people. Note verses 20-23 of Ephesians chapter 1: “ Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Also, the Bible says in Ephesians 2:6-7: “ And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” And, Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” Finally, we read in Ephesians 3:9-11: “ And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”
Before Paul wrote Ephesians 3:15—“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”—he had written chapters 1 and 2. God already had a people in Israel, but that was an earthly people. When He started the Church the Body of Christ with the Apostle Paul, God began to form a heavenly people for Himself. The issue of God’s family in Heaven and God’s family on Earth is talking about the Church the Body of Christ (Heaven) and the nation Israel (Earth). God the Father will exalt His Son Jesus Christ in Heaven and Earth. Jesus Christ has a family in Heaven (Body of Christ) and a family in Earth (Israel). This glorification will be executed in the ages to come using the Church the Body of Christ in Heaven and the nation Israel in the Earth. People with denominational eyeglasses do not see this, so they invent some nonsense about “church triumphant” and “church militant.” They need to study their Bibles! Dispensational Bible study is the key to understanding Ephesians 3:15!!
Ephesians 1:9-10: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.”
» Can you explain Colossians 3:3-4?
» Who were the people who were saved before Paul?
» Who is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16?