"All in all." What is the extent of this second word "all"? Is it the entire universe both of men, angel and spirit? Is it all men without exception? Is it all men without distinction? How can we discover the meaning of such a word? We know that it has one exception "It is manifest that He is excepted, which did put all things under Him," so that we can safely say that the word "all" is never used in its widest and fullest sense, but that where we have the entire universe in view, there is nevertheless an exception to be made. This is important, for if "all" in such a context does not and cannot be used in its full universal sense, that may be true in other passages where the circumference is smaller. The word "all" is universal, but the word cannot be used alone, the context supplying the things that are comprehended within its embrace. The idea of the word "all" can be likened to a circle, but the size of the circle will vary according to the things spoken of; but however large or small the number of things there may be, the shape of the circle never changes; all, means universality, but a universality of specified things. It is therefore of the utmost importance that "the things" should be correctly stated, otherwise wild, fanatical and evil doctrine will arise.
One circle can enclose another, the "all" of redemption, being much larger in scope than the "all" of the membership of the church of the Mystery. One circle may intersect another, because the things spoken of may be considered from more than one point of view. Let us now consider the usage of the word "all" in 1Cor. 15:24-28), "All rule and all authority and power" are to be put down (1Cor. 15:24), but it is manifest that the rule, authority and power of God Himself is not in view, else it would defeat the very object of this subjugation. If we read on to verse 25, we shall come to the inspired comment "For"; this is a logical connective, and is prefaced to what follows and links it with what has already been said, "For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet." The rule, authority and power therefore of verse 24 are not universal, they refer to enemies, and when thus limited, the "all" again assumes it universality, not some enemies, but all enemies are comprehended in this subjection. As a further explanation, the nature of these enemies is revealed by the statement "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." The enmity envisaged is spiritual, even as the rule, authority and power. Moreover, where verses 24, 25 use the words "put down" or "put under His feet", verse 26 says plainly "destroyed", even as the corresponding passage in verse 54 declares that death shall be swallowed up in victory at the resurrection.
Having taken us so far, the Apostle returns to the subject, and this time makes a quotation from Psalm 8, "For He hath put all things under His feet." The placing of an enemy under the feet is an Old Testament figure of conquest, and never means deliverance, liberation or blessing. Throughout 1 Cor. 15:24-27, and in every passage where Psalm 8:6 is quoted the redeemed are excepted. The first occurrence of this figure is in Joshua 10. The kings of the Amorites and others, banded themselves together against Gibeon, and upon the triumphant expedition of Joshua against them, these kings hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. They were brought out from their hiding place, and Joshua called to the captains of the men of war "Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings ... and afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees" (Joshua 10:22-27). Makkedah was treated as was Jericho (10:28), and it is utterly impossible to read into Joshua 10, the remotest hint that these enemies had the slightest hope of deliverance. This is the figure employed in 1 Cor. 15:24-28 when all enemies are put under the feet of Christ, the true Joshua.
When Paul assured the Roman believers that "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly", they knew that the age-long enmity between the two seeds was at length to terminate in the utter defeat of Satan, and the complete victory of the Redeemer and His people. When the eighth Psalm is quoted in Eph. 1, the all things that are under His feet, are principality and power, might and dominion, but not the church. Here, once again, we could echo 1 Cor. 15 and say "It is manifest that one company is excepted, namely the Church which is His Body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." One of the services rendered by Colossians, an epistle which goes over much the same ground as that of Ephesians, is that it presents a truth stated in Ephesians from another angle.
This is presenting the truth of Eph. 1:22,23 from another viewpoint. It will be seen moreover, that Col. 3:11 teaches that the church of the Mystery foreshadows and anticipates the day when God shall be all in all, Christ occupying that position here and now, even as the final subjugation of all rule, authority and power is anticipated in Eph. 1:21-23. When that great day comes, we read that, when all things are subdued unto Him, then shall the Son Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him, and this calls for careful consideration, lest by hasty conclusions and inconsiderate speech we dishonor the Lord.
(Taken from The Berean Expositor-Vol. 44)