If God gives Christ the place of universal and absolute supremacy, He will have it owned, and in every circle of His dominions. Hence it says, after stating the fact that He has given Him the name which is above every name, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." The language here employed must be carefully considered if its precise significance is to be apprehended. And, first of all, the force of the words "at the name of Jesus" must be explained, inasmuch as much discussion has been raised upon this point. The phrase in the original is en to onomati Iesou; and this, it is freely conceded, might be accurately rendered, "in the name of Jesus" instead of "at His name," as in our translation. The question then is, Can this rendering be accepted? If "at the name of Jesus" were an incorrect presentation of the original words, the other, whatever its attendant difficulties, would have to be adopted; but it is as exact as "in the name of Jesus"; and on this account we must be governed by other considerations. It is then submitted, that to bow before God in the name of Jesus, and to confess Him as Lord, is to appear there in virtue of what He is, in all the value of what He is through His death and resurrection (see, for example, John 14:13, 14), and consequently it would imply salvation for all the classes named. In other words, if "in the name of Jesus" were insisted upon, it would make this scripture teach universalism, and a universalism, as will be seen later on, which would include demons as well as men and angels. such a meaning would thus land us in direct contradiction to many other scriptures; and hence we are compelled to adopt the alternative rendering, "at the name of Jesus."
By this is meant, that it is God's will that every creature in the universe shall sooner or later acknowledge the supremacy and lordship of the exalted and glorified Jesus. If the heart go with the acknowledgment, and the confession of the mouth proceed from a real and living faith in Christ, it will be salvation for all who make it. (See Romans 10:8-13.) All therefore who, in this day of grace, receive the gospel, God's testimony to the death and resurrection of Christ, and confess Christ as their Lord as well as Saviour, will be everlastingly saved. But the point of the scripture is, that all outside of this blessed class, all unrepentant and unregenerate men, all the angels who have ever stood, or rather, who have been preserved, in their created perfection, all the angels who have fallen and have been "cast down to hell, and delivered into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment," and all demons and infernal beings, will be compelled by power to own the authority and lordship of the glorified Jesus. God will not suffer, according to the teaching of this scripture, a single sentient creature to be contumacious or outwardly rebellious towards His beloved Son. They may hate Him in their hearts, as many of them will; but, whether they do or not, they will be made to bow the knee to the once humbled, and now glorified, Jesus, and their lips will have to confess that He, Jesus Christ, is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. And this is His due, as it is well expressed in the familiar lines:
"Worthy, O Lamb of God, art Thou
That every knee to Thee should bow."
It may be necessary, however, to explain this with a little more detail, as some may not have hitherto entered into the subject. Let us then examine the actual words of this scripture. It says then, "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." Things in heaven, as before said, will include all celestial existences, all the heavenly hosts, and things on earth will, as plainly, indicate men; so that the only difficulty lies in the phrase "under the earth." The word itself (for it is actually but one word) points admittedly to that which is subterranean. Conceding this, it is yet contended by some that only the dead are intended. But even in classical usage, it went further and comprised evil spirits, and when it is recalled that, during the sojourn of our blessed Lord in this world, demons were compelled to own His authority and even to confess His name, and that, as James teaches, they "believe, and tremble," there is a strong assurance that they are in view in this scripture. There is another scripture which, though apparently of the same significance, is yet quite different. In Revelation 5 we read, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." The term "under the earth" here is not the same as in Philippians; and it means, as the addition of the words, "and such as are in the sea," etc., shows, every animate thing under the surface of the earth, and it thus looks onward to the fulfilment of the last verse of Psalm el., "Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord." It anticipates the praise of the whole of creation.
Assuming then the correctness of our interpretation, it may now be asked, When will this universal acknowledgment of the authority of Christ, together with the confession of His lordship, take place? It is God acting from His own heart, let it be remembered, and also in righteousness, who has given to Christ this exalted place as Man. It is not a question here of His deity, although this is never to be forgotten, but rather of the place which God has accorded to Him as the Man who once humbled Himself here, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And together with His exaltation in this character the decree has been issued that all created intelligences must bow to, and own, His sovereignty. Where, then, the question returns, will obedience to this decree be exhibited? In seeking to answer it, we may take the three circles of beings in their order; and, first, therefore, that of things in heaven. There are two scriptures especially touching this subject to which reference may be made. In Hebrews 1, in a citation from the Psalms, we read, "And let all the angels of God worship Him"; and this is in connection with the introduction of the First-begotten into the world. In Rev. 5 we are permitted to hear ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, when the Lamb takes the book out of the right hand of Him that sat upon the throne, "saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." When, moreover, the Son of Man comes in His glory, all the holy angels are with Him, as the executors of His throne; and we thus learn that their acknowledgment of His supremacy will be constant and perpetual - that, commencing with the moment of His exaltation, it will go on for ever.
The submission of the second circle, that of things on earth, will in one sense be more gradual and extended. It began on the day of Pentecost; for Peter's testimony on that day was, that God had made that same Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, both Lord and Christ; and every one who through grace received this testimony did in effect bow the knee to Christ, and confess His authority, as declared by the apostles. So with every one converted since that day, and so will it be with all who are brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light, or until the close of the day of grace. After the church has been removed, there will be still proceeding a mighty work of grace, as may be gathered from Rev. 7; and during the thousand years will be fulfilled the glorious prediction of the Psalm, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him; and His enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him: all nations shall serve Him." There will therefore be, during His glorious Kingdom on earth, universal subjection to His rightful claims as Supreme; so that, as we read in another Psalm, "Through the greatness of Thy power" - power displayed before the eyes of men - "shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee," or, as it is in the margin, "yield feigned obedience." During this reign of righteousness man will not dare, whatever the thoughts of his heart, to rebel against the sovereign rule of Christ, except at the cost of instant destruction. Outwardly, therefore, all will be in professed submission to His government. And is it not a delight, to contemplate this prospect, when the once humbled and rejected Christ will be universally exalted even upon this earth? The scene that once witnessed His shame and ignominy, will then behold His exaltation and glory; and from millions of hearts will go up the glad confession that it is His rightful due, as they sing: Blessed be His glorious Name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen.
In regard to the last circle we have fewer positive scriptures to guide us, although the fact is stated over and over again that nothing, no being in the universe, will be excepted from subjugation to His authority.* The time when "the angels which kept not their first estate," will be dealt with is distinctly stated to be at "the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6); and we learn from Rev. 20 that the devil himself will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, immediately before the session of Christ, to whom all judgment has been committed, upon the great white throne, where all the dead, small and great, will receive their everlasting award. Demons are not here mentioned; but there can be no doubt that they are included in the judgment of their leader and chief. The final judgment, therefore, whether of the fallen angels, of Satan himself, or of the multitudes of unconverted dead (for only such appear before the great white throne) will take place at the close of all God's dealings with this world. The earth and the heaven will indeed have fled away from the face of Him who will sit upon the great white throne, before this last session of judgment commences; for this final scene of the establishment of God's holy claims and righteous authority, is preparatory to the introduction of the new heaven and the new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell. God's purposes concerning the glory of His beloved Son, His will that every knee should bow to Him, and that every tongue should confess that He is Lord, will then have been accomplished. All evil will then have been done away; for God will then have wiped away all tears from the eyes of all His redeemed, "and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
*See, for example, Ephesians 1:20-22; 1 Cor. 15:24-28, etc.
Even the exaltation and glory of Christ has, if we may venture so to speak, an object. It is, as we read, "to the glory of God the Father." If His eternal counsels concerning Christ and His redeemed have flowed forth from His own heart, they will in their accomplishment and issue redound to His own displayed glory before the eyes of the whole universe. It is for the believer to anticipate this; and, indeed, the contemplation of this glorious end of all God's ways will so fill his heart with admiration and adoration that he will be constrained to exclaim, in the inspired words of the Apostle, "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen." And yet again, "Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."