Saturday, May 7, 2011

Where All Divine Fullness Dwells

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell. (Colossians 1:19)
The word “for” introduces a reason or purpose. Here, Paul explains why God has done what He has in regard to the Son:

  • Why Jesus has come as the express image of the invisible God
  • Why He has been give supremacy over all creation
  • Why all things have been made by Him, through Him and for Him
  • Why all things hold together in Him
  • Why He is the head of the (the church), the beginning, and the firstborn from the dead
  • Why He has the preeminence in all things
It was because it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell!

Now, the words “the Father” are not in the Greek text, but the idea of God is certainly implied by the context. Different translations handle this in various ways. For example:
  • For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (English Standard Version)
  • Because in him it did please all the fullness to tabernacle. (Young’s Literal Translation)
  • For God in full measure was pleased to be in him. (Bible in Basic English)
  • Because in Him [God] was well pleased that all the fullness be permanently at home. (Wuest’s Expanded Translation)
  • Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in Him. (Common English Bible)
The point is that all the fullness of the divine nature dwells in the Son. The “fullness” Paul is talking about is every power and attribute that belongs to God. The Greek word is pleroma. Paul appears to be using this word in particular in order to counter the false teachers who were trying to get into the church at Colosse. The false teaching they brought was probably an early form of Gnosticism.

Pleroma was the central term of the Gnostics, who used it to refer to God, but they believed that creation was separated from God by numerous demigods, angelic hierarchies or other intermediaries. Some intermediaries might possess this or that power while others might have various other divine attributes, but only God, who was very distant, possessed every divine power and attribute.

Paul, however, delivers a stunning blow to this doctrine. The Pleroma, the fullness of all the divine attributes and powers, is not far, far away, separated from us by layers and levels of entities and emanations. It has come very close to us — as close as human skin — in the person of Jesus the Messiah.

Paul will deliver this knockout punch again in Colossians 2:9: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (we will talk about this in its own context as we continue through Paul’s letter). The material creation is not evil, nor is the physical body, as the Gnostics supposed. But God considered it quite appropriate that the divine essence, with all the attributes and powers of God, should reside in the human flesh of the Son and dwell among us in the world.



The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.