In Him All Fullness Dwells
1. Paul has been exalting the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout this section of Colossians.
a. Vs. 14 – In Him we have redemption.
b. Vs. 15 – He is the image of the invisible God.
c. Vs. 16 – He is the creator of all things and all things were created FOR Him.
d. Vs. 17 – He is before all things; by Him all things consist.
e. Vs. 18 – He is the Head of the Body.
f. Vs. 18 – He is the firstborn from the dead.
g. Vs. 18 – In all things He is to have the preeminence.
h. Vs. 20 – He is the Reconciler between a holy God and sinful men… He and He alone made peace through the blood of His cross.
2. Why is Christ to be so exalted? Why should He have preeminence in ALL things?
a. Because of who He is!
b. In Him ALL fullness dwells.
3. Reasons for the statement in the context:
a. It serves as a sort of capstone for this section on the exaltation of Christ.
b. It introduces His ministry as Reconciler. (v. 20-22)
c. It also serves to answer the false teachers in Colossae who had some very wrong concepts about the Person of Christ.
The Fullness and Christ
A. It Pleased the Father…
1. Note that the words the Father are italicized.
a. They are not in the original, but were added by the translators.
b. There is no subject for the verb “pleased.”
c. Greek: lit = because in Him was pleased all the fullness to dwell.
d. The KJV translators translated the words perfectly accurately… but sometimes translation necessarily includes some interpretation… as is the case here.
• The KJV ADDED the words “the Father” and acknowledged this by using italics.
• They did so because in several other passages, the Bible speaks of the Father being pleased to carry out His will.
• It IS a common expression in the Scriptures… and certainly makes perfect sense here.
e. Or, it could be understood as the subject of the verb (as Darby’s translation renders it).
• Darby’s translation: “for in him all the fulness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell.”
• This translation also deals honestly with the text, fits the context, makes sense, and does not require the translators to ADD anything for it to make sense. It makes sense all by itself.
• The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were in complete agreement that Christ was the perfect vehicle for the expression of deity to both men and angels.
f. Either way, the meaning is quite similar:
• Either the Father was pleased that all fullness should dwell in the Son…
• Or the entire Trinity was pleased that all fullness should dwell in the Son.
• The point is that DEITY was pleased that this fullness should dwell in the Son.
2. It PLEASED each of the Persons of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that in the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity ALL fullness should reside… and be manifested.
a. This does not speak of a decree by which deity was conferred upon the Son. (as if at some point in time this fullness came upon Christ)
b. Rather, it simply speaks of the fact that the Persons of the Godhead are in perfect agreement… one accord.
c. All the fullness of the entire Godhead resides in Christ.
d. Every divine power and attribute possessed by the Father and the Spirit is also possessed by Christ.
e. Each of the persons of the Trinity are pleased with this.
3. By learning of Christ, we get to know God… the fullness of the Godhead.
a. We get to know GOD through Christ, because in Christ dwells ALL the fullness of the Godhead.
b. The modern charismatic emphasis on the Holy Spirit is NOT in harmony with the Word of God. They seek to know God through the Holy Spirit.
c. If we want to know the Godhead… what God is like… we are to seek Christ… set our affections on things above where CHRIST is seated… we are to be looking unto JESUS… the Author and Finisher of our faith…
d. The modern trend towards a “generic God” in the ecumenical world is not in harmony with God’s Word either.
e. We are to know God through His Son, Jesus Christ… the only true God… all others are imposters. (Try saying that at a World Council of Churches meeting!)
f. The Bible is clear on this point: Jesus Christ is the One we are to seek, to worship, to exalt, and lift up on high.
g. And since in HIM dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, we are ALSO lifting up GOD… exalting the other Blessed Persons of the Trinity… but we are doing it God’s WAY!
h. We bring glory to God by glorifying His Son. That’s God’s method and plan for this age.
i. The Godhead is pleased when the Son of God is lifted up and magnified.
j. John 13:31 – “Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
B. All Fullness
a. Fullness: pleroma
completeness, fullness, total quantity
b. The verse states clearly that in Christ all fullness dwells.
• But it begs the question: WHAT is this fullness which dwells in Christ? Christ is full of WHAT?
• Some have suggested He is full of saving, reconciling grace, which is true, but this term implies more.
2. 2:9 – seems to explain this “fullness” for us.
a. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily.
b. Godhead = deity; divine essence and nature.
c. The completeness of Deity resides in Christ.
d. Present tense: all the fullness of the Godhead CONTINUALLY resides permanently in Christ!
e. Christ has ALL the fullness of Deity… not a portion thereof.
f. “A recognized technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes” (Lightfoot)
g. Christ possesses the totality of divine attributes. This fullness dwelt in Him.
h. This seems to be the meaning in 1:19. (Scripture (2:9) sheds light on Scripture.
3. This is the ONLY reason why Paul could say of Him:
a. All things were created by Him… and for Him (vs. 16) He is head of the old creation… because all the fullness of deity resides in Him!
b. By Him all things consist… (vs. 17) … because all the fullness of deity resides in Him!
c. He is the Head of the Body… (vs. 18) He is Head of the New Creation… the church.
d. He might have all the preeminence… (vs. 18)
e. For: (because) in Him dwells all the fullness of Deity—that’s why!
f. Christ is able to FUNCTION as Deity because He IS Deity! He possesses the TOTALITY of Deity.
C. Dwell (two different Greek terms for dwell)
1. Paroikeo – to dwell beside (one) or in one’s neighborhood, to live near; to be or dwell in a place as a stranger, to sojourn.
a. This term speaks of a temporary dwelling; sojourn.
b. Used in Heb.11:9 – of Abraham “sojourning” in the land of promise (temporary tent dwelling).
c. Used in I Pet. 1:17 – of the believer of this age who is to “pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” (This world is not our permanent home.)
d. This term is NOT used in Colossians.
2. Katoikeo – to dwell; to inhabit; to settle down and be at home.
a. This term speaks of a permanent dwelling; settling down.
b. This is the term Paul uses of the fullness dwelling in Christ.
c. It is not a temporary sojourn or visitation, as the cults would have us to believe. It is a permanent dwelling.
d. Paul uses just the right verb to describe the relationship between Christ and the fullness of Deity.
• Christ was able to FUNCTION as Deity because all fullness dwells in Him.
• And note that Paul says that all the fullness DWELLS permanently in Him.
• The Christian Science cult states that deity only temporarily resided in Him. Paul states that the fullness of the Godhead dwells permanently in Him.
• It is not a matter of acting or functioning as Deity. The fullness of Deity resides in Him whether we see Him acting on it or not!
• As we read of Christ in His period of humiliation in the gospels… tired, weary, weak… He is choosing not to ACT upon His deity… but the fullness of Deity resides in Him nonetheless… because of who He is!
e. The fact that this fullness DWELLS (is at home) in Christ indicates also that the fullness of deity was not something that was “added” to Him.
• The fullness of Deity ALWAYS belonged to Christ.
• It is His essence as Deity… as God.
• It is not a foreign attribute that is given to Him for a time—as many of the cults claim.
• This fullness of Deity is at HOME in Him.
3. Christ IS the fullness of the Godhead. He possesses ALL the fullness bodily.
a. That cannot be said of a mere man…
b. This is one of the best and most concise expressions of Christ’s deity in the Bible.
c. Every divine attribute of the Father is possessed by the Son.
d. John 5: 19c – whatever the Father does, the Son can do!
e. John 5:21 – the Father raises the dead; so does the Son.
f. John 5:23 – all men should give the same kind of honor to the Son that they give to the Father. What kind of honor do we give to the Father? Divine honor… worship as God!
4. The fullness of the Godhead has ALWAYS resided in Christ.
a. In the beginning the Word was with God and was God (John 1:1). The Word—the Son—possessed the fullness of the Godhead in the beginning.
b. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him before His incarnation, when He was ‘in the form of God’ (Phil. 2:6).
c. During His incarnation and period of humiliation, the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ. (John 1:14).
d. The fullness of the Godhead dwells in His glorified humanity in heaven as our Great High Priest… in His glorified human body. He STILL possesses the fullness of the Godhead.
e. The fullness of the Godhead has always dwelt permanently in Christ and always will.
f. This is His very essence… His nature… and His nature never changes.
The Fullness and the Gnostic
a. (Πληρωμα) (fullness) was used by the Gnostic teachers in a technical sense, to express the sum-total of the divine powers and attributes.
b. ‘From the pleroma (Πληρωμα) they supposed that all those lesser beings emanated… (angels; demi-gods, etc.)
c. The Gnostics believed that these mediatorial beings were influenced by this pleroma, or even traced their descent through successive evolutions from it.
d. But in all cases this pleroma was distributed, diluted, transformed, and diminished by foreign admixture.
e. Thus, these emanations from God were only partial and blurred images, often deceptive caricatures of their original, broken lights of the great Central Light’
f. These were less than deity… polluted forms…
g. They believed that all these lesser beings contained a part of the “fullness”… that the divine powers and attributes were divided among them… each receiving a portion.
h. Those higher on the scale (closer to God) received more; those lower on the scale, (closer to humanity) received less.
i. Christ, because He was a man (or close to a man), was considered to be ranked with these inferior images of Deity by the false teachers in Colossae.
j. They believed that there were endless genealogies of emanations from God to the material world and that Christ was an exalted emanation from a mere man’s perspective, but an emanation nonetheless… and infinitely inferior to God… He falls short of pure deity in the minds of the Gnostics.
2. Paul combats this false teaching in Colossians. He states that Christ is the very IMAGE of God… not some inferior, tainted, diminished image of God! (vs. 15)
3. Christ is the FULNESS of Deity… not a diluted emanation from it… Christ possesses the sum total of divine attributes!
a. ALL fullness dwells in Him…
b. Not just touch of it… not diminished in the slightest: ALL.
c. The Gnostics had a term to describe FULL deity: pleroma. This is the term that Paul picks up on and relates it to Christ. The Gnostics knew exactly what Paul meant by this term!
4. The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily. (2:9)
5. Thus, as Paul was teaching the Colossians about Christ as our Redeemer and Reconciler… he at the same time was also combating the false teachers who were busy presenting “another Jesus.”
The Fullness and the Believer
1. II Cor. 3:18 – we are to grow from glory to glory… UNTO the image of Christ… that’s our goal.
a. But it is never said that all fullness “resides” in the believer.
b. Our goal is to become more and more godly, but we never become gods. That was the lie of the devil.
c. But the believer IS related to this “fullness.” (Col. 2:9-10 – complete = full)
d. We will look at this in more detail in ch. 2, but for now, Christ the Vine fills the believer OUT OF His infinite resources as the FULLNESS of God!
2. He is all we need.
a. Col.1:18c states that in ALL THINGS Christ might have the preeminence.
• We have ONE Savior; one Master; one will; one yoke; one LIFE… His life in us!
• Everything else is to be put aside so that Christ might have preeminence in our lives.
• The old nature will never give Him that place… hence, the old nature needs to be kept in its place by faith: reckoning that our old man DIED… we no longer are enslaved to that old manner of life.
• When we reckon SELF to be dead to sin and to the world… THEN we discover that Christ is ALL our new man will ever NEED.
• The One who takes preeminence above all else is all sufficient.
• When we come to the end of SELF (reckoning self dead; leaving our self life on the cross where it belongs)… THEN and only then does Christ have preeminence in our lives.
• And when that occurs—(yoke; altar; cross)—we discover that we begin partaking of the fullness that He has been waiting for us to enjoy…
• When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half done; when we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun!
b. As Vine… the fullness of the Godhead resides in Him. The branches abiding in Him are well cared for.
• Col. 2:9 – the Vine is full of the fullness of the Godhead…
• Col. 2:10 – the believer is FULL in Him!
• As we abide in Christ, we have all that the Godhead is available to us… moment by moment… according to our every need.
• Everything that the Vine is and has is accessible to the branch that abides in that Vine!
• Everything the branch could ever need is more than supplied out of the fullness of the Vine.
• HIS fullness becomes OUR unending resource!
c. Our Great High Priest: all fullness of the Godhead permanently resides in Him.
• John 1:16 – Christ possesses the fullness of grace and truth.
• The believer receives of His fullness. (same word).
• How much grace and truth is there for us to receive? How much can we draw upon? All the FULLNESS!
• Grace for grace = grace upon (anti) grace—like waves of the sea… unending; piling up; one upon another!
• If there is any lack in a believer, it is not because the fullness has been depleted. It is a matter of receptiveness on our part.
• Fullness of grace and truth is made available—but we must receive it… by faith…
• We can have all we able to receive… all we make room for. But if our life is full of others things—God’s grace is crowded out.
• John 1:17 – Grace and truth came through Christ… (not that they didn’t exist in the Old Testament—but they reach their FULLNESS in the Person of Christ.)
• Heb. 4:16 – we can come to Christ our High Priest and receive grace to help in time of need.
• How much grace is available through Christ? All fullness… all that God has… an unending resource!
• We don’t tire God out by coming to Him every day… or even every hour. He delights in us coming to Him!
• His resources are not diminished one bit.
d. As the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls… all the power, grace, and wisdom of deity reside in Him and is available to us.
• The Good shepherd knows every need of our soul… better than we do!
• He knows when to use the rod; when to cause us to lie down in green pastures; when to chasten our soul; when to restore our soul…
• The One in charge of YOUR soul has all the fullness of the Godhead available to be used in restoring your soul when cast down… in leading you beside the still waters…
• Our souls are in good hands in Christ.
e. As our Savior from sin… the fullness of the Godhead resides in Him.
• Christ is not only the Savior from the penalty of sin, but He is also our Savior from the power of sin in our lives.
• As we abide in Christ, there is no temptation or testing in life that can ruin us spiritually.
• The One who is presently rescuing us from sin as we rest in Him… has ALL POWER to do so! (Satan desired to sift you as wheat…)
• Sin SHALL NOT have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace – a grace relationship to Christ our Savior.
f. As Head of the Body… all fullness dwells permanently in Him.
• There is nothing we could ever possibly need to function in the Body but that our Head is able to provide!
• Holding the Head… [Col. 2:19] (and thus all the fullness of Deity) the Body grows and increases with the increase of God!
• Eph. 4:13 – the believer is to grow UNTO the stature of the fullness of Christ… though we never arrive.
» God expects the believer to be growing “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
» He never arrives at perfect Christlikeness, (that awaits His coming when we shall be like Him!)
» But we are expected to achieve a “measure” of it now… in this life… as God works in us.
» He is to mature unto a “perfect man” =full grown… mature…
» Christ grew in wisdom and stature while on earth… and He will reproduce that kind of growth in us as we yield to Him.
• Eph. 3:19 – God’s purpose for the believer is that he might be filled (eis) UNTO the fullness of God. That is our goal.
» The KJV makes it sound like the believer can be filled with the fullness of the Godhead just as Christ is.
» The believer certainly does not POSSESS the fullness of the Godhead in that sense.
» The preposition (eis) is not with but UNTO… as a goal.
» The goal of the believer is to be FILLED UNTO the fullness of God. That divine fullness is the unlimited resource from which we draw… grace after grace… all the spiritual resources we could ever need.
» Becoming more like Christ is our goal…
» God’s purpose is that we might be filled more and more, not with deity… but with God’s power, God’s mercy, God’s holiness, God’s character…
» Every member of the Body has complete, unrestricted access to the fullness of the Godhead through our Head, Jesus Christ.
» Positionally, the believer is complete or FULL in Christ… but practically, we have a long way to go. Hence, we are to be filled UNTO (eis) the fullness of God… appropriating Godly qualities in our lives by faith…
» Moment by moment as the need arises… the grace and strength is there… the fullness!
• Eph. 1:23 – the Body is full of Christ—the One who fills it.
» And Christ is full of the fullness of the Godhead.
» Hence, the Body is full of GOD Himself… His power, grace, holiness, mercy, truth, righteousness, love, etc.
» The Body is RICHLY supplied with all it could ever need… all of the resources of God Himself.
» And while we may see all the spots and wrinkles—that is NOT how God sees the Body. He sees the Body as perfectly supplied with and FILLED with the fullness of God…
» There is unlimited potential in the Body of Christ… we are thus ABLE to walk in newness of life… if we will reckon self to be dead and alive unto God.
» Even this little assembly… has access to the fullness of the Godhead… IF we will be constantly looking unto Jesus… yielded to His Spirit… submitted to His yoke… dead to sin, self, the law, and the world… and alive unto God and His will!
» But what great things God can accomplish THROUGH a yielded Body… which becomes but a vehicle for the fullness of the Godhead…
3. ALL FULLNESS is an infinite source for all of our needs.
a. All the fullness of the Godhead resides permanently in our Savior.
b. This is an infinite source of grace, strength, courage, wisdom, and resurrection power available to every believer by faith.
c. No trouble is too big for our Savior…
d. No trial is too great for Him…
e. No need we could ever have is too much for Him to supply.
f. We come to Christ as a pauper in need… and find Him to be riches untold… available freely… from one who loves us with an everlasting love…
g. We come to Christ thirsty… and discover Him to be an ocean of pure, refreshing water… from which we can drink till we are full and then some… and the supply is undiminished.
h. When we come to Christ hungry… weak and without strength, we discover that He is the Bread of Life… and that He has all the fullness of the Godhead available to feed our hungry soul… and give strength to our grip on life.
i. When we come to Christ in all of our troubles, trials, and weaknesses… He supplies all our need from His fullness!
j. And we discover as Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong!”
k. When we come to the end of our resources, we will discover God’s power… and not a moment before.
l. We will discover the fullness of the Godhead—all He is and all He has is ours…
m. And when we learn to LEAN rather than manipulate, to trust rather than to DO, to rest rather than resist… we will discover the fullness of God’s power is available to us in the Person of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ.