The Fullness of the Godhead Bodily
1. Vs. 9 contains a wonderful description of the Person of Jesus Christ.
2. It speaks of His dual natures: divine and human—essential to the fundamental, orthodox, Christian faith.
3. All by itself, it stands a gem declaring plainly the Deity of Christ.
4. But in its context, it is presented as a REASON for the warning not to fall prey to the vain, deceitful philosophies of the false teachers.
THE FULLNESS OF THE GODHEAD
A. The Gnostic Beliefs
1. Paul’s statement in vs. 9 is actually a refutation of the beliefs of the Gnostic like cult in Colossae.
2. They believed that Christ was one of many emanations that came out of God… a sort of “angel worship.”
3. They believed that Christ and the other “emanations” from God possessed a small portion of divinity.
4. They also taught that matter was evil, so that it would have been impossible for Christ to have a physical human body if He were truly God.
a. To them, matter = evil; spirit = good.
b. They taught that Christ was really an angel and that His body was only apparent, and not physical. (a spirit; phantom)
5. Paul counters both of these errors by stating that Christ was not one of many emanations from God: He was the FULLNESS of God! And Christ’s deity DID in fact exist in a physical body.
6. Vincent on the FULLNESS: pleroma:
a. (Πληρωμα) (fulness) 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 would were influenced by this pleroma, or even traced their descent 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.
f. These emanations were less than deity… polluted forms of deity.
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 small 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.
k. 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 pre-Gnostics at Colossae.
7. Paul combats this false teaching in Colossians.
a. He states that Christ is the very IMAGE of God… not some inferior, tainted, diminished image of God! (1:15)
b. Christ is the FULNESS of Deity… not a diluted emanation from it… Christ possesses the sum total of divine attributes!
• ALL fullness dwells in Him…
• Not diminished in the slightest: ALL.
c. The Gnostics had a term to describe FULL deity: pleroma. This is the term that Paul adopts and relates it to Christ. The Gnostics knew exactly what Paul meant by this term!
B. The Fullness of the Godhead Used By Paul
1. Paul previously dealt with this subject in 1:19. “In Him should all fullness dwell.”
a. Fullness: pleroma
b. Completeness, fullness, total quantity
c. Consider the context of Col. 1:19 – FOR gives the reason for what is stated in the previous verses:
• Redemption comes through Christ… because all the fullness of deity resides in Him! (vs. 14)
• 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!
• By Him all things consist… (vs. 17) … because all the fullness of deity resides in Him!
• He is the Head of the Body… (vs. 18) He is Head of the New Creation… the church… because all the fullness of deity resides in Him.
• He is to have all the preeminence… (vs. 18) because all the fullness of deity resides in Him.
• Paul describes Christ in this chapter as the One who is Savior, Creator, Sustainer, Head, and the Preeminent One.
d. For: (because) in Him dwells all the fullness of Deity—that’s why!
• Christ is able to FUNCTION as Deity because He IS Deity! He possesses the TOTALITY of Deity.
• The fullness of the godhead is perhaps the clearest and most concise way to state that Christ is FULLY GOD.
2. The same description of Christ’s deity occurs in chapter two, but in a different context and for a different reason.
a. In chapter one, Paul attributes divine functions to Christ as Creator, Savior, and Head of both the old and new creations. How can that be? Because the fullness of deity permanently resides in Him.
b. In chapter two, Paul explains why the believer should not be attracted to the false teachers: because the false teachers offered nothing but empty philosophy. Christ is the FULNESS of the Godhead!
3. The fullness in Col. 2:9.
a. Fullness: pleroma (same as in 1:19)
b. completeness, fullness, total quantity;
c. The fullness or total quantity of DEITY resides in Christ.
d. Not a portion thereof, but the TOTALITY of Deity.
e. He is not an emanation from God possessing a diminished, corrupted, diluted, and polluted form of deity. He is FULLY God.
4. Of the Godhead:
a. Godhead: θεότης
• Strong’s: deity. 1a the state of being God;
• This is derived from the noun “God.” (Theos)
• This term speaks of the very essence of deity.
b. Consider a similar term used in Rom. 1:20: ?
• θεiότης – Theiotes: divinity; the qualities or attributes of deity.
• This term differs somewhat from the term used in Col. 2:9.
• “deity” (used in Col. 2:9) speaks of the essence of deity , while “divinity” (used in Rom. 1:20) speaks of the quality or attribute of deity.
• For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.
• Paul states in this section that from the visible things of the created world, men are able see (figuratively speaking) the invisible things of God… namely, His Godhead…
• By means of the creation, men are able to see certain divine attributes of the Creator.
• Men are able to reason that every effect must have an adequate cause.
• When men see creation (the effect) they can reason that there must be an adequate First Cause to explain it all… namely, a Being with Divine attributes: omniscience; omnipotence; etc.
• Paul carefully chose NOT to use Theos (the term for God) because men are NOT able to see God’s Person nor can men KNOW God in a personal, saving way from the light of creation.
• Creation is a revelation… but a very limited one. It reveals that a Being with Divine power and attributes exists… but it does not reveal who He is.
• Vs. 21 – All men know about the existence of a Creator… the First Cause. (They did not know Him as Theos—as a personal God—They simply knew Him as the powerful Creator Being who caused creation to exist.)
• Ps. 19:1- the heavens declare the glory of God. (The hands that made us are divine!)
» Day and night their silent “speech” is declared.
» This speech is declared universally: there is no language group… no nation where this “speech” is not heard!
» This silent speech—declaring the existence of a Creator—is heard among all peoples of the earth.
» John 1:9 – the true light lights EVERY man that comes into the world.
» Yet this universal light—while enough to hold men accountable… is not enough light to bring men to a saving knowledge of Christ.
» If men respond properly to the little light they have received, God will send more.
• However, universally, men reject the light of creation, and exchanged what little light they had for darkness. (vs. 22-23) Men are without excuse.
• Universally, men had the knowledge of a Divine creator… His existence… His power… the fact that He is a God of beauty and design… and universally men reject that light.
• They knew of the existence of a divine person, but they did NOT know the deity in a personal way.
• Paul used the term “theiotes” (θεiότης) to denote the fact that the heathen may know about God’s qualities or attributes through creation around them.
c. BUT – Christ is NOT a revelation of God in the sense that creation is.
• Creation is an extremely limited revelation of God that cannot result in knowing God in a saving way.
• Through creation man can “see” a limited number of divine attributes. But Paul uses a different word in Col. 2:9 to denote that in Christ we can see (not just a few attributes) but the very ESSENCE of Deity.
• Christ is the FULL revelation of Deity.
• To see Christ is to see the Father. To know Christ is to know the Father. (John 14:7-9; 8:19)
• Christ is the ultimate and final revelation of who God is. He is deity incarnate.
• In Him reside not simply a few qualities of Deity, but all the fullness of the Godhead!
5. The godhead in Col. 2:9
a. Paul is stating that in Christ dwells the FULLNESS—the divine attributes… all of that which constitutes full Deity.
b. This IS the essence of deity: the fullness of divine attributes.
c. In Col. 2:9, Paul is not saying that God dwells in Christ.
• We could say that of believers: God dwells in us! We are indwelt by deity…
• Col. 1:27 – Christ in you the hope of glory!
• The Spirit of God dwells in us… and if not, we aren’t saved. Believers are indwelt by God.
• But that is not the statement here. Paul isn’t saying that GOD dwells in Christ, (in the sense that the Holy Spirit dwells in us) but that the fullness of DEITY or the fullness of divine attributes reside in Christ.
• That could NEVER be said of us, or of a mere creature.
d. ALL the fullness of the godhead.
• Lightfoot: “the totality of the divine powers and attributes.”
• That is the very essence of deity—to be distinguished from a few qualities of divinity that can be gleaned by observing the creation.
• This is one of the clearest expressions of the deity of Christ in the epistles.
• Note the progression:
» In Him dwells the godhead
» In Him dwells the fullness of the godhead
» In Him dwells ALL the fullness of the godhead
e. All the fullness of the godhead DWELLS in Christ.
• Present active indicative: continuous action.
• Not only do attributes of deity dwell in Christ… but he has the fullness of them… and not only so, but ALL the fullness of them!
• Now he states that all the attributes of Christ dwell in Christ—and they do so continually!
• Christ is always full of the fullness of every divine attribute.
DWELLS IN HIM BODILY
1. The fullness of the Deity dwells in Christ bodily.
a. That was true before the incarnation…
• When He was in the form of God… and as the Logos (John 1:1 – the Word was God…)
• Col. 1:19 – indicates that Christ possessed this fullness when He created the world. (cf. vs. 16)
b. That was true during the incarnation…
• When He came to earth and became a Man (John 1:14 – the Word was made flesh and we beheld His glory…)
• While He was on the cross…
c. And it is true of Him in His eternal glorified state now at the Father’s right hand… and when He comes again… (He comes in power and great glory…)
• He is STILL the fullness of the godhead bodily….
• He always will be the fullness of the godhead.
• Christ has become a permanent member of the human race… the Head of the race… He will forever be the God-Man.
• This is the Christ we know and serve… the RISEN Savior… the God-Man… our Creator who became our Brother… who became our Savior… who is also our LORD…
d. One of the attributes of deity is immutability. He can NEVER change.
• He was not less than God when He became a man. His deity was not diminished.
• He merely ADDED human nature to His divine nature.
• Adding a human nature did not affect the “fullness” of deity one bit.
• As Wesley put it, “Veiled in the flesh, the godhead see! Hail the incarnate deity!”
Two Different Terms for DWELL in the New Testament
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. Oikeo = to be at home; with the prefix “kata” implies permanence.
c. This is the term Paul uses of the fullness dwelling in Christ.
d. It is not a temporary sojourn or visitation, as the cults would have us to believe. It is a permanent dwelling.
e. Paul uses just the right verb to describe the relationship between Christ and the fullness of Deity.
f. Full deity permanently resides in Christ.
3. In Christ all the divine attributes—which combine to form the very essence of Deity – PERMANENTLY reside in bodily form.
4. Paul is extremely careful with his wording.
a. He does not want to imply (as the Gnostics) that there was just a ray of divinity in Christ — as many modernists say today. (We all have a spark of divinity in us!)
b. Nor does he say that the godhead dwells in Christ. Someone might conclude that “divine attributes” dwell in Christ… perhaps one or two.
c. But Paul is careful to say that ALL fullness dwells in Him!
d. And this fullness of deity dwells in Christ permanently.
e. This sets Christ apart from the Gnostic view of Him: not fully God; not really man.
f. They were presenting ANOTHER Jesus… not the Jesus of the Bible. Paul sets the record straight.
5. Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity existed for an eternity in the past with the Father.
a. And He continually possessed all of the attributes of deity.
b. In time, at Bethlehem, at the incarnation, this Second Person of the godhead ADDED to His divine attributes—to His divine nature, a human nature… and became Jesus Christ.
c. Acts 1:11 – This SAME Jesus is coming again. (The fullness of the godhead bodily… a glorified human body… but no longer veiling His deity.)
d. Rev. 1:13-17 – When John saw the risen Savior, he fell at His feet as a dead man!
APPLICATION TO THE COLOSSIAN BELIEVERS
A. The Warning Concerning False Teachers
1. Paul just warned the Colossians about the attacks of the false teachers who would use human philosophy.
a. Paul referred to those philosophies as vain deceit.
b. Paul called their teachings “VAIN… empty.”
• They were empty of anything of any spiritual value.
• They pretended to offer the answers to the meaning of life, but they were empty of truth; empty of purpose; of ultimate meaning.
• What the false teachers offered was like chaff: empty husks with no kernels of grain… useless… they provide no nourishment.
• II Pet. 2:18 – Peter described false teachers as those who offer “great swelling words of vanity.” (no substance; empty promises )
• Jer. 2:13 – in the Old Testament, the Jews rejected the truth and embraced false teachings (idols) which proved to be EMPTY cisterns… which had no water and provided no nourishment…
• They offered empty promises… empty philosophy… empty words… empty cisterns… empty chaff…
• Those who fed on empty chaff and drank at an empty cistern were condemned to eternal hunger and thirst.
c. They were also DECEITFUL, because they gave the appearance of something they did not possess.
• Chaff is the husk that contains the grain. When the grain is removed, the husks look the same as they did when full of grain… except they are empty! (husk of corn)
• The teachings of the false teachers gave quite an outward appearance of substance… but they lacked spiritual substance. (enticing words; philosophical arguments)
• Jude (vs. 12) referred to false teachers in a similar sense using a different illustration: clouds without water. They APPEAR to have what you need (rain)… but are in fact, empty.
• Therein lies their deceit… they appear to be what they are not… like a counterfeit bill. It looks good, but there is nothing backing it up… no power, authority, or resources to back it up.
2. In stark contrast to the empty deceit is CHRIST!
a. The false teachers offered DECEIT… the antidote is Christ, who is the TRUTH.
b. The false teachers offered that which was vain or EMPTY. The Colossians already possess Christ who is FULL of the fullness of the Godhead!
c. One can never come to know God through philosophy, tradition, or the rudiments of the world… ascetic practices.
d. The only way to know God is through His Son, Jesus Christ!
e. We don’t need another philosophy or a new ceremony. We have Christ, and He is all we need.
f. In HIM dwells ALL the fullness of the Godhead bodily!
3. Do you know people who are feeding on empty chaff? Do you know people who are drinking from empty cisterns? We all do.
a. It is our responsibility to TELL THEM where they can find LIVING WATER and where they can find the BREAD OF LIFE.
b. Christ will save them from sin and condemnation… and from a vain manner of life… and satisfy their soul like NOTHING the world offers ever could!
c. No philosophy, no religious ceremonies, no vain traditions of men can satisfy the soul… but Christ can.
d. If you know Christ—TELL others!
4. FOR – (because) – The first word in vs. 9 gives us the REASON why the empty philosophy offered by the false teachers is to be rejected.
a. It is to be rejected BECAUSE all the fullness of the Deity resides permanently in Christ.
b. The empty philosophies, the traditions of men, and the rudiments of the world (legalistic ceremonies) were NOT after Christ.
c. Beware lest any man spoil you through these earthly means.
d. There is no need for any believer to be enslaved by such empty false teachings.
e. Why? Because we have the FULLNESS in Christ!
5. ALL FULLNESS is an infinite source for all of our needs.
a. All the fullness of the Godhead resides permanently in Christ
b. He is to us, an infinite source of grace, strength, courage, wisdom, and resurrection power.
c. This is all available to every believer by faith.
d. No trouble is too big for our Savior…
e. No trial is too great for Him…
f. We have put on the Lord Jesus Christ—and no weapon of our adversary can pierce that armor: for in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead!
g. No need we could ever have is too much for Him to supply.
h. He does not posses but a few Godlike qualities. He possesses the FULLNESS of Deity… ALL the fullness…
i. When we finally come to the end of our resources, and come to Christ, we discover that in Him dwells ALL the fullness of the Deity… we have access to Him and all He is and all He has… like the branch has access to all the Vine possesses.
j. Come to Him hungry and be filled; come to Him weak and discover His strength; come to Him thirsty and be satisfied.
k. ALL the fullness of Deity resides in Christ. There isn’t anything we could ever need that cannot be found in Christ.
l. How foolish to seek satisfaction elsewhere: money; cheap thrills and trinkets of the world; in empty philosophy…
m. There is no need that could ever arise in your life that He is not able to meet… and exceed…
n. This is the Christ of the Bible. The Christ of the false teachers is ANOTHER Jesus… weak, beggarly, empty, powerless; unable to save; unable to keep; unable to satisfy; unable to nourish the soul.
o. Beware! Don’t let anyone rob you and captivate your mind and heart with nothing but an empty cistern… with vain words… clouds without water.
p. We have Christ. Abide in Him.
6. Do you know Him as your personal Savior? You can… through the complete revelation… the Bible! (John 3:16)