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19 Because in Him, it was well-pleased for all the fullness to dwell, 20 And through Him to reconcile completely all unto Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross- through Him- whether the things upon the earth, whether the things in the heavens. Colossians 1:19 (Literal Emphasis Translation)

For in him, all the fullness of the Divine Nature dwells bodily. Colossians 2:9 (Catholic Public Domain Version)

In Colossians 2:9, it is clearly spelled out that the fullness dwelling within Jesus is namely the theotēs or divine nature bodily. In Colossians 1:19 it isn't so plainly specified what the fullness dwelling in Jesus through which all things were reconciled actually is and it's not so clear that we should necessarily substitute the fullness specified in Colossians 2:9 for the fullness in Colossians 1:19.

It's also interesting to note that, in Colossians 1:19, the two verbs are in the aorist tense indicating a completed act whereas the verb in Colossians 2:9 is in the present tense indicating an ongoing act.

For another (though not the only other) possible fullness candidate we have John 1:14-16:

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ​‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. -John 1:14-16

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  • It is not clear that the verbs in Col 1:19 indicate past time. In particular the way the second verb, an aorist infinitive, is used likely indicates aspect rather than tense. See discussions here and here.
    – Nhi
    May 2 at 0:24
  • Thanks, @Nhi. I'd previously read one of those articles and quickly read the other. There can be a bit of trickiness with the aorist tense, especially with an infinitive. From what I understand an aorist verb indicates a completed act whether from the vantage point of the past present or future. In the context of Colossians 1:19, it seems that both verbs were completed in the past such that they appear to proceed or coincide with the act of Christ reconciling the world to himself creating peace through the blood of his cross... which happened in the past.
    – Austin
    May 2 at 6:43
  • I see what you mean. For my part, I thought the versatility of the aorist tense allows the verbs in Col 1:19 to harmonize with all the other verbs/events from Col 1:15-20, which comprise a complex mix of the present, perfect, and aorist tenses.
    – Nhi
    May 2 at 15:03
  • @Austin. Very interesting Q. Interesting too is how some use Jesus having "theotes" to conclude he is coequal to his Father, whom he says is the only true God. May 2 at 23:22

5 Answers 5

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For the 'fullness' in Col. 1:19 to be necessarily different to the 'fullness' in 2:9, there would have to be either a different Greek word used in those two verses, or other wording in the verses to show that the writer meant the same word but in different senses.

In both verses it is exactly the same Greek word - pleroma - and in both verses the writer is speaking of this 'fulness' dwelling in Christ. He has not introduced a different sense, or meaning, or even emphasis.

However, in John 1:14-16 it is a different writer dealing with a different matter. He is speaking of the Word dwelling among men, not the fullness of God dwelling bodily in Christ.

Yes, the 'fulness' in John 1:16 is the same Greek word - pleroma - but this time it is a blessing Christians receive from Christ, being filled with Christ's grace and truth. They are not being filled with "the fulness of the divine nature dwelling bodily" as was said of Christ in Colossians. Christ is "full of grace and truth" indeed, but he is full of so much more - the very fulness of the divine nature.

So, yes, it is the same 'fulness' in Christ in Col. 1:19 & 2:9, but it is a different 'fulness' in Christians in John 1.

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    good answer but, They are not being filled with "the fulness of the divine nature ? "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:19?
    – steveowen
    Apr 30 at 12:30
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    Yes, I get that, but you already introduced the idea that seems incorrect... +1 anyway
    – steveowen
    Apr 30 at 12:41
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    @Nihil Sine Deo I didn't mention that because you had addressed the matter most satisfactorily. I would only have been somewhat repeating your points, so I dealt with another important aspect of the question. I had up-voted your answer but someone else has down-voted it.
    – Anne
    Apr 30 at 14:26
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    I know who downvoted and I didn’t make my comment on those grounds. You are making the obvious point which yes ought to be made, namely that the fullness, the same fullness is exemplified in both verses. So I’ve cast my vote now that I understand your intentions. Thank you. Apr 30 at 15:44
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    It's not a good idea to only address potential disagreements with the OP, as this is not a forum. It is a Q&A site, and the goal is to make the best answer possible for everyone. That said, I downvoted because pointing out that something isn't necessarily different isn't the same thing as showing it is the same, and Paul does use a qualifier in the second example: "fullness of the Divine nature." So I do not believe you have sufficiently established that it is the same, merely that it could be.
    – trlkly
    May 1 at 1:03
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The context for what is delighting to dwell in him is from the previous verse which is referring to the ecclesia.

The word pleroma can mean a filling up, full complement.

: something that fills up, completes, or makes better or perfect 4138. pléróma ► Strong's Concordance pléróma: fullness, a filling up Original Word: πλήρωμα, ατος, τό Transliteration: pléróma Definition: fullness, a filling up Usage: (a) a fill, fullness; full complement This word is from pleroo 4137. pléroó ► Strong's Concordance pléroó: to make full, to complete Definition: to make full, to complete

And He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia, Who is Sovereign, Firstborn from among the dead, that at all He may becoming first, for in Him the entire complement delights to dwell, Concordant literal Colossians 1:18-19

This complement, pleroma is the body of Christ. It is a delight to have Christ as head of the new creation that has been made complete in Him, (Ephesians 5:23)

Here is another scripture confirming that body of Christ is joined to him and is Christ complement, fullness.

For we are members of His body. "For this "a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh." This SECRET is GREAT, Yet I am saying this as TO Christ AND to the ECCLESIA Ephesians 5:33-32.

Just as it Eve came out of Adam, the ecclesia comes out of Christ and delights to dwell in Him. This is the complement or pleroma dwelling in Christ and is what completes Him as His body.

Here is another scripture that bears witness that the body is the fullness of him.

He did put under his feet, and did give him — head over all things to the assembly, 23which is his body, the fulness of Him who is filling the all in all, Ephesians1:22


The other verse in question is Colossians 2:9 . Here it is in the Concordant Literal translation. I added the verse before and after for context.

Beware that no one shall be despoiling you through philosophy and empty seduction, in accord with human tradition, in accord with the elements of the world, and not in accord with Christ, seeing that in Him the entire complement of the Deity is dwelling bodily. And you are complete in Him, who is the head of every sovereignty and authority, Colossians 2:8-10

"We know Christ is now above all (excluding God Himself) And it is in this rank that He is given to the ecclesia which is His body. It raises the ecclesia to His own rank." John H Essex

This is the same complement of Christ body that has been raised and seated together with Christ above at the right hand of God.

It is because of these powerful revelations about the body of Christ that we are told in the next chapter of Colossians 3:1

If, then, you were raised with the Christ, seek the things above, where the Christ is, seated on the right hand of God; Colossians 3-2

In conclusion it is the body of Christ that delights to dwell in Him as the fullness or complement as His body, in both verses.

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... οτι εν αυτω ευδοκησεν παν το πληρωμα κατοικησαι και δι αυτου αποκαταλλαξαι τα παντα εις αυτον ... [Colossians 1:19,20 TR]

... because in him was pleased all the fulness to dwell and by him to restore the all things unto himself ... Literal

I have replaced 'reconcile' with the more accurate 'restore' and replaced the 'to' with the more accurate 'unto'.

Here, 'the fulness' is an attribute of Deity that is personified and presented as the whole of Deity in relation to the Father (that is to say as relevant only in this context) much as 'Logos' is treated in relation to the Son in John 1:1-2. Some would call this a synecdoche.

'The Fulness' is then also the antecedent of 'unto himself'. It is the Fulness who was pleased to dwell in the Head of the body, and the Fulness who restored unto himself the 'all things'.

This immensity, the Fulness, whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, is only ever fully fulfilled in the Son and in the entirety of the full expression of sonship, that is to say the Head and the Body.

This is made possible by the restoration of all things, the apokatallasso.


This is reiterated in Colossians 2:9 :

... οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως ... [TR]

... for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily ... Literal


It is clear that πληρωμα, fulness, refers to the same fulness in both texts.

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  • Do the phrases "attribute of Deity that is personified and presented as the whole of Deity in relation to the Father ' and." The Fulness' is then also the antecedent of 'unto himself'. It is the Fulness who was pleased to dwell in the Head of the body, and the Fulness who restored unto himself the 'all things" mean Jesus is God himself? Does this "Fulness" make Jesus God himself? May 2 at 22:46
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    @AlexBalilo If the fulness - that is of God, the Father - dwells in the Son, then the only way in which such fulness could dwell within Him, is if he has divine capacity.
    – Nigel J
    May 3 at 8:09
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Think of what constitutes a person, one biological house (human body), the immaterial soul (emotions, will and mind) and spirit. Except we know from Scripture that multiple spirits can live inside the same housing.

The first verse is speaking of the fullness that LIVED (past tense) in the human house (the human biological machine that the second person of the Trinity incarnated into) and,

“Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:23‬ ‭

The second verse is present ongoing because the second person of the Trinity now residing in a new body, no longer a human biological, perishing, mortal body, but a heavenly body

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:40‬ ‭

There are only two kinds of bodies in the created universe ( visible or invisible (think natural or supernatural))

God is spirit J4:24, and a spirit requires a body, be it natural or supernatural to manifest, many (plural) spirits can inhabit the same body, we have plenty of examples on the earth and now the second passage is telling us that heavenly bodies too can house multiple spirits.

Conclusion

Whilst Jesus was in a human body on earth, inside of Him WAS (past tense) the fullness of God, The Father’s, The Holy Spirits’ and His own Spirit.

[for those who take issue with the Trinity here is an OT example, God is speaking and He says God sent him, so God sent God and God sent His Spirit. That’s three right there.

“Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:16‬

But this isn’t a debate about Trinity so don’t get hung up, see if in my analysis within the paradigm the verses conflict, if they don’t you can’t impose your paradigm on my analysis because they will automatically conflict]

When Jesus shed His mortal body and put on the immortal heavenly supernatural body, the Fullness continues to live IN Him or His heavenly housing. Because in this created universe order, a spirit, requires a body to manifest, whether that body is natural and subject to the laws of nature or supernatural and above the laws of nature.

John 1:14 remarks

Where is speaks about Grace upon Grace, think that John was conveying that they experienced Grace whilst Jesus was in the human house and upon that Grace whilst Jesus was in His heavenly house.

bonus verse

“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:7‬ ‭

The knowing and the seeing indicates in my mind from the Greek that the disciples were interacting with the Father (the Spirit of the Father) who was residing also in the human housing of the person Jesus of Nazareth. But they didn’t know it and Jesus was confirming that it was so

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    This answer is imaginative and opinionated - not very BH at all unfortunately. Beginning with "I think" gives a great heads up.
    – steveowen
    Apr 30 at 11:55
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    @steve Let me make it plain to you, if science is purely a group of men agreeing with established knowledge, said group will never accrue new knowledge and any knowledge they possess that is wrong will not only never be challenged but never be corrected. “I think it’s as simple as” is an expression denoting that some would like to over complicate the text but I go on and explain Biblically what is being said. You don’t have to agree with me, if the texts I referenced are conflicting point it out but thus far they are in alignment and I’ve allow the text not an angel to tell me what it says Apr 30 at 12:02
  • 1
    Biblically? the second person of the Trinity incarnated into, is not remotely biblical. Or God is spirit and a spirit requires a body, or, the second person of the Trinity now resides in a new body. I think the BH idea is to explain the scripture with scripture. Just sayin' -1 See Anne's answer for a good example.
    – steveowen
    Apr 30 at 12:26
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    I will accept the Bible and anything it says in the original inspired language and will give no man, no institution, no authority the right to reinterpret its claim. Sound familiar?
    – steveowen
    Apr 30 at 12:37
  • @NihilSineDeo. "(the Spirit of the Father) who was residing also in the human housing of the person Jesus of Nazareth." Where was the Father/God when he resided in the human housing of the person Jesus? Why did Jesus say Our Father in the heavens, Matthew 6:9, if the Father is residing in him? Where is God's residence for the 33 years of Jesus' life on earth? Consider Isaiah 66:1, the heavens is Jehovah's throne, the earth His footstool. Why did Jesus looked up to heaven when he prayed to feed the multitudes if his God is residing in the human housing of the person Jesus? May 1 at 9:25
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Of the 18 occurrences of the word πλήρωμα (pléróma = fulness), just five are applied to God and Christ. These are:

  • Eph 1:23 - which is His body, the fullness of the One [God the Father] filling all in all.
  • Eph 3:19 - and to know the love of Christ surpassing knowledge, so that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.
  • Eph 4:13 - until we all may attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a complete man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
  • Col 1:19 - because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him [Christ],
  • Col 2:9 - For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily.

The OP asks, in the case of Col 1:19, what is the "fullness" that dwells in Christ since the verse is silent on the topic?

Several versions interpretively add something to the text to answer the questions such as:

  • "God" as per NIV, NLT, ESV, BSB, CSB, HCSB, CEV, etc
  • "The Father" as per KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASV, DRB, etc.

The problems of Col 1:19 are summarized by Ellicott:

For it pleased the Father.—(1) The construction is doubtful. There is nothing corresponding to “the Father” in the original. Our rendering involves the supply of the nominative God, i.e., “the Father,” or Christ to the verb, so that the sentence may run, the Father or Christ determined of His good pleasure that, &c. The supply of the nominative “Christ” is easier grammatically; but it accords ill with the invariable reference of all things, both by our Lord Himself and His Apostles, ultimately to the good pleasure of the Father. Moreover, the verb is so constantly used of God that the supply of the nominative “God,” though unexampled, is far from inadmissible. The simplest grammatical construction would, indeed, be to take “the fulness” as the nominative, and render for in Him all the fulness (of God) was pleased to dwell. But the personification of “the fulness,” common in Gnostic speculation, is hardly after the manner of St. Paul. Perhaps, on the whole, the rendering of our version (which is usually adopted) is to be preferred; especially as it suits better with the following verse. (2) The sense is, however, quite clear, and is enforced by Colossians 2:9, “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” On the word “fulness” (pleroma), see Note on Ephesians 1:23. The “fulness of the Godhead” is the essential nature, comprising all the attributes, of Godhead. The indwelling of such Deity in the humanity of Christ is the ground of all His exaltation as the “Head,” “the beginning,” the “firstborn from the dead,” and the triumphant King, on which St. Paul had already dwelt. By it alone can He be the true Mediator between God and man.

While the "fullness": can refer to Christ or the Father, I agree with Ellicott that "The Father" is clearly implied as per Barnes:

For it pleased the Father - The words "the Father" are not in the original, but they are not improperly supplied. Some word must be understood, and as the apostle in Colossians 1:12 referred to "the Father" as having a claim to the thanks of his people for what he had done, and as the great favor for which they ought to be thankful is that which he immediately specifies - the exaltation of Christ, it is not improper to suppose that this is the word to be understood here. The meaning is, that he chose to confer on his Son such a rank, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, and that there might be in him "all fulness." Hence, by his appointment, he was the agent in creation, and hence he is placed over all things as the head of the church.

I agree that the subject of the whole section, explicitly stated in Col 1:12 is what the Father bestowed on the Son and thus, the "fullness" is a summary of what has just preceded. The Son was given the following:

  • V15 - the firstborn over all creation
  • V16 - For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities
  • V16 - All things were created through Him and for Him
  • V17 - He is before all things
  • V17 - in Him all things hold together
  • V18 - And He is the head of the body, the church
  • V18 - He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead
  • V18 - in all things He may have preeminence

Little wonder that in concluding this rapturous praise that Paul concludes it with (V19):

because all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him

All this was bestowed by God the Father as a result of Christ's all-sufficient sacrifice and pre-eminence.

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