9

ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι

In Colossians 1:19 there is no noun or pronoun in the nominative to specify the subject of the aorist active indicative "εὐδόκησεν." Since "ὅτι," connects Colossians 1:19 to Colossians 1:18, it seems most natural to look there for our subject.

Colossians 1:18 is translated in YLT as:

18 And himself is the head of the body -- the assembly -- who is a beginning, a first-born out of the dead, that he might become in all things -- himself -- first,

Hopefully, it's obvious to all familiar with Colossians and the Gospel that Christ is the subject of v18. Therefore, shouldn't we continue to recognize Christ as the subject of v19?

Doing a quick survey on Bible Hub's extended parallel translation list, there was only one translation that seem to translate in such a way that even allowed for the possibility of this interpretation:

Smith's Literal Translation
For in him was he pleased that all fulness should dwell:

I would be interested to know why Christ as the subject doesn't seem likely at all to translators


Considering Christ as the subject, keeping track of the tenses and because it's hard to make the word "please" reflect the active voice of "εὐδόκησεν" in English, if asked, it makes sense to me to translate Colossians 1:19 as something like:

"For in himself, he saw it was good that all the fullness should dwell"

12
  • 2
  • 1
    @AlexBalilo, that's my question. I think it's most naturally, Jesus, from a grammatical standpoint but I'm curious what the community thinks.
    – Austin
    May 9, 2022 at 6:44
  • 1
    I dont think any version would confuse it like you did. Smith Literal is very literal and causing the confusion with ambiguity. Christ is still the subject there. In/through Christ (God was) pleased. This is the translation in all the versions. In "him he" cannot be a valid translation for himself since there are two diff persons; him is in third person. He could simply write "himself" if your suggested reading was intended.
    – Michael16
    May 9, 2022 at 10:30
  • 1
    You cannot add himself, there's only one pronoun in the verse. See next verse for αυτόν himself. See v15, God is the subject doing things through Christ in whole passage. Also see NET tn The noun “God” does not appear in the Greek text, but since God is the one who reconciles the world to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), he is clearly the subject of εὐδόκησεν (eudokhsen).
    – Michael16
    May 9, 2022 at 17:11
  • 2
    The question is not duplicate. When it is closed down, someone re open it coz the other topics are asking about the meaning of fullness dwelling. This is about the subject referent.
    – Michael16
    May 11, 2022 at 5:02

5 Answers 5

1

I agree that Jesus is the object of the comment but not the grammatical subject.

Col 1:19 is not easy to translate. See the appendix below for the enumeration of the possible ways to render this verse. The variety of ways that modern versions translate this verse is further evidence that most have struggled to transmit the meaning without too much interpretation.

Here is my very literal translation of Col 1:19 -

because in Him was pleased to dwell all the fullness

The only easy question to answer is, What is the antecedent of "Him"? This is clearly "the Son" of V15. However, we are not explicitly told:

  • The fullness of what or whom?
  • Who was pleased?

Almost all versions end up supplying several words to interpret this cryptic verse by saying something like the NLT: "For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ", but this is quite interpretive because neither "God", "Father", nor "Christ" are mentioned in the Greek text.

However, in Paul's quintessentially cryptic style, it is possible to discover the answers to the above questions by examining his use of the two words involved.

"Fullness" πλήρωμα is used of Jesus and the Godhead as follows:

  • John 1:16 - From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace.
  • Eph 1:22, 23 - And God put everything under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
  • Eph 3:19 - of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with 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 2:9 - For in Him all the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily.

Thus, "fullness" in this context clearly refers to the deity of Christ being complete and full.

"Well-Pleased" εὐδοκέω is used as follows

  • Matt 3:17 - And a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” see also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, 2 Peter 1:17.
  • Matt 17:5 - While Peter was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
  • Luke 12:32 - Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
  • 1 Cor 1:21 - For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
  • Gal 1:15 - But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased

Thus, it appears that God is well-pleased or even Christ is well-pleased. Thus, from the above contexts the best we could do (especially in view of Col 2:9) is to translate/interpret 1:19 to read:

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him

Thus, inter-alia, this verse asserts the full deity of Christ as does Col 2:9. Note the comments in the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

all fulness—rather as Greek, "all the fulness," namely, of God, whatever divine excellence is in God the Father (Col 2:9; Eph 3:19; compare Joh 1:16; 3:34). The Gnostics used the term "fulness," for the assemblage of emanations, or angelic powers, coming from God. The Spirit presciently by Paul warns the Church, that the true "fulness" dwells in Christ alone. This assigns the reason why Christ takes precedence of every creature (Col 1:15). For two reasons Christ is Lord of the Church: (1) Because the fulness of the divine attributes (Col 1:19) dwells in Him, and so He has the power to govern the universe; (2) Because (Col 1:20) what He has done for the Church gives Him the right to preside over it.

should … dwell—as in a temple (Joh 2:21). This indwelling of the Godhead in Christ is the foundation of the reconciliation by Him [Bengel]. Hence the "and" (Col 1:20) connects as cause and effect the two things, the Godhead in Christ, and the reconciliation by Christ.

APPENDIX - Col 1:19 comments by Ellicott on translating

(19) 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.

8
  • What do you mean with "deity of Christ being complete and full."? May 11, 2022 at 3:32
  • @AlexBalilo - exactly that as asserted in Matt 1:23 - Jesus was "ho theos" = The God. Why not supply an answer yourself?
    – Dottard
    May 11, 2022 at 3:43
  • Matthew 1:23 does not say that the child that will be born will be God himself. Jesus never claimed to be God. Is God begotten /born? May 11, 2022 at 3:49
  • @AlexBalilo - that is what Matt 1:23 says - καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός. (= The God). Read it yourself! Then what of the many times Jesus claimed to be the "I AM"? And what of the many times NT writers quote OT passages about Jehovah and apply them to Jesus? (Or perhaps these do not exist in your Bible?)
    – Dottard
    May 11, 2022 at 3:51
  • Jesus was created not the Creator. John 6:57 .Matthew 1:23 does not say that the child that will be born will be God himself. Jesus never claimed to be God. Is God begotten /born? May 11, 2022 at 4:13
1

Colossians 1:19 suggested translation

"For in himself, he saw it was good that all the fullness should dwell"
Or: "He was pleased that all fullness should dwell in himself".

Christ could be the subject of "pleased" εὐδόκησεν linguistically, but it would be very unnatural and against overall exegesis.

  • If Christ alone is the subject, then it is unnatural to write, "He reconciled through himself to himself" in v20. The language should have been plain without any instrumental role, saying "He did this and that". Two pronouns indicates different subjects, God and Christ. The tense and mood of the verb does not play any role in favouring Christ.

  • God alone is the one who is always shown as pleased with his divine plan, not Christ. Christ is the instrument.

The verse should be understood as: For in him [God] was pleased that all the fulness [of deity] should dwell. Cf. Col 2:9.

John Eadie commentary,

(Col 1:19.) ῞Οτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν. A different spelling of the word is exhibited in some of the MSS. such as A, D, E,-ηὐδόκησεν, but without authority. Schmid supposes that πλήρωμα is the nominative; and he understands it thus-the entire Godhead was pleased to dwell in Christ. We believe, with the majority of expositors, that ὁ θεός is to be supplied as the nominative, and not τῷ θεῷ, in the dative. Mat 3:17; Luk 3:22. The full syntax is found in 1Co 1:21; Gal 1:15. But we cannot hold, with some, that the pronoun αὐτῷ refers to God, for we take it as still pointing to Him who has been the prime subject of discourse. To make ὁ Χριστός the nominative, as Conybeare does, implies the sense that Christ is not only the means, but the end in this reconciliation, for the reading would plainly be in the next verse—“and by Himself to reconcile all things unto Himself,” a mode of speech not in accordance with Pauline usage. Christ reconciles, not to Himself, but to God.

-1Cor 1:21 God was well-pleased εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεὸς.
-1Cor10:5 εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεός
-Gal 1:15 εὐδόκησεν [ὁ θεὸς]. The construct was commonly understood that the scribes added God for clarification here. It is also possible that it was omitted by accident, and because it is found in many witnesses, so the UBS and Berean has it in brackets.

The Expositor's Greek Testament explains it well, (although he eventually favours for fullness of grace as opposed to fullness of deity):

Col 1:19. This verse with Col 1:20 shows how the Son was able to hold the position assigned to Him in Col 1:18. Further, this verse leads up to Col 1:20. The thought is then: All the fulness dwelt in the Son, therefore reconciliation could be accomplished through the blood of His cross, and so He became the Head of the body.—εὐδόκησεν. Three views are taken as to the subject of the verb. (1) Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, Oltramare, Haupt and the great majority of commentators supply ὁ Θεός as the subject. (2) Ewald, Ellicott, Weiss, Soden and Abbott make πλήρωμα the subject. (3) Conybeare, Hofmann and Findlay supply ὁ υἱός or Χριστός.

In favour of (3) the unique emphasis on the sovereignty of Christ in this passage is urged, also that it prepares the way for the reference of ἀποκαταλλάξαι and εἰρηνοποιήσας to Christ, in accordance with Eph 2:14-16; Eph 5:27. It is also true that the subject from Col 1:15 is, for the most part, the Son. But the usage of Paul leads us to think of the Father, not of the Son, as the One who forms the eternal purpose (Eph 1:9, 2Co 5:19). Nor does Col 1:20 run on naturally. If the Son is the subject of “was well pleased,” the obvious interpretation of διʼ αὐτοῦ ἀποκ. is to reconcile through the fulness, which is highly improbable. We should accordingly have to give to διʼ αὐτοῦ a reflexive sense, and translate “through Himself,” which is grammatically possible, but not natural. There is the further objection which it shares with (1) that a change of subjects to the infinitives is required, πλήρωμα being the subject of κατοικ., while that to ἀποκατ. is Θεός or υἱός. But it is less awkward in (1) than in (3), for the former does not make the Son at once the originator and the Agent of the plan of reconciliation. Against (1), besides the objection just mentioned, it may be said that the construction with εὐδόκ. is unusual, for its subject is elsewhere in the N.T. the subject of the following infinitive (this tells against (3) also), and that in a passage of such importance the subject could not have been omitted. But for the omission of the subject Lightfoot compares Jam 1:12; Jam 4:6. What, however, is really decisive in its favour is the difficulty of accepting (2). The expression “all the fulness was well pleased” is very strange in itself. But what is much stranger is that the fulness was not only pleased to dwell in Him, but through Him to reconcile all things unto Him. And the only natural course is to refer εἰρνηνοπ. to the subject of εὐδόκ., but the masculine makes it difficult to regard πλήρ. as that subject. We should therefore translate “God” [or “the Father”] “was well pleased”.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα.

1

I agree with you that this is about Christ and the beginning of a new creation. He will eventually fill the whole universe with Himself. It starts in His new body, the ecclesia. This is the first that is raised from out of the dead. It is holy and flawless in God sight and God is now free to tabernacle fully in Christ's body as well which is the ecclesia.

(This is probably what it means to obtain the glory of Christ.)

God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation, through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth, to which he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13–14)

In other words, this tabernacle has now been made ready for God's Spirit through Christ to fully dwell in the body of Christ, the same way it dwells in Christ now. The ecclesia is now considered Christ's body, the complement or fullness of Christ. He has been made complete with this body who has been raised up with Him seated in the Heavenly places.

Literal Standard Version: until we may all come to the unity of faith and of the recognition of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to a measure of stature of the fullness of the Christ,

Ephesians 1:23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

World English Bible: which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Young's Literal Translation: which is his body, the fulness of Him who is filling the all in all,

18And himself is the head of the body — the assembly — who is a beginning, a first-born out of the dead, that he might become in all [things] — himself — first, 19because in him it did please all the fulness to tabernacle,

He will fill all things with Himself and this is just the beginning.

The final phrase "that He might fill all things" includes the sense of completion (Colossians 1:18–19;)

Weymouth New Testament: He who descended is the same as He who ascended again far above all the Heavens in order to fill the universe.)

World English Bible: He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.

Young's Literal Translation: he who went down is the same also who went up far above all the heavens, that He may fill all things -- Ephesians 4:10

Since we are being built for habitation for God, He will eventually fill all with Himself.

God may be all in all. 1Cor. 15:28

Addendum:

I submit to you for your consideration that the pleroma, fullness is actually Christ's complement that is being referred to in this verse.

Someone said there's 78 verses between Ephesians and Colossians that are similar since they both have to do with Christ and the ecclesia which is His body, His complement.

"Both words come from the Latin complēre (meaning "to complete"). Complement refers to something that completes something else, while compliment has branched off to mean a remark "especially in the form of admiration." Webster dictionary

It refers to His body, Where is Christ is its head. It is Christ's complement.

In conclusion there is a new creation of Christ that has come into existence, but has not yet been revealed in glory. This πλήρωμα, plērōma, often translated fullness, had also been translated as the complement.

fullness, a filling up Usage: (a) a fill, fullness; full complement; supply, patch, supplement, (b) fullness, filling, fulfillment, completion.

The ecclesia is holy and flawless in Christ in itself so to speak. The body of Christ is His complement, the same way Christ is God's complement.

Here are a few pieces from an article that explains the fullness or complement of Christ.

THE ECCLESIA AS CHRIST'S COMPLEMENT

by John H. Essex ...the ecclesia, which is His body, the complement by which He is completing the all in all (Eph.1:22,23).        The word "body" is here used for the first time in this epistle, and is connected with the word "ecclesia." It will be used again on several occasions later in this letter, and it is similarly used about the same number of times in the Colossian epistle. For example, "...and He is the Head of the body, the ecclesia" (Col.1:18).

Our Lord, we know, created all. Without Him, nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3; Col.1:15,16). And yet, among all the celestial inhabitants of space, there was not one who could be found to be His complement. For His complement, too, must come from within, and that is why we find ourselves, if we are members of that ecclesia which is His body, "chosen in Him before the disruption of the world" (Eph.1:4).

Just as woman, as man's complement, maintains the form of humanity throughout all generations, so the ecclesia, as Christ's complement, maintains the form of the ministry which God has begun in Christ, so that God shall find "glory in the ecclesia, and in Christ Jesus, for all the generations of the eon of the eons. Amen!" (Eph.3:21). THE ECCLESIA AS CHRIST'S COMPLEMENT by John H. Essex.

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

5
  • Who was pleased that...? May 11, 2022 at 2:43
  • I tried reversing my downvote but can't since there was no change in your answer. If you want to you can edit it to add a space or a period somewhere so I can upvote it. Or you can answer who was pleased that the fulness of the divine nature dwell in Christ. May 11, 2022 at 6:56
  • @Alex Balilo, I appreciate your comment. In the original Greek I do not see the word God or divine nature in this verse. One would expect to see the word God but since it's not there I think it's referring to something else. The complement of Christ which is a brand new creation of God. It is created out of the risen ascended Christ Jesus. I think it's Christ's body that delights to dwell in Him. Ephesians talks about this mystery of God that's been hidden throughout the eons and I think this is definitely part of that mystery. Like Paul said, I think these things are hard to grasp.
    – Sherrie
    May 11, 2022 at 16:19
  • I would like to upvote your answer but my down vote is locked. Unless your answer is edited, it will remain locked. You can edit it by adding a space or two here and there or a paragraph here and there without really changing your answer, that way, I can upvote your answer. May 11, 2022 at 17:10
  • Alex, Thanks again for me encouraging me to add a little bit more. It can be seen after the addendum. I know what I wrote is not easy to understand since the language is a bit different. God is saying something so incredible about the ecclesia! Whether you decide to up vote is totally up to you. Just know that I so appreciated your comments, because they helped me to see things a little bit more clearly as I worked through these Scriptures. :)
    – Sherrie
    May 11, 2022 at 19:17
0

“Fulness” (“PLEROMA”) is used twice in Colossians in referring to the deity of Jesus Christ (this verse and Colossians 2:9). The verb “KATOIKEO” (“dwell”) that was used in conjunction with “fulness” here “speaks of the fact that all the divine fulness is at home permanently in the Lord Jesus, at home in the sense that this divine fulness was not something added to His Being that was not natural to Him, but that it was part of His essential Being as part of His very constitution, and that permanently” (Wuest’s Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, p. 187).

This is a very clear reference to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4
  • part of His essential Being, is read-in to this assessment. It is not stated anywhere else so there is no correlation for this idea that Jesus is divine as God is. If it was 'permanent', he wouldn't need to 'receive life' from God. John 5:26
    – steveowen
    May 9, 2022 at 2:00
  • @steveowen How is it that you failed to notice that John 1:4 comes before John 5:26? In other words John told us that Jesus had life in Himself BEFORE his incarnation. Uh oh, I used the word "incarnation" which you said there was no incarnation. Notice at John 1:4 it's "past" tense. In Him WAS life. The Greek word zoe specifies the highest form of life known in Scripture. "The Word" is the author of our life. Not only spiritual life but all forms of life. John 1:3. Moreover, the Son CHOSE to be in subjection to His Father. John 6:38, explains Jesus came down from heaven to do His Father's will
    – Mr. Bond
    May 9, 2022 at 2:24
  • Ahh Mr Bond, I know you simply refuse to read the words provided, but I will remind you again. The start of John is about the logos, it does not refer to Jesus, until it is made flesh (v14) which is the origin, the beginning, the genesis of Jesus.
    – steveowen
    May 9, 2022 at 2:28
  • @Dave. Jesus' fullness of the divine nature was caused by his God, the Father. Colossians 1:9. May 9, 2022 at 3:57
-1

“Fullness” πλήρωμα is subject of the verb ευδόκησεν, so Christ cannot be here a grammatical subject. It is like in a sentence about a football superstar Leo Messi: “In him pleased the entire versatility of dribbling skills to dwell”, here the subject of the verb "pleased" is "the entire versatility".

Another is the theological issue: here the scandal is that “all fullness” is said before (Col. 1:9) to dwell in Him in a "bodily way". This is divine fullness and if this fulness is fully present in Jesus Christ, then He cannot be an incarnation of any highest angelic or whatever being - which ontologically is inapt to have the entire divine fulness - but only of God.

That He is co-uncreated with Father is clear in the same Colossians where just above it is said that everything - both visible and invisible - was created in Him (Col.1:16), which means that He is not enlisted in this "everything", that is to say the entirety of creation, but is aloof of it and represents the means for the Father to create. Now, because of this, the Son even before creation was with the Father, but where and how? In Infinity, but not in infinity of the process - for there was no time and process before the world began - but in Infinity of Eternity. If so, then it is impossible for the Son not to have had for all Infinity of Eternity the everything, the entire riches of the Father God, thus Himself sharing full divinity with Him. And the same riches, as Paul says in Col. 1:9 was revealed in Him after His Incarnation also bodily.

Now, since before His Incarnation the entire fulness of the Father belonged also to the Son/Logos, then Son/Logos both possesses this fulness intrinsically and also gives it to His own human nature. Thus in this sense semantically Logos/Son can be here subject of of investing His own humanity with the divine πλήρωμα.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.