CHRIST, THE FULLNESS OF DEITY
(Col 1:19-20) 06/04/17
Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming
Pastor Daryl Hilbert
I. PLEASURE OF THE FATHER (Col 1:19a)
A. Hymn - Many scholars have suggested that like Php 2:6-11 and1Ti 3:16, this section (Col 1:15-20) is a Christological hymn. Hymns of this type were more creedal in nature than they were to be sung or quoted as poetry.
B. Subject - There is some discussion as to who or what is the subject of the “good pleasure” since none is explicit in the Greek. But the context is solid enough to supply “God” (“of the invisible God” - Col 1:15) and even the “Father” (“the Father who has…” - Col 1:12) that most would agree.
C. Good Pleasure - Therefore, it was the Father’s good pleasure that the fullness of deity would dwell in Christ. The Father was eternally well-pleased in the Son whom He repeatedly called “beloved.” “Good pleasure” is the Greek word eudokêsen and means well-pleased or (divine) favor.
1. The Father was well-pleased in identifying the Son as the Christ (Mat 3:17; Joh 1:33-34).
2. The Father was well-pleased in displaying the Son’s glory (Mat 17:5; 2Pe 1:17).
3. The Father was well-pleased in that the fullness of deity dwelled in His Son (Col 1:19; 2:9). Only the Son of God, the God-man, could accomplish the Father’s plan of reconciliation. For this reason, the Father was well-pleased in the Son.
II. PLEROMA IN CHRIST (Col 1:19b)
A. Fullness - All the fullness dwelled in Christ. The definition of the Greek word for “fullness” is plêroma which means that which fills up to full measure or sum total (Mar 6:43; Gal 4:4).
B. Fullness of Deity - To what is the fullness being referred? Some good commentaries have suggested various things such as the “fullness of grace” (Peake, Meyer, Eadie, Alford) or “fullness of salvation” (S. Lewis Johnson). But the context, cross references, and many other good commentaries propose that it is the “fullness of deity” (Lightfoot, Moule, Robertson, Wuest, Hendriksen, Geisler, MacArthur).
1. Context - The deity of Christ had already been expressed in the context: “the kingdom of the Son” (Col 1:13), “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), “by Him all things were created” (Col 1:16), “He is before all things” (Col 1:17a), “in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:17b), and to have first place in all things” (Col 1:18). All of these infer the deity of Christ directly or indirectly.
2. Cross Reference - Though not every use of plêroma applies to Christ, Col 2:9 is an unmistakable reference to the deity of Christ, “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
3. If “fullness” in Col 1:19 does not refer to the deity of Christ, then the lack of any other contextual clues makes the interpretation somewhat ambiguous.
4. Theological Perspective - Though the idea of full grace and full salvation are expressed in the next verse (Col 1:20), they would not be possible without the full deity of Christ.
a. Christ could not be mediator unless He was deity (1Ti 2:5).
b. Christ could not atone for sin unless He was deity (Act 4:12).
c. Christ could not be raised from the dead unless He was deity (Rom 1:4).
d. A mere man could not atone for sin. Only God the Son who became a man could be man’s sufficient Savior (Php 2:6-8).
5. Gnostic Plêroma - According to Gnosticism, the Eternal Spirit was considered to be a complex of emanations, aeons, or attributes extending from the spirit world to the material world. Altogether, these emanations or aeons comprised the divine realm and were called the Entirety or the Plêroma (“Fulness”). The Gnostic Christ, though an integral part in aiding mankind, was merely one of the aeons or emanations. However, Paul declared that all the Plêroma of the nature and attributes of deity dwelled in Christ.
C. Dwell in Him - The word for “dwell” is katoikeō which literally means a geographical place in which one lives. Figuratively, it can be used to refer to the dwelling of God or His attributes (Eph 3:17; 2Pe 3:13). But for the Son, it means that His own deity has been eternally at home in His nature. In addition, Christ’s inherent deity now dwells in His incarnation (Col 2:9). He truly is the God-man, fully God and perfect humanity.
D. J. Vernon McGee puts it this way, When He was down here on this earth, the pleroma was at home in Jesus. He was 100 percent God not 99.44 percent, but 100 percent. That little baby that was lying on the bosom of Mary over nineteen hundred years ago seemed so helpless, but He could have spoken this universe out of existence. McGee
III. PLACATION OF ALL THINGS (Col 1:20a)
A. Definition of Reconciliation - It was the Father’s good pleasure not only for the fullness of deity to dwell in the Son, but also that the Son would reconcile all things to the Father through His death on the cross. Reconciliation is the Greek word katallassō and is defined as a change, a change in relationship, particularly from enmity to friendship (1Co7:11). The word in Col 1:20 is apokatallasso and intensified with the addition of the preposition apo. It would now suggest a complete reconciliation not through gnosis, but through Christ alone.
B. Meaning of Reconciliation - Reconciliation is one of the great riches of grace just like justification, redemption, forgiveness, and adoption.
1. Reconciliation of all things (see below) is not Universalism (Joh 3:36; 1Jo 5:12).
2. Reconciliation provided a sacrifice for the world, though only availed of by the elect (Joh 10:14-16).
a. Though in the sacrifice of Christ, God made provision for the world (cf. John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), all persons will not be reconciled to God in the saving sense of being redeemed. The benefits of Christ’s atonement are applied only to the elect, who alone come to saving faith in Him. MAC
3. Reconciliation was through (“through Him” Col 1:20) the agency of Christ (2Co 5:18).
a. Paul emphasizes the agency of Christ with two insertions of the preposition dia with the genitive (cf. Gal 1:1) in the same verse (“through Him… through Him, I say”).
4. Reconciliation was the plan of the Father (“to Himself” Col 1:20) in Christ (2Co 5:19)
5. Reconciliation changed the believer’s status from enmity to a relationship with God (Rom 5:10).
IV. PEACE THROUGH HIS BLOOD (Col 1:20b)
A. Made Peace - The peace spoken of here is first applied to believers who have been reconciled to God (Rom 5:1. The phrase, “having made peace” (eirênopoiêsas) is an aorist participle that shows completed action. Christ made peace on the cross and reconciliation is received at the moment of faith in the Savior.
B. His Blood - The blood of Christ is a reference to the death of Christ. The wages of man’s sin is death (Rom 6:23), and Christ died as man’s substitute. Since the life is in the blood (Lev 17:11), the body without blood is dead. Therefore, the shedding of blood has especially been the sign for substitutionary atonement both in the OT sacrifices (Exo 12:13) and in the precious blood of the Lamb of God (1Pe 1:19).
C. The Cross - The “cross” (stauros) was the means of Christ’s death. Stauros literally means a wooden stake, with an intersecting crossbeam in some form (Mat 27:32). It was a Roman instrument of capital punishment for criminals. It also became a metonymy for atonement in a “cross kind of death” (Php 2:8). The cross was not mere martyrdom for Christ, but the place of atonement by the God-man (Col 2:14).
D. Earth and Heaven - Again, this is not a reference to Universalism, rather it is a reference, at least in part, to bringing reconciliation and harmony to the adverse effects of sin on earth and in heaven.
1. First, it refers to the reconciliation between a holy God and those who place their faith in Christ (Col 1:22).
2. Secondly, all creation including the stars and the universe have been effected by sin brought into the world (Rom 8:20-21). For example, death and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics are a result of the fall. A day of reconciliation and restoration will take place for creation.
3. It could possibly include the idea of the restoration of the subjection of everything to Christ, voluntarily or not (Php 2:10).
4. It could possibly include the idea of the restoration of judgment. Though the world was put in a savable position, many will reject it and receive judgment (Joh 3:17-18; 1Jo 5:10).
V. OBSERVATIONS AND APPLICATIONS
A. Populace Salvation (Universalism)
1. Unitarian Universalists - everyone will be saved regardless of religious beliefs.
2. Christian Universalists - everyone will be saved through Christ at various times and ways.
3. (By Randy Alcorn) In reading “Lies We Believe about God” (Paul Young, author of The Shack), at times I marveled at all the precious truths the author is calling outright falsehood. For instance, he claims all these are lies:
a. God is good. I am not.
b. God is in control.
c. You need to get saved.
d. Hell is separation from God.
e. Not everyone is a child of God.
f. Sin separates us from God.
g. The Cross was Gods idea.
4. Negates the teaching of Jesus
5. Negates the biblical view of sin
6. Negates the biblical view of God’s righteousness
7. Negates the biblical view of God’s righteous judgment
B. Provision of Salvation
1. Christ has provided salvation, but I marvel at how many people want to do everything their own way, as if there is some great redeeming quality in that “I did it My Way”
a. For what is a man, what has he got If not himself, then he has naught
b. To say the things he truly feels And not the words of one who kneels
c. The record shows I took the blows And did it my way Yes, it was my way
d. The irony is to think of someone singing those lyrics in hell.
e. As opposed to coming to Christ who has made provision for salvation now.
C. Peace Made by Christ
1. Every heart is looking for something What everyone is looking for is peace.
2. Peace is only found in Christ.
a. External peace will come about at Christ’s Second Coming
b. Internal peace comes only through Christ
3. Christ made peace between man and God (Rom 5:1)
4. Christ gives peace to those who are His. (Joh 14:27)
a. Joh 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
5. Christ promises peace for all eternity (Rev 21:4).
a. Rev 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.
Grace Bible Church · 4000 E. Collins Rd · PO Box #3762 · Gillette, WY · (307) 686-1516