by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Tom Lowe

• “Special Notes” and “Scripture” follow associated verses.
• NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.

Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV)

(9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;


(2:9) For in Him all the fullness{2.9.a] of Deity{2.9.c] dwells in bodily{2.9.b] form,

Christ embodies “all the fullness{2.9.a]” that constitutes divinity and sovereign God―all the attributes of the Godhead. John’s words―that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) ―personifies the incarnation, for then, the Godhead assumed a bodily{2.9.b] form in Jesus; He was the visible shape in which the fullness of the Godhead dwelt, and men beheld His glory―the glory of the only begotten of the Father. The Godhead in its fullness took up its abode in Christ as a man . . . took up residence in humanity―the humanity of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Divinity was incarnate in Christ. This, then, becomes an apt answer to the heretic’s question, “What precisely does “bodily” signify?” Deity{2.9.c] is not distributed up and down a whole series of angelic beings; it is organized in one personality, Christ’s. And as the “totality” of Godhead dwells in Christ, so He enables men to reach a full religious experience.

Just as the Shekinah glory filled the tabernacle and temple, the perfections of God the Father fill the Son, Jesus the Messiah. He lacks no part of God. Remember, Christ is God’s very image. What’s even more remarkable, He who embodies the fullness of God fills us (Colossians 2:10). The only way for sinners to be filled by the fullness of God is to be joined to Christ through faith―to be incorporated into the body of which He is the head. Christ is sufficient, perfect, and complete in His revelation of divine knowledge and in His embodiment of divine presence. We can have confidence Christ is more than enough.

The wonder of the Incarnation is that the Godhead fully knew the ramifications; and yet Christ came to earth anyway to live with those He created. God was well-pleased that the Son would dwell among men in the “fullness” of God (1:19).

There is no “fullness” (pleroma) in philosophy based on vain human reasoning. “For in Him (Christ) all the fullness{2.9.a] of Deity{2.9.c] dwells in bodily{2.9.b] form.” Hence, only in Christ can one have fullness. Apart from Him is only “emptiness.” The Gnostics of Paul’s day challenged both Christ’s deity and humanity. Those heretics diminished Christ to an angel whose body was only apparent, not real. Paul affirmed here that Christ is both fully God and truly man (see 1 John 4:1-6).

The coming Savior was described with the prophetic title, “Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). John gives us the same truth in John 1:1 and 14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” I would paraphrase these verses thus: ‘The Word was in the beginning with Jehovah, sovereign God; the Word was unfleshed (without a body); the Word was God.’ According to the Holy Spirit’s revelation to John, the Word was with God, the Word was divine―yet definitely distinct from the Father.

Back in Paul’s day, in the church at Colossae, there were those who refused to accept the truth that Jesus was God-and-man in one body . . . a body of flesh just as surely as you and I are flesh. Jesus Christ ministered to all who came to Him. He did not possess the nature of angels. He was not a spirit-being like the cherubim. He, like “the children of men,” took part of man―the flesh part―a body. God sent His own son “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:1-3). He was born of a virgin; He was born exactly as the children of men are born, with the exception of the fact that the Virgin Mary was His mother and God Almighty was his Father. The Holy Ghost overshadowed Mary (Luke 1); she conceived and brought forth a Son. He was born as we were born; He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; the manger was not pleasant, but Christ came to die. He grew as any normal child would grow . . . in wisdom and in stature . . . and in that human body the fullness of the Godhead dwelt.

Scripture and Special Notes
[2.9.a} “Fullness” is used here for richness or completeness.
[2.9.b} “Bodily” signifies, according to the older commentators, incarnality; but the Incarnation is hardly on Paul’s mind here. Others think it means “actually” or “genuinely,” that is, in full reality. But the best explanation is “corporately,” that is, in one organism or body, Christ’s.
[2.9.c} The word for “deity” is theotetos, a strong word (used only here in the NT) for Christ’s essence as God.

(2.10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

With these words Paul reminds us that nothing can be added to the finished work of the Son of God; and nothing can be added to grace: It is grace―ALL grace, or NO grace. Believers are “complete” in the Lord Jesus. (The word complete has the same meaning as perfect―so what Paul is really saying is, “in Him you have been made perfect.”) Today believers are given (present tense) fullness, spiritual perfection, the righteous of God, and justification. “Christ is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.” We have the sanctification of Christ; we have the wisdom of Christ; we have the redemption He purchased with His own precious blood. That's why Christ is more than adequate in His ministry as Savior. After Paul emphatically states, “in Him you have been made complete,” he unfolds the glories of God’s saving work in the following verses (2:11-15), which serve as the theological high point of this letter.

One who has truly believed, who has exercised true faith, has the divine guarantee of completeness in Christ; “in Him you have been made complete,” . . . not “in Him you WILL be made complete (at some future date,” but “you have been made complete (present tense).” In Christ nothing is lacking. Every need, no matter how great nor how small, is met in Christ. What God demands, He has made possible in the finished work of the Son He loves.

In the last part of verse 10 Paul refers to the Christ―as “the head over all rule and authority.” The deep meaning of verse 10 is thus: In Christ―and that bodily―is found and dwells all the Godhead’s fullness, which is the head of all principalities and all powers. There is no exception; the entire hierarchy of heaven must submit to Christ because He is above all; there is none higher in heaven, in earth, nor under the earth. Therefore, inasmuch as he is the all-powerful One, He is very able to supply complete salvation, complete forgiveness, and complete righteousness. To put it in Bible language, “in Him you have been made complete.” You do not need to look elsewhere for a Savior, since Christ is “the head over all rule and authority.”

Not only is all the “fullness” (pleroma) of God in Christ (v. 9), but also believers have been given fullness in Christ. Their fullness of Life comes from Christ’s fullness. They partake of the divine nature through Christ (2 Peter 1:4), for “from the fullness of His grace we have all received” (John 1:6). This, of course, does not mean that believers become God but simply share in Him. They have or share in the goodness of the nature which He is. They share in the body of Him “who is the head” (Colossians 1:18) over every ruler (power) and “authority” (“ruling power”) (1:16; 2:15), including those who would talk the Colossians into living according to the world instead of according to Christ.

When we know Jesus Christ, we do not need to investigate other religions, cults, or unbiblical philosophies as the Colossians were doing. Christ alone holds the answers to the true meaning of life, because Christ is life. He is the unique source for the Christian life; therefore, no Christian needs anything He has not provided. You need nothing other than Christ to overcome any power in the universe; for in Him is nothing less than the fullness of God and He is the head of every power and authority, for He created them.

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