He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].
For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently.
Besides being the Lord of the universe He is also the church’s Head (cf. Eph. 1:22–23; 5:23). The reference here is to the invisible or universal church into which all believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit the moment they believe in Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). This work of the Spirit began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 2:1–2; 11:15–16). It is a special body in which there is “neither Jew nor Gentile” (Gal. 3:28) but a whole new creation of God (Eph. 2:15). The church is a “mystery … which was not made known to men in other generations” (Eph. 3:4–5; cf. Rom. 16:25–26; Col. 1:26).
Christ is the Beginning (archē) and the Firstborn from among the dead (cf. Rev. 1:5). Christ was the first to rise in an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:20), and as such He heads a whole new order as its Sovereign (cf. “Firstborn” in Col. 1:15). Also Christ’s resurrection marked His triumph over death (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). He was the “Firstfruits” of those who die (1 Cor. 15:20) since, unlike others, He rose never to die again. He “was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). So He continues to live “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16). All this is so that in everything He might have the supremacy. Christ is given first place over all Creation. He is preeminent. The same eternal Logos (John 1:1) who “became flesh” (John 1:14) and “humbled Himself” (Phil. 2:8) is now “exalted” by God the Father “to the highest place” and has been given “the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).
Later Paul wrote, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (2:9). Colossians 1:19 is one of the most powerful descriptions of Christ’s deity in the New Testament (cf. Heb. 1:3). “Fullness” (plērōma), a key word in Colossians, is used in 1:19 and 2:9. (The verb plēroō is used in 1:9, 25; 2:10; and 4:17.) The noun means “completeness” and is used of a wide range of things including God’s being (Eph. 3:19), time (Gal. 4:4), and grace in Christ (John 1:16). This full and complete Deity is said to “dwell” (katoikēsai, “abide lastingly or permanently”) in Christ.
Norman L. Geisler