Completeness

Colossians 1:18-19

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
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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

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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