Vincent Word Studies - Colossians 1:19 - 1:19

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Vincent Word Studies - Colossians 1:19 - 1:19

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It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell (ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι)

Εὐδοκέω to think it good, to be well pleased is used in the New Testament, both of divine and of human good-pleasure; but, in the former case, always of God the Father. So Mat 3:17; Luk 12:32; 1Co 1:21. The subject of was well pleased, God, is omitted as in Jam 1:12, and must be supplied; so that, literally, the passage would read, God was well pleased that in Him, etc. Rev., it was the good pleasure of the Father. Fullness, Rev, correctly, the fullness. See on Rom 11:12; see on Joh 1:16. The word must be taken in its passive sense - that with which a thing is filled, not that which fills. The fullness denotes the sum-total of the divine powers and attributes. In Christ dwelt all the fullness of God as deity. The relation of essential deity to creation and redemption alike, is exhibited by John in the very beginning of his gospel, with which this passage should be compared. In John the order is: 1. The essential nature of Christ; 2. Creation; 3. Redemption. Here it is: 1. Redemption (Col 1:13); 2. Essential being of the Son (Col 1:15); 3. The Son as Creator (Col 1:16); 4. The Church, with Christ as its head (Col 1:18). Compare 2Co 5:19; Eph 1:19, Eph 1:20, Eph 1:23. Paul does not add of the Godhead to the fullness, as in Col 2:9 since the word occurs in direct connection with those which describe Christ's essential nature, and it would seem not to have occurred to the apostle that it could be understood in any other sense than as an expression of the plenitude of the divine attributes and powers.

Thus the phrase in Him should all the fullness dwell gathers into a grand climax the previous statements - image of God, first-born of all creation, Creator, the eternally preexistent, the Head of the Church, the victor over death, first in all things. On this summit we pause, looking, like John, from Christ in His fullness of deity to the exhibition of that divine fullness in redemption consummated in heaven (Col 1:20-22).

There must also be taken into the account the selection of this word fullness with reference to the false teaching in the Colossian church, the errors which afterward were developed more distinctly in the Gnostic schools. Pleroma fullness was used by the Gnostic teachers in a technical sense, to express the sum-total of the divine powers and attributes. “From the pleroma they supposed that all those agencies issued through which God has at any time exerted His power in creation, or manifested His will through revelation. These mediatorial beings would retain more or less of its influence, according as they claimed direct parentage from it, or traced their descent through successive evolutions. But in all cases this pleroma was distributed, diluted, transformed, and darkened by foreign admixture. They were only partial and blurred images, often deceptive caricatures, of their original, broken lights of the great Central Light” (Lightfoot). Christ may have been ranked with these inferior images of the divine by the Colossian teachers. Hence the significance of the assertion that the totality of the divine dwells in Him.

Dwell (κατοικῆσαι)

Permanently. See on Luk 11:26. Compare the Septuagint usage of κατοικεῖν permanent dwelling, and παροικεῖν transient sojourning. Thus Gen 37:1, “Jacob dwelt (permanently, κατῴκει) in the land where his father sojourned (παρῷκησεν A.V., was a stranger). Perhaps in contrast with the partial and transient connection of the pleroma with Christ asserted by the false teachers. The word is used of the indwelling of the Father, Eph 2:22 (κατοικητήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ habitation of God); of the Son, Eph 3:17; and of the Spirit, Jam 4:5.