Colossians 1:19
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) For it pleased the Father.—(1) The construction is doubtful. There is nothing corresponding to “the Father” in the original. Our rendering involves the supply of the nominative God, i.e., “the Father,” or Christ to the verb, so that the sentence may run, the Father or Christ determined of His good pleasure that, &c. The supply of the nominative “Christ” is easier grammatically; but it accords ill with the invariable reference of all things, both by our Lord Himself and His Apostles, ultimately to the good pleasure of the Father. Moreover, the verb is so constantly used of God that the supply of the nominative “God,” though unexampled, is far from inadmissible. The simplest grammatical construction would, indeed, be to take “the fulness” as the nominative, and render for in Him all the fulness (of God) was pleased to dwell. But the personification of “the fulness,” common in Gnostic speculation, is hardly after the manner of St. Paul. Perhaps, on the whole, the rendering of our version (which is usually adopted) is to be preferred; especially as it suits better with the following verse. (2) The sense is, however, quite clear, and is enforced by Colossians 2:9, “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” On the word “fulness” (pleroma), see Note on Ephesians 1:23. The “fulness of the Godhead” is the essential nature, comprising all the attributes, of Godhead. The indwelling of such Deity in the humanity of Christ is the ground of all His exaltation as the “Head,” “the beginning,” the “firstborn from the dead,” and the triumphant King, on which St. Paul had already dwelt. By it alone can He be the true Mediator between God and man.

1:15-23 Christ in his human nature, is the visible discovery of the invisible God, and he that hath seen Him hath seen the Father. Let us adore these mysteries in humble faith, and behold the glory of the Lord in Christ Jesus. He was born or begotten before all the creation, before any creature was made; which is the Scripture way of representing eternity, and by which the eternity of God is represented to us. All things being created by Him, were created for him; being made by his power, they were made according to his pleasure, and for his praise and glory. He not only created them all at first, but it is by the word of his power that they are upheld. Christ as Mediator is the Head of the body, the church; all grace and strength are from him; and the church is his body. All fulness dwells in him; a fulness of merit and righteousness, of strength and grace for us. God showed his justice in requiring full satisfaction. This mode of redeeming mankind by the death of Christ was most suitable. Here is presented to our view the method of being reconciled. And that, notwithstanding the hatred of sin on God's part, it pleased God to reconcile fallen man to himself. If convinced that we were enemies in our minds by wicked works, and that we are now reconciled to God by the sacrifice and death of Christ in our nature, we shall not attempt to explain away, nor yet think fully to comprehend these mysteries; but we shall see the glory of this plan of redemption, and rejoice in the hope set before us. If this be so, that God's love is so great to us, what shall we do now for God? Be frequent in prayer, and abound in holy duties; and live no more to yourselves, but to Christ. Christ died for us. But wherefore? That we should still live in sin? No; but that we should die to sin, and live henceforth not to ourselves, but to Him.For it pleased the Father - The words "the Father" are not in the original, but they are not improperly supplied. Some word must be understood, and as the apostle in Colossians 1:12 referred to "the Father" as having a claim to the thanks of his people for what he had done, and as the great favor for which they ought to be thankful is that which he immediately specifies - the exaltation of Christ, it is not improper to suppose that this is the word to be understood here. The meaning is, that he chose to confer on his Son such a rank, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, and that there might be in him "all fulness." Hence, by his appointment, he was the agent in creation, and hence he is placed over all things as the head of the church.

That in him should all fulness dwell - That in him there should be such dignity, authority, power, and moral excellence as to be fitted to the work of creating the world, redeeming his people, and supplying everything needful for their salvation. On the word "fullness," see John 1:14, note, 16, note; compare Romans 11:12, Romans 11:25; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Colossians 2:9. This is to us a most precious truth. We have a Saviour who is in no respect deficient in wisdom, power, and grace to redeem and save us. There is nothing necessary to be done in our salvation which he is not qualified to do; there is nothing which we need to enable us to perform our duties, to meet temptation, and to bear trial, which he is not able to impart. In no situation of trouble and danger will the church find that there is a deficiency in him; in no enterprise to which she can put her hands will there be a lack of power in her great Head to enable her to accomplish what he calls her to. We may go to him in all our troubles, weaknesses temptations, and needs, and may be supplied from his fullness - just as, if we were thirsty, we might go to an ocean of pure water and drink.

19. Greek, "(God) was well pleased," &c.

in him—that is, in the Son (Mt 3:17).

all fulness—rather as Greek, "all the fulness," namely, of God, whatever divine excellence is in God the Father (Col 2:9; Eph 3:19; compare Joh 1:16; 3:34). The Gnostics used the term "fulness," for the assemblage of emanations, or angelic powers, coming from God. The Spirit presciently by Paul warns the Church, that the true "fulness" dwells in Christ alone. This assigns the reason why Christ takes precedence of every creature (Col 1:15). For two reasons Christ is Lord of the Church: (1) Because the fulness of the divine attributes (Col 1:19) dwells in Him, and so He has the power to govern the universe; (2) Because (Col 1:20) what He has done for the Church gives Him the right to preside over it.

should … dwell—as in a temple (Joh 2:21). This indwelling of the Godhead in Christ is the foundation of the reconciliation by Him [Bengel]. Hence the "and" (Col 1:20) connects as cause and effect the two things, the Godhead in Christ, and the reconciliation by Christ.

A learned man reads it: For all fulness pleased to dwell in him. Others: He liked, or approved, that all fulness should dwell in him, bringing instances for that construction of the word

it pleased.

For it pleased the Father; it is true the word Father is not in the Greek text, nor in the oriental versions, but is well understood and supplied from the context, Colossians 1:12, where the apostle gives thanks to the Father, and then describes his dear Son in the following verses, and here in this adds a cogent reason why he should be the Head of his church, since the Son of his love, (in whom he is well pleased, Matthew 3:17), is he alone in whom he likes to dwell with all fulness or all fulness, doth will to abide.

That in him should all fulness; here is another all, and a fulness added to that all; an all for parts, a fulness for degrees; a transcendency in all, above all. It is of the Father’s good pleasure that Christ, not here considered simply, as the Son of God, but respectively, as Head of his church, and Mediator, should be the subject of this all fulness, which is not directly that of his body mystical, Ephesians 1:23. But:

1. Originally, the fulness of the Godhead, whereby he hath an all-sufficiency of perfections for his mediatory office upon the mystical union, which none other hath or can have, Colossians 2:9 John 1:14: of which more distinctly in the next chapter.

2. Derivatively, a fulness of the Spirit and habitual grace, Luke 1:80, with John 1:16,33 3:34; holiness, wisdom, power, perfectly to finish his work, John 17:4 19:30, and other excellencies for the reconciling (as it follows) and actual influencing of his body, Psalm 130:7,8 Mt 28:18 John 5:20 Romans 1:4 1 Corinthians 5:4; with 2 Corinthians 12:9 Ephesians 1:20-22 Hebrews 7:25,26 Re 5:6,12.

Dwell; and this all fulness doth not only lodge in him for a time, but resideth and abideth in him; it is not in him as the Divine glory was awhile in the tabernacle of Moses, and the temple of Solomon, but dwells constantly in him, not as a private person, but a universal principle; as Head of the body, (as well as reconciler), to fill up the emptiness of man with the abundant grace that perpetually resideth in him. For it pleased the Father,.... The phrase, "the Father", is not in the original text, but is rightly supplied; since he is expressly mentioned in the context, as he who makes the saints meet to be partakers of the heavenly glory; who deliver, them from the power and dominion of sin, and translates them into the kingdom of his dear Son; and who, by Christ, reconciles all things to himself, Colossians 1:12, and whose sovereign will and pleasure it is,

that in him should all fulness dwell: by which is meant, not the fulness of the deity, though it is read by some the fulness of the Godhead: which seems to be transcribed from Colossians 2:9; but though all the perfections of God are in Christ, as eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immutability, independence, and necessary existence, and every other, or he would not be equal with God; nor could all the fulness of the Godhead be said to dwell in him, should anyone be wanting; yet this is a fulness possessed by him, that does not spring from, nor depend upon the Father's good will and pleasure; but what he naturally and necessarily enjoys by a participation of the same undivided nature and essence with the Father and Spirit: nor is the relative fulness of Christ intended, which is his church, so called, Ephesians 1:23; and will be so when all the elect are gathered in, and filled with all the gifts and graces of his Spirit, and are arrived to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; for though every believer dwells in Christ, and Christ in him, yet the church is not said to dwell in Christ, but Christ in the church; moreover, as yet she is not his fulness, at least in the sense she will be, and much less can she be said to be all fulness: nor is this to be understood of Christ's fulness of fitness and abilities, as God-man and Mediator, to perform his work and office as such; though this may be taken into the sense of the text as a part, yet is not the whole; but rather chiefly that dispensatory communicative fulness, which is, of the Father's good will and pleasure, put into the hands of Christ to be distributed to others, is here designed. There is a fulness of nature in Christ; the light of nature is from him, and communicated by him to mankind; the blessings of nature are the blessings of his left hand, which he distributes to his people as he thinks fit; and all things in nature are subservient to his mediatorial kingdom and glory. There is a fulness of grace in him, out of which saints receive, and grace for grace, or a large abundance of it; the fulness of the spirit of grace, and of all the graces and gifts of the Spirit is in him; and of all the blessings of grace, as a justifying righteousness, pardon of sin, adoption, sanctification, even of all that grace that is implanted in regeneration, that is necessary to carry on and finish the good work upon the soul; there is a fulness of all light and life, of wisdom, and strength, of peace, joy, and comfort, and of all the promises of grace, both with respect to this world and that which is to come; and there is also a fulness of glory in him, not only the grace, but the glory of the saints, is laid up and hid with him, and is safe and secure in him: this is said to dwell in Christ, which implies its being in him; it is not barely in intention, design, and purpose, but it is really and actually in him, nor is it in any other; and hence it comes to be communicated to the saints: and it also denotes the continuance of it with him; it is an abiding fulness, and yields a continual daily supply to the saints, and will endure to the end of time, and be as sufficient for the last as the first believer; it is like the subject of it, the same yesterday, today, and for ever: and it also intends the safety of it: the saints' life both of grace and glory is hid with Christ, and is secure, it is out of the reach of men and devils, and can never be lost, or they deprived of it; and all this is owing not to any merits of men, to their faith and holiness, or good works, which are all the fruits of this fulness, but to the good will of God; "it pleased the Father" to place it here for them; it was owing to his good will to his Son, and therefore he puts all things into his hands; and to his elect in him, for, having loved them with an everlasting love, he takes everlasting care of them, and makes everlasting provision for them; it was his pleasure from all eternity to take such a step as this, well knowing it was not proper to put it into the hands of Adam, nor into the hands of angels, nor into their own at once; he saw none so fit for it as his Son, and therefore it pleased him to commit it unto him; and it is his good will and sovereign pleasure, that all grace should come through Christ, all communion with him here, and all enjoyment of him hereafter; which greatly enhances and sets forth the glory of Christ as Mediator, one considerable branch of which is, that he is full of grace and truth; this qualifies him to be the head of the church, and gives a reason, as these words be, why he has, and ought to have, the preeminence in all things.

For it pleased the Father that in him should {m} all fulness dwell;

(m) Most plentiful abundance of all things pertaining to God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 1:19.[43] ὍΤΙ] Confirmatory of the ἽΝΑ ΓΈΝΗΤΑΙ Κ.Τ.Λ., just said: “about which divinely intended ΓΊΓΝΕΣΘΑΙ ἘΝ ΠᾶΣΙΝ ΑὐΤῸΝ ΠΡΩΤΕΎΟΝΤΑ there can be no doubt, for it has pleased, that in Him, etc.” How could He, who was thus destined to be possessor of the divine fulness and reconciler of the world, have been destined otherwise than to become ἐν πᾶσιν πρωτεύων! This confirmation, therefore, does not refer to the statement that Christ is the Head of the church (Steiger, Huther, comp. Calovius), which has already its confirmation by means of Ὅς ἘΣΤΙΝ ἈΡΧῊ Κ.Τ.Λ., nor at all to ἘΚ ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ (Hofmann, following up his incorrect explanation of these words), as if the reason were specified why Christ should have gone to His high dignity as beginner of a new world by the path of deepest abasement—a thought which Paul would have known how to express quite differently (comp. Php 2:7 f.) than by the bare ἐκ τῶν νεκρ., which is currently used everywhere of resurrection from death, and without conveying any special significance of humiliation. Nor yet does Paul move in a circle, by putting forward in Colossians 1:19 as ground of proof that from which in Colossians 1:15 (ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν κ.τ.λ.) he had started (de Wette); for Colossians 1:19 is a historical statement (observe the aorists), whereas Colossians 1:15 expressed what Christ is, His habitual being.

ἐν αὐτῷ] although belonging to ΚΑΤΟΙΚ., is prefixed in emphatic transposition (Kühner, II. 2, p. 1101).

ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ] He was pleased, placuit ei, that, etc. As to this use of εὐδοκεῖν in the later Greek (1 Corinthians 1:21; Galatians 1:15, et al.), for which, in the classical language, δοκεῖν merely was employed, see Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 370. On the accusative with infinitive, comp. 2Ma 14:35; Polyb. i. 8. 4. The subject, whose pleasure it is, is not expressed; but that it is God, is obvious from the context, which in ἵνα γένηται κ.τ.λ. has just stated the divine purpose. Among Greek authors also ὁ Θεός is not unfrequently omitted, where it is self-evident as the subject. See Kühner, II. 1, p. 30 c. According to Ewald and Ellicott (also Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 428, ed. 2, and Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 208), πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα is the subject; and the whole fulness is a new expression for the Godhead, inasmuch as, going as it were out of itself, it fills something separate and thus becomes visible (= כבוד יהוה, ΔΌΞΑ, ΛΌΓΟς, ΠΝΕῦΜΑ). Without support from N. T. usage; ΠᾶΝ, too, would be unsuitable for the subject of εὐδόκησε; and εἰς αὐτόν in Colossians 1:29 clearly shows that Θεός is conceived as subject, to which εἰρηνοποιήσας then refers. According to Hofmann (comp. also his Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 357 f.), Christ is meant to be the subject of εὐδόκ. Colossians 1:20 itself, and Ephesians 1:9, ought to have precluded this error. Throughout the whole of the N. T. it is never Christ, but always the Father, who in respect to the work of redemption to be executed gives the decree, while Christ executes it as obedient to the Father; hence also Paul, “beneficium Christi commemorans, nunquam dimittit memoriam Patris,” Bengel. Comp. Reiche, Comment. crit. p. 263.

πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικ.] that in Him the whole fulness was to take up its abode. The more precise definition of the absolute ΠᾶΝ ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ is placed beyond doubt by the subject to be mentally supplied with ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ,[44] namely, τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ (Ephesians 3:19; comp. ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡ. Τῆς ΘΕΌΤΗΤΟς, Colossians 2:9). ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ, the signification of which is not to be defined actively: id quod rem implet (in opposition to Storr, Opusc. I. p. 144 ff., Bähr, Steiger), but passively: id quo res impletur (see generally on Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:19, Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 469), has here, as in Ephesians 3:9, the derivative general notion of copia, πλοῦτος, like the German Fülle. What is meant, namely, is the whole charismatic riches of God, His whole gracious fulness of εὐλογία πνευματική (Ephesians 1:3), of which Christ became permanent (ΚΑΤΟΙΚῆΣΑΙ) possessor and bearer, who was thereby capable of fulfilling the divine work of reconciliation (see the following ΚΑῚ ΔΙʼ ΑὐΤΟῦ ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ Κ.Τ.Λ.). The case is otherwise in Colossians 2:9, where the divine essence (τῆς θεότητος) is indicated as the contents of the ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ, and the ΚΑΤΟΙΚΕῖΝ of the same in Christ is affirmed as present and with reference to His state of exaltation. It would be an utterly arbitrary course mentally to supply here the τῆς θεότητος, Colossians 2:9, and to regard both passages as an echo of Ephesians 1:23, where the notion of ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ is a very different one (in opposition to Holtzmann). Inasmuch as the charismatic ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ of God, meant in our passage, dwelt in Christ, and consequently Christ was the possessor and disposer of it, this divine fulness is not in substance different from the πλήρωμα Χριστοῦ, out of which grace passed over to men (John 1:16; Ephesians 4:13). The thought and expression in 1 Corinthians 15:28 are different from our passage, and different also from Ephesians 1:23. Beza aptly observes: “cumulatissima omnium divinarum rerum copia, quam scholastici gratiam habitualem … appellant, ex qua in Christo, tanquam inexhausto fonte, omnes gratiae in nos pro cujusque membri modulo deriventur;” comp. also Bleek. Observe, at the same time, the stress lying on the πᾶν, in contrast to a merely partial imparting out of this fulness, which would have been inadequate to the object of reconciling the universe. The ontological interpretation of the “fulness of the nature of God” (Huther, Dalmer, Weiss; Oecumenius, and Theodoret: the nature of the Θεὸς λόγος; Calovius and others: of the communicatio hypostatica, that is, of the absolute immanence of God in Him, comp. Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 222; Rich. Schmidt, Paul. Christol. p. 201) does not correspond to the idea of εὐδόκησεν, for doubtless the sending of the Son, and that with the whole treasure of divine grace, into the world (John 3:17) for behoof of its reconciliation and blessedness, was the act of the divine pleasure and resolve; but not so the divine nature in Christ, which was, on the contrary, necessary in Him,[45] although by His incarnation He emptied Himself of the divine mode of appearance (δόξα or μορφή, Php 2:6 ff.). The divine nature is presupposed in what is here said of Christ. Comp. Gess, v. d. Pers. Christi, p. 85. Some (see especially Steiger, Bähr, and Reuss) have regarded τὸ πλήρωμα as derived from the Gnostic terminology of the false teachers, who might perhaps, like Valentinus, have given this name to the aggregate of the Aeons (see Baur, Gnosis, p. 157),[46] and in opposition to whom Paul maintains that in Jesus there dwells the totality of all divine powers of life, and not merely a single emanated spirit; but this view is all the more unwarranted, because Paul himself does not intimate any such polemical destination of the word; on the contrary, in Ephesians 3:19 also he uses πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τ. Θεοῦ evidently without any reference of the kind. And if he had wished to place the whole fulness of the efflux of divine power in contrast to an asserted single emanation, he must have prefixed, not ἐν αὐτῷ (in Him and in none other), but πᾶν (the whole πλήρωμα, not merely a single constituent element of it) with the main emphasis, and have logically said: ὅτι πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα εὐδόκησεν ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικῆσαι. Hofmann (comp. his Schriftbew. p. 29, 359), who in general has quite misunderstood Colossians 1:19 f. (comp. above on εὐδόκησεν), takes πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα as “the one-like totality of that which is;” and holds that the will of Christ (to which εὐδοκ. applies) can only have been, “that that may come to dwell in Him, which otherwise would not be in Him, consequently not what is in God, but what is out of God.” This idea of the immanent indwelling of the universe in Christ, repeated by Schenkel in the sense of Christ being the archetype, would be entirely alien to the N. T. view of the relation of Christ to the world, and is not indicated either at Ephesians 1:10 or here in the context by τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν. Christ is not the place for the world, so that ultimately all comes to dwell in Him, as all has been created in Him and has in Him its subsistence; but the world originated and maintained through Him, which He was to redeem, is the place for Him.[47] If Paul had really entertained the obscure paradoxical conception attributed to him by Hofmann, he would have known how to express it simply by τὸ πᾶν (or τὰ πάντα) κατοικῆσαι, or by τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ παντὸς (or τῶν πάντων) κατοικῆσ. Lastly, at utter variance with both the word and the context, some have based on Ephesians 1:22 f. the interpretation of πλήρωμα as the church. So already Theodoret: πλήρ. τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἐν τῇ πρὸς Ἐφεσίους ἐκάλεσεν, ὡς τῶν θείων χαρισμάτων πεπληρωμένην. Ταύτην ἔφη εὐδοκῆσαι τὸν Θεὸν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ κατοικῆσαι, τουτέστιν αὐτῷ συνῆφθαι, and recently in substance Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others; comp. also Schleiermacher, who, in accordance with Romans 11:12; Romans 11:25, understands “the fulness of the Gentiles and the collective whole of Israel,” the dwelling of whom in Christ is the “definitive abiding state,” which the total reconciliation (see the sequel) must necessarily have preceded, as this reconciliation is conditioned by the fact that both parties must have become peaceful.

κατοικῆσαι] The πλήρωμα is personified, so that the abiding presence, which it was to have according to the divine εὐδοκία in Christ, appears conceived under the form of taking up its abode; in which, however, the idea of the Shechinah would only have to be presupposed, in the event of the πλήρωμα being represented as appearance (כבוד יהוה). See on Romans 9:5. Comp. John 1:14. Analogous is the conception of the dwelling of Christ (see on Ephesians 3:17) or of the Spirit (see Theile on Jam 4:5) in believers. Comp. also 2 Peter 3:13. In point of time, the indwelling of the divine fulness of grace according to God’s pleasure in Christ refers to the earthly life of the Incarnate One, who was destined by God to fulfil the divine work of the ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα, and was to be empowered thereto by the dwelling in Him of that whole divine πλήρωμα. Without having completed the performance of this work, He could not become ἐν πᾶσιν πρωτεύων; but of this there could be no doubt, for God has caused it to be completed through Him (ὅτι, Colossians 1:19). Ernesti, Urspr. d. Sünde, I. p. 215 f. (comp. also Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 428, ed. 2), refers εὐδόκησε κ.τ.λ. to the heavenly state of Christ, in which God, by way of reward for the completion of His work, has made Him the organ of His glory (Php 2:9); he also is of opinion that ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ in Colossians 1:20 does not apply to the reconciliation through His blood, but to the reunion of all created things through the exalted Lord, as a similar view is indicated in Php 2:10. But this idea of the ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ is just the point on which this view breaks down. For Colossians 1:21 clearly shows that ἈΠΟΚΑΤΑΛΛΆΞΑΙ is to be taken in the usual sense of the work of reconciliation completed through the ἹΛΑΣΤΉΡΙΟΝ of Christ. Moreover, that which Christ received through His exaltation was not the divine ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ, but the divine ΔΌΞΑ.

[43] Holtzmann, after having rejected vv. 14–18 entirely as an interpolation, allows to stand as original in vv. 19, 20 only the words: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν καταλλάξαι, to which καταλλ. there is then attached in ver. 21, as object, καὶ ὑμᾶς, also you, with reference to ἡμᾶς in ver. 13. How daring and violent, and yet how paltry (rescuing merely the καὶ ὑμᾶς), would the procedure of the author thus have been!

[44] Hence not: “la totalité de l’être qui doit être realisée dans le monde,” Sabatier, l’apôtre Paul, p. 209.

[45] As in the Son of God in the metaphysical sense; hence the original being of God in Him cannot be conceived merely as ideal, which was to develope itself into reality, and the realization of which, when it at length became perfect, made Him the absolute abode of the fulness of Godhead. So Beyschlag, Christol. p. 232 f., according to whom Christ would be conceived as “man drawing down upon himself” this indwelling of God. He is conceived as the incarnate Son (comp. ver. 13 ff.), who, in accordance with the Father’s decree, has appeared as bearer ot the whole fulness of salvation. For He was its dwelling not merely in principle, but in fact and reality, when He appeared, and He employed it for the work, which the Father desired to accomplish by Him (ver. 20). Comp. Colossians 1:19. This verse with Colossians 1:20 shows how the Son was able to hold the position assigned to Him in Colossians 1:18. Further, this verse leads up to Colossians 1:20. The thought is then: All the fulness dwelt in the Son, therefore reconciliation could be accomplished through the blood of His cross, and so He became the Head of the body.—εὐδόκησεν. Three views are taken as to the subject of the verb. (1) Meyer, Alford, Lightfoot, Oltramare, Haupt and the great majority of commentators supply ὁ Θεός as the subject. (2) Ewald, Ellicott, Weiss, Soden and Abbott make πλήρωμα the subject. (3) Conybeare, Hofmann and Findlay supply ὁ υἱός or Χριστός. In favour of (3) the unique emphasis on the sovereignty of Christ in this passage is urged, also that it prepares the way for the reference of ἀποκαταλλάξαι and εἰρηνοποιήσας to Christ, in accordance with Ephesians 2:14-16; Ephesians 5:27. It is also true that the subject from Colossians 1:15 is, for the most part, the Son. But the usage of Paul leads us to think of the Father, not of the Son, as the One who forms the eternal purpose (Ephesians 1:9, 2 Corinthians 5:19). Nor does Colossians 1:20 run on naturally. If the Son is the subject of “was well pleased,” the obvious interpretation of διʼ αὐτοῦ ἀποκ. is to reconcile through the fulness, which is highly improbable. We should accordingly have to give to διʼ αὐτοῦ a reflexive sense, and translate “through Himself,” which is grammatically possible, but not natural. There is the further objection which it shares with (1) that a change of subjects to the infinitives is required, πλήρωμα being the subject of κατοικ., while that to ἀποκατ. is Θεός or υἱός. But it is less awkward in (1) than in (3), for the former does not make the Son at once the originator and the Agent of the plan of reconciliation. Against (1), besides the objection just mentioned, it may be said that the construction with εὐδόκ. is unusual, for its subject is elsewhere in the N.T. the subject of the following infinitive (this tells against (3) also), and that in a passage of such importance the subject could not have been omitted. But for the omission of the subject Lightfoot compares Jam 1:12; Jam 4:6. What, however, is really decisive in its favour is the difficulty of accepting (2). The expression “all the fulness was well pleased” is very strange in itself. But what is much stranger is that the fulness was not only pleased to dwell in Him, but through Him to reconcile all things unto Him. And the only natural course is to refer εἰρνηνοπ. to the subject of εὐδόκ., but the masculine makes it difficult to regard πλήρ. as that subject. We should therefore translate “God” [or “the Father”] “was well pleased”.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα. On πλήρωμα the detached note in Lightfoot, pp. 255–271, should be consulted, with the criticism of it in an article on “The Church as the Fulfilment of the Christ,” by Prof. J. Armitage Robinson (Expositor, April, 1898), also Oltramare’s note. Lightfoot urges in opposition to Fritzsche that πλήρωμα has always a genuinely passive sense, not the pseudo-passive sense “id quo res impletur” which Fritzsche gave it, and which is really the active “id quod implet,” but that which is completed. The basis of the decision is that substantives in -μα, since they are derived from the perfect passive, must have a passive sense. But, as Prof. Robinson points out, these substantives have their stem not in -μα but in -ματ, and therefore are not to be connected with the perfect passive. He reaches the conclusion that if a general signification is to be sought for, we may say that these nouns represent “the result of the agency of the corresponding verb”. If the verb is intransitive the substantive will be so; if it is transitive and the substantive corresponds to its object the noun is passive, but if the substantive is followed by the object of the verb in the genitive it is active. According to the double use of πληροῦν to “fill” and to “fulfil,” πλήρωμα may mean that which fills or that which fulfils, the fulness, fulfilment or complement. Oltramare comes to the conclusion that the word means perfection, and interprets this passage to mean that ideal perfection dwelt in Christ. Accordingly he escapes the question what genitive should be supplied after it. It does not seem, however, that the word meant moral perfection. Many think that θεότητος should be supplied after πλήρωμα, as is actually done in Colossians 2:9. Serious difficulties beset this view. If we think of the eternal indwelling, we make it dependent on the Father’s will, an Arian view, which Paul surely did not hold. Alford’s reply to this (endorsed by Abbott) that all that is the Son’s right “is His Father’s pleasure, and is ever referred to that pleasure by Himself,” is anything but cogent, for εὐδόκησεν refers to a definite decree of the Father, and the obvious meaning of the words is that it lay within the Father’s choice whether the πλήρωμα should dwell in the Son or not. It might refer to the exaltation of Christ, in which the Son resumed that of which He had emptied Himself in the Incarnation. This would follow the reference to the resurrection in Colossians 1:18. But the order does not indicate the true logical or chronological sequence. Colossians 1:19-20 give the ground (ὅτι) on which the Son’s universal pre-eminence rests, and Colossians 1:20 is quite incompatible with this reference to the exalted state, co-ordinated as κατοικ. and ἀποκατ. are by καὶ. But neither does it suit the incarnate state, which was a state of self-emptying and beggary; even if we could attach any very definite meaning to the words that in the Incarnate Son the Father was pleased that all the fulness of the Godhead should dwell. We should, therefore, probably reject the view that τὸ πλήρωμα means the fulness of the Godhead. Since the co-ordinate clause speaks of reconciliation through the blood of the cross, it seems probable that we should regard Colossians 1:19 as asserting such an indwelling as made this possible. We should therefore with Meyer explain τὸ πλ. as the fulness of grace, “the whole charismatic riches of God” (so also De W., Eadie, Alf., Findl.). Haupt thinks that the full content of the Divine nature is referred to, but with special reference to the Divine grace, and so far he agrees with Meyer. We should also, with Meyer, interpret the indwelling as having reference to the sending of the Son in the incarnation. The Father was pleased that He should come “with the whole treasure of Divine grace”. Thus equipped His death procured reconciliation. Gess takes it similarly, though he thinks, on the whole, that a gradual process is referred to. Findlay’s modification of this in favour of a reference to the Ascension (for which he compares Ephesians 1:20-23) must be rejected on the grounds mentioned above. The decree of the Father may be supra-temporal, as Haupt thinks, the aorist being used as in Romans 8:29, though it is more obvious to take it as referring to the time when He was sent. Two other interpretations of τὸ πλ. may be mentioned. Theodoret and other Fathers, followed by some moderns, have explained it to mean the Church. But the indwelling of the πλ. prepares the way for the reconciliation, in consequence of which the Church first becomes possible. Nor could πλ. by itself mean this; in Ephesians 1:22 the reference is supplied by the context. More possible is the view that it means the universe = τὰ πάντα, Colossians 1:16 (Hofm., Cremer, Godet, who compares “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness of it”). In that case the genitive supplied would be τῶν πάντων from Colossians 1:20. But if the reference in this be to the summing up of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), it is excluded by the fact that the indwelling of the fulness is contemporaneous with the incarnate state. A more plausible interpretation would be to regard τὰ πάντα as dwelling in Christ before His death, and by sharing that death, attaining reconciliation with God. This would be an extension of the Pauline thought that all men died when Christ died (2 Corinthians 5:14). But it would be an extension precisely corresponding to that of the scope of redemption in Colossians 1:20, for which, indeed, it would admirably prepare the way, the universe dwelling in the Son that His death might be universal in its effects. That the Son is not only Head of the race, but Head also of the universe, is a familiar thought in these Epistles, and as His acts are valid for the one so also for the other. Nothing more is implied for the relation of the universe to Christ than of the race, and if the main stress be thrown on angels and men, there is nothing incongruous in the idea. Whether Paul would have used it in this sense without fuller explanation is uncertain; but in any case a genitive has to be supplied. A further question must be briefly referred to, that of the origin of the term. Several scholars think it was already in use as a technical term of the false teachers at the time when the letter was written. This is possible, and in its favour is its absolute use here; but, if so, it is strange that Paul should use it with such different applications. It is more probable that its origin is due to him.—κατοικῆσαι. The word expresses permanent abode as opposed to a temporary sojourn. Bengel says aptly “Haec inhabitatio est fundamentum reconciliationis”.19. For it pleased the Father, &c.] “The Father” is supplied by the translators (A.V. and R.V., and the older versions from Tyndale (1534) downwards, except the Roman Catholic Rhemish (1582) which reads “in Him it hath well pleased al fulnes to inhabite.” The Old Latin reads in ipso complacuit omnis plenitudo inhabitare; the Vulgate, in ipso complacuit omnem plenitudinem inhabitare.—Grammatically, the Greek admits three possible explanations: (a) “For in Him all the Plenitude was pleased to take up Its abode;” (b) “For He (the Son) was pleased that all the Plenitude should take up Its abode in Him;” (c) “For He (God, the Father) was pleased that all the Plenitude should take up Its abode in Him (the Son).” What decision does the context, or other side-evidence, indicate? The explanation (b) is discredited as assigning to the Son a determining choice which the whole context leads us to assign to the Father. The explanation (a), adopted and ably defended by Ellicott, is that of the Old Latin Version. It is grammatically simple, and it is capable of doctrinal defence; “the Plenitude” of the Divine Nature being taken to include the actings of the Divine Will as the expression of the Nature, and so to signify the Divine Personality (here, of course, that of the Father). But it is in itself a surprising and extremely anomalous expression; and it becomes still more so when we read on, and see what are the actions attributed to the same Subject, and that the Subject appears in the masculine gender in the word rendered “having made peace” (see note below), while the word Plerôma (Plenitude) is neuter. On the whole we believe (c) to be the true explanation, with Alford, and Lightfoot, who compares James 1:12; James 4:6 (the better supported reading in each case); “the crown which He (unnamed) promised;” “the Spirit which He (unnamed) caused to dwell in us.” He points out also that the noun (eudokia) kindred to the verb here is often, and almost as a habit, used of God’s “good pleasure” where God is not named.

all fulness] Lit. and better all the Fulness, all the Plenitude. Cp. below Colossians 2:9; “all the Fulness of the Godhead;” a phrase of course explanatory of this which is so nearly connected with it. Lightfoot (pp. 323–339) discusses the word with great care and clearness, and brings out the result that the true notion of it is the filled condition of a thing, as when a rent is mended, an idea realized, a prophecy fulfilled. He shews that the word had acquired a technical meaning in St Paul’s time, in Jewish schools of thought, a meaning connected especially with the eternally realized Ideal of Godhead; the Divine Fulness; “the totality of the Divine Powers and Attributes.”—See further our note on Ephesians 1:22, where the Church is called “the Plenitude of” the Son.

dwell] The verb denotes permanence; should take up its lasting abode. Does this “taking up the abode” refer to Eternity, or to Time? to the time-less communication of Godhead from the Father to the Son, or to a communication coincident with the completion of the Incarnate Son’s redeeming work? We think the latter, in view of the following context. From eternity, eternally and necessarily, the Plenitude “took up,” “takes up,” Its abode in Him as to His blessed Person. But not till His Work of death and resurrection was accomplished was He, historically, so constituted as that It “took up Its abode” in Him as Head and Treasury for us of “all grace.” This now He is, lastingly, everlastingly.Colossians 1:19.[1] Εὐδόκησε, He was well-pleased) viz. God [Engl. Vers. the Father]. This must be supplied, in accordance with the mind of Paul, who, while he mentions the benefit conferred by Christ, never fails to remember the Father. As to the Father’s being well-pleased in the Son, comp. Matthew 3:17 : For εὐδοκῶ with the accusative and infinitive following, see 2Ma 14:35. Moreover, on ΕὐΔΌΚΗΣΕ, He has been well-pleased, depend to reconcile, and having made peace.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα, all the fulness) ch. Colossians 2:9-10; Colossians 2:2, Colossians 4:12; Colossians 4:17, Colossians 1:9; Colossians 1:25; Ephesians 1:23, note. Who can fathom the depth of this subject?—κατοικῆσαι, to dwell) constantly, as in a temple, in which it [the fulness] is ready at hand for us. This indwelling is the foundation of the reconciliation.

[1] Ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him) namely, the Son. The words regarding either the Father or the Son must be carefully distinguished both in this and in the following chapter.—V. g.Verse 19.

(b) For in Him he was pleased that all the fulness should dwell; 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 Matthew 3:17; Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 1:21. The subject of was well pleased, God, is omitted as in James 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 Romans 11:12; see on John 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 (Colossians 1:13); 2. Essential being of the Son (Colossians 1:15); 3. The Son as Creator (Colossians 1:16); 4. The Church, with Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18). Compare 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 1:23. Paul does not add of the Godhead to the fullness, as in Colossians 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 (Colossians 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 Luke 11:26. Compare the Septuagint usage of κατοικεῖν permanent dwelling, and παροικεῖν transient sojourning. Thus Genesis 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, Ephesians 2:22 (κατοικητήριον τοῦ Θεοῦ habitation of God); of the Son, Ephesians 3:17; and of the Spirit, James 4:5.

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