And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Ye are complete.—Literally, ye have been filled up in His fulness, as in John 1:16. So St. Paul had prayed for the Ephesians that they might be “filled with (or rather, up to) all the fulness of God,” and “grow into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13). To partake of the divine plerorna is not the special privilege of the initiated; it belongs to all who are united to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Principality and power.—See Colossians 1:16. His headship over all angelic natures is dwelt upon (as in Hebrews 1:1-14) with obvious reference to the worshipping of angels. They are our fellowservants under the same Head. (See Revelation 22:8-9.)
(1) to the wisdom which is needful to guide us;
(2) the atonement to be made for sin;
(3) the merit by which a sinner can be justified; and,
(4) the grace which is needful to sustain us in the trials, and to aid us in the duties, of life; compare the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:30.
There is no necessity, therefore, that we should look to the aid of philosophy, as if there was a defect in the teachings of the Saviour; or to human strength, as if he were unable to save us; or to the merits of the saints, as if those of the Redeemer were not sufficient to meet all our wants. The sentiment advanced in this verse would overthrow the whole papal doctrine of the merits of the saints, and, of course, the whole doctrine of papal "indulgences."
Which is the head - See the notes at Ephesians 1:21-22.And ye; ye saints and holy brethren, Colossians 1:2, who have received Christ, Colossians 2:6,7, and so are mystically united to him, in whom dwelleth all fulness (as you have heard); being in him, having one Spirit with him, as members with the head, Romans 8:1,9 Eph 1:23,
are complete; are implete, or filled, and so mediately and causally complete from the all-fulness that is in your Head, yet not immediately and properly complete with it (as some have been apt to think). But
in him ye have that completeness and perfection which is reckoned and made over to you and accepted for you to justification, so that of his fulness ye receive, and grace for grace, John 1:16 1 Corinthians 1:30 2 Corinthians 5:21 Ephesians 1:6 Philippians 3:9; derive in and from him all spiritual blessings, Ephesians 1:3; so that every one hath grace sufficient, 2 Corinthians 12:9, to do all things incrumbent on him, through Christ strengthening him, Philippians 4:13. It is true there is here in this state no being complete or perfect actually, as to glorification, yet, virtually and seminally, that may in a sort be said of true believers not only in regard of their Head, but in regard of their certain hope of being saved in Christ, yea, and indeed as to the earnest, the seed and root of it, having already that life which shall never have an end, John 3:36 4:14 Romans 5:2 Ephesians 4:30 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Hebrews 9:15 10:14 1 Peter 1:3,4 1Jo 5:12.
Which is the head of all principality and power: the apostle, for consolation of the saints, and in opposition to those who did endeavour a withdrawing from Christ to the worshipping of angels. Colossians 2:18, doth further infer, from the personal union, the dignity of the human nature of Christ, in regard of the good angels, which are here meant by
principality and power, by reason of their excellency by nature and grace, and their authority delegated to them by God over other creatures, Matthew 24:36 2 Corinthians 11:14 1 Timothy 5:21. Christ having the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him bodily, is Head unto the good angels in regard of his excellency and eminency above them, who are far below him in perfection, Ephesians 1:21 Hebrews 1:4; the best of them are ministering spirits and subject to him, and so under his authority and at his command, Matthew 13:41 16:27 24:31 Ephesians 3:10 Hebrews 1:14 1 Peter 3:22 Revelation 1:1 22:16. Genesis 17:1; but are an affirmation, asserting not what the saints shall be hereafter, or in heaven, but what they now are; not in themselves, for in themselves none are perfect, not even those who are truly sanctified; for though all grace is seminally implanted in them, and they have a perfection of parts, of all the parts of the new man, or new creature, and are perfect in comparison of what they sometimes were, and of profane persons and hypocrites, and with respect to weaker believers, yet none are absolutely perfect; the good work of grace is not yet finished in them, sin dwells in them, they are full of wants and complaints; the best of them disclaim perfection as attained to by them, and express their desires of it; but they are perfect in Christ their head, who has all fulness in him, in whom they are chosen and blessed: they are complete and perfect in him as to sanctification; he having all fulness of grace and holiness for them, they have it in him; and he is made perfect sanctification to them: and as to justification, he has perfectly fulfilled the law for them, he has made full atonement for sin, has obtained eternal redemption, brought in a complete and perfect righteousness, by which they are justified from all things; are freed from sin, and made perfectly comely, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: and as to knowledge, though it is imperfect in them in their present state, yet in Christ all the treasures of it are, and they have no need to go elsewhere for any; they are filled with the knowledge of God and of his will, and are complete therein in Christ; and what knowledge they have, is eternal life, the beginning, pledge, and earnest of it; so that they have no reason to be beholden to angels or men, only to Christ:
which is the head of all principality and power; not only of the body the church, and who is to be held unto as such, from whom all light, life, grace, and strength, are to be derived; but of all others, though in a different sense; and not only of the kings, princes, and potentates of this world, who hold their kingdoms, and receive their crowns from him, and rule by him; but also of the angels, good and bad, often called principalities and powers; especially the former is here meant, of whom Christ is head, being their Creator, Governor, and upholder; who not only maintains them in their beings, but has confirmed them in their state of holiness; so that they are dependent upon him, and beholden to him for all they have and are: with the Jews, "Metatron", which with them is the name of the angel in Exodus 23:20 and seems to be a corruption of the word "mediator", and to design the Messiah, is said (w) to be King over all the angels. This is mentioned, partly to set forth the glory and excellency of Christ; and partly against worshipping of angels, making use of them as mediators, or applying to them on any account, since Christ is the head of these, and of every creature; therefore no creature is to be looked and applied unto, trusted and depended on: unless rather should be meant the Jewish rulers, Scribes, and Pharisees, their doctors, wise men, and Rabbins, called the princes of this world; the Jews' tutors and governors, to whom Christ is superior; he is the only master and Father, and in whom perfection of wisdom is, and not in them; and therefore should not regard them, their vain philosophy, worldly rudiments and traditions,And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Colossians 2:10. Καί ἐστε ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρ.] still depending on ὅτι: and (since) ye are filled in Him, i.e. and since the πληρότης which ye possess rests on Him, the bodily Bearer of the divine πλήρωμα. The two are correlative: from the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος, which dwells in the exalted Christ, flows the πεπληρωμένον εἶναι of the Christian, which has its basis, therefore, in no other than in Christ, and in nothing else than just in fellowship with Him. Filled with what? was self-evident to the consciousness of the reader. It is the dynamic, charismatic πλήρωσις, which Christians, in virtue of their union of life with the Lord, whose Spirit and ζωή are in them, have received, and continuously possess, out of the metaphysical πλήρωμα dwelling in Christ, out of the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος.
The emphasis is not upon ἐστέ, but, as shown by the subsequent relative definitions, upon ἐν αὐτῷ. If the πεπληρωμένον εἶναι depends on Him, on nothing and on no one but on Him, then everything else which men may teach you, and with which they may wish to seize you and conduct you in leading strings, is οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν. With due attention to this emphasis of ἐν αὐτῷ, we should neither have expected ὑμεῖς (in opposition to de Wette; comp. Estius and others: “et vos”) nor have explained ἐστέ in an imperative sense (in opposition to Grotius, Bos, Heumann); which latter view is to be rejected, because the entire connection is not paraenetic, and generally because, whilst a πληροῦσθε (Ephesians 5:18) or γίνεσθε πεπληρ. may, ἐστε πεπληρ. cannot, logically be enjoined. There is, moreover (comp. also Hofmann), nothing to be supplied with πεπληρ. (usually: τῆς θεότητος, see Theophylact and Huther; de Wette, Bleek: τοῦ πληρώμ. τ. θεότ.), since the specifically ontological sense of the purposely-chosen θεότητος would not even be consistent with the supposed equalization of the Christians with Christ (οὐδὲν ἔλαττον ἔχετε αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ πεπληρωμένοι καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐστε τῆς θεότητος, Theophylact), and this equalization does not exist at all, because Paul has not written καὶ ὑμεῖς. In what their being filled consisted, was known to the readers from their own experience, without further explanation; their thoughts, however, were to dwell upon the fact that, since their being full depended on Christ, those labours of the false teachers were of quite another character than κατὰ Χριστόν.
ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ κ.τ.λ.] This, as also Colossians 2:11, now supplies confirmatory information regarding the fact that they have their being filled not otherwise than just in Christ; namely, neither through ἀρχαὶ κ. ἐξουσίαι, since Christ is the head of every ἀρχή and ἐξουσία; nor yet through circumcision, since they have received in Christ the real ethical circumcision.
πάσης ἀρχ. κ. ἐξουσ.] is not more precisely defined as in Ephesians 3:10; hence, in virtue of the munus regium of the Lord quite generally: every principality and power, but with the tacit apologetic reference: consequently also of the angelic powers (Colossians 1:16) belonging to these categories and bearing these names, to whose mediation, to be attained through θρησκεία, the false teachers direct you,—a reference which Hofmann, understanding the expressions in the sense of spiritual beings ruling arbitrarily and in opposition to God especially over the Gentile world (notwithstanding the fact that Christ is their Head!), groundlessly denies; see Colossians 2:18. If Christ be the Head of every ἀρχή and ἐξουσία, i.e. their governing sovereign, the Christian cannot have anything to expect from any angelic powers subordinate to Christ,—a result involved in the union in which He stands to the Higher, to Christ Himself.
With the reading ὅ ἐστιν (see the critical remarks), which is also preferred by Ewald, Lachmann has placed καί ἐστε ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρ. in a parenthesis. But, while this important thought would neither have motive nor be appropriate as a mere parenthesis, it would also be improper that the neuter subject ΤῸ ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ Τ. ΘΕΌΤ. should be designated as Ἡ ΚΕΦΑΛῊ Κ.Τ.Λ., which applies rather to the personal possessor of the ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ, to Christ.
 Calovius has well said: “Beneficium Christi, non nostrum officium;” comp. Wolf. In complete opposition to the context, Grotius brings out the sense: “illo contenti estote,” which he supports by the remark: “quia quod plenum est, nihil aliud desiderat.”
 Inasmuch as he takes ὅ ἐστιν directly as scilicet, utpote, and regards this usage as a linguistic peculiarity of this Epistle. But this rendering is not required either in Colossians 1:24 or in Colossians 3:17; and respecting Colossians 1:27, see the critical remarks.Colossians 2:10. καὶ ἐστὲ ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι. This still depends on ὅτι. ἐστὲ is obviously not an imperative. We should, perhaps, reject the view of Ellicott and Lightfoot that there are two predicates. The thoughts thus obtained that they are in Him, and that they are made full, are true in themselves. But, as Abbott points out, the context requires the emphasis to be thrown on the αὐτῷ, so that the sense is “and it is in Him that ye are made full”. πεπλ. is chosen on account of πλήρωμα in Colossians 2:9, but we cannot explain it as filled with the Godhead, because such an equalising of Christians with their Lord would have been impossible to Paul, and would have required καὶ ὑμεῖς to express it. This meets Oltramare’s objection to the translation adopted. He says that if πεπλ. means filled, they must be filled with something, but since the most obvious explanation that they are filled with the fulness of the Godhead is so largely rejected, it is clear that the translation breaks down. He translates “in Him you are perfect,” and urges that this also overthrows the usual interpretation of πλήρ. τ. θεότ. But apart from the fact that πλήρωμα does not mean moral perfection, τῆς θεότ. cannot be supplied. What Paul means is that in Christ they find the satisfaction of every spiritual want. It therefore follows of itself that they do not need the angelic powers.—ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καί ἐξουσίας: cf. Colossians 1:18. That Christ is the Head of every principality and power is a further reason why they should not seek to them. All they need they have in Christ. Paul does not mention here the thrones or lordships as in Colossians 1:16. But it is a questionable inference that they, unlike the principalities and powers, had no place in the false teaching. The latter are probably adduced only as examples.10. And ye are complete in him] Lit. and better And ye are (emphatic) in Him filled full; or perhaps, with Lightfoot, And ye are in Him, filled full—two statements in one; you are in Him, and you are filled full in Him. You are in immediate union with Him, and in that union you possess, potentially and as you need it, all grace, as possessing Him in whom is all the Fulness. Cp. Ephesians 1:23 and our notes.—The word rendered “complete” is a grammatical echo of the word just above rendered “Fulness” or “Plenitude.”
Such are the resources of the believer, and of the Church, in their wonderful union with the Lord. What need then of alien and lower secrets of succour and strength?
which is the head &c.] See on Colossians 1:19 above. All the personal Powers of the Unseen, however real and glorious, are but limbs (in their order of being) of this Head; therefore no nearer to Him than you are, and no less dependent on Him. Live then on the Fountain, not on Its streams; use to the full the fulness which in Christ is yours.Colossians 2:10. Καὶ) and therefore.—ἐστὲ) ye are.—πεπληρωμένοι, filled up, made full [complete]) John 1:16. The fulness of Christ redounds to the Church; Psalm 133:2. Therefore His fulness is infinitely more abundant. He Himself is full; we are filled [by and from Him] with wisdom and power.—ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης, the head of all) Ephesians 1:10.—πάσης ἀρχῆς, of all principality) Therefore we ought to present our petitions to Christ, not to angels.Verse 10. - And (because) ye are in him made complete; or fulfilled (Ephesians 1:3, 7-11, 23; Ephesians 3:18, 19; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 4:19; Galatians 3:14, 24; Galatians 5:1, 4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 2:2). A complete Christ makes his people complete; his pleroma is our plerosis. Finding the whole fulness of God brought within our reach and engaged in our behalf (Philippians 2:7; Matthew 20:28) in him, we need not resort elsewhere to supply our spiritual needs (Philippians 4:19). "In him" is the primary predicate (see Alford, Ellicott, against Meyer: comp. ver. 3): "Ye are in him" is the assumption (Romans 8:1; Romans 16:7); "(ye are) made complete" is the inference. (On the verb πληρόω (the basis of pleroma), used in perfect participle of abiding result, see notes, Colossians 1:9, 19.) This completeness includes the furnishing of men with all that is required for their present and final salvation as individuals (vers. 11-15; Colossians 1:21, 22, 28), and for their collective perfection as forming the Church, the body of Christ (vers. 2, 19; Colossians 1:19; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 5:26, 27); for this twofold completeness, comp. Ephesians 4:12-16. Who is the Head of all principality and dominion (vers. 15, 18; Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:21; Philippians 2:10, 11; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Hebrews 1:6, 14; 1 Peter 3:22). (On "principality," etc., see note, Colossians 1:16.) The Colossians were being taught to replace or supplement Christ's offices by those of angel powers (see notes, vers. 15, 18). Philo ('Concerning Dreams,' 1. §§ 22, 23) writes thus of the angels: "Free from all bodily encumbrance, endowed with larger and diviner intellect, they are lieutenants of the All ruler, eyes and ears of the great King. Philosophers in general call them demons (δαίμονες); the sacred Scripture angels, for they report (διαγγέλλουσι) the injunctions of the Father to his children, and the wants of the children to their Father.... Angels, the Divine words, walk about [comp. 2 Corinthians 6:16] in the souls of those who have not yet completely washed off the (old) life, foul and stained through their cumbersome bodies, making them bright to the eyes of virtue." In such a strain the Colossian "philosopher" may have been talking. But if Christ is the Maker and Lord of these invisible powers - (Colossians 1:15, 16), and we are in him, then we must no longer look to them as our saviours.
Rev., made full. Compare John 1:16; Ephesians 1:23; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13. Not, ye are made full in Him, but ye are in Him, made full. In Him dwells the fullness; being in Him, ye are filled. Compare John 17:21; Acts 17:28.
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