For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
I. As before we have CHRIST IN RELATION TO GOD.
1. In the use of the term "fulness," which was a very important term in Gnostic speculations, there is a reference to some of the heretical teachers' expressions. What fulness? (Colossians 2:9). The abundance or totality of the Divine attributes. We have no need to look to nature for fragmentary revelations of God's character — that He has fully and finally declared in His Son.
2. "Dwell" implies permanent abode, chosen, perhaps, to oppose the view that the union of the Divine and human in Christ was but temporary.
3. This is the result of the Father's good pleasure. The Father determined the work of the Son, and delighted in it.
II. Again, as before, we have CHRIST AND THE UNIVERSE, Of which He is not only the Maker, Sustainer, and Lord, but through the blood of the Cross reconciles all things to Himself. Probably the false teachers had dreams of reconciling agents. Paul lifts up in opposition the one Sovereign Mediator whose Cross is the bond of peace for the universe.
1. Observe the distinct reference of these words to the former clauses. "Through Him" was creation; "through Him" is reconciliation. "All things" were made, sustained by, and subordinated to Him; the same "all things" are reconciled. A significant change in the order is noticeable. "In the heavens and upon the earth" the order of creation; but in reconciliation the order is reversed.
2. The correspondence shows that the reconciliation affects not only rational and responsible creatures, but "things." The width of reconciliation is the same as that of the creation. Then these words refer mainly to the restitution of the material universe to its primal obedience, and represent Christ the Creator removing by His Cross the shadow that has passed over nature by reason of sin.
1. Man's sin has made the physical world "subject to vanity." Man by sin has compelled dead matter to be his instrument in acts of rebellion against God. He has polluted the world by sin, and laid unnumbered woes on the living creatures. This evil shall be done away by the reconciling power of the blood of the Cross. The universe is one because the Cross pierces its heights and depths.
2. The reference to things in heaven may also be occasioned by the dreams of the heretical teachers. As to reconciliation proper among spiritual beings in that realm, there can be no question of it. There is no enmity among angels. Still, if the reference be to them, then we know that to the principalities and powers in heavenly places the Cross has been the teacher of unlearned depths in the Divine nature and purposes, the knowledge of which has drawn them nearer to the heart of God and made their union with Him more blessed and close.
3. Sublime and great beyond all our dreams shall be the issue. Certain as the throne of God is it that His purposes shall be accomplished. The great sight of the Seer of Patmos is the best commentary on our text (Revelation 5:9-13).
III. CHRIST AND HIS RECONCILING WORK IN THE CHURCH. We have still the parallel kept up. As in verse 18 He was representing as giving life to the Church in a higher fashion than to the universe, so, with a similar heightening of the meaning of reconciliation, He is here set forth as its giver to the Church.
1. Observe the solemn description of men before it. "Alienated," not "aliens," but having become so. The seat of the enmity is in that inner man which thinks and wills, and its sphere of manifestation is "in evil works" which are religiously acts of hostility to God because morally bad. This is thought nowadays a too harsh description. But the charge is not that of conscious, active hostility, but of practical want of affection as manifested by habitual disobedience or inattention to God's wishes and by indifference and separation from Him in heart and mind.
2. Here as uniformly God Himself is the Reconciler, it is we who are reconciled. The Divine patience loves on through all our enmity, and though perfect love meeting human sin must ever become wrath, it never becomes hatred.
3. The means of reconcilition.
(1) "The body," etc., an exuberance of language to correct, perhaps, the error of that our Lord's body was only a phantasm, or to guard against the risk of confounding it with "His body the Church," or as showing how full His mind was of the overwhelming wonder of the fact.
(2) But the Incarnation is not the whole gospel; "through death" Christ's death has so met the requirements of the Divine law, that Divine love can come freely forth and forgive sinful men.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;