Thursday, August 9, 2018

Colossians Words Day 9: Fullness

Day 9 ~ Fullness

The Greek word for fullness is pleroma which "describes a full measure or abundance with emphasis upon completeness without any gap or deficit. The idea of pleroma is sum total or totality of something." ~Bruce Hurt, Precept Austin. This word, like the word all, is another way that Paul exalts Christ and emphasizes our need for nothing else but Him. Using this word is another way Paul combats the false message of the teachers worming in on the Colossians. What is clever of Paul is that he uses the same word that the false teachers used. Some of the false teaching taking place in Colosse was believed to be an early form of Gnosticism, and one of their beliefs was that Jesus was one of many intermediary ways to God. They believed the fullness of divine powers and attributes were divided among various beings, such as angels. Thus, we see Paul's specific use of words to counter their false message, such as in Colossians 1:19 when he says that God was pleased - it was His will - that "all His fullness dwell in him". Even looking back to the prayer earlier in the chapter, in 1:9 where Paul emphasized that it is God who fills us with knowledge.

In our day and age, when many voices try to add this or that belief to the gospel of faith through Jesus Christ, Paul's message to the Colossians that the fullness of God is found in Christ alone, is still a  very relevant message. We saw yesterday that Paul felt called by God to serve the church (1:24). He goes on to further explain his calling in 1:25-27:
"I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 
Paul is commissioned - called, elected, made a steward - by God to present the word of God in its fullness - in its entirety, completely. What is the full message of the word of God? One thing noted in this passage is that it now includes the Gentiles. God has had a plan to unite the Jews and the Gentiles as His people from the very beginning. He said to Abraham, "I will make you into a great nation...and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3). The whole story of  the Old Testament is a journey to fulfilling that plan, which eventually is fulfilled through God sending His Son to redeem His people from the bondage of sin. Paul says it like this in his letter to the Galatians:
"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,Father.” Galatians 4:4-6

The other part of the "full message of God" is that it centers on Christ - "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (1:27). In Christ, God's plan is fulfilled. As promised in Ezekiel 36:26-27, through Christ, God has placed His Spirit in us, enabling us to follow Him fully and to obey His will.

Paul again  emphasizes his calling in sharing the full message of God's plan in chapter 2:
"My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:2-3

Later in chapter 2 Paul addresses head-on the threat the false teachers may have had on the Colossians by again exalting Christ.
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:8-10. As theologian Bob Utley says, "Jesus is the full and complete revelation of God". All of God is fully present in Christ.

Notice how Paul contrasts hollow (or empty) and deceptive philosophy of the false teachers with being brought to fullness (made complete) in Christ. When we are in Christ we have all we need. He is the fullness of God. We are in Him, He is in us, we live in Him, He lives in us. We are filled with Him.

Paul also describes this fullness we are filled with in the book of Ephesians:
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." Ephesians 1:22-23

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19

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