Meditations in Colossians: 36. Jesus the fullness of God
Col 1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
We always try to pick up every significant word in our verses in these studies and so we should wonder at the link word, ‘for’. It flows on from the previous verse that concluded, “so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Perhaps we could change it to read, “in everything he might have the supremacy because God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” Because God’s fullness was in him, all these others things happened and he was shown to be supreme above all others. What other human being could claim to contain the “fullness of God”?
Which leaves us wondering, what exactly does that phrase mean? Let’s use that little cheat method I’ve encouraged you to use, of seeing what the various paraphrase versions or other translations say. The Living Bible says, “God wanted all of himself to be in his Son.” The JBP version says, “It was in him that the full nature of God chose to live.” The Amplified Bible is more helpful;: “for it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently,” which is interesting because I have a CD commentary which comments, “For Paul “fullness” meant the totality of God with all his powers and attributes.”
Paul himself comments further on in this letter, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (Col 2:9) So, if God is good, then Jesus is good. If God is love, Jesus is love. If God is holy, then Jesus is holy. But we have to be careful, for other attributes of God the Father are that He is all powerful, all knowing, all wise, He is infinite, He is eternal and so on, and we have to ask, was Jesus all powerful, all knowing etc. and the answer has to be as far as the presence of the divine Son of God was in this particular body, and the Son was one with the Father and the Spirit, yes.
And yet there s a mystery here, how God can exist in a single human body and be God incarnate, God in the flesh. Clearly the body was limited in time and space (until after the resurrection) and there are indicators that suggest that the human person that was Jesus had limitations and had to rely upon the Holy Spirit. Yet he was God from conception and was still God when he ascended back to heaven, and he did not change in between.
So the human body clearly had human experiences and got tired and felt pain and anguish. Indeed I have suggested that when Jesus cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” that was the human element or maybe even the divine element covered in sin that momentarily lost the sense of the Father and Spirit. That they were still there, I have no doubt because the Father would never turn His loving back on His Son, even when he was going through what he was going through. No, not even the Sin of the world that the Son was carrying would have made the father turn away, because He faces it in you and me, even as He did in Abram, Isaac, Jacob, Moses etc. throughout history.
So how could divine and human blend together? Why is it so difficult to understand and distinguish divine and human in this incarnation? I think the best illustration I have heard of is the analogy of the Meal Offering of Lev 2. It consisted of fine flour, representing the humanity of our Lord, and olive oil which stands for the Holy Spirit and deity. Each become blended together to become for ever one. The cake that was thus made was one cake, not two, although the two materials exist together so we cannot see them. In the same way the two natures – human and divine – exist together but not being observable. With the incarnation, the Son who had pre-existed in heaven with the Father, became man.
The Son, we have seen a number of times now, existed from before the Creation, begotten of the Father (coming from the Father) and with all His attributes. From all we have seen, the Son was God and the Son came into being at the will and pleasure of the Father, and with all of the Father’s nature. It was this nature, these powers and attributes that we see expressed in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Gospels. The physical side (the flour) experienced all that we experience as human beings – except he did not sin: “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Heb 4:15)
The divine side, expressing the nature, powers and attributes of the Godhead enabled Him to perform the signs and wonders etc.: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him.” (Acts 2:22) When the body was put to death on the Cross, “God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24) Was it possible to distinguish human from divine? No, in the same way it is impossible to distinguish the flour from the oil in the cake.
Here’s a closing thought: “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him.” (Eph 1:22,23) “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:12,13) “you have been given fullness in Christ.” (Col 2:10) We said above that when it speaks of Christ being indwelt by the fullness of God it means the totality of God with all his powers and attributes. So if we have the fullness of Christ then we have access to all of God’s powers and attributes and the church has access to all of God’s powers and attributes. Ponder on that.