CHAPTER 2: Part 7: Fullness in Christ: Dead and Raised
Meditations in Colossians 2: 11: Fullness in Christ
Col 2:9,10 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Before I write another word, tell me, what does “fullness in Christ’ mean? It’s another one of those phrases that crop up in Scripture that really needs thinking about if we are to understand it. But let’s start with verse 9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” That is fairly straight forward because Paul has taken us down this path in chapter 1 when he said, “He is the image of the invisible Go the firstborn of creation.” (1:15) which we considered in studies 29 and 30 of chapter 1.
Now it may be that Paul is countering the growing Gnostic heresy which made Jesus less than that which the New Testament teaches. For the Gnostics, Jesus was first just a human being. The heavenly ruler descended on this human and deserted him at his Passion (in some sects this heavenly ruler or Christ descends again on the risen body after the resurrection and enables him to teach his disciples for a further eighteen months.) Both modern day Judaism and modern day Islam similarly reject claims to divinity in Jesus, but the apostle Paul with his revelation of Christ on the Damascus road is quite clear. Verse 9 could not be more explicit: “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.”
The JBP version is particularly good and helpful for this verse: “it is in him that God gives a full and complete expression of himself (within the physical limits that he set himself in Christ). Moreover, your own completeness is only realised in him….” Doesn’t it say it well! “In him (Christ) God gives a full and complete expression of himself” but then adds the rider, “(within the physical limits that he set himself in Christ).” In other words look at the person of Jesus Christ in the Gospels and you see God. Do you remember Jesus saying to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) We have considered this before so we won’t go into it any more.
But we haven’t noted the context, to which the starting word ‘For’ alerts us. In verse 6 he had said, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him,” and then in verse 8 he speaks of “deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” It is therefore important that we understand who Christ is if we are to “live in him” and depend on him.
Do you see the logic that follows in these verses, flowing on one from another? Christ is at the heart of all we are, all we experience, and all we know, and so now Paul gives us the reason why we can rely on this: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” (v.9) This Jesus that we follow is God in the flesh. But it doesn’t end there. It is staggering enough just to say that, but Paul doesn’t finish there; he says something else which is equally staggering: “and you have been given fullness in Christ.” Hence back to my starting question, what does that mean?
Well let’s think about the lead-in sentence again: “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Perhaps another way of saying that might be, in Christ we see God completely, Jesus is completely God. So now we might take “and you have been given fullness in Christ,” and put it, “and you have been made complete in Christ in your union with God.” That is the wonder of our salvation, we have been made complete. There was always something missing in us before we came to Christ for, as some have put it, ‘there was a God’s shaped hole in us’ and it was empty while we were estranged from God by our Sin. But now He has come into us and that empty hole has been filled.
When Jesus was nearing the end of the Sermon on the Mount he taught, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) That word ‘perfect’ means whole or complete, lacking nothing. That could not have been said of us before we came to Christ, but since He came into us, it is true. He has made us whole or complete, lacking nothing. The Living version puts it, “so you have everything when you have Christ, and you are filled with God through your union with Christ.” When you have everything, you are complete, you are full up with all you ever need.
Do you realise this? With Him in you, you never need anything else; He is the complete or perfect resource, there is nothing He cannot give you. If you need physical strength, He can give it to you. If you need healing, He can give it to you. If you need wisdom He can give it to you. If you need revelation, insight, understanding, He can give it to you. Why? He has it all; He is God, He is without limit. (Why is it that we don’t get these things so often? Simply, so often we don’t believe it!)
This limitless resource we usually call His grace. When we see it like this, some of Paul’s sayings suddenly make sense. For example, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) Whatever He asks me to do, I can do, because I have been made complete in Christ, I have everything I need for the job! Or a little later in that same letter, “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19) i.e. My God will meet every need you have because you have Christ in you and Christ is God with unlimited resources – and they’re all available to you! Isn’t that incredible!
Again it makes sense of all the “all” words in 2 Cor 9:8 – “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” i.e. God can make all of His resources flow to you without limit, so that in any place and at any time you will always have absolutely everything you need to enable you to absolutely overflow in ever good thing you put your hand to that He leads you into. As we said before, incredible isn’t it!
Now if you are not absolutely certain of these things, please go back and reread this whole meditation again and again until you are, because in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, you are absolutely complete and lack nothing with him in you. Now, jump up and down and scream and shout at the wonder of that!