Colossians 2:9
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
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(9) In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.—Here almost every word is emphatic. First, “All the fulness of the Godhead”—not a mere emanation from the Supreme Being. Next, “dwells” and remains for ever—not descending on Him for a time and leaving Him again. Lastly, “bodily,” i.e., as incarnate in His humanity. The whole is an extension and enforcement of Colossians 1:19, “God was pleased that in Him all the fulness should dwell.” The horror of all that was material, as having in it the seed of evil, induced denial either of the reality of our Lord’s body, or of its inseparable connection with the Godhead in Him. Hence the emphasis here; as also we find (somewhat later) in St. John, “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14); “The spirit which confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh . . . is the spirit of antichrist” (1John 4:3).

On the meaning of “fullness” (plerorna), see Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13. Here it is only necessary to add, that, as in the later Gnosticism, so probably in its earlier forms, the word was used for the infinite nature of the Supreme Deity, out of which all the emanations (afterwards called Æons) received in various degrees of imperfection, according to their capacity. Probably for that reason St. Paul uses it so emphatically here. In the same spirit, St. John declares (John 1:16), Out of His (Christ’s) fulness have all we received.” It is not finite, but infinitely perfect; hence we all can draw from it, yet leave it unimpaired.

Colossians 2:9-10. For in him dwelleth Inhabiteth, κατοικει, continually abideth; all the fulness of the Godhead — Believers may be filled with all the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:19; but in Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, the most full Godhead, Colossians 1:19; bodily — Really, substantially. The very substance of God, if one might so speak, dwells in Christ in the most full sense. “It is plain,” says Dr. Doddridge, “that the Godhead is an anglicism equivalent to Deity. Compare Acts 17:29. And I cannot think that these wonderful words are intended merely to signify that God hath lodged in the hands of Christ a fulness of gifts, to be conferred upon men, as if the passage were merely parallel to John 1:16-17, as Mr. Pierce explains it; while Socinus sinks it yet lower, as if it only referred to his complete knowledge of the divine will. I assuredly believe, that as it contains an evident allusion to the Shechinah, in which God dwelt, so it ultimately refers to the adorable mystery of the union of the divine and human natures in the person of the glorious Emmanuel, which makes him such an object of our hope and confidence, as the most exalted creature, with the most glorious endowments, could never of himself be.” And ye are complete in him — You have in and from him every thing necessary to your salvation, all the wisdom and knowledge, the righteousness and strength, the holiness, support, and comfort that you stand in need of, to enable you to glorify God on earth, and to prepare you for being glorified with him in heaven. But the original expression, εν αυτω πεπληρωμενοι, is literally, ye are filled by him. See on John 1:16. Christ is filled with God, and ye are filled with, or by, Christ. The fulness of Christ overflows his church, Psalm 133:3. He is originally full, but our fulness is derived from him. Who is the head of all principality and power — Of angels as well as men. Not from angels, therefore, but from their Head, are we to ask whatever we stand in need of. The supremacy of Christ over all created beings, is asserted in many other passages of Scripture. See the margin. A doctrine this which affords the greatest consolation to the people of God, as it assures them that nothing befalls them without his permission, and that all things shall work together for their good.

2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.For in him dwelleth - That is, this was the great and central doctrine that was to be maintained about Christ, that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him. Every system which denied this was a denial of the doctrine which they had been taught; and against every thing that would go to undermine this; they were especially to be on their guard. Almost all heresy has been begun by some form of the denial of the great central truth of the incarnation of the Son of God.

All the fulness - Notes, Colossians 1:19.

Of the Godhead - Of the Divinity, the divine nature - θεότης theotēs. The word is one that properly denotes the divine nature and perfections. Robinson, Lexicon. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

Bodily - σωματικῶς sōmatikōs. This word also is found nowhere else in the New Testament, though the adjective bodily - σωματικὸς sōmatikos - occurs twice; Luke 3:22, "in a bodily shape;" and 1 Timothy 4:8, "for bodily exercise profiteth little." The word means, "having a bodily appearance, instead of existing or appearing in a spiritual form;" and the fair sense of the phrase is, that the fullness of the divine nature became incarnate, and was indwelling in the body of the Redeemer. It does not meet the case to say, as Crellius does, that the "whole divine will was in him," for the word θεότη theotē - "godhead" - does not mean the will of God; and it is as certainly true that the inspired prophets were under the control of the divine will, as that the Saviour was. Nor can it mean, as Socinus supposes, that the fulness of divine knowledge dwelt in him, for this is not the proper meaning of the word (θεότης theotēs) "godhead;" nor can it mean, for the same reason, that a fullness of divine gifts was intrusted to him. The language is such as would be obviously employed on the supposition that God became incarnate, and appeared in human form; and there is no other idea which it so naturally expresses, nor is there any other which it can be made to express without a forced construction. The meaning is, that it was not anyone attribute of the Deity that became incarnate in the Saviour; that he was not merely endowed with the knowledge, or the power, or the wisdom of God; but that the whole Deity thus became incarnate, and appeared in human form; compare John 14:9; John 1:18. No language could, therefore, more clearly demonstrate the divinity of Christ. Of what mere man - of what angel, could it be used?

9. For—"Because." Their "philosophy" (Col 2:8) is not "after Christ," as all true philosophy is, everything which comes not from, and tends not to, Him, being a delusion; "For in Him (alone) dwelleth" as in a temple, &c.

the fulness—(Col 1:19; Joh 14:10).

of the Godhead—The Greek (theotes) means the ESSENCE and NATURE of the Godhead, not merely the divine perfections and attributes of Divinity (Greek, "theiotes"). He, as man, was not merely God-like, but in the fullest sense, God.

bodily—not merely as before His incarnation, but now "bodily in Him" as the incarnate word (Joh 1:14, 18). Believers, by union with Him, partake of His fulness of the divine nature (Joh 1:16; 2Pe 1:4; see on [2415]Eph 3:19).

For; the causal particle induceth this as an argument to enforce the caution immediately foregoing, against those who did seek to draw from Christ by philosophy, as well as urging the ceremonial law; else the apostle’s reasoning were not cogent unless against both.

In him; it is evident that the Lord Jesus Christ himself, whom he had described and but just now named, is the subject, the person of whom he speaks, and in whom is seated, and unto whom he attributes, what followeth, Colossians 1:19 John 1:4 1 Timothy 4:16. He doth not say, in his doctrine, whatever Socinians cavil, as if they would render the apostle absurd, and not to agree with himself in what he asserts of Christ’s person before (as hath been showed) and after in the context. It is plain this relative him, respects not only Colossians 2:8, but Colossians 2:11, &c. in whom the believing Colossians are said to be complete as their Head, both in the former chapter, and soon after in this. Would it not be absurd to say, Christ’s doctrine is the head of angels? We are crucified in the doctrine of Christ? Buried and quickened together with his doctrine? The hand-writing of ordinances was nailed to the cross of doctrine? Is a doctrine the head of principalities and powers? Can a doctrine be buried in baptism? &c. To silence all the earth, that they should not restrain it to Christ’s doctrine only, what he asserts of his person, Paul, after Christ had been several years in heaven, put it in the present tense,

dwelleth, not dwelt, {as 2 Timothy 1:5} in regard of the person eternally the same, Hebrews 13:8; for his argument had not been cogent, to contain Christians in the faith of Christ, and their duty to him, to have alleged, in the doctrine of Christ now in heaven hath dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (could propriety of speech have allowed it); but from the other respect, because in their very flesh (the body of Christ, now an inhabitant of the heavens) the very Godhead, in the whole fulness thereof, personally, from the moment of his incarnation, doth yet dwell. What will not the faithful perform and work out with their utmost faith, that they may never suffer themselves to be rent from spiritual and mystical union with him, in whom they understand that even they themselves shall be also divinely filled, Colossians 2:10, i.e. in their measure be made partakers of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4.

Dwelleth imports more than a transient stay for a few minutes, or a little while, even abiding in him constantly and for ever, as dwelling most usually notes, 2 Corinthians 6:16. That which doth thus perpetually abide in his person, as denominated after the human nature, is all the fulness of the Godhead, viz. that rich and incomprehensible abundance of perfections, whereof the supreme and adorable nature is full; so that indeed there is not at all any perfection or excellency in the Divine nature but is found abiding in him. And after no common or ordinary way, but by a hypostatical or personal union of the Godhead with the manhood in Christ; which is not by way of mixture, confusion, conversion, or any other mutation; but

bodily, to exclude that inhabitation which is only by extrinsical denomination. It being an adverb, doth denote the manner as well as the subject; wherefore when he speaks of the temple of his body, John 2:21, that doth not fully reach the apostle’s meaning here: but it must be expounded personally, since in the Greek that which signifies with us a body, and so our English word body, is put for a person, Romans 12:1 2 Corinthians 5:10 Revelation 18:13: somebody or nobody, i.e. some person or no person. There is a presence of the Godhead general, by essence and power; particular, in the prophets and apostles working miracles: gracious, in all sanctified ones; glorious, in heaven, in light which no man can approach unto, 1 Timothy 6:16; relative, in the church visible and ordinances, typically under the law, and symbolically in the sacraments: but all these dwellings, or being present in the creature, fall short of that in the text, viz. bodily, connoting the personal habitation of the Deity in, and union of it with, the humanity of Christ, so close, and strait, and intimate, that the Godhead inhabiting and the manhood inhabited make but one and the same person, even as the reasonable soul and body in man make but one man. The way of the presence of the Deity with the humanity of Christ is above all those manners of the presence of God with angels and men. The Godhead dwells in him personally, in them in regard of assistance and energy: Godhead notes the truth of it; Christ was not only partaker of the Divine nature, 2 Peter 1:4, but the very Godhead dwells in him: it is not only the Divinity (as the Socinians, following the Vulgar Latin in this, would have it) but the Deity, the very nature and essence of God. Now it is observable, though in God himself Divinity and Deity be indeed the same, Romans 1:20, and may differ only from the manner of our conception and contemplation; yet here, when the enemies to Christ’s Deity might by their cavilling make more use of the word Divinity, (as when the soul of man is said to be a divine thing), to insinuate as if it here noted only the Divine will exclusive to the other attributes, (which exclusion the term all doth significantly prevent), the apostle puts in Deity or Godhead. Then lest Christ might (as by the Arians) be deemed a secondary God, or (as some since) a made god, inferior to the Father, he saith the fulness of the Godhead, which speaks him perfect God, coequal with the Father: further, connoting a numerical sameness of essence between the Godhead of the Father and the Son, all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in him. There is not one fulness of the Father and another of the Son, but one and the same singular Godhead in both, John 10:30. The fulness of the manhood in Adam and Eve were not numerically the same, but the Godhead of the Father and the Son is: yet is not the manhood of Christ co-extended and commensurate with the Godhead (as some Lutherans conceit); but where the manhood is, or Christ as man is, or hath his existence, there the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily: so that this fulness is extended as the manhood only in which it is, and not as far as the Deity in which this derivative fulness is not as in its seat, though it be all originally from it, but inherently or subjectively in Christ.

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. This is to be understood, not of the doctrine, or Gospel of Christ, as being a perfect revelation of the will of God; but of Christ, and particularly of his human nature, as consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul, in which the Godhead dwells in a most eminent manner: God indeed is everywhere by his powerful presence, was in the tabernacle and temple in a very singular manner, and dwells in the saints in a way of special grace; but resides in the human nature of Christ, in the highest and most exalted manner; that is to deity what the human body is to an human soul, it is the house in which it dwells: so Philo the Jew (t) calls the "Logos" the house of God, who is the soul of the universe; and elsewhere says (u), that God himself has filled the divine Logos wholly with incorporeal powers. The Godhead dwells in Christ as in a tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacle of Moses, which looked mean without side, but glorious within; where God granted his presence, and accepted the sacrifices of his people; the human nature of Christ is the true antitypical tabernacle, which God pitched, and not man; and sometimes is called a temple, in allusion to Solomon's; and which is filled with the train of the divine perfections, signified by fulness here: for not the fulness of grace, or a communicative fulness, is here meant; nor the relative fulness, the church; but the fulness of the divine nature, of all the perfections of deity, such as eternity, immensity, omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, necessary and self existence, and every other; for if anyone perfection was wanting, the fulness, much less all the fulness of the Godhead, would not be in him. The act of inhabitation denotes the union of the two natures in Christ, and expresses the distinction of them; and is to be understood of the Godhead, as subsisting in the person of the Son of God, and not as subsisting in the person of the Father, or of the Spirit; and shows the permanency of this union, it is a perpetual abiding one; and this fulness is not dependent on the Father's pleasure; it is not said of this as of another fulness, Colossians 1:19; that it pleased the Father that it should dwell in him: the manner in which it dwells, is "bodily"; not by power, as in the universe; nor by grace, as in the saints; nor by any glorious emanations of it, as in heaven; nor by gifts, as in the prophets and eminent men of God; nor by signs symbols, and shadows, as in the tabernacle and temple; but essentially and personally, or by personal union of the divine nature, as subsisting in the Son of God to an human body, chosen and prepared for that purpose, together with a reasonable human soul; which is the great mystery of godliness, the glory of the Christian religion, and what qualified Christ for, and recommends him to us as a Saviour; and is a reason why, as these words are, that the Gospel should be abode by, continued in, and that with thankfulness: nor should any regard be had to vain and deceitful philosophy, to the traditions of men, or rudiments of the world: Christ only is to be looked to, attended, and followed, who has all fulness in him,

(t) De migr. Abraham, p. 389. (u) De Sommiis, p. 574.

{8} For in {l} him {m} dwelleth {n} all the fulness of the Godhead {o} bodily.

(8) A reason: because only Christ, being God and man, is most perfect, and passes far above all things, so that whoever has him, requires nothing more.

(l) By these words is shown a distinction of the natures.

(m) This word dwelleth notes out to us the joining together of those natures, so that God and man, is one Christ.

(n) These words declare that the perfect Godhead is in Christ.

(o) The union of God and man, is substantial and essential.

Colossians 2:9. Since indeed in Him dwells, etc. This is not “a peg upon which the interpolator hangs his own thoughts” (Holtzmann). On the contrary, Paul assigns a reason for the οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν just said, with a view more effectually to deter them from the false teachers. The force of the reason assigned lies in the fact that, if the case stand so with Christ, as is stated in Colossians 2:9 ff., by every other regulative principle of doctrine that which is indicated in the words κατὰ Χριστόν is excluded and negatived. Others make the reason assigned refer to the warning: βλέπετε κ.τ.λ., so that ὅτι adduces the reason why they ought to permit this warning to be addressed to them (Hofmann, comp. Huther and Bleek); but, in opposition to this view, it may be urged that the ἐν αὐτῷ placed emphatically first (in Him and in no other) points back to the immediately preceding οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν (comp. Chrysostom and Calvin); there is therefore nothing to show that the reference of ὅτι ought to be carried further back (to βλέπετε). In Christ the whole fulness of Godhead—what a contrast to the human παράδοσις and the στοιχεῖα of the world!

κατοικεῖ] The present, for it is the exalted Christ, in the state of His heavenly δόξα, that is in view. Comp. Colossians 1:15. In Him the entire πλήρωμα has its κατοικητήριον (Ephesians 2:22), so that He is the personal bearer of it, the personal seat of its essential presence.

πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα (comp. on Colossians 1:19) is here more precisely defined by the “vocabulum abstractum significantissimum” (Bengel) τῆς θεότητος, which specifies what dwells in Christ in its entire fulness, i.e. not, it may be, partially, but in its complete entirety. On the genitive, comp. Romans 11:25; Romans 15:29. It is not the genitive auctoris (Nösselt: “universa comprehensio eorum, quae Deus per Christum vellet in homines transferre”); the very abstract θεότητ. should have been a sufficient warning against this view, as well as against the interpretation: “id quod inest θεότητι” (Bähr). ἡ θεότης, the Godhead (Lucian, Icarom. 9; Plut. Mor. p. 415 C), the abstract from ὁ Θεός, is to be distinguished from ἡ θειότης, the abstract from θεῖος (Romans 1:20; Wis 18:19; Lucian, de calumn. 17). The former is Deitas, the being God, i.e. the divine essence, Godhead; the latter is divinitas, i.e. the divine quality, godlikeness. See on Romans 1:20. Accordingly, the essence of God, undivided and in its whole fulness, dwells in Christ in His exalted state, so that He is the essential and adequate image of God (Colossians 1:15), which He could not be if He were not possessor of the divine essence. The distinction between what is here said about Christ and what is said about Him in Colossians 1:19 is, that the πλήρωμα is here meant metaphysically, of the divina essentia, but in the former passage charismatically, of the divina gratia, and that κατοικεῖν is conceived here as in present permanence, but in the former passage historically (namely, of Christ’s historical, earthly appearance). See on Colossians 1:19. The erroneous attempts that have been made to explain away the literal meaning thus definitely and deliberately expressed by Paul, are similar to those in Colossians 1:19. One of these, in particular, is the mis-explanation referring it to the church as the God-filled organ of divine self-revelation (Heinrichs, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schenkel) which has its dwelling-place in Christ.[92] Already Theodoret (comp. τινές in Chrysostom), indeed, quotes the explanation that Christ signifies the church in which the πλήρωμα dwells, but on account of σωματικῶς hesitates to agree to it, and rather accedes to the common view, thereby deviating from his interpretation of Colossians 1:19. Theophylact is substantially right (comp. Chrysostom and Oecumenius): εἰ τί ἐστιν ὁ Θεὸς λόγος, ἐν αὐτῷ οἰκεῖ, so that the fulness of the Godhead in the ontological, and not in the simply mystical or morally religious sense (de Wette) is meant.

But how does it dwell in Christ? σωματικῶς, in bodily fashion, i.e. in such a way that through this indwelling in Christ it is in a bodily form of appearance, clothed with a body. Comp. also Hofmann in loc., and Schriftbew. II. 1, p. 29; Weiss, Bibl. Theol. p. 428, ed. 2. It is not in Christ (ἀσωμάτως), as before the Incarnation it was in the λόγος (Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος, John 1:1), but (comp. also Gess, Pers. Chr. p. 260 ff.) it is in His glorified body (Php 3:21), so that the ἐν μορφῇ Θεοῦ and ἰσα Θεῷ εἶναι, which already existed in the λόγος ἄσαρκος (Php 2:6), now in Christ’s estate of exaltation—which succeeded the state of humiliation, whereby the μορφὴ Θεοῦ was affected—have a bodily frame, are in bodily personality.[93] Of course the θεότης does not thereby itself come into the ranks of the σωματικαὶ οὐσίαι (Plat. Locr. p. 96 A), but is in the exalted Christ after a real fashion σωματικῷ εἴδει (Luke 3:22), and therefore Christ Himself is the visible divine-human image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). In this glory, as Possessor of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily, He will also appear at the Parousia—an appearance, therefore, which will manifest itself visibly (1 John 3:2) as the actual ἐπιφάνεια τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου Θεοῦ (Titus 2:13). The reference of the whole statement, however, to the exalted Christ is placed beyond question by the use of the present κατοικεῖ, which asserts the presently existing relation, without requiring a νῦν along with it (in opposition to Huther). The renderings: essentialiter, οὐσιωδῶς (Cyril, Theophylact, Calvin, Beza, and others, including Usteri, Steiger, Olshausen, Huther, Bisping), in which case some thought of a contrast to the divine ἐνέργεια in the prophets (see Theophylact), and: realiter (Augustine, Erasmus, Vatablus, Cornelius a Lapide, Grotius, Schoettgen, Wolf, Nösselt, Bleek, and others), in which was found the opposite of τυπικῶς (Colossians 2:17), are linguistically inappropriate; for σωματικός never means anything else than corporeus. Comp. on the adverb, Plut. Mor. p. 424 D. The less justifiable is the hypothesis of Rich. Schmidt (Paul. Christol. p. 191), that in the term σωματικῶς the contrast of Colossians 2:17 was already present to the apostle’s mind. Those who adopt the erroneous explanation of πλήρωμα as referring to the church, assign to σωματικῶς the meaning: “so that the church stands related to Him as His body” (Baumgarten-Crusius and Schenkel), which issues in the absurdity that the body of Christ is held to dwell in Christ, whereas conversely Christ could not but dwell in His body. It is true that the church is related to Christ as His body, not, however, in so far as it dwells in Him (and, according to the context, this must have been the case here, if the explanation in question be adopted), but either in so far as He dwells in it, or in so far as He is its Head, which latter thought is quite foreign to the connection of the passage; for even in Colossians 2:10 Christ is not called the Head of the church. It is, morever, to be observed, that the adverb is placed emphatically at the end. The special reason, however, on account of which the κατοικεῖν κ.τ.λ. is thus prominently set forth as bodily, cannot, indeed, be directly shown to have been supplied by the circumstances of the Colossians, but is nevertheless to be recognised in an apologetic interest of opposition to the false teachers, who by their doctrines concerning the angels (comp. Colossians 2:10 : ἀρχῆς κ. ἐξουσ.) must have broken up, in a spiritualistic sense, the πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος.

[92] Thus, indeed, the fulness of the Godhead has been removed from Christ, but there has only been gained instead of it the unbiblical idea that the church dwells in Christ. The church has its support in Christ as the corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20-21), but it does not dwell in Him. On the contrary, Christ dwells in the church, which is His body, and the πλήρωμα filled by Him (see on Ephesians 1:23), namely, in virtue of the Spirit dwelling in the church (see on Ephesians 2:22), which is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Php 1:19).

[93] It is now only worth remarking historically, but is almost incredible, how the Socinians have twisted our verse. Its sense in their view is: “quod in doctrina ipsius tota Dei voluntas integre et reapse est patefacta,” Catech. Racov. 194, p. 398, ed. Oeder. Calovius gives a refutation in detail.

Colossians 2:9. ὅτι is connected by Bleek and Meyer with οὐ κατὰ χ., but it is much more probable that it should be connected with the whole warning introduced by βλέπετε. The false teachers represented the fulness of the Godhead as distributed among the angels, and thus led their victims captive. Paul’s warning against the false doctrine thus rests on the fact that it was in Christ that the whole fulness dwelt.—ἐν αὐτῷ is emphatic, in Him and in Him alone.—κατοικεῖ: “permanently dwells”. The reference is to the Exalted State, not only on account of the present, but of the context and Paul’s Christology generally.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος: “all the fulness of the Godhead”. πᾶν is emphatic, the whole fulness dwells in Christ, therefore it is vain to seek it wholly or partially outside of Him. πλ. τ. θ. is not to be taken (as by Ol.) to mean the perfection of Divinity, i.e., ideal holiness. Nor can it mean the Church, for which Ephesians 1:23 gives no support, nor yet the universe, either of which must have been very differently expressed. The addition of θεότητος defines πλ. as the fulness of Deity. The word is to be distinguished from θειότης as Deity, the being God, from Divinity, the being Divine or Godlike. The passage thus asserts the real Deity of Christ.—σωματικῶς. This word is very variously interpreted. The reference is usually taken to be to the glorified body of Christ, or (as by Lightf.) to the Incarnation, and the word is translated “in bodily fashion”. Apart from the question whether the word naturally expresses this, there is the difficulty caused by the contrast implied in its emphatic position. This contrast is sometimes thought to be to the pre-incarnate state, but this has no relevance here. A contrast to the angels might be in point, but they were closely connected with bodies, so the contrast in this respect did not exist. But neither is Soden’s view that while the angels have bodies what is expressed in them is only θειότης (Romans 1:20) not πλ. τ. θεότητος, a tenable explanation, since this is just read into the words, not elicited from them; nor could such a distinction have occurred to the readers. This interpretation of σωμ., then, as expressing the indwelling of the fulness in a body, although said by Abbott to be “the only one tenable,” is encumbered with grave difficulties, and has been rejected by several commentators. Many have taken it to mean “really” (recently Bleek, Kl[12], Everling, Cremer). This is supported by the contrast of σῶμα with σκιά in Colossians 2:17, the indwelling is real and not shadowy or typical. But σωματικῶς could hardly express this shade of meaning unless the antithesis was expressed. Oltramare translates “personally, in His person”. But he quotes no instances of the adverb, but only of σῶμα. And Haupt’s criticism is just, that this sense might suggest that in God Himself it dwelt impersonally. After an elaborate examination of the various views, Haupt puts forward the explanation that σωματ. relates to τ. πλ. τ. θ., and is to be translated “in the form of a body”. The meaning he takes to be that the fulness exists in Christ as a body, that is as a complete and organic whole. This suits the context and the general argument better than the reference to Christ’s own body. In contrast to the distribution of the fulness among the angels, or to the view that it dwelt only partially in Him, Paul insists that all the fulness dwells in Him, and not fragmentarily but as an organic whole. This view, like Oltramare’s, is supported only by references to the use of σῶμα. This is not a fatal objectiön, and its harmony with the context makes it the most probable interpretation.

[12] Klöpper.

9. For] He is about to shew that “Christ” is the antithesis of this false gospel in two respects; (a) His glorious Person is all in all as the substance of the true Gospel; (b) His code of resulting observance appears not in an ascetic rule but in a life of liberty and purity in union with the Risen Lord Himself.

in him dwelleth &c.] See above on Colossians 1:19.

the Godhead] The Greek word (theotês) stands here alone in the N.T. It is as strong as possible; Deity, not only Divinity, which is a word much more elastic and inclusive.—The Latin Versions have divinitas here; and the word deitas was coined later, on purpose to express the true force of theotês. See Lightfoot, who quotes Trench’s Synonyms.

bodily] “ ‘Bodily-wise,’ ‘corporeally’; with a bodily manifestation” (Lightfoot).—From all eternity the Divine Plenitude had “dwelt” in the Son of the Father. But in the Incarnation of the Son this indwelling dwelling had been, “for us men and our salvation,” conditioned by the fact of the Lord’s true human Body. In that Body, and through it, was manifested His union with us, and was wrought out His work for us in life and death. From Him now exalted, not only as the Son but as the Son Incarnate, Slain, and Risen, radiates to all His members the Holy Ghost (Revelation 5:6). So, for us, the Divine Plenitude dwells in Him “bodily-wise”; not circumscribed by His holy human Body, which “is in heaven and not here” (see the last Rubric of the Communion Office), but eternally conditioned, as to our fruition of It, by the fact of His Incarnation.

Colossians 2:9. Ὃτι) for, since. The reason is hereby given, why those alone should be attended to, who teach according to Christ.—ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him) John 14:10.—κατοικεῖ, dwells) ch. Colossians 1:19, note.—πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος, all the fulness of the Godhead) Believers are filled with [rather into, εἰς τὸ πλήρωμα, so as to enter into a living participation of] all the fulness of God; Ephesians 3:19. But all the fulness of the Godhead, i.e. the Godhead in its greatest fulness, dwells in Christ; not merely the Divine attributes, but the Divine nature itself; ch. Colossians 1:19. The abstract word is most significant.[7]—σωματικῶς, bodily) God is the head of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:3, and Christ is the head of all, Colossians 2:10; and Christ is related to God, as His body, the Church, is to Christ; but Christ could not with propriety be called the body of God. Therefore the language is varied. The Godhead itself, as it were the very entire substance (essence) of the Godhead, dwells in Christ, in a manner most immediate (vividly present) and most real. The type was God’s glory dwelling in the temple of Solomon. Σῶμα, the body, does not always denote the body properly so called; Colossians 2:11; Colossians 2:17[7] “Of the Godhead,” in its essence not merely θειότητος, of the godlike character.—ED.

Verse 9. - Because in him dwelleth all the fulness (or, completeness) of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 1:19; Philippians 2:6-8; Romans 1:3, 4; Romans 9:5; John 1:1, 14). In Colossians 1:18-20 we viewed a series of events; here we have an abiding fact. The whole plenitude of our Lord's Divine-human person and powers, as the complete Christ, was definitively constituted when, in the exercise of his kingly prerogative, "he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." "From henceforth" that fulness evermore resides in him (comp. note, Colossians 1:19). The undivided pleroma of Colossians 1:19 now reveals its twofold nature: it is "the fulness of the Godhead," and yet "dwells corporeally in him." "Godhead" (θεότης) is the abstract of "God" (θεός), not of the adjective "Divine" (θεῖος: the Vulgate therefore, wrongly, divinitatis: comp. Romans 1:20; Acts 17:29; Wisd. 18:9), and denotes,"not Divine excellences, but the Divine nature" (Bengel); see Trench's 'Synonyms.' Schenkel and others, guided by a conjecture of Theodoret, have found here the Church, supporting their view by a very doubtful interpretation of Ephesians 1:23. Still more groundless is the identification of this pleroma with the created world. The apostle unmistakably affirms that the Divine nature, in its entirety, belongs to the Church's Christ. The literal sense of "bodily" (maintained by Meyer, Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Hofmann, after Chrysostom and Athanasius) has been avoided by those who render it "wholly" (Jerome); "essentially, substantially" (Cyril, Theophylact, Calvin, Klopper), as opposed to "relatively" or "partially;" "truly" (Augustine, Erasmus, Bengel, Bleek), as opposed to "figuretively" (ver. 17). The adverb σωματικῶς (always literal in classical usage, along with its adjective) occurs only here in the New Testament; the adjective "bodily" in 1 Timothy 4:8; Luke 3:22. "The body of his flesh" in Colossians 1:22 affords a truer parallel than the language of ver. 17, where σῶμα, bears an exceptional sense (see note). Elsewhere St. Paul balances in similar fashion expressions relating to the twofold nature of Christ (see parallels). The assertion that "all the fulness of Deity" dwells in Christ negatives the Alexandrine "philosophy," with its cloud of mediating angel powers and spiritual emanations; the assertion that it dwells in him bodily equally condemns that contempt for the body and the material world which was the chief practical tenet of the same school (comp. notes on Colossians 1:22 and Colossians 2:23). Colossians 2:9Fullness

See on Colossians 1:19.

Godhead (θεότητος)

Only here in the New Testament. See on Romans 1:20, where θειότης divinity or godhood is used. Appropriate there, because God personally would not be known from His revelation in nature, but only His attributes - His majesty and glory. Here Paul is speaking of the essential and personal deity as belonging to Christ. So Bengel: "Not the divine attributes, but the divine nature."

Bodily (σωματικῶς)

In bodily fashion or bodily-wise. The verse contains two distinct assertions: 1. That the fullness of the Godhead eternally dwells in Christ. The present tense κατοικεῖ dwelleth, is used like ἐστιν is (the image), Colossians 1:15, to denote an eternal and essential characteristic of Christ's being. The indwelling of the divine fullness in Him is characteristic of Him as Christ, from all ages and to all ages. Hence the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him before His incarnation, when He was "in the form of God" (Philippians 2:6). The Word in the beginning, was with God and was God (John 1:1). It dwelt in Him during His incarnation. It was the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth, and His glory which was beheld was the glory as of the Only begotten of the Father (John 1:14; compare 1 John 1:1-3). The fullness of the Godhead dwells in His glorified humanity in heaven.

2. The fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him in a bodily way, clothed the body. This means that it dwells in Him as one having a human body. This could not be true of His preincarnate state, when He was "in the form of God," for the human body was taken on by Him in the fullness of time, when "He became in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7), when the Word became flesh. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt in His person from His birth to His ascension. He carried His human body with Him into heaven, and in His glorified body now and ever dwells the fullness of the Godhead.

"O, for a sight, a blissful sight

Of our Almighty Father's throne!

There sits the Savior crowned with light,

Clothed in a body like our own.

"Adoring saints around Him stand,

And thrones and powers before Him fall;

The God shines gracious through the man,


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