For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
D4.1 In Christ alone
Every description of Christ that Paul gives answers and refutes the error that was facing the Colossian church. The Greek word used here for ‘fulness’ is ‘plemora’. It is used several times in the NT. For example: Jn.1:16 referring to the fact that out of His fulness we have received grace for [or upon] grace.
Another Gnostic idea was that all the intermediate beings between the ‘unknown god’ and, including the last emanation, were called the fullness, in Greek ‘the pleroma’. Paul refutes this line of thinking by declaring that Christ alone is the fullness of God and uses the word pleroma to underline the point. There is no intermediary between the Father and Jesus. An alternative translation is: For in Him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell (ESV). This would agree with the verse in Col.2:9: For in Him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily. So, the fulness of God dwells in Christ, and not in a host of demi-gods. It is in Christ alone indeed.
This open declaration demonstrates why Christ is preeminent. He is the firstborn of creation, He is the head of the church, because the fulness of God dwells in Him.
We also see that it pleased the Father that this should be so. Throughout the earthly life of Christ, we see the testimony of the Father to His Son.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Once when Jesus was baptised, at the start of His earthly ministry, after 30 long years of silent growing up. This means that Jesus’ life up till then had be pleasing to His Father.
The other time was at the transfiguration towards the end of His earthly ministry. So those three and a bit years of ministry were pleasing to His Father. The latter point made clear by Jesus’ constant reminder that He only works by his Father’s will, and only lives by His Father’s Word.
And hath put all things under his feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
D4.2 Peace & Reconciliation
As a result of that in Christ the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily, He was able to offer Himself up as the one and for all perfect sacrifice for sin. This was the purpose for which He came. To accomplish the great redemption. We have already seen some aspects of this redemption in verse 13. We now see some further things.
Another aspect of this salvation is that we have received peace and reconciliation. We were once enemies of God, yet Christ died for us in order to reconcile us to God, Rom.5:1-10. Jesus has removed all the barriers between us and God. Through the once and for all sacrifice of Himself, Jesus has brought peace and reconciliation between man and God, Rom.3:21-26; II Cor.5:17-19; Heb.9:18-24; Eph.1:10; 2:12; 4:18
One of the teachings of the Gnostics was that matter was evil and so that God could not have been manifested in the flesh; this lead to the logical conclusion that Jesus’ death was not redemptive in any way. But Paul emphasises that Jesus was God in the flesh and that His death on the cross was for our redemption, thus demolishing the Gnostics beliefs convincingly. For if Christ’s death was redemptive then He must have been God in the flesh, and hence the Gnostics premise of ‘spirit good, matter evil’ collapses.
D4.3 If we continue
The Christian life is not stagnant. We must continue in the way. Paul here encourages the readers to continue in the hope of the Gospel. This implies that we must not deviate from the message we know is true. The Colossians were facing such a temptation whether it be by enticing words, Vain Philosophy, Legalism or Mysticism.
One of the heresies of these days is the so called ‘perennial tradition’. This, in its simplest terms, says that truth is the sum of all different parts of other religions and philosophies. This embraces every and all religions, philosophies, including witchcraft type religions. This being justified by the phrase ‘ all truth is God’s’. In other words, spiritual truth is found all over the place and one has to extract these ‘secrets’ from them. This can be thought of as a sort of modern Gnostic way of thinking. Those accepting this deception fail to understand that it is not as much the words that matter but the source of those words cf Acts.16:16-18. The devil can speak truth when it suits him, and it is always with the aim to take one’s eyes off Christ.
We do not need this perennial or any other type of tradition in order to walk this life in Christ. In this Gospel we receive of His fulness Jn.1:16: And of His fulness we have received grace for (upon) grace. No wonder Paul exhorts us to walk in the same way we started! What else do we need? What else can we have? We are to know the love of Christ which passes all understanding and be filled with the fulness of God which is Christ Himself! Eph.3:19. God in Christ has provided everything necessary to walk in this life that He has brought us into II Pet.1:3.