Filled in Him (Colossians 2:9-10) ~ A Devotion for October 8, 2014

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” ~          Colossians 2:9-10

Explanation of the Text: Paul now moves forward to contrast the empty deceit in verse 8 to fullness in Christ in verses 9-10. First it is noted that the fullness of deity is in Christ. Furthermore, believers themselves have been filled in Christ. Paul’s writing here further affirms the emphasis with which he wrote in verse 8 (remember his emphatic, ‘Beware!’ or ‘Stand firm!’: see yesterday’s devotion for further information on this. It is here that he offers a contrast to the teaching of the ‘philosophy’ noting that, not by groveling before ‘the element of the universe’ but in Christ alone have you been filled.[1] It is important to see that we are in the midst of yet another Pauline passage that emphasizes a high Christology, showing each of us that indeed, Christ is the center of all things. This is affirmed when you recognize that in this particular passage of chapter 2, Paul mentions ‘in Him’ that is, in Christ, seven times. Living a life as a Christian is living a life in Christ. It is he that must be preeminent in our lives.

As we look at this verse, the first part of the text, Paul notes that in Christ the fullness of deity dwells. Knowing that Christ is fully man AND fully God, it is here that Christ as God is made prominent. First off, this has huge connotations, because it means that Christ is Lord and deserving of everything that God is deserving of. Second, this is meant to counteract the false teaching that Paul is writing the Colossians about, urging them to stand against it. The way to do that is by having a high regard for Christ. Therefore, the importance of this concept cannot be overstated, because on our understanding of this hinges our response to Him. Likewise, it is on Christ’s deity rests the plan and fulfillment of the cross, crucifixion, and resurrection. Therefore, Paul exclaims Christ as deity. It is to say that “the essence of God, undivided and in its whole fullness 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.”[2]

Furthermore, as deity dwells in Christ, we also are to be filled in Christ. Our lives should be filled with Christ in which He overflows out of everything we do. Our satisfaction should come from being filled in Him. Our joy should come from being filled in Him. Our endurance should come from being filled in Him. Ultimately, our entirety of life should come from being filled in Him. If we are in Him, if we are walking in Him then it stands to reason that there should be a response by believers to Him.

Paul here also exclaims Christ as head and rule over all things. This should come as a plausible conclusion if one is in Him because by being in Him there is already an acknowledgement, that indeed, Christ is Lord and head over all things. This includes the church, the secular world, and even the lives of individuals. To walk in Him, is to be filled with Him, which is to submit to Him as Lord.

Examination & Application of the Text: “Believers are to be satisfied fully because they ‘have been filled’ in the one who contains ‘all the fullness’ of deity. This connection cannot be pressed however, since believers are not filled with the full deity of Christ. Rather, it is because of Christ’s full deity that believers, having been filled in Him, can experience full salvific assurance and benefits.”[3] Being filled with God is not that same as being God, and we that distinction must be made. In our pride and arrogance, it is easy for the world to think themselves as Gods, or least as equals with Him (although a person may never outright declare it). They demand the same obedience, the same worship, and the same honor as God. Yet, God is the only one deserving of this. It is important to point this out, because it is too easy for people to make the jump from Christ as God and believers being filled in Him, to the conclusion that we too deserve equality with God. That is a wrong thinking. With that said, there is a major point to quoting David Poa above here aside from his explanation that believers are not full of Christ’s full deity. Poa points out that because of this text, believers can have assurance of salvation and the benefits associated with it. If Christ is God, and believers are filled in Him, it stands to reason that like Christ, we have a place in heaven because if He is there, we too will be there because we are with Him, and in Him.

As we earlier said though, this should also demand a response from us. “The possession of all things in Christ in no way absolved them from the need for continual growth.”[4] Having access to all things in Christ requires that one accesses all things in Christ. Having the fullness of Christ demands that we should be conforming into the image of Christ. Lives should reflect the fullness of Christ in us. Does this mean we are perfect? Absolutely not. Our expectations should be realistic in knowing that we will not be perfect until full glorification with Christ in the future. However, there should be a continuous process of growing in Christlikeness in which we look more and more like Him as our relationship with Him grows deeper and deeper. The goal is perfect. The work is progressive.

[1] Eduard Lohse, Colossians & Philemon, Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 101.

[2] Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Ed. Bruce M. Metzger (Columbia: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 111.

[3] David Poa, Colossians & Philemon, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 163.

[4] Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Ed. Bruce M. Metzger (Columbia: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 114.

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