A Bible study from Faithbuilders
Fellowship, presented on this website by True Grace
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In 1881, when the KJV was in common use and the first English revision of its New Testament was published, an article by H. V. Reed appeared in the magazine Restitution. He wrote: "The word godhead is not good English: it means nothing in itself and conveys no idea to the reader: What is a godhead?" It is merely a bad translation. The Greek manuscript word should be rendered 'divinity' or 'deity'. Many Bible scholars and translators have realized that 'godhead' does not convey clear meaning. Weymouth, Moffatt, Smith-Goodspeed, Farrar Fenton, RSV, Good News, NAS, Living Bible, NIV, J. B. Phillips, Bible in Living English, Jerusalem Bible, NWT, Emphatic Diaglott, and The Everyday Bible versions, all recognizing its inadequacy, use some word or phrase other than 'godhead' seen three times in the KJV, where, in Acts 17:29, Rom. 1:20, Col. 2:9, it represents a different Greek word each time.
'Godhead' in Colossians 2:9 of the KJV is a translation of the Greek theotees, which is "an abstract noun for theos," the usual Greek word translated 'God'. (Greek-English Lexicon, Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich) "An abstract noun is one indicating a quality, as goodness, beauty." (Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, International Edition). From this it is seen that when Paul wrote of Christ Jesus that "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of deity" he said that all the qualities of God dwelt in Christ Jesus our Lord. In view of that, one may be sure that whatever 'godhead' may be thought to mean, it surely does not properly represent the meaning of the Greek words Paul wrote.
This is a wonderful assurance to us as trusting Christians! All the attributes which are part of God's being are 'housed permanently' in our Leader and Forerunner! The completeness of our Lord's powers was constituted when "He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." The assertion that "all the fulness of deity" dwells in Christ means that the qualities which are in God's being are not divided up, part in one and part in others. If on the other hand, the fulness of deity were to be understood as being divided up, it would imply that there were other mediating spiritual powers or independent spiritual forces at work which should contribute their wisdom and power in order that God's work of salvation be fully accomplished. But this is not so. There is not a partial nor temporary indwelling of God's qualities in Christh, but rather "all the fulness." Christ is not in the same rank with other created beings such as angels. (Hebrews 1:5) As the Son, He is greater than all that was created through Him.
In view of this, there is no need to seek instruction and wisdom from heathen philosophers. Beleivers do not need those who set forth divergent schemes of salvation and deliverance from sin apart from Jesus such as false teachers dream of. Christ is Headof all principality and power, and all God's holy angels are His willing servants. Further counsel from the Apostle on this is in Colossians 2:14-23.
Christ Jesus our Lord is the Word, the truth, the personal embodiment of all that is good and true, and emphatically the revelation to man of God's being. The extensive responsibilities delegated to Jesus in His service under God are often affirmed in Scripture, two passages of which are now quoted. 1 Cor. 8:6, 1 Tim. 2:5-6.
There are two principal views as to the exact thought Paul intended in Co. 2:9. Though different, they seem not to conflict, nor one to exclude the other. "For in Him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily." (RSV) A note in the Gree-E nglish Lexicon, by Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich sums up one of the views - that the word 'bodily' qualifies 'dwells', that the 'fulness' dwells in Christ Jesus "in reality, not symbolically." It suggests that such view is supported by Col. 2:17, where typical Jewish stipulations regarding foods, holydays, and sabbaths are shown to be "a shadow of things to come; but the body [which it takes to mean 'reality'] is of Christ." Realizing that Christ was foreknown in God's eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11), several translators have not used 'body' in verse 17, but instead the word 'substance'. Christ Jesus, as the One foreknown and thus that 'substance', enabled the several shadows mentioned in that verse.
The other view is that 'bodily' describes how the 'fulness' dwells in Christ - "as a complete and organic whole, not fragmentarily" (Expositor's Greek Testament, Nicoll); "corporately" (Jerome Biblical Commentary). It is in this sense, too, that the church is one body under Christ, its head. (Eph. 5:23) The aggregate of Christian disciples constitute a corporate whole.
The 'fulness is in Christ to qualify and equip Him for the work of reconciliation. Reconciling man to God and God to man is the objective for which God has caused "all the fulness of divinity" to dwell in Jesus.
But this did not make the Son the Father; it did not blend the Son into the Father; it did not make the glorified Jesus identical to the Father. But it did raise their constant unity to a higher, superlative level, to a level not previously experienced. Always God has been supreme, and there is no Bible testimony that the Son ever expected to receive the greater glory which the Father retains to Himself. There are Bible teachings which show the Father is greater than the Son, and that the Son is to be subject to the Father. One is 1 Cor. 15:25-28.
It is of course understood that the fulness with which Jesus fills others is the 'fulness of God' because the Son fills with the fulness with which He Himself was filled. Indeed, the Apostle's exortation in Eph. 3:19 establishes just that. Our Lord Jesus is not involved in filling anyone with a counterfeit 'fulness'. Our Savior has communicated to His church through the Holy Spirit and Scripture the plenitude of gifts and graces wherein our lives are intended to inspire others to such fulness. In Eph. 4:10 Paul reminds every believer that Jesus was exalted "far above all heavens, that he might fill all things." Inasmuch as God is to reconcile through Jesus "all things to Himself...whether things on earth or things in heaven," it is most appropriate that Jesus has been exalted "far above all heavens."
During this present time of preparation and development, each member of the church endeavors to be filled with 'the fulness' to their individual capacities. And the purpose in this for believers is the same as that for which Jesus received "all the fulness": to qualify and equip them for their work in the process of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 3:6, 5:18-20) This solemn commission involves every sincere believer in Jesus, and is both a great privilege and a sacred responsibility.
The day when 'all' the qualities of God will be 'in all' a reconciled, willing and obedient creation is sure to come. They too will be filled with the 'fulness' by "Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23) to the capacity of the glory of their being, according to the Father's good pleasure in their rewarding. God's appointed time will not tarry, even though issues of the moment indicate that the promised glorious day is destined to come in a later generation of a succeeding century. But this is no cause for discouragement. There is a rest of faith for "the people of God." (Heb. 4:9) "Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor. 6:2, Isa. 49:8) All whose faith and knowledge increase today will share with other victors tomorrow in receiving great reward and "the crown of life." (Rev. 2:10) "Have faith in God." - (Mark 11:22)
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