Fullness of God

Jason Dulle


What makes the difference between God and ourselves? We have God in us, and Christ has God in Him. Paul used the same word, "fullness," when speaking of us and Jesus being filled with God. When Paul said that the fullness of the divine nature dwelt in Christ bodily (Colossians 2:9), did he mean something different than when he said we are to be filled with the fullness of God in Ephesians 3:19? If not, then does Colossians 2:9 apply to us too?


The difference between Jesus and us lies in the fact that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost, whereas we are only filled with the Holy Ghost. God may be in us, as it is said of Christ, but our existence is not dependent on the Spirit of God dwelling in us, whereas Christ's is. While we are adopted as God's sons by being filled with His Spirit (Romans 8:14-17), Jesus was born as God's Son because He was conceived by God's Spirit (Luke 1:35). His very being came into existence by the Holy Ghost. Since God physically fathered Jesus through the miraculous conception He is God's Son in a physical sense. We are only God's sons in a spiritual sense.

Our existence arose naturally from the contribution of our two parents. God's Spirit filled us at a later time. Whether God is in us or not does not affect our existence. Jesus, on the other hand, could have never existed without the contributions made by His heavenly Father. Jesus was conceived in a very unique way. He did not have a human father, but was begotten by the Holy Ghost (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34-35). God was His Father. The deity of Jesus was as inseparable as is the combined genetic contribution of two parents into one child. Just as no human being could continue to exist if the genetic influence of one parent was removed from him/her, likewise Jesus' existence was dependent on God. Jesus was not merely filled with the Holy Ghost as an afterthought to His creation, but His very subsistence depended on Godís deity. Jesus was the Word become flesh (John 1:14). We are only flesh indwelt by the Holy Ghost.

Jesus could not have come into being without the Spirit of God because God had to contribute the Y chromosome to Jesus' humanity at Jesus' conception. All that Mary could contribute were X chromosomes. Without the contribution from God Himself, Jesus would have been born a girl by necessity.

Concerning Colossians 2:9 and Ephesians 3:19, the verses are not synonymous. We must remember that words and their meanings are defined by context. In this case we must go to a wider context to ascertain the meaning of these two passages since the immediate context of these verses is not decisive. Ephesians 3:17 speaks of Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith. If Christ possessed the Spirit of God in the same manner as all believers, how could it be said that He is in us? Is it specifically Christís Spirit, and not Godís? This cannot be since the prior verses indicate that we are filled with the Fatherís Spirit (3:14-16). Since there is only one Spirit (4:4), Christís Spirit is a reference the one and only Spirit of God. So how could Christ be filled with Godís Spirit in the same way as we are, and yet also have His own Spirit fill us? This could only be the case if Jesus is God in an ontological way, and not merely filled with His Spirit as an afterthought of His creation. Paul made a similar statement in Colossians 1:27, to which the same line of reasoning applies.

Earlier in the book of Colossians Paul made the case that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (1:15), and the pre-existent Creator (1:16-17). In 1:19, Paul made a similar statement to that of 2:9, declaring that all of Godís fullness dwells in the Son. Seeing that this statement follows on the heels of two very bold affirmations to Christís ontological divinity, we have no reason to interpret this to mean that God merely chose to dwell in Christ after Christ was born in Bethlehem. The One in whom the fullness of God dwelt was the Creator of the worlds.

Looking at the NT as a whole, we see that the Bible makes an ontological distinction between us and Christ Jesus. Jesus is spoken of as being different than the rest of humanity. He is said to be God Himself (John 1:1; 20:28), the Author of Life (Acts 3:15), God with us (Matthew 1:23), the I AM (John 8:58), the Beginning and the Ending (Revelation 22:13), the Lord (John 20:28), the express image of God's subsistence (Hebrews 1:3), etc. Jesus' very nature is that of God. He is not a normal human being who is merely filled with God's Spirit. He is the Spirit of God made flesh.

When we understand that Jesus is ontologically God Himself, and not merely filled with God's Spirit, we can easily see a difference between these two passages. Nowhere are we said to be God. We are only said to be filled with God's Spirit. Although the same language is used of Jesus, a different concept is demanded because of what we read elsewhere concerning His person. If all we had were Colossians 2:9 and Ephesians 3:19, surely we might conclude that the way in which God was in Christ is the same way in which He is in us. Looking at the totality of God's revelation to us concerning Christ's person, however, we must conclude that although similar language is employed to describe our being filled with God's Spirit and Jesus being filled with God's Spirit, a different ontological reality between us and Christ is still to be understood.

Email IBS | Statement of Faith | Home | Browse by Author | Q & A
Links | Virtual Classroom | Copyright | Submitting Articles | Search