(6) The Fullness of the Godhead Dwells in Jesus

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” reads Colossians 2:9 (NKJV). The Greek text says: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως (Wescott-Hort). Giving their equivalents in the Roman texts, the Wescott-Hort Greek texts read: hoti en auto katoikei pan to ple’roma tes theo’tetos somatikos. Alfred Marshall translates: “Because in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament).

GODHEAD DEFINED. M. R. Vincent (Word Studies in the NT, 906) thinks “the essential and personal deity” that makes God “God” (the θεοτητος, theotetos) belongs to Jesus. This is the necessary conclusion based on the meaning of the phrase “all the fullness of the Godhead.” Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker define the word θεοτητος as “deity, divinity,” adding that the word is “used as abstract noun” for θεος, theos, “God.” (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker,  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 358). BAGD cites Colossians 2:9 for this usage. θεος is “God,” while θεοτητος and its co-derivative θεοτης, theotes, means “Godhead.”

GODHEAD OR DIVINITY? The word θεοτητος in Colossians 2:9 is translated “Godhead” but a related word in Romans 1:20, θειοτης, theiotes (note the iota letter!), is rendered variously by different translators: as “divinity” (ASV, Centenary Translation, Darby’s), “existence” (BBE), “divine nature” (God’s Word, Weymouth’s), “Godhead” (KJV, Wesley’s, Young’s), and “deity” (RSV).  Do θεοτητος and θειοτητος, or θεοτης and θειοτης, mean the same?

Vine says no. His argument is that θειοτης, “divinity,” is derived from θειος, “divine” (Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words With Their Precise Meanings for English Readers, item: “Divinity,” 328); θεοτητος, “Godhead,” on the other hand, is rooted from θεος, “God.”

Vine says: (1) θειοτης, “divinity” (cf. Romans 1:20), indicates the divine essence of Godhood, the Personality of God; and that (2) θεοτητος, or θεοτης (cf. Colossians 2:9), indicates His divine attributes, nature and properties (Ibid., 328-329). It would be best to do more research on this.

MEANING OF “KATOIKEI,” “DWELLS.” The Greek text reads: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει, hoti en auto katoikei, literally, “For in Him dwells.” κατοικει in its intransitive usage means “live, dwell, reside, settle (down)” (BAGD, 424). When intransitive, the verb stands without a direct object. For example, this sentence: “He dwells.” The subject is “He,” the verb is “dwells,” and while it has no object we know that the sense and meaning of the sentence is complete.

κατοικει in its transitive usage means “to inhabit something.” This means the verb cannot stand without a direct object. Matthew 23:21 illustrates this usage: “And the one swearing by the temple swears by it, and by the one inhabiting (katoikounti) it.” The present active participial verb “inhabiting” has for its object the pronoun “it.”

A derivative of κατοικει is the noun κατοικησις, katoikesis, meaning living, or dwelling quarters (cf. Mark 5:3, “who had his dwelling among the tombs”) (BAGD, 424).  Another derivative, κατοικιa, katoiki’a, is a noun and is translated “dwelling place,”  or “habitation” (cf. Acts 17:26, literally, “the boundaries of their dwelling”) (BAGD, 424).

κατοικει, katoikei, in Colossians 2:9 is present active indicative. Why active? The phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” is the one doing the action!

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily” can also be arranged like this: “For the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily.” “The fullness of the Godhead” is the subject, the verb is “dwells,” “bodily” is an adverb that modifies the verb “dwells,” and “in Him” is a prepositional phrase that tells us the where of the indwelling. In more ways than one, prepositional phrases function like adverbs, modifying verbs.

In Colossians 2:9, the action, “dwells,” is not done by Jesus; he is in fact the one being dwelt in.

It can neither be said that Jesus is the direct object of the verb “dwells,” because “in Him” is a prepositional phrase, and “Him” is the object of the preposition “in.” κατοικει is present tense, active voice; furthermore, it is intransitive, since it has no direct object.

Katoikei is a continuous or ongoing action. When we say that κατοικει, “dwells,” is in the present tense, we also mean that the action of  that verb  is continuous. Therefore what Paul says in Colossians 2:9 about Christ is a fact that stands true, that in Him “continually dwells the fullness of the Godhead.” And for that reason the indicative mood of the verb is used, it simply declares something to be a fact; and it is a fact that the Godhead keeps dwelling in Jesus, wherever He may be. “The present tense,” says Rogers and Rogers, “indicates the continual state [of Jesus] and points to the present reality [of him in heaven]” (Rogers & Rogers, 464). I once argued this fact with an INC minister, but he objected to my use of the Greek New Testament. He wanted to remain as an ignoramus, so I let him!

To the question: “Was the divine essence of Christ personally present on earth during Christ’s earthly ministry?” the answer should be “yes.”

IN HIM DWELLS ALL THE PLEROMA. The παν το πληρωμα, pan to ple’roma, “all the fullness,” is what dwells in Jesus. For a related passage see Colossians 1:19“For in him all the fullness [of the Godhead] was pleased to dwell” (Darby’s Translation).

πληρωμα, pleroma, is rooted from πληροω, pleroo, “to make full, to fill” (BAGD, 670). It can be used in the sense in which objects or persons  are filled with intangible things or qualities (as in, “the ship’s sail filled out by the wind”; “a sound filled the house”; “the house was filled with fragrance”; “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching,” Acts 5:28; “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full,” Dan 8:23; “fill someone’s heart,” that is, take possession of it, Eccl. 9:3) (Ibid., 670-671).

BAGD defines πληρωμα as (a) “that which fills up”; (b) “that which makes something full or complete, that which supplements or complements”; (c) “that which is full of something”; (d) “that which is brought to fullness or completion”; and (d) “that which is the sum total, the fullness, the superabundance” of something (BAGD, 672). Relative to the definition (d) above, BAGD cites Colossians 2:9, and says the phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” means “the full measure of deity” (Ibid.). What makes God “God” dwells in its fullness in Jesus.

The πληρωμα is something that is intangible and therefore to engage in measurements and physical dimension when talking about the “Godhead” (as the INC-1914 would often do) is to lose sight of the meaning of  it. The “fullness of the Godhead” is not a tangible something. So forget about the metric dimensions, the encasing and the body size. I am sure Jesus’ body size was tangible, but what dwelt in him was not. Let us look at the figure with the eye of faith.

WHAT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit in Christ during his earthly ministry, you would ask. What do you mean by “in Christ”? In two places in the Book of Matthew the Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to Him and His work: (1) It was prophesied that the Spirit of God would be “upon him” (Matthew 12:17-19), and such was true during His ministry. (2) It is said that the Holy Spirit was “upon Him” during his baptism to identify Him as the chosen one of God (Matthew 3:16). This not only identifies Jesus but also reconfirms the Spirit’s presence and His separate identity from the Son and the Father.

If you insist that the Spirit was “in Christ” during His ministry, be informed that your evidence here is wanting. It would be best to examine the meaning of this Greek prepositional phrase translated as “upon Him” (επ αυτον, ep auton), cf. Matthew 3:16; 12:18. “Upon Him” does not mean “in Him.”

Furthermore, don’t be confused by thinking that if the Holy Spirit resided “in Him” (such a phrase of course I have yet to encounter in the New Testament, but I may be wrong), that is the same thing as saying that “fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him.”  The phrase “fullness of the Godhead” has never been equated with, is not identified with, and does not refer to the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit among Christians did not come until the event of Acts 2.

DWELLS BODILY. The πληρωμα of the θεοτητος, “the fullness of the Godhead,” dwells in Jesus “bodily.” The word here is σωματικως, somatikos, rooted from the Greek σωμα, soma, “body.” It is an adverb and means “bodily,’ “corporeally” (Vine’s, “Bodily,” 137; BAGD, 800).

In its adjective form, it means (a) “being or consisting of a body,” cf. Luke 3:22; and (b) “pertaining or referring to the body” (BAGD, 800).

The term “Godhead” is the translation of the word θεοτητος. Rogers and Rogers defines it as “divine nature, deity,” and that it “differs from the expression ‘Godhead’ in Romans 1:20 in that it emphasizes not so much divine attributes but divine nature or essence.” In describing the deity that is in Jesus, Rogers & Rogers says, “Divine glory did not merely gild Him, lighting up His person for a season with a splendor not His own; He was and is absolute and perfect God” (Rogers & Rogers, 464).

BAGD renders the phrase ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως, “in Him the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily” which is to be understood as “in reality, not symbolically” (BAGD, 800). As the body of Jesus is real, the full deity that dwells in Him is also real. It is an actual, personal, and direct indwelling of the deity. I am inclined to believe that it is His own deity that dwells in His own body, and that deity is described by Paul as nothing less than what the Godhead  is and should be. Note for example that passage in Hebrews that says: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me; 6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:5-6, ASV). The body that came out of Mary’s womb was the body that became the habitation of the deity that came into the world. Jesus is God become man.

Colossians 2:9 thus means that the divine nature including the divine attributes that was Jesus, the Logos, became incarnate and indwelt in the body of the Redeemer of men. God needed to come down to be man’s Saviour (for only a Deity could save man) and become human to complete that salvation by the shedding of His blood (“without the shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22). If He left His deity in heaven, He could not save, being man alone.

There is no need to speculate that it was the Holy Spirit who dwelt in Him, nor was it the Father. It was He himself as an individual Person in the Godhead! And that “Godhead” that inhabited the body of the man Jesus was nothing less than the full Godhead that was the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But, you may object, there is a passage too that plainly says the Father dwells in Jesus (John 14:10). My question: Do you believe that to be the literal indwelling of the Father in the body in Jesus?  The verb in that passage is menon, which not only means “dwelling” but also means “remaining,” or “abiding.” Even the translators have a problem on how to translate it, whether to render it  “to dwell,” “to abide,” or “to stay.” In one instance in John, the word meneis, a derivative of menon, was translated “dwell(John 1:38, “where dwellest thou?”). In another, it was translated “abide” as in John 1:39, “They abode (emeinan) with Him that day.”

Be informed also that Christ says the Father is “in” Him, and He is “in” the Father, and prays that His disciples may be one “in” them (John 17:21).

John in another epistle writes that anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, “God dwells in him, and he dwells likewise in God” (1 John 4:15). The verb for “dwells” here is menei. If one insists on God’s literal dwelling in him, why not too insist on his literal dwelling in God?

I believe that the Deity that was the Logos dwells in the man Jesus. That deity was no less in quality and essence than the Father and the Spirit, for which reason Paul calls it the “fullness of the Godhead” and it dwells bodily, in reality, in truth, in the body of the Redeemer of the world. But when it comes to the “indwelling” of the Father in Him, I believe that to be non-literal. By non-literal, I don’t mean it is not true; neither do I mean it is not real. I mean it is spiritual. The Father spiritually dwells in Jesus.

You may have your concept of the personal indwelling of the Godhead, or of the Spirit in you. I believe that to be  spiritual. Note too what John says: “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). We cannot literally dwell in God in much the same way as we cannot literally dwell in love.  Dwelling in God and dwelling in love, while they are truthful, real, and factual, they are not literal. They are spiritual.

The inhabiting of the Godhead in Jesus is rather unique and cannot be compared to your concept of the personal individual bodily indwelling of the Spirit.  What dwells in the body of Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead” (that which makes Him,  the Father and the Spirit truly God, and I mean here the essence, attributes and nature of Godhood); what dwells in you, singularly, personally, individually, bodily,  is your own spirit.

Any reaction to this post will surely be appreciated. I can always rectify my position with the help of elucidation, explanation, or argumentation from you brethren.

CLICK HERE FOR  PREVIOUS POST, 5TH IN THE SERIES…

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