As we read in 2 Corinthians 12:4, Paul believed he had heard something in heaven that he was forbidden to repeat. Yet Paul was unable to keep this surpassing revelation a total secret. The unutterable truth he heard comes out most strongly in Ephesians and Colossians, which are sometimes called the Christological Epistles. Despite some closely related ideas in the immediate context, I am going to focus on a single key word in this post. In Greek the word is πληρωμα, which is pronounced pleroma in English, and is translated “fullness.”
What follows is a simple, bullet-point outline of the key statements regarding God’s fullness — God’s pleroma.
All of God’s Fullness Dwelled in Jesus Christ.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. (Colossians 1:19, NIV)
- Paul’s Goal for Us: to be Likewise Filled with all the Fullness of God.
. . . and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19, NIV)
- The Goal of our Discipleship is to Attain, as a Group, to the Whole Measure of the Fullness of Christ.
. . . attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13, NIV)
- The Church Itself is the Fullness of Him who Fills Everything in Every Way.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:23, NIV)
We have the kind of reciprocal circularity that we saw in John 17. All of God’s fullness dwelled in Jesus the Messiah, we are to be filled with all the fullness of God as well, our goal is to attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, yet we are the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
I mentioned that for the moment we would be skipping over some important things, which are mainly the relationship between our complete One-ness and the central role of suffering and love in its realization. For now, the main thing to grasp, perhaps in the way of Paul’s spirit of wisdom, is that God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and that the People of God are that fullness.
So far this has been, and may remain, a rather cerebral journey, a matter of ideas and words. I have been presenting the testimony of scripture regarding some neglected truths. You will need Paul’s “spirit of wisdom and revelation” to continue the journey into what this means for you personally.
To Read More in this Series, click on The Bride of Christ is God.