Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020)by Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In Colossians 1:19 and 2:9 we see two aspects of the fullness. According to 1:19, all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Christ. According to 2:9, all the fullness dwells in Christ bodily. This implies the physical body which Christ put on in His humanity. It indicates that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ as the One who has a human body. Before His incarnation, the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him as the eternal Word, but it did not dwell in Him bodily. After He became incarnate, the fullness of the Godhead began to dwell in a bodily way, and it dwells in His glorified body (Phil. 3:21) now and forever. For eternity Christ is the embodiment of the fullness of God, the embodiment of the expression of all that God is in His unlimited and untraceable riches.
In Ephesians 3:19 we have a further word concerning the fullness of God: “And to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.” Some translations of this verse say, “filled with all the fullness of God.” According to this rendering, the fullness of God is the element, the essence, with which we are filled. But this is a mistaken understanding of this verse. Here Paul is saying that we shall be filled unto all the fullness of God, that is, we shall be filled to be the expression of God. When we are strengthened into our inner man, when Christ makes His home in our hearts, and when we are rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:16-17), we are filled unto all the fullness of God. In our spirit we are filled unto all the fullness of God to become His expression.
Furthermore, Ephesians 3:19 does not say that we are filled with the riches of God; this verse says that we are filled unto the fullness of God. This means that we are filled to become the expression of God. The expression of God today is the church, which is the Body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:23).
When Christ makes His home in our hearts and when we are strong to apprehend with all the saints the dimensions of Christ and to know by experience His knowledge-surpassing love, we shall be filled unto all the fullness of God. All this fullness dwells in Christ. Now, through His indwelling, Christ imparts the fullness of God into our being. When we are filled unto all the fullness of God, we become the expression of God, which is what the church should be.
The “fullness of God” implies that the riches of what God is become His expression. When the riches are in God Himself, they are His riches. When the riches of God are expressed, they become His fullness (John 1:16).
When we make a distinction between the riches and the fullness, some may try to argue by quoting John 1:16: “For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace.” Then they may say, “John 1:16 declares that of His fullness we have all received. Isn’t this fullness the same as the riches? How can you make a distinction between riches and fullness?”
When Christ was on earth with His disciples, would you say that the riches of God were there with Him, or that the fullness of God was there with Him? If the riches had been with Him but not the fullness, something would have been lacking. There would have been no completion, no fullness. When the Lord Jesus came, He no doubt brought all the riches of God with Him. However, with Him there were not only the riches of God, but there was also the fullness of God. This is the reason John 1:16 says that we all have received of His fullness. The fullness is the completion of the riches. In Greek the word for “fullness” means completion. Hence, it is correct to render this Greek word as “completeness.” The Greek word translated “of” in John 1:16 means “out from” or “out of.” Thus, out of the fullness of Christ, the completeness of all the riches of God, we have all received. When Christ came, He did not come only partially filled with the riches of God. On the contrary, He was filled with the unlimited riches of God to the brim. Hence, the fullness, the completeness of what God is in His riches, was present with Him. This fullness, this completeness, is the expression of God. According to the New Testament, the fullness of God is the expression through the completion of the riches of God.
According to John 1:16, the fullness of God came with Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s fullness. With Christ, the expression was an individual matter. This expression, therefore, needs to be enlarged, to be expanded, from an individual matter to a corporate one. The church is to be the fullness of God in a corporate way. In the church God is expressed not through an individual but corporately through the Body. Therefore, the fullness of God is embodied in the church. The church as the embodiment of the fullness of God is the expression of the Triune God.
In these verses in chapter three of Ephesians concerning the economy of God resulting in the fullness of God, we see the Triune God. The Father (v. 14) answers and fulfills the apostle’s prayer through the Spirit (v. 16) so that Christ the Son (v. 17) may make His home in our hearts. As a result, we are filled unto the fullness of the Triune God. This is the dispensing of the Triune God into our being to make us His corporate expression.
According to Ephesians 3, the Triune God is not the object of doctrinal debate; the Triune God is for the dispensing of Himself into the believers so that they may be filled unto the fullness of God. Paul prayed that the Father would strengthen us through His Spirit so that Christ might make His home in our hearts and thereby fully occupy our inward being with the result that we might be filled unto the expression of the Triune God. How glorious and how marvelous! This is God’s economy, and this is also His New Testament revelation. Thus the fullness of God as His attribute is eventually nothing less than Christ with the church as His Body.
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