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St. Paul’s Radical Promise: The Fullness of God Will Fill Us

In his epistles, St. Paul employs a simple yet profound metaphor to describe Christ’s divinity.

For in Him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily (Colossians 2:9).

For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell (Colossians 1:19).

Hence, the Church’s emphasis on the truth that through the Incarnation Christ became fully human and fully divine. We tend to think of the fullness of Christ’s divinity in the sense of completeness: He is so completely God we can simply just say that He is God. But there is a depth of meaning behind this term that goes beyond this. It beckons our exploration not only in order to grow in devotion towards Christ but also in order to understand the incredible promise this divine fullness holds for us.

In the original Greek, the word fullness is plērōma, which in both ancient Stoic thought and in the Greek version of the Old Testament was used to describe the way that God is present throughout His whole creation, according to biblical commentator James D. G. Dunn. For example, in Jeremiah 23:24, the Lord declares,

Can anyone hide in secret
without my seeing them?
Do I not fill
heaven and earth?

Likewise, there is Psalm 139:7-9,

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.
If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,
Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.

And, finally, Wisdom 1:7 states,

For the spirit of the LORD fills the world,
is all-embracing, and knows whatever is said.

The above verses emphasize God’s fullness in the sense of encompassing all of creation. This fullness takes on two aspects. First it means that God is all-knowing: there is no place one can ‘hide in secret’—not in Sheol, not beyond the sea and the sky. Second, at the end of the Psalm, God’s presence becomes a source of both guidance and consolation.

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