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Complete In Jesus!

The Ongoing Work of Jesus Christ With His Church

J. Dan GillJ. Dan Gill, 18th Theological Conference

The words "Complete in Him" were those of the always impassioned Apostle Paul to his fellow believers in Christ at Colossae, located near Laodicea in the Roman province of Asia. It appears that Paul had not actually visited  Colossae nor met the people to whom he was writing (Col. 1:4; 2:1).  Colossae was a "Gentile" city and these were primarily non-Jewish believers.  Extraordinary writing that it is, Paul's letter to the Colossians gives wonderful insight into the mindset of the earliest believers regarding their faith in God and his ongoing work for them through Jesus Christ.

Sovereign of the universe, God is without equal. His love, wisdom and power are unparalleled.  Marvel of marvels, these “distant” people in Colossae have come to a place of privilege with him. They are loved by him and are in his nurture and care. Paul's letter conveys to these believers great consolation regarding God's concern and provision for them. As we read his writing, however, there is a clear theme regarding how God provides for his people.  It is accomplished through an intermediary. That intermediary is Jesus Christ. All that God has for his people is embodied in the person of his Messiah - the leader that God by his choice has appointed over them. Paul writes to the Colossians:

For it pleased the Father that in him [Christ] should all fullness dwell (Col. 1:19, AV).1

This is not an ontological statement about the "person" of Christ.  Rather, it is a declaration regarding the heart and mind of God concerning his Messiah, and the unique station which he has given him. It is Christ who is chosen by God Almighty to lead in his work for humanity.  All that God has for his people is dynamically manifested in and through his Messiah.  As Paul further assures the Colossians:

To [his saints] God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, [perhaps "among you"2] the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

Paul carries forward this thought of hope being in Christ when he admonishes Christians at Colossae to not be drawn away to other avenues for seeking God or receiving from him. The apostle insists that it is in Christ alone that God has vested all that he has for humanity.  It is important to remember that these were primarily Gentile brothers and sisters, living in a Gentile society typified by an environment of many "Gods" and varied philosophies. Paul cautions them:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe  [rudiments of the world - AV], and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8).


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1 All underlining, bolding, italics or other emphatics in scriptural quotations are those of the author. Translations of scriptures quoted in this paper (other than those of the author) are from the NRSV or otherwise as indicated at the conclusion of the scriptural quotation. Please see translations' copyright information at the end of these notes.

2 The preposition “en” can reference "within" (as within the heart, cp. Ephesians 3:17), or alternatively "among you" collectively (See Vincent). This latter ("among"), agrees well with the use of the same preposition earlier in the verse. There, Paul is clearly writing: “how great 'among' the Gentiles.” The Amplified Version slips by the ambiguity by suggesting that Paul intends both (Christ "within" and "among"). The KJV recognizes the possibility of "amongst" in a marginal note for Col. 1:27.




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