By Charles H. Welch

Fulfil (Pleroo). This word is used very frequently in passages which speak of the fulfilling of prophecy and other Scripture, such as "that it might be fulfilled" (Matt. 1 :22), "that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12), but this meaning is entirely foreign to the usage of pleroo in the Prison Epistles, the only apparent exception being Colossians 1 :25, which reads in the A.V. "to fulfil the Word of God", making the Apostle teach that the dispensation of the Mystery, instead of being a secret hid in God and never committed to writing in the earlier days, "fulfilled" the Word of God, in the same way that the birth of Christ "fulfilled" the prophecy of Isaiah. There are fourteen occurrences of pleroo in the Prison Epistles, thirteen of them being translated "fill", "complete", "supply" and "fulfil" in the sense of completing, and once "supply". Let us see these references together.

Eph. 1 :23
Him that filleth all in all.
Might be filled with aH the fulness of God.
That He might fill all things.
Be filled with the Spirit.

It is impossible to substitute "fulfil" in these passages without loss.

Phil. 1: 11
Being filled with the fruits.
Fulfil ye my joy.
l am full, having received.
My God shall supply all your need.

Here the one occurrence "fulfil" is translated by Cunnington "fill up".

Col. 1:9
That ye might be filled.
To fulfil the Word of God.
And ye are complete in Him.
Perfect and complete in all the will.
That thou fulfil it.
2 Tim. 1:4
That I may be filled with joy.

It will be seen that the word pleroo is not used by the Apostle in the sense of "fulfilling" a prophecy or a Scripture, so much as "filling full", "completing" and "perfecting". Colossians 1 :25,26 should read

"Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you to COMPLETE the Word of God, even the Mystery."

The Scriptures may be likened to a pyramid, built up in a succession of layers, but not being complete until the top stone, itself a perfect pyramid, is added to the structure. All dispensations that have preceded the present dispensation of the Mystery have come to a temporary end, have gone into a kind of lo-ammi period, to be resumed at some future time, but there is no indication in Scripture that the dispensation of the Mystery will be cut off, be succeeded by yet another fresh intervention, and be picked up again after a long interval in the future. See the article entitled PLEROMA for an extended examination, with chart, of the term "fulness".

An Alphabetical Analysis

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