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Studies in the Epistles of the Mystery.
"The Church. . . . the Fulness" (Eph. 1: 23).
(Further thoughts upon a wondrous theme).
pp. 17 20
At the creation of man, the purpose of his being seems to be foreshadowed in the
words, "Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness"; his domain was, for the time,
the earth and its lower orders of life. The invisible God was imaged in this creation by
Adam, the lower orders saw no higher manifestation of God on earth than man, made in
the image of God. In a sense and degree infinitely beyond man's attainments the image
of the invisible God is Christ, as Col. 1: 15 records, "Who is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn of every creature". Another passage in Colossians reveals to us yet
another of the glories of the Lord, "for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead
bodily" (Col. 2: 9).
The word "bodily" is somatikõs in the original, and explains how the Godhead dwelt
in Christ; the same word in another form occurs in Luke 3: 22, "and the Holy Ghost
descended in a bodily shape". It would appear that the body of the Lord was necessary to
the full manifestation of the fulness of the Godhead to the members of His church and to
the heavenly powers. This fulness resident bodily in Him is echoed back to God in His
Church, for Col. 2: 10 continuing says, "and ye are complete in Him". Now the word
"fulness" is plerõma, and "ye are complete" is peplerõmenoi, which might be rendered
"filled full". J. N. Darby's note here is:--
"The fulness or completeness of the Godhead is in Christ, as towards us; and we as
towards God, are complete in Him."
In a previous paper on Ephesians we dwelt a little on the blessed fact that the Church
is called "His body"; the verse, however, does not finish with this title, but adds one even
more glorious, "the Church which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all".
By comparing the teaching of Col. 2: 9 with Eph. 1: 23 it seems that just as Christ is the
fulness of God, and that in relation to the body, so the Church is the fulness of Christ, and
that by reason of the special dispensational character indicated by the words, "the Church
which is His body". Of this body Christ is the Head, and the relation between the head
and the body in this connection is brought forward in such passages as
"I would have you know that the head if every man is Christ, and the head of the
woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. . . . Man. . . . is the image and
glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man" (I Cor. 11: 3 and 7).
Here we have a regular sequence, what God is to Christ, Christ is to man, and man is
to woman: in each case the lesser is the glory of the greater, the woman is the glory of the
man, the man is the glory of God: this is the order of things by virtue of creation:--
"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man, neither was the man
created for the woman: but the woman for the man" (I Cor. 11: 8, 9).