For in Him all the fullness of Deity [Greek transliterated: Theotes; Strong's #2320] dwells in bodily form and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power. -- Colossians 2:9,10, New American Standard Bible translation
The above scripture is often cited by trinitarians and some others to offer proof of their two "natures" of Jesus theory. In actuality, there is nothing here about Jesus possessing two natures at once. Such an idea has to be read into what Paul stated. Walter Martin claims that Colossians 2:9 refers to "the triunity of the Godhead." (The Kingdom of the Cults, page 168) This would seem to lead to the conclusion that the Godhead in Colossians 2:9 is the alleged three person of the alleged triune God. However, Walter Martin also states of Colossians 2:9, "all the fullness of Deity dwells him Him bodily, which means nothing was lacking in his Deity." (The Kingdom of the Cults, page 530) Although we certainly would not agree with Martin's intent of this statement, nevertheless, what Martin states in the latter quote is more closely to what we believe Paul meant by his statement in Colossians 2:9. According to Matt Slick, in Colossians 2:9, Jesus claims to be God.
Some of our trinitarian and/or oneness neighbors wish to read into Colossians 2:9 that Jesus had two natures at once, evidently with the thought that "bodily" refers to Jesus as a human being, and that godhead in some way refers to Jesus as the Supreme Being. One states, "Jesus Christ is God manifest in flesh and has a dual nature. Jesus IS both God and man (Colossians 2:9, 1 Timothy 3:16)." (See our studies related to "God in the Flesh" and also "Dual Natures".)
Although both oneness and trinitarian believers teach that Jesus is still human, many of them as well as many others will often, evidently instinctively, based on their false misconception that "bodily" refers to Jesus' fleshly body, change the present tense "dwelleth" as it appears in the King James Version to "dwelt", making it past tense. Thus many express it similar to this: "in Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Nevertheless, although some authors even emphasize the word "dwelt" (one even expressly states that it is "past tense"), we know of no translation that expresses that dwelling in the past tense, nor have we as yet found any explanation from any who express it in past tense as to what they would seek support for changing it from the present tense to the past tense. More than likely, however, these authors, and they probably run into the hundreds, perhaps thousands, evidently do not read the scripture closely, and assume that it is past tense, and that it is therefore the way they present. In reality, as we will show, the word, being present tense, refers to this "Godhead" as dwelling in Jesus' spiritual body that he received in the resurrection. See our study: Jesus Died a Human Being - Raised a Spirit Being.
One should also realize that most of the prominent Bible scholars are trinitarian, and often their trinitarian assumptions are used as a basis for what they state about translation and/or understanding what Bible writers were writing about. If one examines the word THEOTES with the assumption that Jesus is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, one will tend to view "pleroma" and "theotes" as referring to Jesus as being the Most High. Actually, as we will see from the context, this "plerorma" was not inherit to who Jesus was originally, but it was given to him in Jesus' mighty spiritual body that he was raised with, so that he might fulfill the position that God gave to him of being "the head of all principality and power." -- Isaiah 9:7; Matthew 29:18; Luke 1:32,33; John 3:35; 5:22-27; 13:3; Acts 2:36; Romans 14:9; Colossians 2:10; Ephesians 1:3,17-23; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Philippians 2:9-11; 1 Peter 3:22.
The plenitude of godship -- ruling might -- does dwell permanently in the mighty spirit body of Jesus. It is not just an authority that is given to him, but his very being contains all the power needed to carry out the works of his Father, thus "it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him," (Colossians 1:19, NAS) and so that he "is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:10) This might -- godhead, godship -- is given to Jesus by his God. -- Psalm 45:7; Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:2,6,9; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 2:10; Psalm 2:7,8; 110:1,2; Isaiah 9:6,7; Luke 1:32; Jeremiah 23:5; Daniel 7:13,14.
Our Lord, before he became a man, was of the highest order of spirit beings, the Logos, who, after the creation of the angelic host through him, is called the archangel (Jude 1:9; Daniel 12:1; Colossians 1:16) He was not then so high as he is now, for "God has highly exalted him" to his right hand because of his obedience in becoming man's willing ransom. To him the abundance of power has been given to dwell bodily, so he now possesses even more power in his spiritual body than before he came to earth. (1 Corinthians 15:45; Colossians 2:9) No longer in the days of his flesh, and having offered his body of flesh in sacrifice, he was "made so much better than angels." (Philippians 2:8,9; Hebrews 1:4; 5:7; 10:10) He is now, especially since his resurrection, of the highest order of spirit beings that God will ever have, next to that of the Father, exalted to the right hand of Jehovah. -- 1 Corinthians 15:27; Psalm 45:6; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3-5,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; Acts 2:32,33; 5:30,31; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:20; Luke 22:69; Mark 15:19; 1 Peter 3:21,22; Psalm 110:1.
The Greek word translated "Godhead" in many translations at Colossians 2:9 is often transliterated as Theotes. The Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich lexicon [BAGD], on page 359, defines the Greek word theotes as: "deity, divinity, used as abstract noun for theos...the fullness of a deity Col.2:9". [abstract noun, a quality or attribute].
Being an abstract noun for theos, we thus fall back to the root, THEOS, and its usages as well as the Hebraic background of forms of the Hebrew word often transliterated as 'EL, which correspond to forms of the Greek word transliterated as THEOS. See our study: The Hebraic Usage of the Titles for "God"
If we remember that the Hebrew word 'EL has the basic meaning of "strength, power, might"*, we can see what Paul is saying here. The fullness [abundance] of deity [strength, power, might] dwells in him bodily [his heavenly spirit body, not his body of flesh]. Seeing the word THEOTES as based on Hebrew usage of EL and ELOHIM, in the sense of power and authority, allows us to understand that Paul is saying that all this power and authority dwells in Jesus bodily. All the power and authority spoken of, however, is given to Jesus by the Almighty Yahweh. This agrees with Paul elsewhere says: "Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name." (Philippians 2:9 -- Thus Jesus is not God who exalted him.) "For, 'He put all things in subjection under his feet.' But when he says, 'All things are put in subjection,' it is evident that he is excepted who subjected all things to him." (1 Corinthians 15:27) "The God of our Lord Jesus Christ.. raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the assembly, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." (Ephesians 1:17,20-23) "He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18) Peter agrees with this: "Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him." -- 1 Peter 3:21,22.
Jesus proceeded forth and came from God (John 8:42). But Jesus is not God; he is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15) He stated that he is inferior (John 10:29; 14:28); he worshiped God; he prayed to God (John 11:41, 42; 17:1-26); he submitted to God; he called upon God for help with things he could not do himself; he accepted God's will as his own; he affirmed that God heard his prayers; and unlike God, who must by definition be perfect in every way, Jesus was made complete as a high priest through sufferings, and learned deeper levels of obedience by the things which he suffered (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8,9). Jesus of Nazareth was just what the scriptures style him: the Only-Begotten, the Son of the Highest, the First-Born of all Creation. -- John 1:18; Luke 1:32; Revelation 3:14.
The fullness of divine glory (Colossians 1:19) - the plenitude of love, wisdom, grace, and power- makes Jesus the able executor of the Father's wonderful plans. All this power in heaven and earth belongs to Jesus especially since his resurrection (Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Philippians 2:9). The counsels of God, before kept secret (Mark 13:32), are now entrusted to his care (Revelation 5:1-5). We look forward with rejoicing to the day when all mankind will join the heavenly chorus, singing, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever." - Revelation 5: l3
We should also note that "all the fullness of God" is said to include the members of the church (Ephesians 3:19), who are partakers of the Christ, being members of the body of Christ. Does this mean that they are or will become God Almighty? The fullness of God dwelling in believers, of course, is not equal to the fullness of godship dwelling in Jesus, since Jesus has godship over the church. Nor do we understand the apostle Paul to mean the same thing when he speaks of the fullness of God in believers as when he spoke of the fullness of deity dwelling bodily in Jesus. Nevertheless, some trinitarians make a big ado about this fullness being in the plural, and not of a single person. Paul speaks of the fullness of God in the believers, because he is speaking to all of the ecclesia in Ephesus, and not to one single member of that ecclesia. Although Paul speaks to the believers in the plural, it is apparent that he is saying this of each individual believer from the context, for each individual must be rooted and grounded in love, be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, that he/she may be filled to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19: that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to all the fullness of God.
Regardless, the godship -- deity -- (as used for the power or authority of rulership) of God's kingdom will include Jesus and all the saints. -- Psalm 2:6,8; 82:1,6,8; Isaiah 11:1-9; 32:1; Daniel 2:44; 7:22,27; Acts 17:31; 1 Corinthians 6:2,3; Colossians 2:9,10,19; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26,27; 20:4.
Of course, Jesus and the church do receive from Yahweh the power and authority through the holy spirit of Yahweh. -- Mark 13:11; John 3:34; 7:39; 20:22; Acts 1:2,8; 2:4,33,38; 5:32 (Darby); 8:15,17; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 2:12; 12:8; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 John 3:24; 4:13; Revelation 22:17.
Actually, we find nothing in the verse about such a "hypostatic union" as many claim that this verse teaches; indeed, the idea has to be first be imagined and assumed using the spirit of human imagination, what is imagined and assumed has to be formed into the dogma, and then that assumed dogma has to be added to and read into what is stated. As can be seen from what we have presented, there is nothing in Colossians 2:9 that supports the added-on dogma that Jesus is both the Most High, higher than the angels, and that Jesus is also a human being of flesh, lower than the angels, both at the same time.
Of course, now that the only Most High -- the unipersonal God and Father of Jesus (Ephesians 1:3) -- has exalted Jesus (Acts 5:31; Ephesians ; Philippians 2:9; Ephesians 1:20-22), he has been made "the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10), and he is no longer in the days of his flesh (Hebrews 5:7), and having sacrifice his fleshly existence (Luke 22:19; John 6:51; Hebrews 10:10), he is no longer a little lower than the angels (Hebrews 2:9), but is now exalted above the angels. (1 Peter 1:22). As such, in the spiritual body that he now has (1 Corinthians 15:44,45; 1 Peter 3:18), God has given to him all the fulness (abundance, the full amount needed) of deity (mightiness, powerfulness) that is needed for him to be "head of all principality and power" as has been given to him by the only Most High. Jesus, however, is and always will be excluded from being that which only belongs to the Most High Himself. -- 1 Corinthians 15:27.
Nevertheless, one has to discard man's dogma in order to comprehend the scriptures concerning this matter. God's holy spirit is hindered as long as any child of God continues to filter what is provided by means of God's Holy Spirit with the doctrine and fables of men.
Addendum 1 - Does the Word "Godhead" mean Three Persons?
It has been stated: "Since the word Trinity is used to represent God as a triune being, what is triune? Noah Webster defined the word triune to mean, 'three in one.' This means that God, a singular being, exists in a plural manner. This is why the term Godhead is often used in scripture (Acts 7:19, Romans 1:20, Colossians 2:9, etc.)."
We often hear trinitarians speak of three persons in the "Godhead" in this manner. They do not stop to reason that if Godhead means plural in number, as designating three persons in one Godhead, this would mean that Jesus himself is more than one person, for "Godhead" is said to dwell in Jesus bodily. If this is applied to Colossians 2:9, then all three persons would be Jesus, for it is stated that all three dwell in Jesus bodily. Additionally, it would mean that Jesus would be dwelling in Jesus. Actually "Godhead" simply means "godship", or from Hebraic background, having power and authority.
Addendum 2 - Bodily - Jesus' Physical Body?
One has stated: "Your suggestion that Col. 2:9 only refers to present tense, or His current state, is definitely not supported by the rest of the book which tells us that the fullness of the eternal Creator also dwelt in His corruptible human nature (1:16, 19,20)."
It is not our belief that Colossians 2:9 refers to God Almighty dwelling in Jesus, so the above is not applicable to what we have stated. Yet, there are some similarities. Yes, God was in Jesus as a human. (John 10:38; 14:10,11) The scriptures also say Jesus and God are in the believer through God's spirit, and that the believer is in Jesus and God. (Matthew 10:20; John 14:20,23; 15:4; 17:21-24; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Colossians 1:27; 1 John 2:24; 3:24; 4:13,16; see also 1 John 1:3,7; Ephesians 2:22) None of this makes either Jesus or the believers God Almighty, nor does it make the believers become Jesus.
See our studies:
Addendum 3 -- Word Was Made Flesh - John 1:1,4; Philippians 2:6-8
Someone comments that what we say does not "mesh with the rest of Scripture which tells us that the eternal Word of God was made flesh (John 1:1, 14), or Phil. 2:6-8 which tells us that the eternal, immutable nature of God which Christ possessed took on the corruptible nature of human flesh."
There is nothing either in John 1:1,14 nor Philippians 2:6-8 that speaks of an "eternal, immutable nature of God which Christ possessed [that] took on the corruptible nature of human flesh." Does such an idea even make sense? While those who advocate this idea claim that it was not the substance of God that became flesh, if applied to what is actually stated in John 1:1,14, it would indeed mean that the very substance of the Most of the Most High became the substance of flesh, lower than the angels! In reality, it was the Logos that became flesh; and while in the days of his flesh, he did not have his former divine glory. -- John 17:5.
See our studies:Hebrews 2:9 and the Alleged Incarnation
Jesus' Prehuman Glory
Jesus' Two Glories
Addendum 4 -- Regarding the Word "Fullness" (Pleroma)
We have been criticized for our explanation of the "abundance" or "plenitude", evidently with the thought that "fullness" in Colossians 2:9 expresses that Jesus is fully God, as the trinitarians like to say. Note the following regarding the word "fullness" and Greek word from which it is rendered:
The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon
Strong's Number: 4138
Original Word Word Origin
plhvrwma from (4137)
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
play'-ro-mah Noun Neuter
that which is (has been) filled
a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers
in the NT, the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ
that which fills or with which a thing is filled
of those things which a ship is filled, freight and merchandise, sailors, oarsmen, soldiers
completeness or fulness of time
a fulfilling, keeping
From the Greek-Dictionary.net
Lexical form (using TekniaGreek):
Frequency in New Testament:
Morphology of Biblical Greek tag:
that which fills up; full measure, entire content,, Mk. 8:20; 1 Cor. 10:26, 28; complement, full extent, full number, Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10; that which fills up a deficiency, a supplement, a patch, Mt. 9:16; fulness, abundance, Jn. 1:16; full measure, Rom. 15:29; a fulfilling, perfect performance, Rom. 13:10; complete attainment of entire belief, full acceptance, Rom. 11:12; full development, plenitude, Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:19; 2:9
Addendum 5 - Using Dictionaries
The same one who criticized our use of plenitude responded to our presentation of the Greek scholars (see Addendum 6) with the claim that we need to learn how to better understand the Scriptures and quit worrying about what dictionaries say.
This kind of reasoning sounds very similar to the accusations that the Jewish leaders made of Jesus and his disciples. Our experience with such is, in effect, that such an argument is saying, don't confuse with the facts, my mind is made up. If we present what the Bible says, what we present is not addressed, but simply dismissed; if we present what trinitarians scholars say, then we get attacked for presenting what trintiarian scholars say. Such who criticize in this manner are endeavoring to create what many call a Catch-22 situation, a continual method of frustrating anything said by presenting self-contradictory demands upon what is presented; it is as though the one creating this situation is stating: I do not recognize your scholarship so I do not recognize what you say; I do not recognize your quotes of scholars because I do not recognize you as scholar, and therefore whatever you quote of trinitarians scholars must also be wrong, etc.
Addendum 6 -- Context and Meaning
It is being argued related to Colossians 2:9 that context and what the writer meant to say is the important thing. With this we agree; there is not any indication, however, from the context or from Paul's writings in general that he meant to say that Jesus was the Most High.
For those who are genuinely seeking the truth, however, what does the context of Colossians 2:9 reveal?
Is the word THEOS in Colossians 1:3,6,10,14,27; 2:12; 3:1 referring to one person, or three persons? Does not this one person who is identified as "God" exalt the the one spoken of Colossians 2:9 with the power that is spoken of in Colossians 2:10?
Most trinitarians will agree that in these verses (Colossians 1:3,6,10,14,27; 2:12; 3:1), Paul uses the word THEOS of only of one person, not more than one person. What they will do, however, is call upon the spirit of human imagination so as assume that "God" means only the alleged "first" person of God, and that our Lord Jesus Christ means the alleged second person of God. Of course, then they will use the spirit of human imagination in order to suppose that, in Acts 2:36, it is the first person of their alleged triune God who made the second person of the alleged triune God both Lord and Christ. Some go on to confuse matters even more by claiming that the word Lord, when applied to Jesus, means Jehovah (Yahweh) of the Old Testament, although as yet I have not seen any explanation as to how Jehovah made Jesus Jehovah. The point is that the trinitarian has to continuously call upon the spirit of human imagination in order keep bringing forth one thing after another to add to the scriptures and to read into the scriptures in order to sustain the added-on trinitarian dogma.
The New Testament, however, is based on the Old Testament. The usage of the word THEOS is based on the Hebrew word EL, which has the basic meaning of strength, power, might. THEOTES is actually an abstract feminine form of THEOS, which in turn corresponds with EL in the Hebrew. There is no reason to think that the NT writers would use forms of THEOS any differently than the OT writers used forms of EL. When EL is applied to anyone who is not Most High in the OT, the Hebrews would not think that this meant that the one being spoken of as EL or ELOHIM, etc., as a person of the Most High. They would simply attribute the word as being applied to the strength, might, or power of that person, which might, strength, power can only come from the Most High Himself. Most translations of the Bible into English as well as other languages recognize this usage. We can use the most popular English translation — the King James Version — to illustrate such usage. This can be demonstrated in such verses where the KJV renders the word for “God” (forms of EL and ELOHIM in the Hebrew) so as to denote strength, power, might, rulership, etc., such as in the following verses: Genesis 23:6 (mighty); Genesis 30:8 (mighty); Genesis 31:29 (power); Deuteronomy 28:32 (might); 1 Samuel 14:15 (great); Nehemiah 5:5 (power); Psalm 8:5 (angels); Psalm 36:6 (great); Psalm 82:1 (mighty); Proverbs 3:27 (power); Psalm 29:1 (mighty); Ezekiel 32:21 (strong); Jonah 3:3 (exceeding). If one were to substitute “false god” in many of these verses, we would have some absurd statements. This demonstrates that these words are used in a sense other than the only true God, or as “false god.”
As THEOTES in Colossians 2:9 is not speaking of "God" who does the exalting (Colossians 2:12; 3:1; compared with Acts 2:32,33; 5:31; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:3,20,22; Philippians 2:9), but rather of the one who is exalted, the default reasoning is that THEOTES is not referring to a state being the Most High -- the Supreme Being, but rather to a state of being mighty, mightiness, dwelling in the substance of Jesus' spiritual body -- the body he now has, not the body that was his during the days of his flesh.
Are we to think that the entire substance of the Most High, who is greater than the material heavens, is all compacted and bound into a human body of flesh, as some seem to claim? These same trinitarians will often on the one hand claim that that God's substance is boundless, but then, by forcing into Paul's words that he was speaking of Jesus' body of flesh, and that THEOTES means the the state of being the substance of the Most High, they would have the boundless substance of the Most High bound into an comparatively minute body as compared with the totality of the universe. This is not the way they would put the matter, but it is the logical conclusion that would be reached by some of the statements that have often been presented to me, and which I keep reading from trinitarian apologists.
However, simply accepting the Biblical usage of forms of EL and applying that usage to THEOTES in Colossians 2:9 is fully in harmony with the facts, the context, and the entire Bible. It is very simple and straightforward; nothing at all complex, no distortion of context, no need to use a lot of human imagination so as to keep coming up with explanation after explanation so as to force a preconceived dogma into the scriptures. It is because trinitarians (and many others, such as "oneness" believers) do utilize the spirit of human imagination in order to "see" their dogma in the scriptures, that what would otherwise be simple and straightforward, becomes complex.
Some related online writings (we do not necessarily agree with all statements given; you may have to use your search or find feature of your browser to search the pages for 2:9)
Colossians 2:9: All The Fullness of the Godhead (Deity) Bodily
Colossians 2:9: All The Fullness of the Godhead (Deity) Bodily
The Error of the Trinity - Part 4 (use the search or find feature of browser for "Colossians 2:9")
The Error of the Trinity - Part 4 (use the search or find feature of browser for "Colossians 2:9")
(Friends of the Nazarene) Luke 7:47-49; Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20- Who Can Forgive Sins? John 14:9 - Was Jesus the Father? John 20:28 - The God of Thomas. Acts 20:28 - Whose Blood? Romans 9:5 - Is Jesus the "Blessed God"? Philippians 2:6 - Was Jesus Equal to God? Colossians 2:9 - Is Jesus Part of a Godhead?
Colossians 2:9: The Author of the Atonement
(Studies in the Scriptures) page 71
Colossians 2:9: The Author of the Atonement
(Studies in the Scriptures) page 71
Comments and Replies
You said “Our Lord, before he became a man, was of the highest order of spirit beings, the Logos, who, after the creation of the angelic host through him, is called the archangel (Jude 1:9; Daniel 12:1; Colossians 1:16).”
I do not believe that Yahshua pre-existed his birth as a spirit being. Please see my web page for more in depth information on this matter.
August 22nd, 2011 at 10:30 am
Regarding Jesus’ pre-human existence, see the studies at:
The Logos of God
and also the thread in the forum:
Ronald R. Day Sr. (Restoration Light Bible Study Services -- ResLight, RlBible)
Updated: March 2009 -- September 2014; Republished, September 2014; Republished, April 2017