The Fullness of the Gentiles

The word for fullness in the Greek is pléróma (Greek πληρωμα) which means fullness. This is the noun form from the verb pléroó (Greek πληρόω) meaning to fill. In classical Greek πληρωμα was used in Herodotus to denote ships which are filled, freight and merchandise. In Mark the word is used to indicate a full basket of bread.

Mark 6:43

 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish.

As a reference to time the verb form is used in Luke 2:6 to indicate the completion of the pregnancy of Mary.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

In Romans 11 Paul references “the fullness of the Gentilesand contrasts this with “the fullness of Israel.”

Romans 11

25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

12 Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!

The possessive pronoun “their” is a reference to Israel.

These are two dispensations characterized by different circumstances.

The fullness of the Gentiles

1)      Israel is blinded and are not believers

2)      The Gentiles are grafted into the vine (salvation) as unnatural branches

3)      Paul refers to this period as the mystery

4)      Israel is the enemy of the gospel

The fullness of Israel

1)      All Israel is saved

2)      Israel is grafted again into the vine

3)      Israel is accepted by God

When the fullness of the Gentiles is complete: the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Then a new dispensation occurs and Israel is the centerpiece of God’s program. In this dispensation all Israel will be saved.

At the completion of the fullness of Israel God will introduce a new dispensation called the dispensation of the fullness of times. This is a time when all things are subjected to God.

Ephesians 1:10

 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

Paul further explains what happens in this future dispensation of the fullness of the times. Christ will reign until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete and the fullness of Israel is complete. Then Christ will wrap up all things at the end of the age when death will be no more.

1 Corinthians 15:25-30

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.”[a] But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

The phrase “all in all” is used in both 1 Cor 15 and Eph 1:23. In 1 Corinthians there is no express verb but there is an implied verb “to be” which is translated “may be” because this is clearly a future event. In Ephesians the verb “fills” is actually a passive construction meaning the word may be translated “is being filled” rather than the active construction “fills.” However the verb form may also be translated as a middle or more of an active meaning “fills.”

The Ephesians verse could mean “the act of subjecting all things to God fill up or completes Jesus” or “Jesus is filling up all things to complete God.” From the 1 Corinthian passage where God is the “all in all” the second meaning seems to be better.

Ephesians 1:22-23

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

In the Ephesians verse there is a double predicate nominative not readily apparent in the English. The which refers to the Church and the Church refers to two predicated nominatives. The Church is “His body” and the Church is “the fullness of Him.” This term “fullness” (Greek πληρωμα) is the body of Christ.

This leaves open a new view of two other Ephesians verses. The blessings referred to in chapters 3 and 4 may be a reference to the end time dispensation of the fullness of times when all things are reconciled to God.

Ephesians 3:19

19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 4:13

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

This leads to a new understanding of the Colossians passages on the fullness. If the fullness is the body of Christ then Colossians 1:19 is referring to the dwelling of the body of Christ in Christ. This makes sense because the rest of the verse is a reference of the reconciling of all things in the dispensation of the fullness of times.

Colossians 1:19

19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Traditionally the Colossians 2:9 verse in some way refers to the attributes of deity in Christ. He has all the attributes of Deity. But maybe this is reference not to the attributes of Christ but to the body of Christ dwelling in Christ. The context is a warning to the body of Christ not to accept philosophy or the basic principles of the world. The “fullness” reference pléróma (Greek πληρωμα) is supplemented by the verb form “are complete” pléroó (Greek πληρόω). The two forms are related, a fact not evident from the English translation and both forms are talking about the body of Christ in Ephesians 1.

Colossians 2:8-12

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

The concept of the “fullness of Christ” being the “body of Christ” has been overlooked in the commentaries of theologians. There are plenty of verses that prove the Deity of Christ without misappropriating these Colossians verses.




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