Everything You Need
Study #15 Colossians 2:10
by Bob Burridge ©2022
Several years ago I had to fix our old garbage disposal that had frozen up on us. When I started to work on it the casing cracked open from age and the whole thing fell apart. So we bought a new one that said it was the size we needed. The instructions told me that all I needed was a screwdriver. That’s what I like, a self-contained kit.
However that wasn’t the whole truth. Our old model had a different “universal” drain attachment. The pipes linking to the drain weren’t exactly lined up and weren’t the same length as the old ones. But what came in the box wasn’t sufficient in itself. You needed to add things to make it work.
Soon I found myself with different wrenches, channel locks, different screwdrivers, a hacksaw, plumber’s putty, and various lengths of PVC pipe with the necessary connectors and seals. Thankfully I rarely throw things away so I was able to find these things scattered in boxes throughout our garage.
Were used to exaggerated claims to entice people to buy a product. So we tend to assume that there’s more we have to do and supply.
The real biblical way to be made right with God seems too simple to be true to most people. Can it really be that the work of the Messiah has provided everything we need? People assume that their own efforts and decisions will be needed to make it effective. But the biblical message is very clear: Jesus completed all we need. There’s nothing we need to add to that to make ourselves right with God.
That idea goes against the world-view of our fallen hearts. In that lost state we think we have to earn forgiveness by good works, fancy worship rituals, and the help of priests.
God’s word tells us that in our natural condition we’re dead spiritually. There’s nothing we can do that’s pure enough to impress God. There’s nothing lacking in the finished work of our Savior — it’s complete in itself.
The Bible certainly tells us that doing good and worship are important, but they aren’t things you have to add to Christ’s work to move God to redeem you. There are things we do to show God how much we love him, but these are evidences of his work in our hearts. They aren’t causes of God’s grace.
That’s Paul’s message in this second chapter of Colossians.
Having just explained
the divine nature of Jesus Christ,
Paul shows the promise we have in him:
Colossians 2:10, “and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”
The verb translated as “filled” here is translated in different ways. Paul wrote this in the Greek of that time.
The Greek root word used here is “plae-ro-o” (πληροω). It means to be “filled” in the sense of being made “complete”. That’s how some other Bible versions translate it.
The word here is the perfect passive participle form of this word. This means it’s a completeness that’s happened to us already, and its effects continue.
The same Greek word was used about Jesus in the verse right before this one. In verse 9 Paul said that in Jesus, “… the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. In Jesus all the fullness, or completeness, of the godhead dwells bodily. Nothing was lacking of his divine nature when he became man.
Then here in verse 10 Paul says that we are filled, made complete, in Christ. All those redeemed by grace are complete because the fulness of Christ dwells in them.
Notice that this isn’t a command to become complete in him. It’s a statement of fact. “in Christ you have already been filled up, made complete”. It’s something that’s already happened, its effects continue, and it was done to you, not by you.
As a believer you are really complete in Christ. Nothing is lacking in you to qualify for being a true child of God.
So in what way are we made complete? We know we haven’t reached full spiritual maturity so that we never sin and never get discouraged, or that we always perform our duties toward God perfectly. Obviously we still have a lot of incompleteness left in us!
There is however an important promise for us here that we don’t want to miss! To understand it, we need to remember what Paul had been explaining up to this point.
In chapter 1 his main point was that we please God when we learn and do what he tells us. We need to study his word to know what’s good and right in our lives. But we do it thankfully and humbly as those already redeemed by grace, not as those trying to earn redemption.
In 1:28 Paul said that he prayed and worked hard to present every believer complete in Christ. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” The word “mature” in that verse is “teleion” (τέλειον) which means the end condition, a goal to be reached. [τέλειον ἐν Χριστῷ] Christ-likeness should be the goal of our lives. It shouild be our objective in all we do and think.
In chapter 2 he continued that idea warning that there were false teachers trying to delude them about God’s truth. So Paul warns us not to follow the false traditions of men. Instead we should remain faithful to the traditions God had established for us; that is: the ways and teachings delivered to us by the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles.
While perfection in Christ is always our goal, one that is always humbling us before God, the completeness we have in our Lord is not our actually achieving that perfect goal in this life. He constantly speaks of our need to keep striving to take on holy ways and thoughts.
So then, if we have so much yet to accomplish in this life what kind of completeness is verse 10 talking about?
As we’ll see in the next section, the full righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to us. There is nothing lacking in our standing before God. He doesn’t focus on our sins. He sees us clothed in the holiness of our Savior. He paid our debt and declared us to be innocent. And we have been given the ability to obey God with a right heart which is intent on giving him glory. The potential for us to grow as Christians toward modeling the character of Christ is in us. In this sense, we are complete in him. We have all we need to be growing in ways that please and honor God.
How is it then that Jesus Christ was able to accomplish all this for us? These two verses, 9 and 10, need to be taken together. Since the fullness of the Godhead was in Jesus while he became a man, he was qualified to be the 2nd Adam. As Adam represented us in Eden when he sinned, Jesus perfectly represented his people on the cross. The infinite God lived among us and died in our place as a true human paying our infinite debt. Now, raised back to his full glory, he works by the Holy Spirit to apply his work to us. When we are regenerated by his grace, our union with this divine Savior makes us partakers of his life.
Our completeness as God’s people is possible because of Jesus’ complete deity clothed in a complete humanity.
The problem the Colossian community was facing had to do with a misuse of God’s law. Some had come to believe that the ceremonial laws would make God bless them. But that wasn’t why those laws were given. That’s not what Moses said. The ceremonial laws of sacrifices and the priesthood accomplished several things. The sacrifices and rituals showed that sin demanded death. They foreshadowed that God will provide a substitute for his people who would die in their place. They were incomplete images depicting the work of the coming Messiah. It was the people’s obedient faith in God’s promise to pay for their sins that was important.
But the legalists had changed the whole meaning of the law. They thought they could be made right with God by keeping the ceremonial law itself.
Moses looked forward to promises that hadn’t been fully revealed at that time. He knew there was more. Jesus explained to the proud legalists in John 5:45-47 that the laws pointed ahead to a coming Messiah. “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
The prophets also pointed not to the law as hope but to the Messiah the law prefigured:
Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Hebrews 10:1 tells what the law was, “… the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities …”
John Calvin later explained, “Christ, therefore, now declares, that his doctrine is so far from being at variance with the law, that it agrees perfectly with the law and the prophets, and not only so, but brings the complete fulfillment of them.”
The ancient laws God gave to Israel for worship and life are like a movie trailer before the movie is released. To be rightly understood, they must be practiced with a faith that pointed to the promised Messiah.
The law was part of the mystery of God’s plan of redemption, they had the pieces but didn’t know how they fit together. God had revealed the problem and the promise to Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. They knew of our depravity in Adam along with the guilt and moral inability we inherit. They understood the infinite demand of justice, and the the reality of God’s saving grace. Under the shadows of the law God manifest his presence between the cherubim in the temple. But in Christ, the very presence of God himself dwelt among us personally, not just as a manifestation. He took up the depravity and corruption of his people and fulfilled the promise of real redemption. We can only become complete in him.
Nothing more needs to be added by our efforts or attitudes. We don’t need the theories of sociologists, psychologists, or crowd-pleasing preachers. We don’t need to rely on rituals, or angels, or departed saints. The now completed work of our Savior and the continuing enablement of the Holy Spirit is all we need. The Apostle John summarized the simplicity of the gospel in 1 John 5:12, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Jesus Christ is sufficient in himself for all we need. That completeness or fullness in Christ means — nothing more needs to be nor can be added. Philippians 4:19 assures us that “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
The last part of 2:10 reminds us
about the sovereignty of Christ.
10b, “… who is the head of all rule and authority.”
Jesus Christ, as our all sufficient Savior, is Sovereign over all powers and experts. There is no priesthood or coven of spiritual superiors we need to look to for our salvation. We are filled with all we need from the one in whom all the fullness of divinity itself abides bodily.
Though we are not yet filled with Christ’s perfection. We are completely supplied by him with all he promises us in his covenant. We are enabled to thankful obedience and hope by being indwelt by him who is prefect.
We have no need of anything to supplement grace as the false teachers of Colossae promoted. False religion not only degrades God’s provision in Christ (as if he didn’t to enough for us), it also shows no gratitude for the most wonderful provision ever made.
Nothing need be, or dare be, added to the finished work of Christ.
However, we have a duty to live confidently in that fact. But these duties are evidences, not causes, of our union in Christ and spiritual restoration. They are ways we show our gratitude and trust in God’s work of saving grace in us. These aren’t means to manipulate God or cause him to be gracious to us. That’s the horrible and subtle distortion of the false forms of religion.
– Some tell us we need to look to the church to get them right with God. They perform religious rituals and pay the church to pray for them. They burn candles, weep over blessed jewelry, or bow before statues of saints.
– Some get their followers to put their assurance in stirred up emotions and ecstatic feelings. They get stirred up in worship by emotional music, and waving hands in the air. They think they hear God speak to them beyond what he says in the Bible. They imagine God moves them to speak new revelations to them in foreign unknown languages.
– Some teach that our good charitable works score points with God. They do things to help the needy, but it’s really to help themselves feel “right with God”.
The results are dangerous. They might feel they can’t do enough to earn God’s promises. They become depressed. They might get puffed up in spiritual pride thinking God must be impressed.
The promise completed for us in our Savior should be our focus. We are “complete in Christ”! He is the Sovereign Lord over all things and has done all that’s needed to make us right with God. By resting in him we are made able to carry out the duties God prescribes for us to perform out of humble faith.
– We are to come to our God in sincere prayer, confident that he hears us and uses our prayers as he cares for his people.
– We come to our Creator in thankful worship which he stirs in us as we behold his revealed glory.
– We study his written word in the Bible which is all the revelation from God that we need.
– We partake of the sacraments as reminders of what he’s done for us as his Covenant People.
– We encourage each other in our Christian lives and allow the true church to discipline us when needed.
We dare not forget that it’s Jesus who enables us to serve thankfully and effectively for his Kingdom. We’re driven to appreciate all the more the awesome work of our Savior as we humbly confess our sin, depravity, and unworthiness. while being thankful for what God by grace moves us to do for his glory.
We have all we need in him who is Sovereign over all. He’s our righteousness making us fully accepted before God forever. He’s our enablement freeing us to be repentantly putting off our sinful ways, and to be putting on godliness. He’s our hope and joy that can’t fail us, and which needs nothing more of us than what he has done. He’s our motive to holy living, not doing good to add to his finished work, but as a thankful response to it.
The words of Charles Hadden Spurgeon are a good summary: [Morning 1/31 on Jeremiah 23:6], “You will not find on this side heaven a holier people than those who receive into their hearts the doctrine of Christ’s righteousness. When the believer says, ‘I live on Christ alone; I rest on Him solely for salvation; and I believe that, however unworthy, I am still saved in Jesus;’ then there rises up as a motive of gratitude this thought — ‘Shall I not live to Christ? Shall I not love Him and serve Him, seeing that I am saved by His merits?’ The love of Christ constraineth us, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves but unto Him which died for them. If saved by imputed righteousness, we shall greatly value imparted righteousness.”
Note: Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.