For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;…
I. IN THE PERSON THAT REDEEMS US WE FIND FULNESS.
1. And there had need be so.
(1) He found our measure of sin full towards God. When a river swells it will find out all the channels and overflow the whole field; so sin hath found an issue at the ear, eye, tongue, hands, feet, and so overflows all.
(2) God's measure of anger was full too.
(3) Then it pleased the Father that there should be another fulness to overflow these.
2. This is" all fulness," and is only in Christ. Elijah had a great portion of the Spirit; Elisha sees that that will not serve Him, and so asks a double portion; but still but portions. Stephen is full of faith, a blessed fulness where there is no room for doubt; Dorcas is full of good works, a fulness above faith; Mary is full of grace, which is a fulness above both; but yet not "all fulness." I shall be as full as Paul in heaven, i.e., have as full a vessel, but not so full a cellar. Christ only hath an infinite content and capacity, and so an infinite fulness.
3. But was Christ God before, and is there a supplementary fulness? Yes. To make Him a competent person to redeem man something was to be added to Christ though He were God; wherein we see the incomprehensibleness of man's sin, that even to God Himself there was required something else than God before we could be redeemed. Perfect God, there is the fulness of the Redeemer's dignity; perfect man, there is the fulness of His capacity to suffer and pay our debt. This was a strange fulness, for it was a fulness of emptiness, all humiliation and exinanition by His obedience unto death.
4. How came Christ by all this fulness? "It pleased the Father."
II. THE PACIFICATION. It is much that God would admit any peace; more that for peace He should require blood; more still that it should be the blood of Him who was injured; most of all that is should be the blood of the Cross, i.e., death.
1. Then there was a heavy war before; for the Lord of Hosts was our enemy; and what can all our musters come to when He is against us?
2. But what is the peace, and how are we included in it? A man must not think himself included in it because he feels no effects of this war. Though there be no blow stricken, the war remains in the time of truce. But hero is no truce. All this while that thou enjoyest this imaginary security the enemy undermines thee, and will blow thee up at last more irrevocably than if he had battered thee with outward calamities all the time. But in this text there is true peace, and one already made, and made by Him who lacked nothing for the making of it.
3. Is effusion of blood the way of peace? That may make them from whom it is drawn glad of peace. But here mercy and truth are met together. God would be true to His own justice and be merciful to us. Justice required blood, for without it is no remission. Under the law it was blood of bulls and goats; here it is His blood. "Greater love," etc. (John 15:13); but He who said so laid down His life shamefully and painfully for His enemies.
III. THE APPLICATION THEREOF TO ALL TO WHOM THAT RECONCILIATION APPERTAINS. All this was done, and yet the apostle prays us to be reconciled to God. The general peace was made by Christ's death, as a general pardon is given at the King's coming; we have to accept it.
1. There is a reconciliation of things in heaven.
(1) The saints, who reached forth the hand of faith to lay hold of Christ before He came.
(2) Angels, who were confirmed in perfect holiness and blessedness.
2. Things on earth.
(1) The creature who by virtue of it shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
3. But the most proper and literal meaning is that all things in heaven and earth be reconciled to God; i.e., His glory, to a fitter disposition to glorify Him, by being reconciled to one another in Christ; that in Him, as Head of the Church, they in heaven and we on earth be united together as one body in the communion of saints (Ephesians 1:10).
4. Here there is still reconciliation to be made, not only toward one another on the bond of charity, but on ourselves. In ourselves we find things in heaven and on earth to reconcile. There is heavenly zeal to be reconciled to discretion; heavenly purity to one another's infirmities; heavenly liberty to a care for the promotion of scandal. Till the flesh and spirit be reconciled this reconciliation is not accomplished; but both are, in Christ, when in all the faculties of soul and body we glorify Him.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;