Colossians 2:10

I. WHEREIN THE FULNESS OF HUMANITY CONSISTS. St: Paul has been writing of the fulness of the Godhead. He now turns his thoughts to our poor, naked, hungry humanity, and he shows how there is a completion and a satisfaction that may be called our fulness, in some way corresponding to the fulness of God.

1. The full satisfaction of our wants. We are empty, hungry, and needy. We require pardon for sin; strength for trouble, temptation, and toil; light in darkness; innumerable graces for innumerable distresses. Our fulness must be the quenching of the soul's thirst, the satisfaction of the aching void within.

2. The full attainment of the perfection of humanity. We may have every known desire satisfied and may be full up to the measure of our present capacity, and yet not have attained to the fulness of humanity. Our capacity may be enlarged, new aspirations may be inspired in us. To attain to the stature of the perfect man, to he quite like Christ, is to reach our spirit's prime and to have our human fulness. This will be a fulness of knowledge, of goodness, of power for spiritual service.

II. FROM WHAT THE FULNESS OF HUMANITY IS DERIVED. By the word "fulness" St. Paul means that which fills as well as that which is perfected in itself. Christ alone can fill and perfect us.

1. We must find the fulness in Christ. Because he is filled with the fulness of God he is himself a perfected Man and the Source of the same grace for us. We have to learn, then, that to reach our fulness we must have what is in Christ. Perfect humanity is not possible without God. When we become possessed by the Spirit of God we become true men. This true religious life does not make us less human; it perfects our humanity. Not by science, nor by learning, nor by energy in affairs of the world, nor by any purely human effort, though all these things have their missions, but through Christ, we may attain the true ideal of humanity.

2. We can attain to this fulness by personal union with Christ. We must not simply learn the method from Christ, nor seek the blessing as a gift of his, but derive it from close, living fellowship with him. The secret is to be "in Christ," "rooted" as the tree by being rooted in the soil derives nourishment therefrom, and "builded up in him" as the temple stands firm when erected on a solid foundation. - W.F.A.

Ye are complete in Him. The false teachers at Colossae were Jews, but not Judaizers. They were philosophers. They designed to substitute philosophy for Christianity, not by denying the latter, but by explaining it. They distinguished between faith and knowledge. Faith was for the people, knowledge for the educated few. The objects of faith were the historical and doctrinal statements of the Bible. The objects of knowledge were the speculative truths underlying those statements, and into which they were to be sublimated. Paul's object is to prove
1. Christ is the one infallible Teacher of the Church. Elsewhere you tread on the deceptive sand or treacherous marsh which by an appearance of solidity lures you to proceed and then sinks under your weight. His teaching alone places you on the rock. Ancient mariners sailed by the light of the stars, but when clouds intervened they were beset with dangers. Taking the words of Jesus you shall cross the sea of life with safety, but if you allow human philosophy, tradition, priesthoods, etc., to intervene, your course must be perilous.

2. He is the Head of the Church, and alone has a right to command in spiritual things. We honour the Fathers, love the names of saints and reformers, but we must not make them lords. "One is your Master."(1) The constitution of His Person qualifies Him for this spiritual throne. Divine knowledge, wisdom, power, dwell in Him, united to tenderest human sympathies.(2) Moreover He purchased us with His own blood, and His people are made willing subjects by the power of His Spirit.

3. The spiritual increase of the Church is derived from Him. Religious progress is a growing up into Him in all things. Christ is our life. Reject Him, and you are cast forth as a severed branch and burned; but united to Him a Divine virtue shall pass into your soul, and you shall be made "perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

4. These things being so, the teaching that has a tendency to draw us away from Christ is to be rejected. The apostle warns the Colossians against errors which would have this effect. The things he names are still in the world under different forms, and his advice is as needful as ever. They were in danger from —


1. St. Paul does not speak against love of knowledge, for this is as natural as the desire for food. Nor did he suppose that the gospel had anything to fear from it. False religions may thrive in ignorance as bats in the dark, but: pure Christianity, like the eagle, delights to look the sun in the face. Be philosophers if you will, explore the wonders of nature, and the gospel will no more suffer than the finding of new planets will extinguish the sun.

2. But the Colossian philosophy was the vain and bewildering theories of men. Speculations concerning God are of little value, for He is found not by our searching, but by his revealing, and that in Him in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead. Extinguish this light and hold in your hand the torch of philosophy, and what do you make of the black expanse before you — the many gods of the heathen, the no-God of the atheist, the blind necessity of the fatalist, or nothing but matter with the materialist, or nothing bat God with the pantheist?

3. Three things are certain.

(1)Man must have a religion.

(2)He cannot discover a satisfying one by himself.

(3)He should receive thankfully that provided by Christ, who is our life and in whom we are complete.


1. By tradition we mean doctrine, precept, custom not named in the Word of God. Jewish traditions, embodied in the Talmud, were mingled at Colossae with mental philosophy and the truths of the gospel. This Paul regarded as injurious to spiritual life.

2. The belief in tradition is not extinct. The Greek and Roman Churches receive it as a rule of faith co-ordinate with the Bible. And other Churches, more pure and enlightened, are not entirely free.(1) There are traditional systems of spiritual truth. Men of other days melted the Divine doctrines and cast them in human moulds. The gospel bears the same relation to these forms as a painting to its frame. We may change the frame, but must not efface a single feature of the picture.(2) There is a traditional mode of speech with which you must clothe the truth or be suspected of heresy.

3. Tradition is at best an uncertain guide. It may be a pillar of fire, or an ignis fatuus. But we have the words of Jesus, the glorious and everlasting gospel; and our faith should rest in that, and not in fairy tales of Jewish, Roman, or Protestant tradition. "Ye are complete in Him."

III. THE SACRED SITES AND SEASONS OF A FORMER DISPENSATION (ver. 16). Many are still Jewish in their feelings.

1. To many the Lord's day is still the Jewish Sabbath. Yet its very name shews it to be a different day, and can we fear for its sancitity while we regard it as commemorative of the resurrection. Moreover, it is necessary for rest and devotion. Keep it, then, as given, not by Moses, but by Christ.

2. Baptism as set forth in the New Testament is beautiful and instructive. It acknowledges our sinfulness, symbolizes the purification of the Spirit, and puts a seal on the baptized that he belongs to Christ. But when it is regarded as regenerative, and as creating a relation which it only recognizes, the sign is mistaken for the thing signified, and a simple ordinance converted into a fruitful error.

3. The Lord's Supper, in its simplicity, is an impressive representation of Christ's sufferings, a vivid expression of His love, an historical evidence for the gospel. Men have built monuments to keep their names in human memory, but time has blotted them out. Therefore our Saviour ordained for His memorials productions of nature that will last as long as the world. Penetrate their meaning, and you will understand what Christ is to you. But when the idea of spiritual magic is introduced, instead of being helpful to piety, it becomes a stumbling-block and an offence.

IV. THE WORSHIP OF ANGELS (ver. 18). This old error still lives. The honour paid by Rome to angels exceeds that paid to Christ. It was an error to think that we in England had done with her for ever. She is very busy in this land, and wherever her teaching is received angels are worshipped. We should avoid her and repudiate her claims. Begone, spirit of error; that we may behold God in Jesus Christ. We are "complete in Him."

(T. Jones, D. D.)

"Complete" is carried on from ver. 9. "The fulness of the Godhead," "and ye are full (same word) in Him."

I. FULNESS IN CHRIST. If you had heard Christ speak you would have said nothing can be taken away or added to those words without diminishing their force or beauty. If you had seen Christ act you would have felt that His action came up to the fulness of which that action was capable. His heart was nothing but love; and His work, although confined to a few years, fulfilled the infinite counsel of the Trinity. The Father looked down and saw no flaw and was satisfied.

II. THIS FULNESS WAS TO BE THE ONE TREASURE-HOUSE OF THE CHURCH FOR EVER (John 1:16; Ephesians 4:7). And every believer being separately endowed, the whole Church is made His body, "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." So we are filled, complete; and the Church is the complement of Jesus.


1. The union is a simple, positive fact once for all. The Holy Spirit enters a man's mind and unites his thoughts, feelings, desires, etc., with those of Christ, and that Spirit in both is union.

2. If there be union the completeness will follow, just as a vessel must fill itself from the fountain with which it is connected.


1. No man ever yet came up to the point of which he knew his powers were capable.

2. None of those sources of gratification with which God has furnished us ever gave entire satisfaction.

3. There is not a man who has not his weak points; but above all men the Christian feels his incompleteness. The better he prays the more he feels his prayer deficient. The higher his attainments the farther off he seems from what he wants. And no Christian friend, no Church, no ordinance, no grace, is all he once expected they would be.

4. Life is one vast incompleteness.


1. From His cross our Lord said "It is finished." From the time of creation down to that hour those words could not have been spoken about any human undertaking. But He said it, and mark the consequence. You have to do with a salvation which is perfectly complete. If you think you are to do anything you detract from the completeness of Christ.

2. We have a twofold completeness.(1) That which we draw from Christ. The whole disposal of God's gifts is delegated to Christ. In Him all things are treasured up for our sakes. Hence He will supply

(a)our temporal needs. The Christian, therefore, must not be anxious about them.

(b)Strength and wisdom for every work we have to do. The Christian, then, must not despair about his weakness and ignorance.

(c)Grace for Christian growth and comfort. The Christian must not despond when deprived of outward means and help.(2) That in which we stand in Christ. God sees all who believe in Christ, and accepts Christ for them. Hence everything we do in faith loses itself in some corresponding thing that Christ has done. Our prayer, e.g., mingles with Christ's intercession. What is wanting He supplies, what is redundant He deducts. His perfume gives it sweetness, and so it goes to the throne, how different from when it left us, "complete." He is "made unto us wisdom and righteousness," etc.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

1. Every valuable mechanism represents a principle peculiar to itself. It may have many important adjuncts, but there must be one principle which imparts its force to all the rest.

2. In the same manner men are of large or small account as they recognize their individuality. Each stone is hewed for its special place, and to fail to appreciate our purpose is to degrade our manhood and to insult the prescience of the Divine Architect.

3. The claim of Christianity to be is that it, in like manner, embodies one distinctive fact. Ethically considered it has much in common with other systems; but its central feature or force is, as its name indicates, the Christ element. The degree in which Christ is present in the heart marks the purity of the Christianity.

4. The declaration, "Ye are complete in Him," goes much further than the recognition of Christ as an historic character as we associate Mahomet with Islam, etc. It is Christ interpenetrating Christianity at every point. The Scriptures assert for Christ comprehensive, all-filling character and capacities. "I am the Way," etc. "Without Me ye can do nothing." "In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead," etc. Observe —


I. No life is or can be in itself alone. We sustain a multitude of important relations, family, civil, He., but it would not be possible to apply the language of the text to them. Of no relation, even the most valuable, can it be said, "This is essential." It seems to be the destiny of man to grow out of existing states, and use them only as the oar employs the water that it dips as a leverage for progress. And we may thank God that in a world where death spares nothing that there is no person or condition wherein our completeness lies. The king, hero, father dies; the nation, community, family mourns as if nature had stopped in its courses; but to-morrow the world moves on unchanged save that one grave more has furrowed its surface. That any of us is essential to the place he occupies is but a fiction of his own weakness or a flattering adulation of his admirers. Only in God all things consist.

2. The reason of this, and as marking the essential difference between our relations to any other and to Christ, is that the former are in a sense conventional. We found them, we have become habituated to them, nevertheless they are not essential. Of one only can this be said. That we are complete in Christ renders necessary the preceding declaration which shows that what God can do for us Christ can do.


1. I care not to argue the question of degrees. Incompleteness where perfection is demanded, where the judgment is by an infinitely holy standard, is as condemnatory and destructive of our moral basis as any degree of sin. Some years ago a large object glass was prepared for a telescope. With all the care employed, a single defective spot was found upon the otherwise perfect lens. It was not broken, there was no flaw, but it was condemned. Its purpose was to be a clear undeviating eye turned towards the heavens accurately to determine localities, etc. That single imperfection was its entire condemnation. This is the idea of human depravity. The defect in the web of the cloth renders the whole piece unmarketable. Slight incompleteness is still incompleteness, and when the judgment is upon righteousness the ground is taken from our feet.

2. It would be curious to investigate by what process so many cooly conclude to risk the great ordeal upon their personal moral standing, which even their fellow-men pronounce defective. A principle that may well command. this easy-going complacency to halt is that the nature of sincere virtue is ever discontent with attainments. As eminence with the pencil or chisel leads to the detection of manifold deficiencies and desire for a higher ideal, so the advance towards holiness, instead of satisfying, always reveals a disheartening lack, and as invariably leads to a search for some other mode of satisfying the requirement of conscience.

3. May it not be that this failure to perceive our own incompleteness, and the necessity of a better justifying righteousness, is rather to be ascribed to moral blindness than accepted as an evidence of superior virtue? For if once our incompleteness out of Christ be admitted, then the neglect to obey the gospel is reduced to a childish trifling with our eternal interest.

4. Yet how can one more fully commend the completeness there is in Christ than to point to that spotless life consummated by the sacrificial death of the cross? For all the way through — where the suffering by innocence must either mean injustice on the part of God, or justice receiving satisfaction for us — there is not a step or act which is not eloquent with the perfection of that sacrifice. You are asked to trust a Saviour of whom it is asked, "Who is he that condemneth," etc. Here is your completeness. It pleads no weak abandonment by God of His holiness. Redemption in Christ is the crown of that holiness as it is the expression of God's love.

III. THIS COMPLETENESS GATHERS IN THE CIRCLE OF ITS EMBRACE EVERY CONSCIOUS WANT. It keeps as well as saves. Christ's intercessory prayer is not a supplication such as we offer, but a claim and recapitulation of what had been secured by His expiation. And in virtue of that Christ will bring with Him His saints, and stand at heaven's gates claiming for them admission by His victory over the grave. Christ's completeness must be one which does not exhaust itself on a past forgiveness. It must not only cleanse, but keep me clean.

2. The independence of God of every human condition, for the success of Christ's kingdom, and the completeness for all its requirements, is found in Christ. Men have come and gone; some have seemed so important that hope almost expired in their departure, as Melancthon felt when Luther died. Yet how local are all such influences. God uses men, and so do we; but even with us how inconsiderable is a man. How quickly is the gap filled. God's Church is not complete in man, but in Christ.

(E. P. Terhune, D. D.)


1. The word means "full, wanting nothing"; and as applied to Christians, it means that they have everything necessary for life and godliness, happiness and immortality.

2. The things needed in order to being complete.(1) Wisdom and knowledge — meeting natural ignorance of, and conflicting theories about, God and the way of salvation.(2) Pardon and righteousness. As sinners men cannot stand before God in judgment. They are unclean in His sight, and without forgiveness and acceptance they must perish.(3) Holiness and purity. The heart is naturally evil, and by habit and indulgence acquires strength for evil. Unless this is cleansed there can be no meetness for heaven.(4) Consolation and peace. Forgiveness is not enough, there must be a consciousness of it, so that the sense of shame, the deepest of our discomforts, may be banished, and the sense of reconciliation with God take its place.(5) Support and strength in view of trials, labours, enemies.(6) Deliverance from the power of death and the grave.

II. How CHRISTIANS BECOME COMPLETE. "In Christ." Because being God and man all fulness dwells in Him, and out of this fulness all our need is supplied.

1. "In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." By His Word He instructs, by His providence He guides, and by His Spirit He opens the mind to instruct both.

2. "He is the propitiation for our sins," and has thus brought in an everlasting righteousness, by means of which believers are accepted.

3. His grace creates the heart anew, subdues sin, and developes in holiness.

4. He brings peace to the troubled conscience and consolation to the broken heart.

5. He is the strength, defence, and support of His people.

6. He hath abolished death.

(E. Cooper, M. A.)


1. In their union to Christ.

2. In their justification.

3. In Christ's fulness.

4. In their title to heaven.

II. In heaven.

1. As regards their persons — the union of body and soul with the perfection of nature and grace.

2. As regards their mental faculties — in receptivity and memory.

3. As regards the graces of the Spirit- faith lost to sight, hope in fruition, love in God.

4. As regards their fellowship- undivided, uninterrupted, with our predecessors, contemporaries, followers, God.

5. As regards their happiness — perfect enjoyment, perfect service.

(A. Fletcher, D. D.)

We are to look to Christ alone.

I. FOR THE FREEING OF OUR SPIRIT FROM ALL EVIL. But how shall this great purification and perfecting be attained? The appeal is to Omnipotent Grace. And God's response is made known in Jesus Christ: "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell" of pardoning and cleansing grace. In Him "who is the head of all principality and power" are we to look for the sin-expelling force — the force to correct, to purify our deepest life.

1. And we must not call in any foreign aid; we are "complete in Him." These Colossians were tempted by Gentile philosophy on one side, and Jewish ecclesiasticism on the other, but the apostle reminds them that everything they wanted was in Christ, and they were to confine themselves severely to His fellowship.

2. And Christ can save us completely, "Whiter than snow." Let us remember that Christ aims at our "completeness," and let us not rest short of that ideal. It is a present blessing.

II. FOR THE PERFECTING OF OUR NATURE IN ALL ITS POWERS. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." In Christ we behold the fulness of "the Godhead bodily," and also the fulness of humanity.

1. We need not travel beyond Christ — He is the ideal and the perfecter of the race. All colours are in the sun, and all the infinite differentiations of colour found on the landscapes of nature, in the vapours of the firmament, in the play of the sea — all are in the light. And in Jesus we have the full-orbed humanity, all the graces by which man can be adorned. When we study the character of ordinary men it is like entering an ordinary garden, in which are a few fair flowers with an unfortunate admixture of weeds; when we study the moral character of extraordinary men it is like entering the grounds of some great rose-grower or orchid connoisseur — many delightful things greeting our eyes. But on beholding Christ, it is like being set down in Kew Gardens, where the vegetation of the whole earth blooms. In these days certain critics are very anxious to send us to the sacred writings of China, India, Arabia, Persia. Very valuable indeed are those writings from certain points of view, but they have nothing to add to the ideal of humanity given in Christ.

2. In Christ we are to attain the perfection of our nature. We have not only completeness in Him, but we arc to become complete in Him. Men talk about the narrowness of Christianity, its commandments and prohibitions; they want a system of religion, wider, freer. Now, the tree on the heath or in the street may rebel against the iron bars which girdle it. Says the grumbling sapling, "I don't like this iron cage; I want liberty, I want room." Room l it has plenty of room at the top. It has room for its branches to stir with every wind of heaven, to catch all the dew of the morning, all the light of the sun, all the wealth of the shower; room for the singing birds, room to leaf, to blossom, to fruit. Room! The iron bars protect you from beneath, but a whole sky is waiting for you up above. So, whilst the New Testament rings us round with protective prohibitions, Jesus Christ stands over us like a sky, pouring down upon us richest influence, and drawing forth all the powers of our nature to their fullest perfection. There is room for our whole personality, our bodily instincts, mental faculties, imagination, wit, judgment, logic, speculation; for our social instincts, all the sensibilities of kinship, friendship, patriotism; for our ethical sense, for our heart with all its wealth of affection. Christianity is not wide enough for a theatre at one end and a prize ring at the other, but wide enough for whatever is true and pure in knowledge, science, art, pleasure, patriotism, business, love. We are not straitened in Christ; let us not be straitened in ourselves, but so live in the faith of the Lord Jesus that all the riches of our nature may be realized, that we may "come to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."


1. In Christ we attain completeness alike in spiritual and in practical virtue. Holiness is that side of goodness which looks towards God; morality is that side which looks towards society. And in both Christ perfects us — filling us with reverence, admiration, love toward God, and strengthening us to fulfil all practical virtue.

2. In Christ we attain completeness in universal virtue. If we have the Spirit of Christ, it will display itself in every possible virtue — that Spirit being the essence of universal virtue. Just as in the doctrine of the convertibility of force, we are taught that heat may become light, and light electricity, and electricity magnetism, and magnetism chemical affinity, and chemical affinity be changed into motion — one force with many manifestations — so the Spirit of Christ displays itself, now as meekness, now as courage, now as temperance, now as purity, just as circumstances require, but yet is all the time the one same Divine force. It makes of one a good master, another a good servant; one a good prince, another a good subject; one a good husband, another a good wife; one a good parent, another a good child. The Spirit of Christ fits men for every rank, adorns them with every grace. Ye "are complete in Him." Conclusion: We must feel condemned for our incompleteness; and yet from time to time how near we come to a life altogether full, rich, glorious 1 One of our magazines had a striking paragraph, entitled, "I have touched the gold," and it went on to relate how a diver uttered these words on coming up from a sunken gold ship, and the writer proceeded to show how in religion we often touch the gold and yet never quite realize it. Oh! how often have we touched the gold — the strength that more than overcomes, the perfect peace, the faith which asks and receives, the love that many waters cannot quench, the purity that keeps itself pure, the joy that is unspeakable, the hope full of glory — we touch the gold, we always know when we touch gold it is such a pleasant feeling, and yet fail to possess it. Let us trust in Christ- with all our heart; let us do it now, so shall every man be presented perfect in Him.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

If we are only to be complete in Christ, then we must be incomplete without Him. It follows then that a soul after being made is still to be completed. It may be a germ to be developed, or a blasted germ to be restored. Here then is the true work of Christ's salvation, the completing of the soul.


1. We constantly assume the necessity of a great afterwork to be done on the soul of our child to make it the complete man or woman we desire it to be. What we call education is only our attempt to bring it to completeness. The result is a being in higher quantity and finer quality, and of enlarged capacity for action and enjoyment.

2. But it is not to be assumed that we are right in all our conceptions of what takes place in the training of minds.(1) They will not be complete if only fully educated intellectually. Sometimes they will be hampered by scholarly attainments, drugged by great authorities, and incapacitated by the overload they have taken. Perhaps one hour with God would have done more in the widening of consciousness and the kindling of divinist fires than whole years of school drill.(2) Sometimes we think our child is only going to be complete when educated away from certain ranges of employment. If he can only be a blacksmith, or a school teacher even, we think that we have not made enough of him. Were he a qualified commander, physician, lawyer, etc., we should think him more nearly up to the measure of his possibilities. But God does not grade our completeness by any such law. He may have rated Bezaleel the brazier far above Aaron the priest. Whoever came nearer to being mated with Shakespeare than the tinker Bunyan? A great soul can be fashioned anywhere if only God is with him. God nowhere allows that souls are kept back from completeness by their employments.

3. No mere schooling, to whatever grade of life or social estimation it may lead, is any but the faintest approximation to the completion of the soul.

II. How DOES IT APPEAR TO NEED ANY SUCH COMPLETION? If this were a question relating to Adam in his innocence, we should say that he was a full-grown, beautiful child, but yet a child; that his perceptions are all to be gotten, his will trained, habits formed, etc. Until then he is so incomplete that he will not stand fast in good, but plunge into wrong. Our first man, commonly thought so grandly perfect, is put on probation only that he may get his nature so matured in good that he will come out able to stand. Our question after this relates to him under the conditions of moral disaster into which he has fallen.

1. The soul scarcely at all answers its true end. There is a feeling everywhere that souls are going wide of the mark. A watch is complete when it keeps time, not when it quarrels with the notations of suns and dials and almanacks. A vintage process is complete when it makes wine, not when it makes vinegar. Souls in like manner are complete when they make the good they were made for.

2. Their enjoyment is not full, but confessedly a great way short of it. Their instincts are unfulfilled, their wants unsupplied, their objects not found. They are tormented with a general unrest. It would not be so if they were complete. They would be exactly full of enjoyment, just as by their inborn necessity they crave to be. No bee misses the shape of its cells, no bird the direction of its flight, no plant the colour and kind of its flower. No more will a soul its enjoyment unless incomplete, sweltering in some torment of inbred disorder.

3. Souls do not fulfil the standards of beauty, truth, and right. These are standards we all admit, just as all flowers and fruits have standard colours and figures of their kind. An apple is not complete when it comes out a gourd; nor a rose when it comes forth blue. When a soul, then, misses its kind, and puts forth itself in deformity, falsity, and wrong, it is a witness to its incompleteness.

4. Take a more surface view, and let the question settle itself under mere first impressions. How then is it that there is so much meanness, passion, want of self-government in individuals; and so many quarrels, acts of injustice, and bloodshed in society? Who can imagine mere creatures complete in their order? Suppose all the grains in a bushel of wheat were to act on themselves and towards one another thus! And the reason why they do not do so is because they are complete creatures, resting in their own perfect mould, and in harmony with each other — they that are at the top lying just as heavily, and those at the bottom supporting the weight just as bravely as they must. Souls completed in their order would do the same, just as all God's finished worlds and societies in glory do, without one rasping of a bad thought, or pang of mutual accusation.

5. We have a way of saying concerning a man that he is rained or blasted by his vices: in which we refer mentally to the incomplete state of the flower which we say is blasted when it does not come to fruit. And the figure is rightly chosen. Such men are incomplete.

6. It is a very curious distinction of souls that, being finite, they have yet infinite wants and aspirations; their very longing is to be completed in the outspreading of some infinite possession. What a falling short, therefore, is it when they fall short of God.

III. How IN CHRIST THEY CAN BE MADE COMPLETE. Here we discover three great agencies provided for the purpose.

1. Inspirations.(1) Separated from God man is nothing. Existing in mere self-hood he cannot push himself out in any way so as to be complete as from himself. A sponge might as well complete itself in dry air; it must let in and possess the sea. Just so a soul must have God's properties flowing in and through — liberty and life in His life, power in His power; it must be true in His truth, righteous in His righteousness.(2) Now, it is in this inspiration force that Christ arranges for in His gift of the Spirit. He enters the soul to fill out every lack, configuring it inwardly to all that is most perfect in Himself, turning its very liberty towards all it wants and needs to receive.

2. We have ideals in Christ, who lives God in human figure and relation, so that we have in Him all that requires to be completed in us. Christ is the mirror that glasses God's image before us, and the Spirit is the plastic force within that transfers and photographs that image, so that "beholding as in an image," etc. (2 Corinthians 4:6).

3. To make the provision perfect, we are set in a various scheme of relations that we may have a training in duties and qualities, and be perfected by means of them. And we have as our remarkable advantage Christ the Divine man with us in these relations, so that trying to do the exact Christly thing in them all we are to get benefit in so many forms and degrees, and be brought when all is done and suffered to a completeness in the will of God. In this wondrous mill every blemish is to be removed, till at last there will be no spot or wrinkle or any such thing.


1. We try education, getting much from it, but never anything which approaches a standard of completeness.

2. What we call self-improvement is a poor desultory affair, polishing one thing, while another goes rough by neglect, and all issuing in a great self-consciousness painful to behold, and in itself how dry.

3. We try self-government under the standards of morality, but the most we obtain is to pile up what we think good acts on one another, as a man piles his day's wages, but then they will be as dry and with as little continuity.

4. There is another way greatly praised — philosophy. But its ideals are for ever out-running its possible attainments, and the fine philosophic consciousness will be only a kind of equilibrium under dryness and felt limitation. .And the wars of the mind are perhaps kenneled by it but not composed.

5. There is nothing, in short, but religion that can be looked to for the completing of the soul; because as nothing else does —(1) It takes hold of the soul s eternity and its sin, to raise up, harmonize, purify, and settle it in a rest of everlasting equilibrium in God.(2) It takes hold of all possible conditions, completing as truly the menial as the employer, the unlettered as the scholar.(3) It completes one degree of capacity as certainly as another, preparing the feeblest to fill out his measure as roundly and blissfully as the highest.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

I. THE ERRORS PAUL DESIRES TO COUNTERACT. These were the current "philosophy" of the day. There were many forms of thought which preceded Christianity. For hundreds of years men had been indulging in speculation, groping after light, and weaving systems; and the Colossian philosophy seems to have been an amalgamation of the four principal.

1. The philosophy of Plato, with its mystic doctrine of everything having an archetypal model.

2. Jewish fables and endless genealogies picked up by the exiles in Babylon.

3. Ceremonialism and the observing of days, etc.

4. Gnosticism, the affectation of superior knowledge.


1. Note who and what Christ is. The glory of Christ is set .over against these speculations.(1) He possesses the loftiest ideal — "All the fulness of the Godhead," not one of His emanations, and that fulness "bodily," brought within the comprehension of man.

2. He has done a great work (Colossians 1:20). It is not matter that is sinful, but man, and from this Christ redeems him.(3) He sustains a glorious relation to the universe (Colossians 1:15, 18; Colossians 2:19). He is not one of an illustrious order, but Creator and Head of all.

4. He maintains a close union to the man who accepts Him (Colossians 1:27).

2. If Christ is all this to a man, then that man is complete in Him.(1) If a man be striving after the knowledge of God, he is complete in Christ. This has been the problem of philosophy from Thales till now. What is the first principle? Water, air, fire, mind, love, have each in turn been the answer. And now a "philosophy" is confessing the problem insoluble, calling God by a name more hopeless than that on the Athenian altar — the Unknowable. But who that knows Christ can ever be thus in the dark (John 14:9).(2) If a man would approach God he is complete in Christ. Afar from God man cannot rest, but sin keeps him away. But through Christ we have access (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19) and close fellowship.(3) If a man is anxious about his standing before God he is complete in Christ. Through Him we may have a better and firmer one than Adam's. In Christ a man stands accepted and welcomed with nought wanting to the fulness of his redemption.(4) If a man wants to lead a holy life he is complete in Christ. This was the aim of the Gnostics; not holiness indeed, but freedom from the impurities of matter. Hence they tried asceticism. But sin is not to be purged by scourging the body. Christ however can kill it by the power of a new life which His Spirit implants.(5) If a man is longing for light on the great questions of destiny he is complete in Christ, who has brought life and immortality to light.(6) Do we ask for a bond of brotherhood in the human race? We are complete in Christ in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, etc.(7) Do we ask for a redemption that shall perfect body, as well as soul and spirit? We are complete in Him who is "the Saviour of the body" and "the resurrection and the life."

III. THE SUITABILITY OF THIS DOCTRINE FOR COUNTERACTING MODERN ERRORS. The true method of meeting false doctrine is to show that all our nature craves is to be found in Christ. But since Christ is enough in Himself He must be accepted as being so, and not as the mere complement of some other system.

1. Are you in peril of Rationalism? Learn what Jesus is, and you will find reason and conscience to say, "Here is one at whose feet we can sit to be their enlightener and lord."

2. Are you attracted by Positivism? Here in Christ is all that is attractive in its assertions, and nought of its dismal negations. They worship they know not what in worshipping "Humanity." But no one who has ever caught a glimpse of Christ can ever barter a living Saviour for that. One in the race and yet over it. Over it, that He might redeem, educate, and glorify it; and yet who can give to each member eternal life.

3. Do the claims of a so-called priesthood attract you? If you knew what Christ is you would let no one have the impertinence to come between you and Him. We need a mediator between God and man; but none between us and Jesus. Con clusion: This doctrine is grand enough for the philosopher, yet simple enough for us all. We are complete in Christ for living or dying; for time or eternity.

(C. Clemance, D. D.)

Manton says "He that is in a journey to heaven must be provided for all weathers: for though it be sunshine when ha first sets forth, a storm will overtake him before he cometh to his journey's end." Have faith in Christ and you are ready for anything, thankful for everything, afraid of nothing. "Ye are complete in him."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Which is the head of all principality and power
I. IN THEMSELVES. For their excellency of nature, as they are here called principalities, so elsewhere they are called "stars of the morning," "sons of God," yea, "Gods."

II. IN RELATION TO CHRIST so they are implied to be of the body, and Christ to be their Head. Now we may not marvel at it, that Christ should be the head of angels, for there be divers distinct benefits, which angels from thence do receive, which by natural creation they had not.

1. They are vouchsafed a place in the mystical body under Christ, that they might be received, as it were into the new order in Christ.

2. A peace is made between them and man in Christ.

3. The room of angels fallen is supplied by the elect, the society of angels being much maimed by their fall.

4. They are refreshed with singular joy for the conversion of the elect; besides the enlarging of their knowledge, that they are vouchsafed the understanding of the secrets of the gospel.

5. They receive from Christ confirming grace, and so assurance that they shall never fall: which is their chief benefit.

6. Their obedience in its own nature is imperfect, though not sinful, and therefore may need to be covered by Christ's perfections.


1. They are like masters and tutors, to whom the great King of heaven sends out His children to nurse. God doth adopt children, and after commit them to be kept by those most noble citizens of heaven.

2. They execute judgment upon the enemies of the Church. They attend us at the hour of death, and carry our souls to heaven. They shall gather our bodies together at the last day.

3. For the accomplishment of all designments for our good, they stand always looking on the face of God to receive commandments.Conclusion: Inasmuch as Christ is the head of all principalities and powers, we may comfort ourselves divers ways.

1. If Christ fill the angels, how much more can He out of His fulness fill us in the supply of all our wants.

2. Shall we not rejoice in the grace here is done to us, in that we are united into communion with angels under our Head? yea, and that such glorious creatures, are appointed to be our attendants, why should we fear when Christ and His angels will be so ready about us.

3. This may also instruct us, we need not be ashamed of Christ's service, seeing the very angels follow Him and depend upon Him. A prince that kept great princes to be his domestic servants, were like to be much sought to for preferment of such as would follow him. Oh! how should we long after Christ who is Head over such glorious creatures as the angels are!

(N. Byfield.)

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