The Fullness of Christ
John Telgren

Paul has a lengthy prayer for the church in Ephesians 1:15-23. He concludes it with a statement about the church being the "fullness of Christ." What does this mean? Several times in his letters, Paul speaks of the "fullness of God."

" For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority (Col 2:9-10);"

"For it was the {Father's} good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, {I say,} whether things on earth or things in heaven (Col 1:19-20)."

The fullness of God dwells in Christ. Jesus is the "radiance" of God's glory (Heb 1:3). We can come to know God through Christ. The fullness of God dwells in Christ in "bodily form (Col 2:9)."

When we say the fullness of God dwells in Christ, we are saying two things.
1. Christ is all-sufficient
2. We can know God through Christ. "…if you have seen me, you have seen the Father (John 14:9)."

So what does it mean when Paul refers to the Church as the fullness of Christ? This idea obviously does not correspond with the first explanation above. It doesn't mean the church is all sufficient because sufficiency is found in Christ. Forgiveness for sins is found in Christ, not in the church. Only Jesus can forgive us of our sins when we repent and confess.

So, it corresponds with the second explanation. In Ephesians chapter two, Paul speaks of the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles into one in the "body" of Christ. Christ is the head, the church is his body, which is the fullness of Christ. This oneness was brought about through the preaching of the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Therefore, the fullness of Christ involves the preaching of the Gospel (Eph 3:8). It involves mission. But there is more.

Paul returns to this idea of fullness in Ephesians 4:11-13. Here, the fullness of Christ involves equipping the saints for ministry, edification, unity, knowing Christ and maturity "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13)." So fullness also involves ministry and maturity.

Therefore, we, as Christ's body, are the full expression of Christ on the earth until he returns. While Jesus was on the earth, people came to know God through Christ, the fullness of God in bodily form. Currently, we, the body of Christ, are fullness of Christ. People should come to know Christ through us. As the fullness of God in bodily form, Christ was focused on mission, ministry, and maturity. As the fullness of Christ, we, the body of Christ should be focused on the same things.

The concluding question for ourselves should be, "How are we being the fullness of Christ in our neighborhood and in the world?"