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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Does Col. 2:9 prove that Jesus is God?

Col. 2:9 - "For in him [Jesus] the whole fulness [Gr. pleroma] of deity [theotes] dwells bodily" - RSV

The word theotes appears only this once in the entire New Testament [NT] (and never in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament [OT]). It has been rendered in various trinitarian translations as follows: "Godhead" - KJV, ASV, NEB, REB, MLB; "deity" - RSV, NASB, NRSV, NIV, NAB, CBW, Mo, By; "divinity" - JB, NJB.

It should be remembered also that "Godhead" as found in the older English Bibles (such as KJV) HAD A DIFFERENT MEANING THAN IT HAS COME TO HAVE IN MODERN ENGLISH. "In older English ['Godhead'] was a synonym for divinity" - p. 221, Vol. 2, A Dictionary of the Bible, Hastings, 1988 printing; and p. 362, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, Liddell and Scott, Oxford University Press, 1994 printing.

Theotes simply does not literally mean "godhead," and the use of "godhead" by the KJV translators was not intended as some would understand it today. Actually, the heavenly Father, alone, is the closest thing to a literal "Godhead" to be found anywhere in the inspired Scriptures. (See 1 Cor. 11:3)

The trinitarian argument that Col. 2:9 proves that Jesus is God overlooks the common understanding of "fulness of ..." and "filled with ..." by those who used those common phrases in New Testament times. For example, the person who became "filled with Holy Spirit" (Eph. 5:18) was greatly influenced by that spirit, but he certainly did not become the Holy Spirit.

And having "the fulness" of someone or something could similarly mean being greatly influenced by that person or thing. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology says:

"Just as a person can be full of pain, joy, love, and virtue, he can also be said to be filled with God ..., i.e. possessed and inspired by God." - Vol. 1, p. 734.[4]

Surely we wouldn't expect anyone who is "filled with" God or who receives the "fulness of" God to actually be God! Nor would we expect anyone who has the "fulness of" Christ to actually be Christ! In fact it clearly shows that he is NOT the person with whom he is "filled".

For more, see:
Col. 2:9 - "Fulness of Deity"

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