The divine riches are an aggregate of a particular attribute of God in many respects. Romans 2:4 speaks of the riches of God’s kindness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Kindness, forbearance, and longsuffering are God’s attributes mainly toward the sinners, in which there are the divine riches. The book of Ephesians speaks of God’s riches in mercy (2:4), God’s surpassing riches of grace (1:7; 2:7), and God’s riches of glory (3:16). Romans 9:23 also speaks of God’s riches of glory. The divine riches in the divine attributes of mercy, grace, and glory are mainly toward the believers. The riches of God’s grace surpass every limit. These are the riches of God Himself for our enjoyment today, which will be publicly displayed, exhibited, to the whole universe for eternity. The riches of God’s glory are for God’s expression in the believers as God’s vessels, being indwelt and fully occupied by Christ to express God (Eph. 3:16-19; Rom. 9:23). Romans 11:33 speaks of the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God. The divine riches in all God’s attributes are deep, with an untraceable depth just as God’s wisdom and knowledge are untraceable.
Another attribute of God is fullness. Colossians 1:19 says, “For in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell.” What is the fullness spoken of in this verse? Many would answer that it is the fullness of the Godhead. Although this is correct, here Paul does not modify the word “fullness” by a phrase such as “of the Godhead” or “of God.” He simply says that all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Christ. There is something known as the fullness, and this fullness is pleased to dwell in Christ. In Colossians 1:19 fullness denotes not the riches of what God is but the expression of these riches. All the expression of the rich being of God, both in creation and in the church, dwells in Christ. Therefore, fullness in Colossians 1:19 means expression.
If something has no fullness, it cannot be expressed. But if a thing has fullness, it can be expressed. For example, if we have very little love, our love cannot be expressed. But if our love is full, the fullness of our love will be its expression. In the same principle, the fullness in Colossians 1:19 is the expression of all that God is in His riches.
It is significant that in Colossians 1:19 Paul speaks of the fullness as the fullness, using no word to modify it. This indicates that he is speaking of the unique fullness. To modify the fullness in any way might imply that it is not unique. In order to preserve the uniqueness of the fullness, Paul does not use a modifier. Hence, the fullness here is simply the fullness.
The fullness, the expression of God, is a person. Many of the personal pronouns in the verses following Colossians 1:19 refer to the fullness as a person. Verses 19 and 20 say that in Christ the fullness was pleased to dwell, and “through Him to reconcile all things to Him.” If the fullness were not a person, how could it be pleased to dwell in Christ? The fact that the fullness can be pleased indicates that it is a person. The fullness was pleased not only to dwell in Christ, but through Him to reconcile all things to Him. In verses 19 and 20 two infinitives—to dwell and to reconcile—are joined by a conjunction. Hence, the fullness was pleased to dwell and to reconcile. The phrase “through Him” is used twice in verse 20, both times referring to Christ as the active instrument through which reconciliation was processed. But what is the antecedent of the pronoun “Him” to whom all things are reconciled? The antecedent is the fullness in verse 19. This is the reason that in his New Translation, J. N. Darby uses the pronoun “itself” and “it” in verses 20 and 22 to refer to the fullness in verse 19. However, the Greek pronouns should not be regarded as neuter but as masculine. This means that instead of saying “it,” we should say “Him.” Therefore, all things have been reconciled to the fullness. In verses 21 and 22 we who were enemies have been reconciled by the fullness in the body of His flesh through death so that we may be presented holy and blameless and without reproach before the fullness. How meaningful is this understanding of the passage! It is the fullness that dwells in Christ, it is the fullness that reconciles us, and it is to the fullness that we shall be presented. This fullness is God Himself expressed. This fullness was pleased to dwell in Christ, to reconcile us, and to present us to Himself.
We have seen that in Colossians 1:19 the fullness is the expression of God, even God Himself. This fullness does not denote the riches of what God is; rather, it denotes the expression of these riches, the full expression of God in all His rich being. The rich being of God is expressed both in the old creation and in the new creation. In Colossians 2:9 Paul goes on to say, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Once again, the word fullness refers not to the riches of God but to the expression of God’s riches. What dwells in Christ is not only the riches of the Godhead but the expression of the riches of what God is. It is crucial for us to see that the fullness of the Godhead is the expression of the Godhead, that is, the expression of what God is in His riches. The Godhead is expressed in both the old creation, the universe, and in the new creation, the church.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 001-020), Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)