“Complete in Him”
And ye are complete in him,
which is the head of all principality and power . . .
— Colossians 2:10, KJV.
Other than God himself, no one knows the how, when or where of God’s “origin.” Yet few human beings deny the reality of a pre-existent God. Even in their strenuous denials of divine reality, atheists implicitly admit that God must exist. Agnostics conclude that they do not know whether or not there is a God. On the other hand, Gnostics “know” that God is imprisoned in their own bodies. Deists claim that the Creator-God has wandered to some far-off part of the universe. Panentheists believe that God is hidden in the universe “below” and that he rises to the level of their consciousness. Pantheists claim that the universe itself is God.
Traditional Christians contend that God is ultimately transcendent — above, beyond and apart from all things material — and that he is therefore unapproachable, impassible, immovable. At the same time, however, they paradoxically claim that God is immanent — within the universe, the world and living things and, particularly, within the mind of mankind (male and female).
The “Transparence” of God
Over against these presumptions is the clear evidence of God’s “transparence.” “ . . . [T]ransparence . . . asserts that God is known through the world as the one who really is.”9 He visited and ate with Abraham as a fellow nomad (Genesis 18:1ff). He came to the brook Jabbok and wrestled with Jacob through the night (Genesis 32:22-30). He appeared to Moses out of the burning bush and declared his name to be YHVH (Exodus 3:2-14). He revealed himself to Israel through the pillar of cloud and of fire and through the burning mountain (Exodus 13:21, 22; 19:18). He symbolized himself and his “becoming” through the wilderness tabernacle and in its services (Exodus 25-27). Through the prophets he promised to return to Zion and the Temple as a humble messianic man and as a suffering servant (Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 53).
And in the fullness of time he did come — or rather, he did become. YHVH came to this earth to become incarnate, to live, minister, suffer, die and rise again as the incognito (unknown) One. Nevertheless, he declared himself to be the “I AM.”10 He accepted “The Name” (Ha-Shem) and other euphemisms for YHVH such as “Adonai/Lord,” “Power,” “Greatness,” and “Alpha and Omega.”11,12 In fact, he was explicitly arrested, tried, tortured and murdered for blasphemously appropriating the name, status and actions of YHVH himself.
The Misunderstanding of God
However, in the aftermath of his death and resurrection, Yeshua (Jesus) remained profoundly misunderstood. Rome saw him merely as a common criminal. Rabbinic Judaism believed him to be a false and failed messiah. Gnostic Christianity regarded him as an example of the imprisoned god. Jewish Christians were convinced that Jesus, the carpenter’s son, had been baptized by Christ the Spirit at the river Jordan. They consequently believed that this dualistic or docetic Jesus Christ was/were separated at Calvary when Jesus the man died and Christ the Spirit returned alive to heaven.13
Only the Pauline and Johannine communities were convinced that Yeshua was, in fact, the human manifestation of YHVH — that YHVH had become the human Yeshua. These believers were ostracized, persecuted and martyred.14,15 Out of the rubble of first-century Christianity, there finally emerged the conviction that God somehow had become man, but only in order that man might become God. For this purpose it was believed that Jesus Christ had appeared as an agent, substitute, representative or mediator to assist mankind in achieving divinity. As Symcon (949-1022), the Abbot of St. Macras, said in a mystical quote from God, “Yes, I am God, the one who became man for your sake. And behold, I have created you, as you see, and I shall make you God.”16 There was no admission or recognition that, if man were made to abandon humanity for divinity, an incarnate God would do the same.
The historical fact is that Paul and John alone were emphatically correct. YHVH had indeed become Yeshua, the Human One. In an irrevocable act of self-abandonment, divinity had forever become human.
Understanding God’s “Becoming”
However, the reality of YHVH’s ultimate “becoming” and its actual significance have yet to be grasped. Yeshua had come as the new Moses to lead his people out of bondage, but he was and is more than Moses; Yeshua had become the New Israel.17 Yeshua had come as the eschatological prophet with the promise of the new covenant, but he was and is more than the bearer of covenantal promises; Yeshua had become the New Covenant.18 Yeshua had come as the new Aaron, but he was and is more than a priestly Aaron; Yeshua had become the New Temple and all its services.19 Yeshua had come as the new David, but he was and is more than the new king; Yeshua himself had become the New Kingdom.20 Yeshua had come to proclaim the good news of the restoration, but he was and is more than the proclaimer of good news; Yeshua himself had become the Gospel (Good News).21 Yeshua had come to teach and to reveal the nature of righteousness, of justification, of right-doing, but he was and is more than a teacher; Yeshua himself had become Righteousness, Justification and Redemption.22 Yeshua had come to disclose the true nature of the Torah, but he was and is more than the interpreter of the Law; Yeshua himself had become the New Torah, its Fillment and its Judge.23 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9, KJV).
Thus, Yeshua had become Ultimate Reality for humanity, this world and the entire cosmos. From the perspective of the Hebrew Scriptures, Yeshua had become All-Embracing Relationality as the Corporate, Collective and Covenantal Personality.24,25 And, therefore, “ye are complete in [in relation to] him” (Colossians 2:10, KJV).
- 1. Bernard J. Lee, The Future of the Church of 140 BCE: A Hidden Revolution (New York: Crossroad Publishing Co., 1995), p. 40. (go back)
- See “‘He Is Our Peace,’” Outlook (Prequel 2000.1). (go back)
- See “Jesus’ Resurrection: Then and Now,” Outlook (Prequel 2000.2). (go back)
- See “Yeshua (YHVH Saves),” Outlook (Prequel 2000.3). (go back)
- See “‘Who Do You Say That I Am?’” Outlook (Prequel 2000.4). (go back)
- See “The Redefinition of God,” Outlook (Prequel 2000.5). (go back)
- See “The Victory of God,” Outlook (Prequel 2000.6). (go back)
- See “Walking to Emmaus,” Outlook (Prequel 2000.7). (go back)
- Thorleif Boman, “The Transparence of God” in Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1970), pp. 190-192. (go back)
- See John 6:35, cf. vv. 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 23, 28; 9:5, 39; 10:7, cf. v. 9; 10:11, cf. v. 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, cf. v. 5; 18:6, cf. vv. 8, 37; Revelation 1:8, cf. vv. 11, 17, 21:6, 22:13; 1:18; cf. Exodus 3:14. (go back)
- See David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary: A Companion Volume to the Jewish New Testament (Jerusalem: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), pp. 168, 790, 855, 856. (go back)
- See David H. Stern, trans., Jewish New Testament: A Translation of the New Testament That Expresses Its Jewishness (Jerusalem and Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1989), pp. 359, 365. (go back)
- See Michael Goulder, “The Possession Christology,” in St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), pp. 107-113. One of the arguments that the early Jewish Christians used to defend their belief in the dualism of Jesus Christ was his dying cry on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, KJV). (go back)
- See. N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said: Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997). (go back)
- See Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. (go back)
- See Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), pp. 223, 224. (go back)
- See N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), pp. 177, 184. (go back)
- See Wright, Challenge of Jesus, p. 124; H. Wheeler Robinson, Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1981), p. 34. (go back)
- See Wright, Challenge of Jesus, pp. 111-113, 122, 167; N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), pp. 644, 647. (go back)
- See Wright, Challenge of Jesus, p. 142; Wright, Victory of God, p. 131. (go back)
- See Wright, Challenge of Jesus, p. 187; Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, pp. 60, 133, 154, 181. (go back)
- See Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, pp. 95-133. (go back)
- See Wright, Challenge of Jesus, pp. 114, 122; Wright, Victory of God, p. 647. (go back)
- See Robinson, Corporate Personality. (go back)
- See Bernard J. Lee, Jesus and the Metaphors of God: The Christs of the New Testament (New York: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 58-66, 85, 86. (go back)