Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The words fullness, fill, fill up, used scores of time in both Testaments, indicate a certain measure or amount that has been determined by God in His eternal counsel. Because God works all things according to the counsel of His own will, these predetermined measures are all filled up at the appointed time. It may even be said that when all things are filled up or fulfilled, then history is completed and Christ returns.
The God who has determined all these things is Himself the God of fullness. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24). After Moses finished construction of the tabernacle, “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1). In His presence “is fulness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). “The whole earth is filled with his glory” (Ps. 72:19). When we know the love of Christ, “we are filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:19).
It pleased the Father “that in Christ should all fulness dwell” (Col. 1:19), so that, through the incarnation, “in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). Accordingly, Christ is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “And of his fulness have all we received, grace for grace” (John 1:16). Implied in the cup which Christ prayed might pass from Him (Mark 14:36) is a fullness of suffering which the Father had ordained for Christ to endure.
Time is a measure, the fullness of which is ordained by God. Christ was born of the virgin “when the fulness of the time was come” (Gal. 4:4). With the birth and work of Christ, time is full, and “in the dispensation of the fulness of times Christ gathers together in one all things in heaven and on earth,” until time shall be no more. Jesus performed His work according to a timetable set by God. When His mother would rush Him, He replied, “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4), and when His disciples would have Him go up to the feast He replied, “I go not up yet unto this feast, for my time is not yet full come” (John 7:8). In the fullness of time, Christ fulfilled the Scriptures (Matt. 26:54), prophecy (Luke 21:22), the Law (Rom. 8:4), all righteousness (Matt. 3:15), all the good pleasure of God (II Thess. 1:11).
God’s sovereign determination extends to the reprobate also. “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:29). They must “fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thess. 2:16). John sees in vision the seven last plagues in which “is filled up the wrath of God” (Rev. 15:1, 7).
But especially is the salvation of the elect described in terms of fullness. The fullness of the Jews (Rom. 11:12) and the fullness of the Gentiles (Rom. 11:25) are brought in by Christ. These all receive a full reward (II John 8), a fullness of blessing through the gospel (Rom. 15:29), a fullness of joy (John 15:11), and a fullness of righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Stephen was a man full of faith, power, and the Holy Ghost (Acts 6:5, 8). Dorcas was a woman whose life was full of good works (Acts 9:36). The purpose of preaching is that the saints might come “to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). As the saints walk in the way of good works which God has prepared for them to perform, they “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24). God has ordained that Christ and His body, the church, must suffer a certain amount. While on earth, Christ filled His cup; now the church must fill up her cup of affliction which is left behind for her by Christ.
The most amazing aspect to all these fullnesses is that they shall all be reached simultaneously! When the fullness of the Jews and of the Gentiles shall have been brought in, when the world has filled up their sins to the brim, when the suffering of the church has finally reached its pre-ordained measure, then the fullness of God’s counsel shall be attained. And the end may come, and shall come! Then the church shall be taken to glory, as the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23), and God will be all in all.