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Colossians 1:19-20


1:19 For God 1  was pleased to have all his 2  fullness dwell 3  in the Son 4 

1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross – through him, 5  whether things on earth or things in heaven.

1 tn The noun “God” does not appear in the Greek text, but since God is the one who reconciles the world to himself (cf. 2 Cor 5:19), he is clearly the subject of εὐδόκησεν (eudokhsen).

2 tn The Greek article τό (to), insofar as it relates to God, may be translated as a possessive pronoun, i.e., “his.” BDAG 404 s.v. εὐδοκέω 1 translates the phrase as “all the fullness willed to dwell in him” thus leaving the referent as impersonal. Insofar as Paul is alluding to the so-called emanations from God this is acceptable. But the fact that “the fullness” dwells in a person (i.e., “in him”) seems to argue for the translation “his fullness” where “his” refers to God.

3 tn The aorist verb κατοικῆσαι (katoikhsai) could be taken as an ingressive, in which case it refers to the incarnation and may be translated as “begin to dwell, to take up residence.” It is perhaps better, though, to take it as a constative aorist and simply a reference to the fact that the fullness of God dwells in Jesus Christ. This is a permanent dwelling, though, not a temporary one, as the present tense in 2:9 makes clear.

4 tn Grk “him”; the referent (the Son; see v. 13) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

5 tc The presence or absence of the second occurrence of the phrase δι᾿ αὐτοῦ (diautou, “through him”) is a difficult textual problem to solve. External evidence is fairly evenly divided. Many ancient and excellent witnesses lack the phrase (B D* F G I 0278 81 1175 1739 1881 2464 al latt sa), but equally important witnesses have it (Ì46 א A C D1 Ψ 048vid 33 Ï). Both readings have strong Alexandrian support, which makes the problem difficult to decide on external evidence alone. Internal evidence points to the inclusion of the phrase as original. The word immediately preceding the phrase is the masculine pronoun αὐτοῦ (autou); thus the possibility of omission through homoioteleuton in various witnesses is likely. Scribes might have deleted the phrase because of perceived redundancy or awkwardness in the sense: The shorter reading is smoother and more elegant, so scribes would be prone to correct the text in that direction. As far as style is concerned, repetition of key words and phrases for emphasis is not foreign to the corpus Paulinum (see, e.g., Rom 8:23, Eph 1:13, 2 Cor 12:7). In short, it is easier to account for the shorter reading arising from the longer reading than vice versa, so the longer reading is more likely original.

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