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grace.” Here it seems to mean full quality or perfection, an attribute of God.
It next occurs in our text; and again Rom. xiii. 19, “ love is the pleroma, or fulfilling of the law.” And in Rom. xv. 29, “I shall come in the pleroma, or fulness, of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” And in 1 Cor. x. 26, “For the earth is the Lord's, and the pleroma, or fulness, thereof." The sense in the above passages seems to be completion, full measure.
Again, in Galatians iv. 4, “ But when the pleroma, or fulness, of time was come, God sent forth his Son.” And Eph. i. 10, “ That in the dispensation of the pleroma, or fulness, of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on the earth, in hiin.” In these two passages, pleroma seems to mean fulness in the sense of end ; the completion of any time being the end of that time.
“The fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Eph. i. 23.
“ That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." Eph. iii. 19.
“ Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Eph. iv. 13. .“ In him should all fulness dwell.” Col. i. 19.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." Col. ii. 9.
In the last five instances, the word pleroma, translated fulness, seems to signify perfection, an attribute of God.
From the use of the word pleroma in these twelve places, we may be assisted to understand its meaning in the only two remaining, found in the text.
When applied to persons or character, the word seems to signify fulness in the sense of quality, i. e. perfection; when applied to things, it signifies fulness in the sense of quantity, full measure ; and when applied to times, it seems to signify fulness in the sense of completion, or end of the times.
The question is, In which or what sense is it to be understood in the text? What is the pleroma, or fulness, of the Jews? And what is the pleroma, or fulness, of the Gentiles?
1. Of the Jews. Does the pleroma of the Jews apply to their personal character or quality? Then it would seem to express the perfection of that character in a heavenly sense ; full quality, perfection, an attribute of God.
Does it apply to their times? Then it would seem to imply the end of their times. The fulness of a time is the end of that time.
Does it apply to their number, or quantity ? Then it would express the completion of that number or quantity; full measure.
In one or the other, or all of these senses, it does probably apply to the Jews, and it seems to apply mainly to their character or quality; and also to their times and quantity. For,
The apostle has spoken of their « fall” and the diminishing of them,” which is to be understood religiously of their quality and depravity, and not physically or politically of their quantity or number, or national power.*
* The word rendered “fall” is paraptoma, which, according to Greenfield, occurs twenty-one times in the New Testament, and is, in every other place but this
“ The fall of them,” (to paraptoma autoon,) means “their transgression,” in the sense of Adam's fall, or transgression ; and “the diminishing of them,” (to ettema autoon,) means fault,” in the sense of depravity. It is of their conduct and character the apostle is speaking, when he names their paraptoma and their ettema, their transgression and depravity; and it is of their conduct and character he speaks when he also names (to pleroma autoon) their fulness. So that “fulness” in Rom. xi. 12, conclusively to my mind, is to be understood of the character of the Jews, in the sense of full quality, heavenly perfection, an attribute of God.
But this fulness is only by faith, now in the fulness of time it will come in fact. • In the dispensation of the fulness of times,” the blindness of the Jews will be cured, their “deliverer” will “turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” and “ take away their sins,” according to this same chapter of Romans, verse 26 and the rest.
The apostle reasons from their sin to their perfection. The sin and depravity of the Jews opened the way of salvation to the Gentiles;
chapter, translated “offence, sin, or transgression;" and in that sense, “ fall of them,” in the text, is explained by “their offence," is their sin, or transgression."
So likewise the word ettema, translated “the diminishing” of them, occurs, according to Greenfield, in one other place only in the New Testament, viz., 1 Cor. vi. 7, where it is translated “a fault." Let our text so be translated, and it would read, “If their offence be the riches of the world, and their fault the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fulness." To carry out the contrast of the words “offence" and "fault," "fulness” must be taken in the sense of perfection, full quality.
now much more shall the perfection of Israel open the way of salvation. "For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?” The apostle argues from the less to the greater: if the Lord's rejection of the Jews be made the adoption of Christendom into his favor, what will their restoration be, if not the resurrection of the dead and the marriage supper of the Lamb ? This I humbly take to be the meaning of the apostle. I know it is surrounded with difficulties; but I am not at liberty to alter the text, to make it read as “life from the dead," in order to escape from the force of the conclusion which the apostle draws.
It is no hyperbole to say, if the offence of the Jews be the riches of the world, and their transgression be the riches of the Gentiles, that their perfect obedience will open the gates of heaven for the risen dead. If their fault in rejecting Christ be the riches of the Gentiles, it may well be that their perfect reception of him will overflow with benefits to the sleeping dead. If the rejection of them be the occasion of the reconciling of the world, the restoration of them may also be the occasion of the crowning of the saints. And the apostle intimates as much, when he places it in the time of “the fulness of the Gentiles," when “all Israel shall be saved : as it is written, there shall come out of Zion the deliverer." No coming remained at the time when the apostle wrote, but the second time, without sin unto salvation, when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth.
When he that will come has come, he will save all Israel, and perfect them with his fulness, when he takes away their sins; but this would seem to be only in heaven and eternal life, where neither paraptoma or ettema, offence nor fault, can enter, come, or happen. At the same time is the fulness of the Gentiles to come in; they are not left out of the kingdom. The end of their time is their fulness ; after their fulness is come in, no more can enter; otherwise full is not full, which is absurd. The end of their time is the beginning of the dispensation of the fulness of times," in "life from the dead.” Then all things in Christ, both in heaven and earth, are to be gathered together in Christ, constituting
glorious day! O happy hour!
“How long, dear Savior, O how long,
Here many things rush on the thoughts. We are despised for regarding this state of things above any temporal millennium, and above the conversion of this world. We cannot help it. Let the truth run through the earth, and God will be glorified. Our prayer is for the pleroma of Israel, and also of the Gentiles, with Christ in earth on the throne of his glory.
How this interpretation of the text sorts with the restoration of Israel in the flesh, no matter; it appears to be both for and against it; and another time, we may be allowed to examine that point more accurately, together with the pleroma or fulness of the Gentiles.