Gnostic Doctrine

Sunday, 18 August 2019

The Concept of the Pleroma Colossians 2:9

The Concept of the Pleroma

The Pleroma is a word used in the Bible it means fullness is a derivative of pleroo  and pletho (“to fill, to make full”) 

Pleroo is an extremely common verb in both NT and LXX. Its simple meaning is “fill”; eg “I am filled with comfort” (2Co 7:4). “The house was filled with the odour of the ointment” (John 12:3).

Pleroma, “fulness”, is associated with this imagery a good deal. “In him (Jesus) dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). “The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us; and we beheld his glory....full of grace and truth...and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:14,16; 

The Greek word for "fullness" is pleroma - the same word is also found in Col. 1:19, regarding how all God’s “fullness” dwelt in Jesus. Although the Lord Jesus had human nature, He never sinned; and thus was full of the God’s personality and character. To know Jesus was to know God- for He was and is God’s Son, and indeed the perfect replica of Him in human form. 

Col 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness <4138> dwell;
Col 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness <4138> of the Godhead bodily.

Joh 3:34  For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

Jesus being filled with God's spirit or fullness refers to Jesus being filled with God's character and personality, as well as his divine power 

The fullness of the Deity the logos or the anointing spirit also known as the Divine Christ descended (Eph. 4:10) upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and at his crucifixion returned.

In The Nag Hammadi Library there is a text called The Letter of Peter to Philip in this document it has the Biblical understanding that the fullness/pleroma is manifested in Jesus. Jesus himself he says Concerning the fullness, it is I. 

The Letter of Peter to Philip:

“Concerning the fullness, it is I. I was sent down in the body for the seed that had fallen away. And I came down to their mortal model. But they did not recognize me, thinking I was a mortal. I spoke with the one who is mine, and the one who is mine listened to me just as you also who have listened to me today. And I gave him authority to enter into the inheritance of his fatherhood. And I took him . . . filled . . . through his salvation. Since he was deficiency, he became fullness.

The heavenly pleroma is [understood as] the centre of divine life, a region of light "above" our world...  The Christ is interpreted as an intermediary aeon who was sent from the pleroma.

According to this text the logos or anointing spirit is the Fullness which came down at the baptism to fill Jesus with all the fullness of the Deity

The Pleroma of God

1tim 6:16  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

heb 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person (5287 ὑπόστασις hupostasis), and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

2Pe 1:4  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Col 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness <4138> dwell;
Col 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness <4138> of the Godhead bodily.

The Greek word 
hypostasis means substance and always refers to physical corporeal nature. 

God is corporeal because he has substance 

God has a substance it is his divine nature and power which is the fullness of his being, he is immortal dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen. 

The Pleroma as a Place 

In the Bible the word Pleroma is used to described the divine nature and substance of God however it also used to describe places and things whatever fills the earth or is contained in it, 1 Corinthians 10:26, 28 (Psalm 23:1 Jeremiah 8:16; Ezekiel 12:19, Psalm 95:11  1 Chronicles 16:32); those things with which the baskets were filled, Mark 6:43
the filling by which a gap is filled up, Matthew 9:16; Mark 2:21 fullness = that which fills, entire contents,

If you where to ask someone what is heaven like they would not be able to describe it.  The best way to describe heaven would be to describe it as the fullness of God's glory or the fullness of God's presence. 

This how the word fullness could of being used to describe the invisible heavens a place full of divine beings filled with the divine nature, glory and power of the Uncreated Eternal spirit

It is the spirit-world, a world perceptible only by the intellect however it is not a incorporeal world. 

psa 89:11  Thine are the heavens — the earth also is Thine, The habitable world and its fulness, Thou hast founded them.

psa 89:11 Heaven is yours, the earth also is yours;
The productive land and what fills it—you yourself have founded them.

The heavens to the earth the world and the fullness you have founded

There is no distinction here of the word fullness between heaven, earth and the world each one has its fullness. the fullness of the heaven of heavens is its entire contents they are the work of his hands, and the seat of his majesty, and the throne of his glory; the angels of heaven are his, his creatures and servants; a court of celestial beings

Compare Psalm 112:5 LXX 5 (112:5) Who is as the Lord our God? who dwells in the high places, the summits or hills literally the heights of the Most High define the space of his pleroma

There is a third signification (of place), in keeping with which God Himself is called a place, by reason of His containing all things and being contained by nothing whatever, and being a place for all to flee into, and because He is Himself the space which holds Him; for He is that which He Himself has occupied, and nought encloses Him but Himself. I, mark you, am not a place but in a place and each thing likewise that exists; for that which is contained is different from that which contains it, and the Deity, being contained by nothing, is of necessity Itself Its own place Philo, De Somniis, I, xi, 63-64. Likewise, see De Migrations AbraEami, xxxii, 181-182; xxxv, 192>; De ConTusione Lingu'arum, xxvii, 136; and Legum Allegoria, I, xiv, 44.

Here there is a spatial sense to the pleroma

Like Psalm 89:11 and Psalm 112 Genesis chapter 1 also speaks about God establish the heavens 

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (the entire universe).

Gen 1:1 ¶  In the beginning of God’s preparing (The verb does not necessarily describe creation out of nothing) the heavens and the earth — 

We learn Genesis 1:1 that God exists outside of time and God existed before the creation of heavens and the earth

The heavenly places or the spiritual heavens (pleroma) is the waters above the firmament (outer-space) which is likened to a spread-out curtain.

These spiritual heavens are where Christ sits far above all heavens (Eph. 4:10), that is, far above the physical heavens called outer-space or the firmament which is the limit or boundary.

The Spiritual Heavens are called the Aeon Pleroma

The Heavens or the Pleroma did not always exist it was produced and formed by the Eternal Spirit this we call the emanation.
(He created the holy Pleroma in this way. . .The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)

The Pleroma in Gnostic Text

The Pleroma is sometimes compared by allegory to a city, temple tree, and body

In the Untitled Bruce Codex ms, the Pleroma is described as a temple-city with four gates and a Holy of Holies.

The Nag Hammadi Library The Interpretation of Knowledge:

Likewise I became very small, so that through my humility I might take you up to the great height, whence you had fallen.

Christ is depicted as looking down “from in the height” (the pleroma) to the members of the church upon the earth.

The Interpretation of Knowledge: For the Head drew itself up from the pit; it was bent over the cross and it looked down to Tartaros so that those below might look above. Hence, for example, when someone looks at someone, then the face of the one who looked down looks up; so also once the Head looked from the height to its members, our members went above, where the Head was. 

Here then, Christ is depicted gazing down into the world, here designated as “Tartaros,” from the Cross

The Interpretation of Knowledge: When he cried out, he was separated from the Church like portions of the darkness from the Mother, while his feet provided him traces, and these scorched the path of the ascent to the Father.

Jesus’s divine element the Christ, “having been separated from the Church” (i.e. his Body), has ascended up to the Limit of the Pleroma and now peers down into the cosmos below.

In other words, Christ the Head staring down at his Body the Church on earth is like someone seeing themselves in a reflection, and just as when we see ourselves in a reflective surface, our image is drawn back to us, so too the Church is drawn up to where Christ is.

38 A river (the waters above the heavens) goes from under the throne of Space and flows into the void of the creation, which is Gehenna, and it is never filled, though the fire flows from the beginning of creation. And Space itself is fiery. Therefore, he says, it has a veil (the limit or boundary) in order that the things may not be destroyed by the sight of it. And only the archangel enters it, and to typify this the high priest every year enters the holy of holies. From thence Jesus was called and sat down with Space, that the spirits might remain and not rise before him, and that he might subdue Space and provide the seed with a passage into the Pleroma. (Extracts from the Works of Theodotus)

Extracts from the Works of Theodotus 38 states that the Aeon Jesus was called out from “the holy of the holies” (τὰ ἅγια τῶν ἁγίων) to sit on “the throne of the Place” (τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ Τόπου),71 so that he might “provide the seed with a passage into the Pleroma

In other words, the Christ descends from the Pleroma, here understood as the holy of holies, but also as the bridal chamber in Exc. Theod. 64 and the Gospel of Philip

Both Gos. Phil. and Exc. Theod. understand the Pleroma to be the true heavenly holy of holies, to which Jesus Christ grants access to the spiritual seed

All these examples give a us an understanding that the Pleroma is a place the Great Height which has a specifically spatial sense 


First of all the Pleroma did not always exist it was produced and formed by the Eternal Spirit this we call the emanation. (He created the holy Pleroma in this way The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex)

The Pleroma is also called the ‘emanations of the Father “Therefore, all the emanations of the Father are pleromas, and the root of all his emanations is in the one who made them all grow up in himself.” (Gospel of Truth)

The word Pleroma means "fullness". It refers to all existence beyond visible universe. In other words it is the world of the Aeons, the heavens or spiritual universe.

Bythos is the spiritual source of everything which emanates the pleroma,

The Pleroma is both the abode of and the essential nature of the True Ultimate Deity or Bythos.

The Pleroma as well as being the the dwellings place of the Aeons is also a a state of consciousness

The Pleroma is both a state of consciousness (the Ideas in the Divine Mind) and the dwellings place of the Aeons

As a state of consciousness the pleroma is the fullness of the Divine attributes. the various means by which God reveals Himself: it is the totality of the thirty aeons or emanations which proceed from God they are aspects of the divine mind

The word aeon means temporal sometimes a spatial concept in addition it is also used for personal beings whether divine or mortal.

1 comment: