What does the term Godhead mean?
The word “Godhead” occurs in the King James Version only 3 times (it is not found in the NIC or NASB) Acts 17:29; Rom 1:20; Col. 2:9, and it translates slightly different each time, though closely related (In Greek- theion, theiotes, theotes). Theion means “that which is Divine,” Paul uses this word in Acts 17:29 in an address made to a heathen audience. The Greeks used it in the sense of “the Divine Being,” as a general term to designate “the Deity” apart from reference to a particular god.
This passage in Col.2:9 and one other are the most explicit statements of Christ’s deity in the New Testament. Col.2:9 “For in him dwells (lives) the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (bodily form). “God was in Christ” (2 Cor.5:19).
All that makes God who He is, is to be found in Jesus. This does not exclude that the Father is also fully God or the Holy Spirit (the Helper) is fully God. This should not be confused to a similar word in Romans 1:20, theiotes, expressing the quality of God, or divinity. It is not that certain aspects dwell in Jesus Christ in bodily form, but He by His very nature is God, the Supreme Being, our creator.
“Godhead” is from two Greek words theos and deitas combined in Gr. theioteôs. The scriptural term Godhead (KJV) is rendered “divine nature” or “deity”; it means the very essence of God. The meaning of the term “fullness of the godhead” is that Jesus was fully God on earth just as His Father is fully in heaven. The point made in this Scripture is that Jesus was 100% God in the flesh. So this term is proving He is the second person of the Tri-unity, of the Godhead. This nature of God is shared among three and no more. That deity has a permanent home in Christ in bodily fashion (Col.2:9), all the divine nature, all that makes God who he is, is resident in the body form of Jesus. B.B. Warfield states, “that which makes God, God.” For in him dwells (lives) is a present tense verb, which means a continuing action. That deity now permanently resides in his body, in Greek, katoikeo, meaning to house permanently. This means that the Son continues to exist in a body. Yet there are those who say the Son had a beginning and will have an ending. As man He did have a beginning but as God He was eternal. (Micah.5:2)
Col.1:19 says before 2:9, “For It pleased the Father that in Him should dwell all the fullness” (Greek- pleroma). Meaning, the totality of the Divine powers and attributes are filled up in Jesus- God’s omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. This same letter had already affirmed the pre-existence of the Son in Col. 1:15-17, and in 1:3 it distinguishes the Lord Jesus Christ from the Father. Since He was the Word that was “with” God at the creation of all things and was God (John 1:1, 18; Phil.2:6).
The fullness of the Godhead was in Christ as He took flesh. When it says “all the fullness should dwell,” this is defined as the totality of the Divine powers and attributes” (i.e. Lightfoot) “should dwell,” meaning to make an abode or home. All the same divine attributes that are in the Father are at home in Jesus’ body also. Therefore this is a proclamation of God becoming man and living on earth.
We see this illustrated when Jesus was baptized, coming up from the water: the heavens were opened, and saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and resting upon him; a voice came out of the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17). In this passage we see God (YHWH) the Father in heaven speaking, God the Son on earth receiving, as God the Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon God the Son. Here the three distinct Persons are active composing the Godhead.
Later after the crucifixion and resurrection the disciple were commissioned to baptize believers, not into names (plural), but into the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of plurality of the Godhead— a tri-unity (the Trinity) is exhibited by Jesus’ command.
Matthew 28:19,20 we have the order as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:4-6 it is in the order of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus and God the Father.
Ephesians 4:4-6 the order is the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father. They are coequal, coeternal, possessing the nature of God, thus comprising the Triunity.
On Mars Hill the Apostle Paul told the Athenians that "we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man" (Acts 17:29). The word Godhead here is be understood as that which is divine, or deity. In other words nothing that man makes can represent God correctly.