Colossians – Paul’s Service for the Gospel
- Monday, March 24, 2014
I’m studying through the book of Colossians because I plan to teach through the book during the month of March (and the first Sunday in April). So far, I’ve written these posts in the series:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 1:24-29)
Paul recognizes (and rejoices!) that his sufferings (probably directly referring to his imprisonment, although general sufferings and persecutions could be in view also) serves a purpose in the kingdom of God. Specifically, in this letter, he says that his sufferings benefit the Colossians because he is providing a physical example and thus making up what is lacking in Christ’s own sufferings. So, Paul sees his own sufferings and persecutions as being on behalf of the church (even for those who he has not met personally).
Paul sees himself as a servant of the church (Colossians 1:25) according to the stewardship of God (previously called “the will of God”). He describes his service as “to make the word of God fully known.” In the next few phrases, we learn more about what Paul means by “word of God.” He says “the word of God” is the mystery that had been hidden, but had now been revealed to God’s people (his saints, Colossians 1:26) To the saints (his children) God has revealed this mystery – the word of God. Here, Paul tells us that the mystery – the word of God – is “Christ among you – the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
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