Welcome to Week 5 of our Colossians Bible Study! Today we are going to finish studying Chapter 1. So, I have 7 points for you from verses 24-29. Now, let’s remember the verses we just finished studying last week. Who was it all about? That’s right…JESUS!
In light of all the glorious, wondrous, fabulous work of Christ Jesus and Who He is, let’s go into verse 24 of Colossians 1 and finish studying chapter 1 today.
Here is your Week 5 Notes & Homework: Col PN 1.24-29
Let’s start by reading Colossians 1:24-26
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.
So, let’s look closely at v. 24, “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,”
What is happening to Paul? Suffering
What is he doing in his sufferings? Rejoicing
Whose sake is he suffering for? Theirs personally, and for the body of Christ, the Church
Why? To fill up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the church
Doesn’t that verse just seem strange? I thought what Jesus did on the cross finished everything, how then could Paul say that there was something lacking?! Well, this drove me to do quite a bit of research from Bible scholars and pastors who have studied this much more than myself. And I really like the way the Amplified Bible translates it. I think it encompasses this idea that there is something we, as Believers, have to contribute. Now, let’s read v. 24 in the Amplified Bible:
[Even] now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf. And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking and remains to be completed (on our part) of Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.
- What is lacking in Christ’s affliction is only the personal presentation of it, and that is what He calls us to do – to personally present Jesus Christ to the world – a world full of people who have no idea what they are worth to Jesus. (v.24)
It’s what Jesus told us to do when He said in Matthew 28:18, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” John Piper is one of my favorite pastors and biblical scholars, so here is what he had to say about this issue in v.24:
I think Colossians 1:24 means this: Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. It is full and lacking in nothing—except one thing, a personal presentation by Christ himself to the nations of the world and the people of your workplace. God’s answer to this lack is to call the people of Christ (people like Paul) to present the afflictions of Christ to the world—to carry them from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.
In doing this we “fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” We finish what they were designed for, namely, a personal presentation to the world of people who do not know about their infinite worth…
The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrifice and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for His saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of His people. Suffering is God’s strategy for completing the Great Commission. We have plenty of time in eternity to enjoy the benefits.
With that, it brings us to point #2.
- Suffering is good for us & good for the gospel, therefore we CAN rejoice in it. (v.24)
Let’s read Mark 8:34-37 ESV
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?
1 PETER 4:12-13 THE MESSAGE
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
Is that not so good?! We are in a spiritual refining process with glory right around the corner. Our lives are a breath in the grand scheme of eternity. And if we are willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, we are really saving our lives. God is always on the job, He does not sleep, He does not miss the details of what is going on in your life and my life. We can be glad when we are in the thick of what Christ experienced. We can know that our identity is in Christ, and when we identify with Him in suffering He is glorified!
Cross-references for suffering in the NT: Mark 8:34-37, 1 Peter 4:12-13
Old Testament references for suffering: Psalm 119:50, psalm 119:92, Isaiah 48:10, 1 sam 1:11
Paul lists out a number of his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. In Day 1 of your homework, we will see how we might relate to Paul.
Speaking of suffering, I cannot help but think of our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. If you can spare 5 minutes, please watch this video about a Christian woman in Syrian who tells her family’s story of faith under much persecution.
I seriously believe that we should thank the Father every single day for our freedom of faith in America; and equally, I feel that we should USE our freedom to share the true gospel! But, with times as uncertain as they are, we may soon find ourselves Liena’s position. Lord, may we be found faithful to Jesus, truly no matter what happens!
Let’s take a look now at v.25: 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,
- God gave Paul a responsibility which he took very seriously (v.25)
What is Paul’s relationship to the Church? He became a minister according to the fact that God gave him this assignment to steward making the word of God fully known. I wonder if we have spent enough time with the Father to have received an assignment from Him? I believe He has assignments that change daily, I also believe has assignments more long-term for us.
We are created in Christ Jesus to DO good works which He prepared in advance for us to walk in them.
Thus far in our study of Colossians we have discussed numerous times that we, as the body of Christ, have different yet equally important callings. Here again, Paul is making the point that God called him to this work he is doing. We, too, will find it well worth our time to pour our lives out for the sake of the Gospel…it is only then that our lives truly count for eternity!
Colossians 1:26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.
- The full revelation of God’s mystery is given over time. He has purpose in everything He does and in the timing of it all. (v. 26)
Remember that Paul is writing to the church in Colossae because false teachers were trying to twist what it meant to follow Christ and be saved, they were adding to and taking away from the true gospel with secret knowledge and worldly “enlightenment” in order to get closer to God on this hierarchy of knowledge. Did you notice how many other world religions contained this type of heresy in your Day 1 homework last week?
Paul says he was sent to “MAKE THE WORD OF GOD FULLY KNOWN” in verse 25, and now in verse 26 he’s telling them yes there used to be a mystery hidden for all these generations, but NOW IT’S REVEALED TO YOU WHEN YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS!!!
The work of getting the mystery solved and gaining higher knowledge was not up to themselves on some kind of quest…it was accomplished once and for all on the Cross at Calvary!!! Our Savior, Jesus Christ laid His life down so that every barrier to knowing God was demolished and now we have full access to God. Does that make anyone else just want to jump up & down???!!!
1 Peter 1:10-12
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
We will dig into these other scriptures concerning this mystery in Homework Day 2: Romans 16:25-27; Matthew 13:16-17; Hebrews 11:13. In these scriptures, God’s Word tells us who longed to experience what we have with Jesus as our Messiah!
Angels (1 Pet 1:12)
Prophets (Matt 13:16-17)
Righteous people (Matt 13:16-17)
Those who died in faith (Heb 11:13)
As much as has been revealed to us in this mystery in God’s Word, there is still more revelation that will happen at the end! Check this out:
but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.
There is the most amazing thing about how God has continually revealed Himself more and more over time. He reveals Himself to more and more people over time. When we get to the end of the present age; He will reveal even more of Himself to even more people.
Colossians 1:27 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.
- This mystery of the Good News is glorious. The hope we have, because Christ is IN US, is glorious, too! (v.27)
The NLT says, “For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.”
In the OT, it was definitely the exception that a gentile would be saved. RAHAB & RUTH are two gentiles who were saved that immediately come to mind. They were willing to believe the truth about the One True God and leave behind their pagan ways and cultures. But, NOW (in New Testament days) the hope of Jesus Christ is extended to the Gentiles (you & me!), largely because the Jews rejected Him, and we are charged in Romans 11:11 to live in such a way that God’s People ISRAEL would be jealous and come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua, their Messiah and our Messiah!
I want us to read the definition of the Greek Word for GLORY (Doxa):
the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven
Eternal blessedness, a glorious condition, which is appointed to us and promised to us we Jesus returns. Wow! Heaven WILL exceed every possible imagination we may dare to have while in our human frames on earth. This glory that He promises will be well worth every bit of dying to self, worth every sacrifice, every bold endeavor for Jesus, because seeing His face will be glory enough to last eternity.
Just to get a better understanding of what “Christ in us, the Hope of Glory” actually means, again I did a little digging and found this gem. It’s in a sermon by the great Charles H. Spurgeon, which he preached in a Sunday Sermon on May 13th, 1883. You can click here for the whole sermon, but I wanted you to read just a bit of it so that we can get a better understanding of what Colossians 1:27 means.
But this morning’s text goes a little further—it speaks of glory which is a hope for soul as well as body. Why glory! Glory? Surely that belongs only to God. To Him alone be glory! Yes, but Christ has said, “Father, I will that they, also, whom You have given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory.
And later in the sermon, Spurgeon goes on to say,
“And the glory which You have given Me, I have given them.” Think of it! Glory for us poor creatures! Glory for you, Sister! Glory for me! It seems a strange thing that a sinner should ever have anything to do with glory when he deserves nothing but shame. We are neither kings nor princes, what have we to do with glory? Yet glory is to be our dwelling, glory our light, glory our crown, glory our song! The Lord will not be content to give us less than glory. Grace is very sweet, but might we not be content to swim forever in a sea of Grace? But no, our Lord “will give Grace and glory.”
SO, in light of this — what are you and I to do???? Well, Paul tells us in v.28!
Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
The Message says: “We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity.”
In light of what Christ Jesus has done for us, we are to take action. He, just like he told Abraham, blesses us to be a blessing. When we really believe the truth of the Good News, that should compel us into action!
- Our faith always demands action . (v.28)
According to verse 28, Who do we proclaim? Jesus Christ
How do we do it? Warning everyone with wisdom, Teaching everyone with wisdom
Watch how many verbs the AMP uses: “Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God),”
Why do we do it? So that we may present everyone mature in Christ
If we are willing to receive this amazing gift of salvation and life with Christ in us, the hope of glory, are we not then willing to share it with everyone we know and make disciples of ALL nations? Jesus commands it in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-19. This moves us into our last verse of Colossians 1.
Colossians 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
What does Paul labor & struggle for? To present everyone mature in Christ (v.28)
How does he do it? With all Jesus’ energy that Holy Spirit powerfully worked in him
- He gives us all His energy so that He can work powerfully in us & through us. (v.29)
We will discuss this idea of all God’s energy being available to us in Day 5 of your homework this week. I think it’s really imperative that we rely on our Heavenly Father to work powerfully in us and through us. We can be so tempted in this self-promoting, self-sufficient American culture in which we live to press and push our own ideas and endeavors through to completion, never having asking or relied on God what-so-ever! Be aware! Be on guard! God is so willing and so able to give us ALL HIS ENERGY so that He can work powerfully in us and through us! Why would we forfeit His energy and power just to do our own thing?
As we wind down session 5 today, I want you to notice how similar these themes in 1st Peter are to our segment of study today from Colossians 1:24-29. God’s Word is awe-inspiring.
1 Peter 1:6-9
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
And, finally, I want to leave you with the ending statement from Spurgeon’s sermon preached exactly 132 years ago:
Comfort yourselves with this word—Christ in you means you in glory, as surely us God lives! There is no question about that! Go your ways and rejoice in Christ Jesus and let men see who it is that lives in you! Let Jesus speak through your mouth, weep through your eyes and smile through your face! Let Him work with your hands and walk within your feet, and be tender with your heart. Let Him seek sinners through you! Let Him comfort saints through you until the day breaks and the shadows flee away!
That is my prayer for you and for me today. Christ in us…the hope of glory. Amen!