Study Notes

Colossians 1:24-29


Paul the apostle is dictating a letter to Timothy, which would be sent to the Christian church at Colossae. In the beginning part, Paul has been saying, "we" and "us." But beginning with verse 23, where we left off last week, the narration has changed to "I," "me," and "my."

1:24 Rejoicing In Suffering

Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings."

Paul knew what suffering was. At the point in his life that he's writing this letter, he's sitting in a Roman jail. In fact, his entire life as a Christian had been full of suffering. He said that he'd experienced...

2Cor. 11:23-27 ...imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine {lashes.} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. {I have been} on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from {my} countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; {I have been} in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Paul had been through all of this and more, yet he rejoiced - he had joy in his suffering!

In the book of Acts, the apostles were preaching the gospel and got arrested. An angel let them out of prison that night and told them to keep on preaching. So they did. They were arrested again the next day, and the high priest said, "We told you to stop doing this!" The apostles said, "We must obey God rather than men." And so the high council had them...

Acts 5:40-41 ...flogged... and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

They were arrested, threatened, and beaten, yet they rejoiced, just as Paul said that he rejoiced. How can you have joy in suffering? Paul's secret was,

Rom. 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Filling Up The Lacking Afflictions

Not only was Paul looking to heaven for comfort, but he realized that while he was on this earth, doing the work of the ministry for the sake of people like the Colossians, he was filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

Now don't misunderstand this: There is nothing incomplete about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay for sin. However, just as Christ's body suffered while He was on the earth, it continues to suffer today. Not His body physically, but the church, which is the body of Christ.

So Christ's afflictions are not yet complete. His body will still suffer until the day that we are caught up to be with Him for eternity. Part of the reason that Paul rejoiced was because he was counted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ.

Peter put it this way:

1Pet. 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if {anyone suffers} as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.

1:25-27 A Minister For Your Benefit

In verse 23, Paul said that he was made a minister of the gospel. That sounds so "churchy," doesn't it? In reality, he was saying, "I am a servant of the good news." He makes note here in verse 25 that this servanthood, this ministry, is for their benefit.

What benefit do people get from ministers? To be honest, the world looks at us as mostly worthless. We're the people who get paid to work just one day a week. We're the subject of bar-room jokes. We're the ones that are called in to perform weddings and funerals. If the world looks at us like this, how could Paul really think that his being a minister was a benefit to them?

The answer is this:

Col. 1:25 Of {this church} I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the {preaching of} the Word of God.

Or, as the NIV says,

Col. 1:25 present to you the Word of God in its fullness

There is much benefit to having the Word of God presented to us, having the complete Word preached to us.

A Mystery Made Manifest

And it is important to realize that not every generation had this benefit. Paul says that by and large, the complete Word was a mystery in the past ages. The Jews didn't understand all of the prophetic passages relating to Jesus Christ. The Gentiles didn't have access to the precious promises in the Word.

But now, in the church age, that mystery has been revealed. The Jews, the Gentiles, all of us, have access to the Truth that Jesus Christ died for our sins and has made Himself available to any person that will reach out to Him.

1:28-29 Admonishing And Teaching To Make Complete

The benefit of the whole Word of God, the fullness of the Bible, is that it has the ability to make us complete. As it reveals the true knowledge of God to us, we find that the Word contains...

2Pet. 1:3 ...everything pertaining to life and godliness...

The Bible alone has the contents of our completion.

And that is the value of ministers. Paul knew that every person is presented complete in Christ as the result of three things: Proclaiming, Admonishing, and Teaching.

Jesus must first be proclaimed to people. After all,

Rom. 10:14 shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?...

We must be proclaiming Jesus - the Son of God, Who died for our sins, and rose from the dead. A minister has no message of value if he is not proclaiming Jesus.

Secondly, we must be admonishing. The word translated "admonishing" here mean "warning, reminding, or correcting." It is not like a punishment or discipline, but rather it means that we are imparting moral understanding to bring repentance or change.

We get uncomfortable when sin is discussed. We get a little edgy when the minister begins to talk about things that we're doing that we shouldn't, or about things that we're not doing that we should. But as the minister brings these truths from the Word, God wants to effect changes in our lives, to bring us closer to completion.

Finally, the minister is to teach. My desire is to teach you the Word. I have no greater sense of fulfillment as a teacher than to know that after we've covered a passage of Scripture, you understand it well enough to be able to go home and teach it to your children. My example has always been Nehemiah 8.

When Ezra brought the Word of God to the people,

Neh. 8:3 ...he read from it ... from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

Neh. 8:7-8 ...and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people {remained} in their place. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

I pray each time we meet, that you will understand what we are reading through the teaching of the Word of God.

Contained in these pages are the proclamations, the admonitions, and the teachings which are able to make you complete in Christ. I pray that you see the value of that in your lives.

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