Lesson 13

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the assembly; 1:25 of which I was made a servant, according to the stewardship of God which was given me toward you, to fulfill the word of God, 1:26 the mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations. But now it has been revealed to his saints, 1:27 to whom God was pleased to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; 1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; 1:29 for which I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.

Today's Lesson 

In Today's Scripture, Paul writes one of the most personal passages of any of his letters. In this section we are told three things. First, Paul tells the Colossians about his own sufferings and their purpose. Second he writes to them about his mission and the labor that God is giving him to accomplish. Third, he writes a very beautiful passage about his work with the hope that they will follow his example.


Paul's view of suffering makes for a very interesting study. If one were to pursue all the references to suffering in his writings, this passage would be one of the most interesting. As in other places, Paul begins the subject by saying that he rejoices in his sufferings. This is a common Pauline idea. What makes this passage stand out is the next concept. Paul writes that he fills up "on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the assembly."


The afflictions of Christ are well known to anyone who has read the gospels. Paul is saying that the afflictions of Christ did not end at the cross. Each one of us that suffers for the sake of Christ continues to express that same suffering. Peter expressed something similar in his first letter. He wrote that if we wish to share in the glory of Christ, we must first share in His suffering.


The next section is an interesting passage that expresses Paul's view of his ministry. He writes that he considers himself a servant to the church. His main purpose, as he expressed it, was to reveal a mystery that had been given to him by God. This mystery was concerning the salvation of the Gentiles. This mystery was kept hidden for the ages and generations of the times of the Law of Moses. But now the mystery has been revealed to Paul through Jesus Christ.


Paul expression of this mystery is beautiful in its simplicity. He tells the Gentiles that the mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." What can be more wonderful to the heart of believers than this simple expression of our salvation? Christ in you. The Living God come to dwell in our hearts. We were once rebels and sinners condemned to a life devoid of hope. Now, through Christ, God has come to us and made His place with us. We are His chosen people and He intimately dwells within each of us.


As if that little jewel were not enough, Paul throws out another glistening thought right behind it. He writes that he tries to tell every man that he meets about this mystery that God has revealed to him. He works very hard at it. "I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily."


How does Paul achieve the things that he does? God works in him. God mightily works in Paul and this working fuels the labor that Paul accomplishes. We must never work on our own strength. Everything that we do through our own efforts is bound to fail along with everything else in this world. But, whatever we do through the power of Christ, who lives in us, will last forever. Sometimes we get so weary of "Christian work." We grow weary because we are not working by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit brings life, and energy and a joy even to the sacrifice of labor.


Do you know that the Spirit of God works mightily in you? What is God trying to do through you that you may have been resisting? And do you know that Christ living in you is your only hope of glory?


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