Summary: Exposition of Col. 1:24–29
Characteristics of Effective Ministers
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Col. 1:24–29).
How can we become effective ministers of Christ? How can we become an effective church?
When I was in seminary taking a homiletics class, I was told to pick a pastor I would like to model in his preaching. This is not only good practice for those studying preaching, but for any type of job or ministry. We learn by modeling others and we teach by example.
As far as ministry, there may be no better model to emulate than Paul. In many ways, Paul became Christ’s greatest apostle as he reached not only Jews but also much of the Gentile world.
In fact, God was so pleased with Paul’s ministry that he chose to set him as an example in the Scriptures of somebody to imitate. First Corinthians 11:1 says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Philippians 3:17 says, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
Paul is a model, and his ministry should be our constant study. In this lesson, we will learn characteristics of effective ministers by studying Paul’s ministry to the Colossian church.
Big Question: What are characteristics of effective ministers as seen through the model of Paul in Colossians 1:24–29?
Effective Ministers Are Willing to Suffer for the Church
“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Col.1:24).
Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by “fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions”?
One of the things that must stand out is Paul’s willingness to suffer for Christ’s church. Now it should be noted that when Paul says that he will fill up in his flesh “what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions,” he is not talking about Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Christ’s work was perfect and complete. The writer of Hebrews said this:
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:11–12).