Summary: Paul was concerned about the spiritual maturity of these believers in Colossae...
October 17, 2012
Oak Park Baptist Church – Wed Bible Study Series
Colossians Bible Study
Paul’s striving for the spiritual maturity of the church:
Paul has been encouraging the members of the church in Colossae to remain faithful to the gospel that they 1st heard from Epaphras and now from him.
He urges them to continue to believe in this truth they heard and NOT to depart from it. Paul stresses to them that the gospel they have heard is being preached to those all over the known world and it is the same GOSPEL they have heard…
Paul affirms the unique and exclusive message of Christ here…in other words, anything else is a false gospel and should be rejected!
Then in v24 thru the end of this particular section, Paul begins to speak about how they are to walk in this gospel. He speaks about how he is walking in this gospel and how suffering is a part of being a believer.
Let’s read v24-29 and break it down verse by verse and glean the knowledge and application that God wants us to learn from this passage! [read passage here]
24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His body, that is, the church. 25I have become its servant, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known, 26the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to His saints. 27God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.
In the past when I read v24 I was confused as to what Paul was saying…What does he mean when he says, “…I am completing…what Christ is lacking…” it almost sounds as if Paul believes he is the continuation of Christ.
However, knowing the writings of Paul and the heart of Paul that is expressed thru those letters, we can KNOW that Paul would NOT think or believe that… plus he would never advance that thought to the churches he was ministering to…
With that being said, what Paul is saying here is basically that suffering is part of being a believer and that he was glad to suffer to continue the work of the Church… Christ came to begin the church, and it was HE and other leaders who were called to continue where Christ has begun!
It is NOT as if Paul believed he had something to give that Christ could NOT give… it was that Paul knew Christ has started the church and he had been called to continue the church IN CHRIST!
As for the comment on suffering, I believe we can see that Paul considered suffering for Christ a privilege in his service to God. Now for the avg believer the word ‘suffering’ is NOT something we consider a privilege, it is definitely NOT something we look fwd to…
But Scripture tells us that when we DO suffer, that if we are faithful to Christ in that suffering, the message of Christ is exalted and it is lifted up before the world around us. But suffering on the behalf of Christ has at least 4 benefits 4 believers:
It takes our eyes off the comforts of this earthly realm;
It serves to weed out those who are not truly believers;
It strengthens the faith of those who endure the suffering;
It serves as an example to others who may follow
Now what I want us to understand at this point is that the ‘suffering’ Paul is speaking about here is our suffering on behalf of our faith, it is NOT about us doing something wrong… most of us believe that suffering comes when we have sin in our lives or when we fail or falter in our service to Christ…BUT
Here I want us to understand that the suffering Paul is speaking about here AND the suffering Peter speaks about in 1 Peter 4 [read verses]
1 Peter 4:1-2 [HCSB]
1Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve—because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin—2in order to live the remaining time in the flesh, no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.
1 Peter 4:12-13 [HCSB]
12Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. 13Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.