Bible Reading: Colossians 1.24-29
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1.24-29
Every now and then I love a good mystery, whether in a TV show or movie. I like the twist and turns and the surprise element. The apostle Paul uses the word mystery in today’s reading, but it is not quite what we might think of when we think of mystery.
Paul refers to the word of God, that is, “the mystery which has been hidden from the past age and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1.25-27)…”God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2.2-3). Deuteronomy 29.29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God”. There are some things that God does not make known to anyone. But there are some things that He reveals to some people. Psalm 25.14 says, “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him”.
In the Old Testament there are things that have not been revealed yet, but now have been made known in the New Testament. These are called mysteries. Paul is not trying to say that the word of God is some secret teaching for only a group of some elite people, but that it is now being made known to whom God wills it to be made known, being disclosed that they would know this truth and believe in it.
This mystery is most precious as Paul speaks of it with the phrases the riches of the glory and treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is speaking of Christ. This is most profound, Christ in you, the hope of glory. Though the OT speaks of the coming Messiah it does not speak of Christ actually living in redeemed people, the church made up of mostly Gentiles. The NT reveals that Christ, by the Holy Spirit, will take up permanent residence in all who have repented and believed in Christ.
This mystery is to be made known in and through Christ’s church. That is why Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (1.24). What Paul means here is not that Christ’s death was not sufficient or was lacking something (Hebrews 10.11-18), but that the riches of the glorious gospel is not known among the nations. The church fills up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others, proclaiming Christ, His death and resurrection to them. So the church’s calling or share in this ministry is taking the knowledge of Christ’s afflictions to where it is lacking.
How does this happen according to Paul? His answer was joyously suffering. The Christian life was never meant to be easy and comfortable. As we see with the apostle Paul it is full of suffering and struggle (1.24), from beatings to his current imprisonment as he writes to the Colossians. The church just as Paul did is to sacrifice comfort and suffer pain in the work of missions and evangelism. As it was for Paul, this is to be a joyful thing, for Christ is their hope of glory, that they will see Him face to face. This is why Paul says, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1.21). Let us be faithful, as Paul to make known the great mystery of Christ.
Weekly Memory Verse: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3.23