Paul is laboring to nurture a strong mature faith among his readers. He struggles to make the truth of the gospel crystal clear so that our understanding reaches settled conviction and full assurance such we have the courage to follow Jesus no matter what.
Paul has prayed that his readers would grow in spiritual wisdom and understanding such that they would be grateful in the midst of hardships. Specifically what they need to understand is that Jesus is the visible representation of the invisible God to all of creation. He concludes that they stand to benefit from the work of Christ ONLY if they persevere in genuine faith. Choosing to follow Jesus is a choice to forsake other philosophies and other worldviews.
Paul was arrested for preaching that the Gentiles can also be saved through Christ (Acts 22). He is urging them to remember what’s at stake in the gospel and hoping his suffering will not be in vain because they have turned away. What has he suffered?
Paul “fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in the sense that he carries on the work that Christ began.
Specifically Paul suffers because he preached that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs of the gospel.
Paul sees his job as not “reach, preach and leave”. He sees his job as to present every person complete in Christ, such all his hearers embrace the gospel such that they persevere to the end.
Ultimately the challenge of this passage is not how have you suffered for Christ. Rather it is have you fully understood the hope of the gospel?
- Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
- Col 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
- Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known,
- Col 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
- Col 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
- Col 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
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Study: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.