Colossians 1:24 – 2:5

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 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, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Understanding And Applying the Text

What does Paul mean, in his suffering, he is, “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”? Does he mean Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient and he, Paul, is completing it? Does he mean Paul’s suffering plays a role in our salvation? What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?

We can understand Paul’s meaning by placing what he says in context. Remember the three (3) primary rules of biblical interpretation, context, context, and context. Paul adds, that he suffers “according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you.” It is God who caused Paul to be a minister. God chose to use the foolishness of preaching. Paul’s role was to proclaim Jesus, His death on the cross, and His resurrection. We would not know about Christ’s atonement unless someone tells us. Our knowledge of Christ’s work was what was lacking.

The word of God was a mystery for generations. Before Christ, God governed His people through symbols and hidden means. The only things seen were the externals. We only saw the works of the law. The whole world was estranged from God. But now we can know the things that were hidden. Christ is revealed. The gospel of Christ is spoken boldly throughout the world and the world is called to salvation. But, the world holds the good news in contempt. But while the world reviles it, it is revealed, “to His saints.” Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:23. “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”

Paul described God’s mysteries as riches and glory to underscore their greatness. This is what Paul proclaimed. Paul said he preaches with all wisdom. But Christ and His word are all wisdom. So, when Paul said he preached with all wisdom he meant he preached Christ. Paul relied not on his own strength but on Christ’s energy and power.

Paul hoped he could encourage all the saints. Even those to whom he has not been able to minister personally. According to Strong’s Greek dictionary, the Greek word translated encourage (παρακαλέω) means “to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation): – beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.” So another word may be “comfort.” The KJV uses this “comfort.” John Calvin translated the word as consoled or receives consolation. So the term refers to true quietness as we rest or receive peace in Christ. The result of this peace and rest is that Christ unites us to Him in love. We rest in the riches of assurance of our salvation. The mystery of God has been revealed. That mystery is Christ who contains the hidden treasure of knowledge and wisdom.

Paul has said these things so no one deludes us “with plausible arguments.” Interestingly, the Apostle uses the term “plausible arguments”. Arguments may sound good. They may even have faultless logic. But logic and reasoning rely on underlying assumptions. If we use false assumptions, our conclusions are guaranteed false. This is true even if our logic is faultless. So, we must test our assumptions to ensure they are correct. Paul here is stating in Christ is all wisdom. That is the base assumption. Test it. And you will find it to be true. An argument may sound. Logic is only a tool like a wrench. If a pipe is weak a good wrench will not stop it from leaking.

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