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.
- Paul had suffering.
- Even through Paul was suffering he rejoiced because of the Colossians.
- There was something lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
- Paul was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
- Paul was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s affliction in his flesh.
- Paul was filling up what was lacking in Christ’s affliction for the sake of the Church.
- Christ’s body is the Church.
- Paul was a minister of the Church.
- Paul became a minister according to what was given to him.
- Paul became a minister for the Colossians.
- Paul was to make the word of God not just know but fully known.
- Paul was to reveal what had been hidden for generations and ages.
- The word of God which, was hidden, has been revealed to God’s saints.
- God was revealed the richness of Christ to the saints in Colossi.
- The mystery, that is now revealed, is rich and glorious.
- The mystery is Christ and the hope of glory.
- Paul and the Colossians proclaimed Christ.
- Paul taught everyone.
- Paul warned everyone.
- Paul taught with all wisdom.
- Paul warned and taught so that he could present to Christ everyone mature in Christ.
- It is possible to be mature in Christ.
- Christ worked in Paul.
- Christ worked powerfully in Paul.
- Paul worked to teach and warn so that Gentiles may mature in Christ.
- Paul struggled and worked with Christ’s energy.
- Paul wanted the Colossians to know that he struggled for them.
- Paul’s struggle for those who had not seen him physically was a great struggle.
- Paul struggled for those at Laodicea.
- Paul struggled for all who have not physically seen him.
- Paul wanted the Colossians to know that he struggled for those at Laodicea and those who have not physically seen him.
- Paul wanted those who had not physically seen him to be encouraged.
- Paul wanted those who had not physically seen him to be knit together in love.
- Paul wanted those who had not physically seen him to have all understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.
- We can have an assurance of understanding and knowledge of Christ.
- In Christ are all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
- Paul told the Colossians about hidden treasure and wisdom which was theirs so no one would mislead them.
- The argument that can mislead can be plausible arguments.
- Paul was with the Colossians spiritually but not physically.
- Paul was rejoicing in the Colossians good order and firmness in their faith in Christ.
- The Colossians were firm in their faith in Christ.
What in the world 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 that Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient and he, Paul, is completing it? Does he mean that Paul’s suffering plays a role in our salvation? What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?
What Paul means can be understood 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 and His death on the cross and His resurrection. We would not know about Christ’s atonement unless we were told. Our knowledge of Christ’s work was what was lacking.
The word of God was a mystery for generations. God, previous to the advent of Christ, governed His people through symbols and hidden means. Nothing was seen except the externals the works of the law. The whole world was estranged from God. But now what was hidden and unknown can be known. Christ is revealed. The gospel of Christ is spoken boldly throughout the world and the world is called to salvation. However, the good news is held in contempt by the world. But while the gospel is preached to the whole world 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 uses the words riches and glory to describe the mysteries of God to underscore their greatness. This is what Paul proclaims. Paul says he preaches with all wisdom but Christ and His word is all wisdom. So, when Paul says he preaches with all wisdom he means he preaches Christ. Paul relies not on his own strength but relies on the energy and power of Christ.
Paul’s desire is that all whom he has not had the opportunity to minister personally would be encouraged. 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.” (See footnote) So another word to use may be “comfort”, as the King James Version does. So Paul’s desire is that all who have not personally met him would be encouraged or comforted. John Calvin translated the word as consoled or receives consolation. So the term here denotes that true quietness as we rest or receive peace in Christ. The result of this peace and rest is that we are united in love, which is the love of Christ. We rest in the riches of assurance of our salvation. The mystery of God, Christ Jesus who contains the hidden treasure of knowledge and wisdom, has been reveal.
Paul has said these things so we are not “delude you with plausible arguments.” It is interesting that the Apostle would use the term “plausible arguments”. The arguments of men may sound good. They may even have faultless logic but logic and reasoning are based on underlying assumptions. If we use false assumptions, we are guaranteed of false conclusion when our logic is faultless. Therefore we must test our assumptions to insure 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. So regardless how good an argument may sound if it violates that base assumption, we can be assured that our conclusion is wrong.
Would not it be great if we could have all knowledge and all wisdom? I sure would like to be able to speak with absolute knowledge. We can possess all knowledge and wisdom and understanding. If we are in Christ and He is us. He is all knowledge and wisdom. As long as we proclaim Christ and His crucifixion and resurrection, we proclaim wisdom.
Footnote: I am not a Greek scholar. I do not read Greek. I can only look up the meaning of words in a dictionary and consult various translations.