“To Make The Word of God Fully Known”
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.
It is hard for most of us to understand rejoicing while suffering. Typically, we “cope” with suffering by complaining. Paul’s attitude should cause us to pause and re-examine the sturdiness of our faith. Paul said, to his brothers and sisters in Colossae: “Now, I rejoice in my sufferings.” First, he knew his suffering was temporary (see 2 Cor. 4:17). Second, he submitted to suffering without typical com-plaining for the sake of the needs of Christians!
It is right in verse 24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…” For their sake – that is, for the sake of their knowledge and edification, Paul kept suffering with unselfish endurance.
Third, the apostle saw his suffering from this high perspective: “I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.”
This cannot mean that anything about Christ’s suffering and death was lacking. While the translation may be awkward, the only way to understand this (compatible with everything else the New Testament says about the perfect sacrifice of Christ) – is that Paul, no matter how much he suffered, would always be “lacking.” He would spend his life “filling up” what was lacking in his suffering; his fellowship with Christ in suffering. This was his perspective of suffering “for the sake of His body, that is, the church.”
Paul’s next statement assures his readers of how he viewed his work. He became a minister “according to the stewardship from God, that was given to” him for this purpose: “…to make the word of God fully known.”
God gave to Paul this task, and held him accountable, “to make the word of God fully known.”
“The mystery hidden for ages and generations” was now being made known to men like Paul, for faithful transmission to others. “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.”
The gospel is not a message that Christ is just a part of. Christ is at the center of the message, with generous offer of blessing to all men. As the message is accepted by the activity of faith, Christ is formed in His people with this outcome: “the hope of glory.”
So Paul rejoiced (though he suffered) to announce “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
The repetitious, “everyone” leaves no doubt of the universal scope of the gospel of Christ. God designed and delivered this message of salvation for “everyone” to hear, believe and obey. This was so important to Paul he said: “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”
From Christianity Magazine:
Dedication to Glory
A rich vision of glory would accomplish several things in the lives of believers. 1) Battles against temptation will be won. Sin’s passing pleasures held no sway over Moses “for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24–26). 2) A closer resemblance to Christ will be born (1 John 3:2, 3). 3) An answer to the doldrums will be supplied. Christians can rejoice in the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). 4) Brethren will faithfully commit themselves to assemblies and each other. Excitement over glory inevitably produces a greater zeal and enthusiasm in worship. 5) An intense desire for glory generates greater efforts to reach the lost.
A diminished view of glory nearly always begets spiritual failure. Heaven is misapprehended, forgotten or undervalued. The allure of this world squeezes out hope. Set your eyes on glory and settle for nothing less. Lord come!
By Warren E. Berkley
Expository Files 23.7; July, 2016