Paul’s Service to Christ and the Brethren

Text: Colossians 1:24-2:7

Rejoicing in Suffering - Colossians 1:24

Being a prisoner is not fun but Paul found reasons to rejoice. He knows that his hardships are benefitting the church (II Corinthians 4:8-12; Philippians 1:12-14; 2:17-18; II Timothy 2:10). Paul wanted to be like the Lord in every way. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). Yet, Paul realizes he has not suffered to the measure Christ did, so in his present discomfort, he is doing his share to fill up what is lacking in himself. In such sufferings, all the church participates (Philippians 1:29; II Corinthians 1:5-7; II Timothy 1:8).

Preaching the Gospel - Colossians 1:25-29

Paul was made a servant of the church by God (Acts 9:15-16). It was a stewardship on behalf of the Lord and to the benefit of the Gentile Christians (I Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 1:15-16; 2:7). A steward manages and oversees a household on behalf of a master. Thus, Paul had the duty to care for the church on behalf of Christ (II Corinthians 11:28).

His goal was to fully preach the word of God (Romans 15:19; Acts 20:26-27). This message was a mystery in times past because God hid the full message (Ephesians 3:1-13; I Corinthians 2:I Corinthians 2:6-10). However, this mystery is no longer hidden. God has revealed His purpose to Christians, especially Gentile Christians. God has offered the Gentiles salvation (Romans 9:23-24). Christ is in them and they have the hope of glory (Ephesians 1:7; 3:16; Philippians 4:19; John 15:2-5).
In fully preaching the gospel, Paul has the goal of presenting every person complete in Christ (Colossians 1:22; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 4:12-13). Thus, he proclaims Jesus to a world that did not know God (Romans 16:25; I Corinthians 1:23). He admonished a world of people caught up in sin. And he instructed people how to live pleasing to God (II Timothy 3:16-17; 2:24-25; 4:2).

This is what Paul worked for with all his might (I Corinthians 15:10; II Corinthians 12:9; I Thessalonians 2:9).

Encouraging the Brethren - Colossians 2:1-3

Paul wished the brethren understood the concern he had for the brethren in Colossae, Laodicea, and others who he had not personally met. He has been struggling on their behalf (Colossians 1:28-29; Philippians 1:27-30) in order that brethren may have three things:

  1. That Christians everywhere may be encouraged. The Greek word parakaleo means to call together, to exhort, to encourage, or to comfort.
  2. That they be unified in love (Psalms 133:1; Acts 4:32). The Greek word sumbibazo means to unite or bring together through teaching or proving something conclusively. Each member supports the other to give greater strength.
  3. That they obtain all the wealth that comes from a full assurance of understanding. Paul is not talking about physical wealth, but the spiritual wealth that comes from knowing Christ. It is an invaluable possession that is gained by having a firm persuasion regarding what they believe and follow (I Thessalonians 1:5).

Paul is concerned about the damage that might be done by false teachers in the area. False teachers can make inroads when people are discouraged. They often will divide congregations to make conquering easier. And, of course, if Christians don’t understand the Scriptures well, they can be lured from the truth. When you understand something well, there is no room for doubt. That confidence results in a true knowledge of Christ and it is in Christ that all wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
Christians are in Christ because of God. And Christ is our source of wisdom from God. Thus, Christians do not make the claim of being wise in and of themselves, but that they are taught wisdom through Jesus Christ.

Christ’s coming and the salvation he brought was a mystery in times past but is now known to those who receive it, but its treasures are hidden from the rest of the world (Luke 10:21; 19:42).

Rejoicing in Their Progress - Colossians 2:4-7

The Colossians are doing well. They have heard the Gospel and putting it into practice (Colossians 1:5-6). Paul prays that they will be strengthened (Colossians 1:10-11). And he reminds the to remain steadfast (Colossians 1:23). But he is concerned that they might be deceived by persuasive arguments. Steadfastness comes with maturity in Christianity (Ephesians 4:13-14). Paul is concerned about their losing what was gained. They had matured, but he didn't want them to lose ground. Though he is not physically with them, he is there in spirit, encouraging and supporting them from afar.

False teaching is spread through beguiling words (I Timothy 6:20). The Greek word paralogizomai means cheating through false reasoning. It is also used in James 1:22 where a person fools himself into thinking he can be a Christian without actually living the life of a Christian. Thus we have people who use persuasive arguments to lead Christians to make false conclusions. They can and will come from our own midst (Acts 20:30). Elsewhere Paul mentioned that his teaching was not based on persuasive speech (I Corinthians 2:1-5). Too often, the reasoning is not based on an understanding of God’s Will but on the twisted logic of man. Often the poisonous ideas are sugar-coated with eloquence and flattery (Romans 16:17-19). The problem with deception is that it grows. Those who deceive come to believe their own lies (II Timothy 3:13-14).

The prevention of being led astray is the confidence gained by a full understanding of God’s Word and a full understanding of Christ (Colossians 2:2). It means we need to learn to reason well and to be able to spot twisted logic. How? By learning the wisdom of God (Proverbs 2:1-12).

The result is good discipline and stability of faith. “Good discipline” and “stability” are military terms referring to an orderly array and a solid front line. This is a battle for truth.

Often we focus on winning souls for Christ but we lose sight that conversion is not the goal but the first step in a lifelong process of change. To stay with Christ, to live with him, is to walk after him (I John 2:6; Colossians 1:10). We cannot call ourselves Christians and go our own way (Colossians 1:21-23; Luke 6:46). It is a common and repeated theme (Hebrews 3:6, 14; 6:11; 10:23).

Paul uses an agricultural term. We have to be rooted in Christ (Ephesians 3:17) and not like the seed that fell on rocky ground (Matthew 13:20-21). Paul then uses a building term. We need to be built up into something solid and unmoving (Ephesians 4:14-16). Finally, Paul uses an accounting term. And we need to be established, validated, guaranteed, or confirmed in our faith. This is how we were taught and we could be overflowing with gratitude regarding it (Ephesians 5:20; I Thessalonians 5:18).

Class Discussion:

  1. How do the ideas presented in this section inhibit Christians from being pulled away by false teachings?
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