Colossians 1:24-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 5, 2009


The church in Colosse was located in the Lycus Valley, in the area we know today as the nation of Turkey.

One of the chief reasons for Paul writing this letter was to address heresy. Strange doctrines were beginning to spring up in Colosse.

We’re now finishing the first section of the letter which deals with the truth of who God is and who Jesus is.

Some of the phrases we’ve looked at:

:15 He is the image of the invisible God,

If you want a clear picture of what God is like, look at the best picture God has left us – Jesus.

:16 For by Him all things were created …

Jesus is the Creator. He has created everything, the heavens, the earth, EVERYTHING.

:17 and in Him all things consist.

He not only made everything, He holds it all together. We talked about the mysterious force that holds atoms together. We talked about how He holds us together.

:18 that in all things He may have the preeminence.

All these things point to one thing – Jesus is the one who holds “first place” in the Universe. Jesus needs to be “first place” in our lives as well. Who’s sitting in the pilot’s seat in your life? Who makes the decisions?

:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

We saw very clearly that Jesus is fully God.  We looked at just a few of the many passages that show that Jesus is God.

:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

Our sin is really bad, but Jesus has made things right with God on the cross.

:24  I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,

sufferingspathema – that which one suffers or has suffered; an enduring

What kind of things did Paul “suffer”?

When he wrote his second letter to the Corinthians:
(2 Cor 11:24-28 NKJV)  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; {26} in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; {27} in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; {28} besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
It was after writing to the Corinthians that Paul was later arrested in Jerusalem, then spending several years in prison in Caesarea.  Paul has now traveled to Rome for his appeal to Caesar, having been shipwrecked again along the way.
Paul is now living in rented quarters, but under arrest and chained to a Roman guard as he writes to the Colossians (Acts 28:30).
(Acts 28:30 NKJV)  Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him,

fill upantanapleroo – (“in turn” + “up” + “to fill”) to fill up in turn

… in #Col 1:24, the meaning is, ‘what is wanting in the afflictions of Christ to be borne by me, that I supply in order to repay the benefits which Christ conferred on me by filling up the measure of the afflictions laid upon me’.

Only found here in Col. 1:24

what is lackinghusterema – deficiency, that which is lacking

afflictionsthlipsis – pressing together, pressure; oppression, affliction, distress

What is Paul talking about?  Is there something lacking in the afflictions of Christ?

There is nothing lacking in what Jesus did to pay your way to heaven.
(Heb 10:11-14 NKJV)  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, {13} from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. {14} For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Paul is not saying that Jesus didn’t suffer enough and that he, Paul, is going to take care of the rest.

The word Paul uses (thlipsis) is never used in the New Testament to talk about Jesus’ sacrificial death for us.  It is always used to describe the troubles that people have in life, like these verses:

(John 16:33 NKJV)  "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
(Acts 20:23 NKJV)  "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
(Rom 8:35 NKJV)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
(2 Cor 1:4 NKJV)  who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2 Th 1:4 NKJV)  so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,

So what’s Paul saying?


There is a cost

The cost isn’t about salvation, it’s the cost of serving the Lord.
It’s the cost it takes to reach lost people with the gospel.
It’s the cost it takes to build up other Christians.
(Mat 16:24 NKJV)  Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Sometimes we make the mistake of telling people that accepting Christ is all about what He can do for you.  And Jesus can do lots for us, starting with forgiving us of all we’ve done wrong.  But there is also a call for us to learn to deny ourselves.
(Luke 14:27-33 NKJV)  "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. {28} "For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it; {29} "lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, {30} "saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' {31} "Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? {32} "Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. {33} "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Have you counted the cost?  Are you aware of the cost?
Saving Private Ryan” opens up with the invasion of Normandy on D-Day.  After the invasion, veteran Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks) is sent on a rescue mission.  He and his team are supposed to find paratrooper Private James Ryan (played by Matt Damon) and bring him home.  Ryan’s three brothers have all been killed in action and the army has decided that his mother doesn’t need her last son killed as well.  The movie follows Miller’s team as they cross Europe to find Ryan, and in the process two of Miller’s soldiers die.  When they finally catch up with Ryan, he is at a bombed out village and his unit’s assignment is to guard a key bridge.  When he’s told that he can go home, Ryan refuses.  He can’t see why he should get to go home but his buddies have to stay.  When Miller asks Ryan what he’s supposed to say to Ryan’s mother when he comes back without her son…
Play “Ryan” clip

We are definitely in a war.  Some of the people we might be sent to rescue are believers who are on the front lines.  Are we willing to join the battle?

Some of the people we are sent to “rescue” might not know Jesus.  What are we willing to do that they might be saved?  Paul wrote,

(1 Cor 9:22 NKJV)  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.


Pay the cost joyfully

Did you see that word “rejoice” in our text?
Paul wasn’t angry with the Colossians, “You bad people, look at all the suffering I have to do for you..”
Paul was glad to pay the price.  He was glad to suffer for the sake of the gospel.
Sometimes we can get kind of cranky when it comes to suffering.
We say, “How come I have to suffer and so-and-so doesn’t?
The people in the early church were nuts.  Absolutely crazy.  Some of these crackpots would go through horrendous things, and then simply break out into song before God.  When Peter and John were arrested a second time for preaching Jesus…
(Acts 5:40-41 NKJV)  …and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. {41} So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

One moment they’re being beaten, the next they’re rejoicing.

Paul and Silas got into trouble because they cast a demon out of a fortune-telling girl.  As a result they were beaten with many lashes …
(Acts 16:24-25 NKJV)  …he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. {25} But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
How can we be crazy like that?
(Heb 12:1-3 NLT)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. {2} We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven. {3} Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up.

We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Look at what He’s done.

When Stephen was on trial before the Sanhedrin, the people he was preaching to didn’t like what he was saying.  They would be putting Stephen to death by stoning.
(Acts 7:55-56 NLT)  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily upward into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God's right hand. {56} And he told them, "Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God's right hand!"

:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God,

ministerdiakonos – one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister

stewardshipoikonomia (“house” + “law”) – the management of a household or of household affairs; the management of other’s property

Paul says that God has given him something special to do.  Paul has been entrusted to take care of something in God’s household.

to fulfillpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to render full, i.e. to complete

:26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.

mystery musterion (“mystery”) – hidden thing, secret

Whatever this “mystery” is, Paul says it had been hidden from past ages and was now made known to God’s people.

We all love a good “mystery

Some of my favorite TV shows or movies are the ones where you have to figure out the “mystery”, the “who-dunnit”.

The Gnostics

The heresy that was developing in Colosse also liked mysteries. The Gnostics claimed that you could only know the fullness of God through their mystical experience and secret teachings, and those things were only given to a select few.

The “Secret

I’ve heard about this movie/book called “The Secret”.  You can see some of it on YouTube for free, but it will cost you to see the whole movie.  The idea is that this gal did a lot of research and has figured out the true secret of the ages, the secret of success.
If I understand it correctly, it boils down to the power of positive thinking.  You get what you think about. 
If you think about positive things, then positive things happen.  If you think about negative things, then negative things happen.
It all seems well marketed, and what better thing to get your attention than a “secret”?

Paul is saying that he has been given the opportunity to be a part of the great “mystery” with his ministry.  What’s the mystery???

has been hiddenapokrupto – to hide; concealing, keeping secret

Perfect passive participle

agesaion – forever, eternity; period of time, age

generationsgenea – fathered, birth, nativity; the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy

revealedphaneroo – to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way

saintshagios – holy ones; all true believers in Jesus.

:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

willedthelo – to will, have in mind, intend

to make knowngnorizo – to make known

richesploutos – riches, wealth; fullness, abundance, plenitude

glorydoxa – opinion; in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory; splendor, brightness; a most glorious condition, most exalted state

mysterymusterion (“mystery”) – hidden thing, secret, religious secrets

What Paul is about to talk about is not the only “mystery” in the Bible.  The word is used 27 times in the New Testament.

(Mat 13:11 NKJV)  He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
There is more than one “mystery”.
(1 Cor 15:51-52 NKJV)  Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; {52} in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
The “rapture” is a “mystery”.
(2 Th 2:7 NKJV)  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
There’s a “mystery” of lawlessness.
The book of Revelations has several “mysteries”, “seven stars (Rev. 1:20), “mystery Babylon” (Rev. 17:5)

But the “mystery” that Paul is talking about is one of the main mysteries.

(Eph 3:3-6 NKJV)  how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, {4} by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), {5} which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: {6} that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,
The fact that the Gentiles would be “fellow heirs” along with the Jews was amazing.
There were hints of this in the Old Testament (Is. 60:3) …

(Isa 60:3 NKJV)  The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.

(Jer 16:19 NKJV)  O LORD, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The Gentiles shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, "Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things."

But to the average Jewish person, it was inconceivable that Gentiles could be “fellow heirs” of God.
Paul had the ministry of taking this blessing of the gospel to pagan Gentiles.

The mystery is about Gentiles being saved.  The mystery is also about Jesus actually being “in” us.

Robertson:  It is the personal experience and presence of Christ in the individual life of all believers that Paul has in mind, the indwelling Christ in the heart

(Eph 3:17 NKJV)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,


Jesus in me is my hope

Life doesn’t make sense without Jesus.  There is no real hope without Jesus in your life.
While working as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel was assigned to report on the struggles of an impoverished, inner-city family during the weeks leading up to Christmas. A devout atheist at the time, Strobel was mildly surprised by the family’s attitude in spite of their circumstances:
The Delgados—60-year-old Perfecta and her granddaughters, Lydia and Jenny—had been burned out of their roach-infested tenement and were now living in a tiny, two-room apartment on the West Side. As I walked in, I couldn’t believe how empty it was. There was no furniture, no rugs, nothing on the walls—only a small kitchen table and one handful of rice. That’s it. They were virtually devoid of possessions.
In fact, 11-year-old Lydia and 13-year-old Jenny owned only one short-sleeved dress each, plus one thin, gray sweater between them. When they walked the half-mile to school through the biting cold, Lydia would wear the sweater for part of the distance and then hand it to her shivering sister, who would wear it the rest of the way.
But despite their poverty and the painful arthritis that kept Perfecta from working, she still talked confidently about her faith in Jesus. She was convinced he had not abandoned them. I never sensed despair or self-pity in her home; instead, there was a gentle feeling of hope and peace.
Strobel completed his article, then moved on to more high-profile assignments. But when Christmas Eve arrived, he found his thoughts drifting back to the Delgados and their unflinching belief in God’s providence. In his words: “I continued to wrestle with the irony of the situation. Here was a family that had nothing but faith, and yet seemed happy, while I had everything I needed materially, but lacked faith—and inside I felt as empty and barren as their apartment.”
In the middle of a slow news day, Strobel decided to pay a visit to the Delgados. When he arrived, he was amazed at what he saw. Readers of his article had responded to the family’s need in overwhelming fashion, filling the small apartment with donations. Once inside, Strobel encountered new furniture, appliances, and rugs; a large Christmas tree and stacks of wrapped presents; bags of food; and a large selection of warm winter clothing. Readers had even donated a generous amount of cash.
But it wasn’t the gifts that shocked Lee Strobel, an atheist in the middle of Christmas generosity. It was the family’s response to those gifts. In his words:
As surprised as I was by this outpouring, I was even more astonished by what my visit was interrupting: Perfecta and her granddaughters were getting ready to give away much of their newfound wealth. When I asked Perfecta why, she replied in halting English: “Our neighbors are still in need. We cannot have plenty while they have nothing. This is what Jesus would want us to do.”
That blew me away! If I had been in their position at that time in my life, I would have been hoarding everything. I asked Perfecta what she thought about the generosity of the people who had sent all of these goodies, and again her response amazed me. “This is wonderful; this is very good,” she said, gesturing toward the largess. “We did nothing to deserve this—it’s a gift from God. But,” she added, “It is not his greatest gift. No, we celebrate that tomorrow. That is Jesus.”
To her, this child in the manger was the undeserved gift that meant everything—more than material possessions, more than comfort, more than security. And at that moment, something inside of me wanted desperately to know this Jesus—because, in a sense, I saw him in Perfecta and her granddaughters.
They had peace despite poverty, while I had anxiety despite plenty; they knew the joy of generosity, while I only knew the loneliness of ambition; they looked heavenward for hope, while I only looked out for myself; they experienced the wonder of the spiritual, while I was shackled to the shallowness of the material—and something made me long for what they had.
Or, more accurately, for the One they knew.
Lee Strobel, The Case for Christmas (Zondervan, 2005); submitted by Eugene Maddox, Palatka, Florida
This is what life is about, having Jesus in your life.  He is our hope.
Have you opened your life to Christ?  Do you have the hope of heaven?
Jesus died on a cross in order to pay for your sins.  He now offers you complete forgiveness and eternal life if you will turn from your sin and open your life to Him.
Are you ready?

:28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

preachkataggello – to announce, declare, make known; to proclaim publicly

warningnoutheteo (“the mind” + “to put”) – to admonish, warn, exhort, counsel

teachingdidasko – to teach, instruct

presentparistemi – to place beside or near

The word is used in some interesting ways:

We will all be presented before Christ:
(Rom 14:10 NKJV)  But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Jesus will present us to Himself:
(Eph 5:27 NKJV)  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing…

Paul now says that he has a place at that presentation.

perfectteleios – brought to its end, finished; full grown, adult, mature

Paul is hoping that the people he presents to God would be grown up.

When a person becomes a Christian, they are “born-again”, they are a “baby” Christian.  But hopefully they won’t stay a baby.  Hopefully each person will mature and become fully grown.

What does a mature Christian look like?

(Heb 5:14 NLT)  Solid food is for those who are mature, who have trained themselves to recognize the difference between right and wrong and then do what is right.
Maturity is knowing right from wrong, and doing it.

Sometimes people will use this verse and criticize complement a sermon saying it’s “milk” or “meat”.  Often they say this because the pastor was talking about some mysterious passage or something.  The issue is obedience.  The “meat” of the word is what helps you to do what is right, not win at Bible trivia games.

:29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

laborkopiao – to grow weary, tired, exhausted; to labor with wearisome effort

strivingagonizomai (“agony”) – contend in the gymnastic games; to contend with adversaries, fight; to endeavor with strenuous zeal

fromagon – an assembly,; the assembly of the Greeks at their national games; hence the contest for a prize at their games

workingenergeia (“energy”; “in” + “to work”) – efficiency, power in exercise, operative power; in the NT used only of superhuman power

which worksenergeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power

mightilydunamis – strength, power, ability; natural ability


Elements of ministry

In verses 28 & 29 I see Paul giving us a peek into some of the ingredients that are involved in serving the Lord.
Tell people about Jesus.  Don’t hide your light.  You don’t have to have fancy words.  You don’t have to know all the Bible verses.  Talk about Jesus.
The word was about putting things on the mind.  It seems to deal with addressing issues in a person’s life, giving them a good “nudge” in the right direction to grow up.
(1 Th 5:14 NKJV)  Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
I’ve come across a new program that “nudges” us to share our faith … (play Evangelism Linebacker)
Give instruction.
I think the best thing we can teach is the Word of God.  Help people understand the Bible.
Hard Work
Serving the Lord is not always easy.
There can be times of joy, but there are also plenty of times of difficulty and tears.
The only way we can do this is with God’s strength.