Christ in you: Devotional Commentary for October 29-November 4
24Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.
25Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
26that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,
27to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
29For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
At the time of the writing of the epistle to the Colossians, Paul was not known to them in person. The church was planted by Epaphras, one of Paul's students and fellow-servants of the Gospel. So Paul took time to introduce himself in the context of his service for the Gospel and his ministry to them.
First, he told them that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the Will of God. After establishing his authority to speak as God's commissioned messenger, he identified himself as a fellow-believer in Jesus Christ, and as the minister of the Gospel. That is, he was the teacher and the propagator of the Good News which they heard and believed. As an itinerant apostle, Paul served the Body of Christ by ministering to local assemblies, households, and individuals in the Mediterranean region. The church at Colossae was one of such assemblies nurtured by Paul through this epistle and personal messengers.
Paul was unostentatious when he identified himself as the servant of the Gospel. He told them that his life as an apostle of Christ was not easy. He continued to experience the afflictions inflicted upon Jesus Christ by those who were the enemies of the Gospel.
Paul sent the epistle to the Colossians from his prison cell in Rome. His incarceration was not a surprise because the Lord had already told him that he shall suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ Whom he previously persecuted. But he deeply anguished over his confinement because he was restricted from ministerial itineration. He could not make personal visitations and nurture the Body of Christ. So he was excited when he had the opportunity to send this epistle to the Colossians by the hands of Tychicus and Onesimus in spite of his suffering.
Paul rejoiced both in what was happening to him and what he was able to do. Both aspects of his experience showcased the Power of God at work in him. He rejoiced in his suffering because it was the fulfillment of what God had already told him, and because he was found worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ, the Gospel, and the church of Jesus Christ.
Paul was also excited that God gave him the opportunity to disclose to the Colossians the mystery of the Gospel which was revealed in Jesus Christ. This mystery was hidden from the saints of the past who simply accepted by faith God's Promise of the coming Messiah to redeem the lost. They had to wait, as did Simeon and Anna, until the time for the Messiah's coming was fulfilled.
But Paul and the apostles were born and privileged to be the eyewitnesses of the Birth, Ministry, Crucifixion, Death, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Son of God. They were appointed, commissioned, and anointed to disclose what has been revealed to them and to declare what they have heard and seen.
Paul advised the Colossians that he had been appointed to minister to them as the apostle to the Gentiles. He would continue to labor in the proclamation of the Gospel among them by the Power of God which is already at work in him. He would proclaim Jesus Christ the sacrificial Lamb and the victorious Lord, admonishing, teaching, and exhorting everyone with the whole Truth of the Gospel. Free or in bonds, Paul would not relent from unfolding the mystery of the Gospel until every person matures in the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God's revealed Truth.
What is the mystery of the Gospel? With no equivocation whatsoever, Paul declares that the mystery of the Gospel is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." That is, Christ in us, Christ in every believer—Jew or Gentile. Christ is our hope of glory. No longer were the Colossian Gentiles alienated from God's redeeming Grace. It is not a matter of heritage or rank. Christ is the Gospel. He is the hope in us. He is the glory of God in us.
We are saved by Grace through faith. Anyone who is familiar with the Bible recognizes this statement. Nonetheless, anyone who has experienced true salvation understands this enduring Truth to be the foundation of the believer's new life as a Christian. Sadly however, the excessively indifferent iteration of the assertion in Ephesians 2:8 might have become for some a cliched platitude devoid of meaning. Consequently, we observe many confessing Christians struggling to earn what is already given and to preserve what is already sealed.
Paul was aware of this misconception and took the matter directly to God with his intercessory prayer for the Colossians. He earnestly pleaded that God would give His children more knowledge, understanding, and wisdom so that our lives would be enriched by the revealed Truth of the Gospel. The Gospel we heard and believed is actually the Word of God, Who is with God from the beginning and is also God. The Word Who became flesh is Jesus Christ in Whom the fullness of God dwels. In Him is the mystery of the Gospel revealed.
Therefore, the expressions "grace" and "faith" in Ephesians 2:8 are not imaginative abstractions from some ethereal concept. They are substantiated by God and by Jesus Christ His Son. Hence, we are saved by the Grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. That is, Grace is the means by which God bestowed His Favor upon us while faith is the power of Jesus Christ and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in us by which we accepted the Grace of God. What is more, the bestowal of God's Grace and our responsive faith are affirmed by the imprint of the divine seal of the Holy Spirit in the renewed heart of the believer. But the Holy Spirit does not come into our hearts alone. He takes up residence in our hearts along with the Father and the Son bringing into the life of the redeemed the fullness of God.
Since the fullness of God is revealed in Jesus Christ, and since redemption is given by and through Christ's finished work, the life that we now live as Christians is actually Christ living His life in us. That is, Christ in us the hope of glory. Christ is living in us giving us the sure hope of being glorified with Him, in Him. The mystery of the Gospel is then, Christ bought back with His Blood the glory that Adam lost so that those who are born in sin's shame would be glorified with Jesus Christ, having been declared justified by God, our gracious Father. Those whom He foreknew, He predestinated to conformed to the image of His Son. Those whom He conformed, He called. Those whom He called, He justified. Those whom He justified, He glorified.