02 Colossians: The Fullness of Christ

Updated: Nov 6



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In our first study of Colossians, one of the themes we focused on was Christ is all-sufficient. There were cultural pressures to accept something more than the gospel of Christ. It was taught that Christ was not enough. Something more is needed. At the beginning of this letter, Paul demonstrates how Christ is first and all-sufficient for the church. Nothing more is needed. Continuing, Paul will share the glorious hope of the gospel and how this good news is for everyone. In Colossians (Col. 1:24-2:5), we read of Paul's suffering for the church and the fullness of Christ for the church.

Colossians 1:24–2:5 (NIV) "Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is."

Hello, I'm Paul

In (Col. 1:24ff), Paul offers somewhat of an introduction to himself. Paul has not personally met everyone in the church at Colossae (ref. Col. 2:1). He expands on his statement from (Col. 1:23), "...This is the gospel that you heard, and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant." Paul expands on his ministry and what he was called to as Christ's servant.

Colossians 1:25–29 (NIV) "I have become its gave me to — the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. To them He is the one with all wisdom, so that we may To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me."


The Mystery of God, Namely Christ


Paul desires that everyone may know the mystery of God revealed in Christ Jesus. The mystery is not hidden or secret but revealed in Jesus.


Considering the cultural pressures in Colossae, some were teaching to deceive "by fine-sounding arguments." (ref. Col. 2:4). Paul needed to demonstrate the fullness of Christ as sufficient for all. So he stresses how the good news of Christ is for everyone. Notice his repetitive use of "everyone" in (Col. 1:28). The mystery of Christ is not hidden from some. It is for everyone, and nothing more is needed.


Christ In You, The Hope of Glory


The purpose of Paul is to present everyone "fully mature" in Christ (ref. Col. 1:28). His desire is for Christians to be mature and firmly grounded in Christ and not be persuaded by cultural pressures. Paul sees his purpose not as some highly exalted office but rather as a servant who is strengthened through the power of Christ.


To this end, Paul wants the Colossians to know the mystery of Christ. In our modern language, "mystery" often refers to something that is difficult or perhaps even impossible to understand.


"In the Colossians' pagan religious environment, the word "mystery" referred to information about initiatory rites and symbols—things that had to be kept hidden from the uninitiated."


"In the New Testament, the mystery refers to a secret once hidden but which has now been revealed and understood (Matt. 13:11, 17; Rom. 16:25–26). In fact, God calls apostles to make it known to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. Abraham received a preview of the gospel (Gal. 3:8), and the prophets caught glimpses of it (Eph. 2:17; Heb. 1:1; 1 Peter 1:10); but the apostles lived in the time of its fulfillment and were the first to unveil its glory fully. Instead of guarding this secret from others, they proclaimed it to the entire world. God did not call Christians to control a monopoly on the truth but to share it with others." (1)

As Paul speaks about in our text, understanding the mystery of Christ, he writes:


Colossians 1:27 (NIV)

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."


The riches of God's glory are for the Gentiles and Israel. Many Jews of the first century understood the blessings of God in receiving the covenants and promise belonged to Israel and Israel alone (ref. Rom. 9:1). Messiah, who would be for and with the Gentiles, undermined many expectations in the first century. After all, Gentiles were:


Ephesians 2:12 (NIV)

"...separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world."


However, God is bringing about New Creation through His Son Jesus. Those who were at one time separate from the promises are brought near in Messiah Jesus.


Ephesians 2:13–18 (NIV)

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."


In making known this mystery, Paul has suffered enormously. However, for this purpose, he rejoices.

Bridging the Context

Paul reveals a mystery hidden in ages past: in Christ, we are one body, and there is no separation or distinction between peoples. In proclaiming this message, Paul considers himself a servant willing to suffer enormous personal costs. He desires to share the fullness of Christ and the glorious riches found in Him. He desires to build up the church into maturity. He desires to reach out with the gospel to those who feel marginalized and excluded.

As Paul served others tirelessly for Christ, we cannot simply seek to serve ourselves. Instead, we, like Paul, should seek to serve others as we share and participate in the glorious riches of Christ.

Reflection:

List reasons you are thankful Christ has been revealed and the blessings you have in Him.