As I have walked back through these passages in Colossians 2 and dug into the cross-references again, I am reminded again how beautiful God’s Word is and how poignant His way of saying things through those He breathed the Scriptures through (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:16-21). The way Colossians 1 speaks of Jesus is with such a reverence and awe that it makes my heart ache with longing to see Jesus. I hope that, as you read the words of God – not my feeble commentary, you are moved to worship and awe as well.
There is a shift between the very end of Colossians 1 (v. 1:24) into the beginning verses of Colossians 2, but it needs to be understood that, as Paul talks about ministering and serving and those being served growing in Christ, this is not a shift from faith to works. No, Paul speaks of the suffering (v. 1:24), ministering (v. 1:25), preaching (v. 1:28), toiling (v. 1:29), struggling (v. 2:1), encouraging (v. 2:2), and growth through walking with Christ (vv. 2:6-7) as results of worshiping the Lord. These actions are fruit of God’s Spirit being within a believer (Galatians 5:22-23). And I am humbled and thankful that I can have any part in making “the Word of God fully known” to you, dear Sojourner (v. 1:25).
So, with no further ado, today we will dive back into Colossians 1:24-2:7!
Refresh & Restore Bible Study — May 18, 2023: When the Loving Kindness of God Our Savior Appears – Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast
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- Advent 2022 — The Story of Christmas
- Advent 2022 — December 24 (Christmas Eve Reading for Our Kiddos)
Paul’s Ministry to the Church (vv. 1:24-2:5)
1:24 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, 25 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, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 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. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.Colossians 1:24-2:5
When I see Paul so confidently and boldly talk about suffering, I find myself wrestling with my own desire for comfort and my tendency to avoid suffering. But we need to realize that Paul is not boasting of his own inner strength. He is recognizing the “surpassing worth” of Jesus (Philippians 3:8). I recognize in Paul’s writing here that I have shortcomings in that area. Where I long for strength, there needs to be worship. Where I get to serve, there needs to be worship. Christ is to be the forefront of the Christian life because He is “all and in all” (v. 3:11). In that worship – and this is perhaps the most un-21st-century, un-American-Dream, un-human-nature thing that I can probably think of – our desire for personal comfort needs to be outweighed by our desire for Him.
Think of all the trouble and effort a bride goes to in preparation to stand before her husband-to-be and be married. In those moments, the discomfort of clothing and shoes are forgotten. It is to be so for the Church. Y’all, if you are in Christ, the groom awaits – and is worthy of all worship, praise, honor, and the worst discomfort this world and Satan could hurl at us. Corey Ten Boom, who knew firsthand the horrors and pains delivered at the hands of Nazis in concentration camps put it well: “I’ve experienced His Presence in the deepest darkest hell that men can create…. I have tested the promises of the Bible, and believe me, you can count on them.”
Reading these words from Paul again and contemplating his struggles and suffering due to his worship reminds me why I am deeply critical of the prosperity gospel, which promises material (especially monetary) blessings in exchange for faithfulness and promises positive declarations free of suffering. This selective interpretation of Scripture overlooks the Bible’s clear teaching about suffering. What about Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael? What about Jesus?!? And what of Jesus’s promises that the world will look at us and treat us as it did Him (John 15:18-25, 7:7; 1 John 3:13)? He is worth it all (Revelation 4:11)!
In writing this, I want to emphasize how far I am from these things on my own. Paul, Daniel – all of those who suffered in the Bible and since for the sake of the Lord – they were far on their own, too. They, like us, needed the power of God through His Spirit (John 15:26-27). I think of Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted the early church. Despite his wicked sinfulness, He met Jesus on the road to Damascus and was transformed (Acts 9:1-31) – brought from death in his sin to life in the very Christ he persecuted (Ephesians 2:1-5). He is different as he writes to the church at Colossae because of what God has done and was still doing in him. His is willing to suffer and considers all previous accomplishments and accolades as loss, placing his focus on knowing Christ and sharing in His sufferings (Philippians 3:1-11). His testimony serves as a testament to the transforming power of God’s grace and the hope that comes only from known Christ.
This is why Paul can use his own life and ministry as an example for working faithfully for God’s Kingdom. I highlight Paul’s dedication to following Christ’s example and caring for the church, emphasizing the significance of discipleship and spiritual maturity, and I underscore the revelation of God’s mystery through Christ, extending the opportunity for all people to experience the riches of God’s glory and have Christ as their hope. But I also acknowledge the challenges the Church faces, both externally through persecutions and internally through false teachings (not just in Colossae, dear Sojourner).
His desire for the churches was for them to remain encouraged, united in love, and rooted in the knowledge of God in His gospel – for them to find strength in His Spirit and in the ministry of the Word. That is my desire for those I am blessed to serve at Christ Community, and I hope that you are 1) saved by grace through faith in Jesus, and 2) have a pastor in a local church who desires these things for you and strives in the ministry of the Word to point you to the One who makes it happen!
For more, check out the original Bible studies from this section:
Walk With Christ as You Received Him (vv. 2:6-7)
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.Colossians 2:6-7
As a pastor and a disciple of Christ, I find myself reflecting on the goal of reaching people with the gospel and helping them mature in their faith. It makes me wonder, are making disciples and promoting spiritual maturity goals that drive us? And more importantly, is this reflected in my life – not because I am a pastor but because I profess faith in Christ?
In this reflection, I want you to understand that I am not joining in the popular activity of criticizing the church. Instead, I see the church as the Bride of Christ, and it is crucial for us to treat and regard the church with grace and love. Through my own journey with Christ and my involvement in my local church, I have great hope for the church. I have found that Jesus is the source of that hope, and I pray that He would use me to make a difference through my ministry within the local church.
I think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and martyr who served during the Nazi regime in Germany. He dedicated himself to helping young ministers grow in Christ. When he left Germany for safety in America, he felt convicted that his true calling was to be in Germany. He repented and returned, ultimately facing arrest and imprisonment – inevitably in Nazi-run prisons and a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer’s example is a testament to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, where everything else pales in comparison.
Knowing Christ and seeking His Kingdom should fill us with hope. It is a treasure worth more than everything we own, and it prompts us to be willing to sacrifice and endure suffering. We must remember that the suffering we experience on earth is temporary, while God’s Kingdom is eternal. My desire is to help others walk in Christ, to see them rooted, built up, and established in their faith – just what Paul points us to in Colossians 2:6-7.
As I reflect on these verses further, I think about the various ways people describe what it means to be in Christ – being saved, born again, or a Christ-follower. Yet, I am aware that some may use these terms to hide their disbelief and navigate “church” culture. I also observe the shift in the southeastern United States from being known as the Bible Belt to a predominant worldview of “moralistic therapeutic deism,” where people speak generically about God and attend churches for community without embracing biblical teachings. Receiving Christ Jesus as Lord is of utmost importance. It goes beyond a mere label or outward profession. It is about submitting to Jesus as Lord, recognizing His sacrifice as a ransom for many and embracing Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Romans 10:9-13). Merely calling oneself a Christian without true submission to Jesus as Lord is incompatible with genuine belief. Confessing Jesus as Lord and believing in His resurrection are the hallmarks of true salvation.
For more, check out the original Bible study from this section:
I invite you to assess your own life considering Jesus’ teachings and the words we have read from Colossians 1-2 today. Have you truly received Jesus as Lord? Does your life reflect the transformation that comes from knowing Him? Are you putting off your old self and being renewed in the likeness of God? If not, I urge you to repent and believe. It is not too late for you to receive Jesus, to confess Him as Lord, and to be saved.
If you are in Christ, I encourage you to consider the depth of your faith. Receiving Jesus as Lord is the foundation for growth and maturity. Making disciples requires personal investment and time. Being rooted in Christ provides sustenance and support, while building up in Him involves growth and putting His Word into practice. The church is built through love and service, and being established in the faith brings assurance and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Confronting harsh truths offers an opportunity for repentance and faith in Christ. May we all seize that opportunity and worship Christ as Lord, walking in the hope and maturity that He offers!
 All Scripture references unless otherwise noted are from the English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 1:1–2.
 Cross references show what the Bible says about a particular verse, section, or word. I use the cross references heavily in my study of the Word, especially when preaching and/or teaching the Word. Cross references that parallel the verse, section, or word but do not directly reference it are marked by brackets, for example [1 Peter 2:9-12]. Cross references of similar themes will be designated by the word “See”.
 See 2 Corinthians 7:4 – I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
 [2 Timothy 1:8] – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God….
[2 Timothy 2:10] – Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
 See 2 Corinthians 1:5 – For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
 [Ephesians 4:12] – …to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ….
 ch. 1:23 – …if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
 See Ephesians 3:2 – …assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you….
 Ephesians 3:9 – …and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things….
See Romans 16:25-26 – Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith….
 [ch. 2:2]
 Ephesians 1:18 – …having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints….
Ephesians 3:16 – …that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being….
 1 Timothy 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope….
 ch. 1:22-23 – …He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
 See Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
 1 Corinthians 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.
1 Timothy 4:10 – For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe.
 ch. 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
 See Ephesians 1:19 – …and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might….
 Philippians 1:30 – …engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
 ch. 4:8 – I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts….
Ephesians 6:22 – I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
 [ch. 3:14] – And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
 v. 1:27
 Isaiah 11:2 – And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 45:3 – I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
1 Corinthians 1:24 – …but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:30 – And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption….
1 Corinthians 2:6-7 – Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
[Luke 11:49] – Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute’….
[Ephesians 1:8] – …which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight….
 Romans 16:18 – For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.
[Ephesians 5:6] – Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
[2 Peter 2:3] – And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
 1 Corinthians 5:3 – For though absent in the body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
 1 Corinthians 14:40 – But all things should be done decently and in order.
 1 Peter 5:9 – Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
 ch. 1:10 – …so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….
1 Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
 Ephesians 3:17 – …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love….
 Acts 20:32 – And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Ephesians 2:20 – …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone….
See 1 Corinthians 3:9 – For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
 Hebrews 13:9 – Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
 Ephesians 4:21 – …assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus….
 ch. 4:2 – Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:20 – …giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….