Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | October 6, 2006

Colossian – Part 7

Sorry, I’ve been away from you for a while.  Here is another Bible Study until we can resume our series on revelation.

Where do you seek to know about God?  Is this the best way to seek him? 

Colossians – Part 7:  Paul’s Ministry for the Church (The Gospel has been made known) 

1.  Are the majority of Christians in the US or abroad? Do the majority of Christians enjoy peace and freedom of religion?

2.  What is the Gospel?  Isn’t this an amazing message…does it make sense to the world?

Paul’s ministry for the sake of the Church (Ch 1:24-29) Now 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.  25 Of 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, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to 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.  28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.  29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.  

The Apostle after addressing the errors of the Person and Work of Christ begins to describe his mission, the content of his mission and the goal of his mission.  If we did not possess 1:18-23 and skipped straight to verse 24, we may think the Apostle was affirming at least a portion of the false teacher’s doctrine.  However, in light of the previous passage we can be sure that the Apostle does not intend to portray that his sufferings have any saving benefit.  On the contrary, he previously noted that Christ was the “head of the body the church” and as the members of the body suffer, Christ being the head of the body is also afflicted.  The affliction lacking can be none other than, those acts that God has ordained to occur throughout Church history still awaiting realization.  The Apostle then proceeds to throw another monkey wrench into the false apostle’s doctrine, by indicating the mystery has been made known.  The Church in Colossae was being infiltrated with self-proclaimed apostles that claimed to possess secret knowledge.  They claimed to have revelation from God other than that, which had been made known or was affirmed and being preached by the true apostles.  The Apostle here indicates that these claims were false and impossible, since the mystery of God’s revelation had been made known and was being carried out fully.  Then he defines what this mystery consists of, which is the promise God had made to Abraham.  In the New Covenant, God’s pledge to Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed was inaugurated.  This promise was ratified by none other than Christ Himself who extended the gift salvation not only to the nation of Israel, but to people of every nation, tribe and tongue.  The mystery, that is Christ, is now offered to the Gentiles.  The Colossian  community surely consisted of Jews and likely Gentiles, yet the fact that the Gentiles were now included in the Covenant was progressive in that day.  It is this mission, bringing salvation to people of all nations, which motivates the Apostle to continue striving and advancing God’s Kingdom. 

After addressing the Christological aspects of the Colossian heresy, the Apostle moves into the problem of new revelation.  The false apostle’s had been claiming an authority equal or greater to the Apostle Paul to authenticate their claims.  However, the Apostle redirects the emphasis from seeking secret knowledge to being complete in Christ.  The Church was being seduced by a more enticing alternative to growing in sanctification, which was following the “new movements of the spirit”.  The Apostle almost casually indicates that this folly is not even possible, since the mystery has been made known.  The source of the Colossian heresy flowed from a false understanding of who was authorized to provide new revelation.  The distortions and heresies were coming from false apostle’s claiming to reveal new information contrary to the Apostolic teaching.  The Apostle implies that the claims to provide new revelation from God are not frivolous, however can only come from those specifically chosen and authorized to do so as in verse 25. 

3.  What does Paul mean when he says Christ’s affliction was “lacking”?4.  Are Christians promised health and wealth, prosperity and peace in this life?5.  Is suffering a sign of God’s judgment?  Here are two examples: Job and The Nation of Israel.

6.  What happened to Israel during times of peace?  What happened toIsrael during time of suffering?

7.  Is this similar to our lives or the life of the Church? 

And fill up what is wanting:  “As, therefore, Christ has suffered once in his own person, so he suffers daily in his members, and in this way there are filled up those sufferings which the Father hath appointed for his body by his decree.  Here we have a second consideration, which ought to bear up our minds and comfort them in afflictions, that it is thus fixed and determined by the providence of God, that we must be conformed to Christ in the endurance of the cross, and that the fellowship that we have with him extends to this also…Farther, he considers that we must not refuse the condition which God has appointed for his Church, that the members of Christ may have a suitable correspondence with the head; and thirdly, that afflictions must be cheerfully endured, inasmuch as they are profitable to all the pious, and promote the welfare of the whole Church, by adorning the doctrine of the gospel…And we know that the ministry was committed to him, not of redeeming the Church, but of edifying it; and he himself immediately afterwards expressly acknowledges this.” John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians. 8.  What type of “special knowledge” were the Colossian false teachers claiming they had?

9.  Was the Gospel ever a “secret” mystery? Gen 3:15

10.  Who are past generations that Paul is referring too?  Were they completely ignorant of the Gospel?

11.  What is the mystery Paul refers to?  Where is this made known?

12.  Should we expect more revelation above and beyond what the Bible has revealed?  Has God completely spoken what we need for salvation?  Heb 1:1-2, Jude 3 

Hidden mystery:  “Here he calls it a sublime secret, which was hid from ages and generations, that is, from the beginning of the world, through so many revolutions of ages… For the first is – that whereas God had, previously to the advent (first coming) of Christ, governed his Church under dark coverings, both of words and of ceremonies, he has suddenly shone forth in full brightness by means of the doctrine of the gospel.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians. 

Which is now revealed:  “Lest any one should turn aside to another meaning the term mystery, as though he were speaking of a thing that was still secret and unknown, he adds, that it has now at length been published, that it might be known by mankind.  What, therefore, was in its own nature secret, has been made manifest by the will of God.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians.  13.  Are you tempted to seek direction for life outside of the Scriptures?  Isn’t this what the Colossian false teachers were doing?

14.  What does God say to those eager to learn secret things?  Deuteronomy 29:29 

To whom God was pleased to make known:  “Here he puts a bridle upon the presumption of men, that they may not allow themselves to be wise, or to inquire beyond what they ought, but may learn to rest satisfied with this one thing that it has so pleased God.  For the good pleasure of God ought to be perfectly sufficient for us as a reason…This, however, is a wonderful work of God, that earthen and frail vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7) the hope of heavenly glory resides.”  John Calvin Commentary on Colossians 

15.  Was Christ in our study today?

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