Two people dominate the pages of the New Testament more than any others: Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. One of them claiming to be God Himself while the other was a Greek-speaking intellectual and writer. Both of these two men played a vital role in the establishment of the Christian movement in the 1st century. As far as we know Jesus and Paul never met during Jesus’ earthly life, but the record we have in the book of Acts tells us Paul came into contact with the disciples very early on; and having opposed and persecuted them at first Paul experienced a dramatic conversion and began calling himself a slave of Christ. It is a common belief of most Christians that from that point on Paul was a faithful follower of Christ, holding Jesus in the highest regard as Lord of all and seeking to imitate His life and teaching. This commonly held belief has not remained unchallenged in our day. Did you know some people teach that Paul wasn’t a follower of Christ, but the founder of Christianity? When this is said it means Paul was a pioneer who brought into Jesus’ teachings all sorts of foreign ideas, notions, concepts, and doctrines that ruined the original, pure, and simple teaching of Jesus.
Well, what’s the truth? What was the relationship between Jesus and Paul? Do Paul and Jesus preach the same gospel? Was Paul a founder of a faith, or a faithful follower? I am convinced Paul was what he said he was, a faithful follower and slave of Christ. I’m also convinced these people who try to make Paul out to be a maverick have other more sinister agendas in mind. I’m not only convinced of this, but I’m convinced you should believe this too. Why? Because of passages like our passage today.
When we come to Colossians 1:24 we reach a turning point. Paul is now done with the weighty introduction of his letter (1:1-23). Recall that he has in glorious detail reminded the Colossians of the Regal and Kingly majesty of Christ in 1:15-20. Paul has also explained how the work of the majestic Christ saves them from sin and calls them to a holy and persevering life. Now from 1:24 – 2:5 he begins introducing himself and his ministry to those who he has not yet seen face to face (see 2:1). Remember at the time Paul wrote to this Colossian church he had not yet visited them, so Paul has a need to tell this new church who he is, and what he has been called to do. And this is just what we see in 1:24-27. God has called Paul to declare a mystery that’s been hidden for ages but is now revealed. The mystery, given to us in 1:26-29, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory…HIM WE PROCLAIM!” To this work Paul devoted his life boldly, and for this work he suffered incredibly.
There are many things to learn from this passage, but the main idea in of this passage is this: suffering is unavoidable for those who seek to follow Christ and preach Christ, but in this we rejoice, because we don’t suffer for no reason, we suffer for the glory of God and the good of the Church. We see this main idea given to us progressively throughout the text, primarily in three points: in 1:24 we see Paul’s suffering, in 1:25 we see Paul’s ministry, and in 1:26-29 we see Paul’s message. Today I’ll cover 1:24-25, and Lord willing next Sunday I’ll cover 1:26-29.