21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 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, 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.
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.
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 Forthough I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see yourgood order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.
There is a word locked away in the center of the two paragraphs above. It is the word mystery. God has revealed to us a mystery that we would not have known without divine revelation. The mystery is Jesus. Unlike the mystery cults of the day, no-one needs to go through initiation rites and be sworn to secrecy. No special qualifications are needed to receive and understand the mystery.
Paul’s struggles and his suffering make sense in light of the great mystery. The trials of this life make sense when we see the trials and the struggles that Jesus had as he suffered and died in our place. It is left for us to continue in the same way that Jesus lived. As he suffered, so we will suffer. However, as he was glorified so we experience glory.
Thank you that we have received a mystery which was hidden for thousands of years. Although there were signs that the Messiah would come, we now see clearly that prophesy was fulfilled in his death and resurrection. Help us to follow Jesus with the same passion as Paul. Help us to dig deeper into the mystery you have revealed.
- Can you explain how the word mystery sits in the center of the two paragraphs which start at v. 24?
- How does Paul connect his struggles with those of Jesus?
- How does Paul struggle and suffer?
- How do you struggle and suffer?
- How do you respond to the idea that God revealed a mystery when Jesus was revealed?