Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God;
Colossians 1:23 ends with the word “minister.”
This term triggers Paul’s thoughts for the next section.
In verses 24-29 he describes his ministry.
Frequently, Paul stops to discuss the style, type, and approach of his ministry. He does this for many reasons.
TO ESTABLISH HIS AUTHORITY
· Paul often defended his right to speak for God—to establish his authority.
TO EXPRESS HIS WONDER
· Paul was always in awe that God called him into the ministry.
· He continually reiterates the truth of his ministry because it was such a thrill to him.
Colossians 1:24-29 is a detailed look at Paul’s ministry.
I. THE SOURCE OF THE MINISTRY (vv. 23b, 25a)
This is seen both in verse 23and in verse 25 where he says, “Of which I am made a minister….”
The word “minister” is not a highfalutin, elevated term. It’s the Greek word diakinos, which means “servant.”
- By the Calling of God
- ACTS 26:13-17 – The Lord makes ministers. His ministers are those who are called.
- ROMANS 15:15-16a
- 2 CORINTHIANS 3:4-6a
- 1 TIMOTHY 1:12
- 1 TIMOTHY 2:5-7
- 2 TIMOTHY 1:11
Who, then, made Paul a minister? God. Who, then, is the source of ministry? God. Who gave you the gifts you have received to operate within the body of Christ? According to 1 Corinthians 12:11, the Holy Spirit gives “to every man severally as He will.” The Spirit of God manifests Himself in the gifts of the Spirit so that we might minister. It is God who calls us and puts us in the ministry; it isn’t something we choose.
- The Commitment to God
- PAUL’S STEWARDSHIP
· In Colossians 1:25 The word “dispensation” in the Greek is oikonomia (nomos=law or rule; oikos=house).
· It means “to rule a house,” or “to be a steward of somebody else’s possessions.”
· A homeowner with a large estate would have a steward who would manage his whole house. He would take care of everything–employment, wages, and supplies–and make sure everything was carried out. It was a very great responsibility.
· God owns the church; it’s His house…His temple.
· “God appointed me to rule in His church on His behalf.”
· “It’s God’s plan, God’s church, God’s gospel, God’s Christ, God’s message, God’s truth, and God’s Word. And God wants me to manage it for Him. I’m in the ministry because God has put me here. I’m a steward.”
- 1 Corinthians 4:2
- 1 Corinthians 9:16-17
- Galatians 2:7
- Ephesians 3:1-3, 7
- CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP
- 1 Peter 4:10-11
- 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
· Someday when you face Jesus Christ, the record of your stewardship is going to be based upon what you did with the gifts you were given.
· Are you going to be like the servant who buried what was given to him, or are you going to be like the servant who used good principles of stewardship and multiplied what was given to him?
- PAUL’S STEWARDSHIP
II. THE SPIRIT OF THE MINISTRY (v. 24a)
- The Attitude Of Joy
- ITS CESSATION – what about Heb. 12:1b-2a
- ITS CONSTANCY
- Philippians 4:4
- Colossians 2:5
- 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
- Philemon 7
· When you see somebody without joy in the ministry, it’s because they’re selfish and they think they deserve better than what they have.
· Actually, they don’t deserve what they have, do they?
- B. The Thieves Of Joy – What are some of the thieves that rob us of joy?
- The Guardians Of Joy – Some the things that protect our joy.
- DEVOTION TO CHRIST
- TRUST IN GOD
III. THE SUFFERING OF THE MINISTRY (v. 24b)
- The Misunderstanding
· Some people who say that Christ’s death on the cross didn’t finalize all His suffering.
· Paul had to continue to suffer and suffer in order to expiate sin.
· That can’t be what Paul is saying!
· Paul is not going to unsay everything that he has just said.
- The Matter Of Suffering – he was referring directly to his imprisonment.
- PAUL’S PERSPECTIVE OF IMPRISONMENT – He saw himself as a prisoner of Christ.
- THE PURPOSE OF PAUL’S IMPRISONMENT – Paul saw his imprisonment as suffering for their sake and for Christ’s sake.
· Philippians 1:29 – It’s not only my responsibility to suffer for Christ’s sake, it’s yours, too. All of us are to suffer for His sake–to suffer because of Him.
- The Merits Of Suffering
- IT BRINGS US NEARER TO CHRIST – Philippians 3:10
- IT BRINGS US ASSURANCE OF SALVATION – 1 Peter 4:14
- IT BRINGS US FUTURE REWARD – Romans 8:17-18
- IT RESULTS IN THE SALVATION OF OTHERS – Philippians 2:17
- IT FRUSTRATES SATAN
Colossians 1:24 adds another reason–bringing us back to our text.
- D. The Motive Of Suffering
· To “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my [Paul’s] flesh….” In other words, Paul is saying, “I am receiving in my body what is intended for Christ.”
- SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
- There is nothing lacking in the atonement.
- The enemies of Christ were never satisfied with what they did to Jesus.
- They wanted to add to His suffering.
- They began to persecute the church.
- Was it because they hated them individually?
- The church stood in the place of Christ.
- To take the blows meant for Him who took the blows meant for me makes me happy.
- If Jesus Christ could hang on the cross and take my sin and the punishment that I deserve, I think I can take a few punches for His sake.
- SUFFERING FOR THE CHURCH
- 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
- Acts 20:22-24
- 2 Timothy 2:10
- Acts 20:28
- SUFFERING FOR CHRIST
IV. THE SCOPE OF THE MINISTRY (v. 25b)
· To fulfill the word of God
· Paul’s objective was to finish his ministry with joy.
- The Meaning Of Fulfilling The Word
· It refers to the word of God given directly to Paul that called him into the ministry.
· It refers to teaching all the Word of God to all of the people that God called Paul to.
· For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (2 Tim. 4:6- 7).
· You say, “How did he do it? How did Paul fulfill it? How could a man ever finish the work God gave him to do? How is it possible?”
- The Method Of Fulfilling The Word
· Now, some get so carried away at this point, that they think they personally have to win the whole world to Christ.
- PAUL’S ECONOMY OF EFFORT
- Consider Paul’s ministry.
- He only took three missionary trips?
- He did it by putting certain limits on his ministry.
- JESUS’ ECONOMY OF EFFORT – Consider Jesus’ ministry.
- The Limitation of God’s Will – John 5:30
- The Limitation of Time
- Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Mine hour is not yet come” (e.g., 2:4; 7:30; 8:20).
- When it was the right time, Jesus was able to say, “…Father, the hour is come…” (Jn. 17:1)
- The Limitation of a Certain Group of People
- Matthew 9:13 Jesus says, “…for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
- He didn’t come to minister to hypocritical, religious ones; He wanted Jews who recognized their sin.
- The Limitation of a Certain Subject – the gospel, not politics
- The Limitation of a Small Number of Disciples – discipleship, not “soul-winning”
- PAUL’S ECONOMY OF EFFORT