III. The Maturity of Believers (Colossians 1:21–2:3)
III. The Maturity of Believers (1:21–2:3)
1:21-23 The Colossians’ former state of hostility toward God was manifest in their evil actions (1:21). They were reconciled, brought into relationship with God, based on the atoning work of Christ (1:22). The goal for every Christian is to be presented as a mature believer, though no one is perfect. Maturity requires responsibility on our part—we are not to be shifted away from the hope of the gospel (1:23).
1:24-29 Paul’s motivation for his sufferings was that they would benefit the church (1:24). He wanted believers to be filled with what was necessary for their spiritual development, and that includes suffering. Paul’s ministry and stewardship were to prepare the church for the judgment seat of Christ. He wanted to facilitate the spiritual development of its members and to expose them to the mystery (1:26)—that is, to the fact that Christ indwells every believer (1:27) so that they increasingly reflect his character, conduct, attitude, and actions as they use God’s Word to deal with life (see Heb 5:11-14). As internal spiritual maturation is manifested externally in the action of believers, transformation takes place. Christ’s indwelling presence functions within us like a new motor in an old car.
Paul’s ministry centered on proclaiming this mystery, particularly to the Gentiles, so that they might be presented as mature in glory (1:27). His proclamation—with a call to response, with admonishment, and with guidance in the application of truth—required all wisdom (1:28). People are at various stages in their spiritual experience. Every minister should strive with God’s strength (1:29) for the spiritual development of his entire congregation.
2:1-3 Paul’s labor of love not only went to the Colossians, but it extended to people he’d never met (2:1). He wanted them to understand the fullness of the gospel. In Christ is found the secret to truth and to knowledge and to life; therefore, he wanted them to apprehend that truth so they could have wisdom (2:2-3). Knowledge is the apprehension of truth; wisdom is the application of that truth to life.