Week 4: Colossians 1:24-2:5
Faith in Jesus Christ transforms us. One of the ways that God transforms us is by transforming our purpose. The apostle Paul went from being a persecutor of the church to someone who established and cared for it. When we choose to follow Christ, he gives us a new purpose too. We are called to put Jesus on display for the benefit of others. Embracing this will change how we think about our jobs, our relationships, and our definition of success. Following God’s purposes for us often involves suffering, standing up for the truth, hard work, and patience. But God does not leave us on our own. He promises to be with us. Even more, he promises to work in and through us by giving us his Spirit to live in us. Paul said it this way: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29). Paul describes our witness as if we are letting people in on a mystery, a treasure that was hidden in ages past but has now been fully revealed. It’s not something God wants to keep hidden. He wants everyone to know about it. Let’s pursue this purpose and calling in partnership with him!
Can you think of a time when you were given a task that seemed impossible?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Colossians 1:24-25) Paul’s calling involved a lot of suffering. (See Acts 9:15-16 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 for some context.) What enabled him to rejoice in the middle of it all? Compare these verses with the way he describes his calling/purpose in 1:28 and 2:1-4. How did Paul understand his own personal role in God’s work? What overlap is there between God’s purpose for Paul and God’s purpose for you? How are they similar and different?
2. (Colossians 1:26-27) Why does Paul call the message of the gospel a mystery? How is it that this plan of God was hidden for ages but then revealed? See also 2:2-3. In what sense does knowledge of Christ give access to hidden treasure? How might Paul’s statements here prepare the Colossians to resist false teachers who were promising secret insider wisdom in exchange for going beyond the simplicity of Christ alone? (See verse 2:4.)
3. (Colossians 1:28, 2:1-3) Compare Paul’s goal for the Colossians here with his prayer for them in 1:9-11. What similarities do you see?
4. (Colossians 1:29) What is the source of Paul’s energy as he pursues his calling? How is this similar for you?
1. Is following God’s call more likely to lead to comfort and ease or suffering and hard work? Do you second guess whether or not you are following God’s will based on things being either too easy or too difficult? To be sure, God opens doors and works all things together for our good. But the testimony of the scriptures and the example of Jesus show us that God’s best for us and the path to glorifying him often lead through difficulty. Are you able to rejoice as Paul did in the middle of the struggles? What would help you to do so?
2. Do you ever feel like you are on the outside of the secret of the gospel? Perhaps you feel like everyone else is excited about it but that you are not really included. Do you know someone for whom the good news of Jesus is still a hidden truth? God’s desire is not to keep this good news hidden. Ask him to make the truth of the gospel real to you and to those around you.