Bible Study Materials


by   01/16/2009  


I. The mystery of God, Christ (1:24-2:5) 1. What was Paul’s attitude to suffering (24a)? Why was this suffering necessary? (24b) What was the commission Paul received from God? (25) What is this mystery? (27b) Why did Paul describe Christ as the mystery? (1:26,2:2) What was the focus of Paul’s ministry? (1:28) How did he struggle for this? (1:29) 3. What were the purposes of his struggling for them? (2:1,4,5) What things are hidden in Christ? (2:3) In what respect is Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge? (1:14,27; Lk 1:77) When we know the mystery of Christ, what blessings do we receive? II. Be rooted and built up in Christ 4. Read verses 6,7. To what does the phrase “So then,” refer? How did they receive Christ Jesus? What does it mean to receive Christ as Lord? 5. What was Paul’s exhortation for them? (6b,7) What does it mean to continue to live in him? (7; Jn 8:31,32; 15:4,5) Think about the meanings of “rooted in him,” (Ps 1:2,3; Jn 15:7) “built up in him,” (Mt 7:24,25) “strengthened in the faith,” and “overflowing with thankfulness.” How can you apply these teachings to your personal life?



We thank and praise God for the supremacy of Christ. He is the image of the invisible God as the exact representation of the Father God. He is the Lord over all things. May the Lord Christ Jesus be proclaimed and honoured on the whole earth, and at every corner of this planet. After talking about the supremacy of Christ, Paul in today’s passage says about his labour for the Colossian church and exhort them to continue to live in Christ. Let’s think about what it means and why it is important. First, the mystery of God’s word (1:24-29). Look at verse 24. “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Paul had a positive attitude to the sufferings in Christ. He rejoiced in his suffering for Christ. Furthermore he wanted to fill up Christ’s affliction in his flesh for the sake of the church, which is the body of Christ. In Christian life suffering is necessary to refine our faith and build up his church. It is the most valuable suffering in the world. Look at verse 25. “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness.” God commissioned Paul to be a servant for Christ’s church. In 1:23b, Paul said that he had become a servant of the gospel. Paul’s identity was very clear: a servant of Christ Jesus, a servant of Christ’s church, or a servant of the gospel. Before, he was a servant of worldly authorities such as Sanhedrin, a Jewish ruling council. Now as a servant of Christ and his church he knew his commission God gave him: it is to present the word of God in its fullness. There are various kinds of presentations: professors’ presentation, scientists’, businessmen’s, politicians’, etc. But the presentation of God’s word is most significant, because it is related to people’s spiritual life or death. Verse 26 says, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations but is now disclosed to the saints.” Here Paul connects the word of God to the mystery with hyphen (or comma). The word of God is the mystery hidden for ages and then disclosed now. If something is a secret or a mystery, it is very precious and invaluable. Such is the word of God. The secret of God’s word was written in the Scriptures. Through the coming of Jesus Christ, the mystery of God’s word was disclosed and all the words of God could be clearly understood as if they were brought in the daylight from the darkness of night. Still, God’s word of the gospel is darkened to the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4), and the word of God’s secret wisdom is hidden to the rulers of this world (1 Cor 2:8). It is also hidden to those who are wise and learned in merely human standards (Mt 11:25). Only the seeking and humble heart can see the mystery of God’s word and understand the word of God. The word of God is the mystery, because it is the seed of the kingdom of God (Lk 8:11). When one word of God is planted in one’s heart, the kingdom of God grows in the person. As believers we need to constantly seek the word of God. The more effort we make, the better we can understand God’s word of truth. Jesus said, “Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more” (Mk 4:24). We need the attitude of treasure-hunter or that of the miner in digging out the word of God. Paul’s commission given by God was to present the word of God in its fullness. It showed how much he struggled with the words of God for the full presentation. He said to his dear spiritual son, who had received God’s word through Paul, to entrust the word to reliable men who would be qualified to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). He also gave Timothy a clear direction to be a useful servant of God’s word, who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). May God raise Bible teachers and servants of God’s word who can present the word of God in its fullness. Look at verse 27. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now Paul relates this mystery to Christ. The whole Bible testifies about Christ Jesus (Jn 5:39; the key point of the Bible is Jesus Christ.) Christ is in the hearts of believers as treasure (2 Cor 4:7). God wants the glorious riches of this treasure in jars of clay to be made known. So Paul said, “We proclaim him admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (28). As Paul proclaimed Christ through admonishing and teaching, he had a clear direction to present everyone perfect in Christ. What a direction! To present one person in Christ requires a lot of struggle. It was too painful to bear. So sometimes he compared this struggle to child-birth pains (Gal 4:19) Yet, to Paul, the presentation of God’s word and proclamation of Christ was directed to the presentation of a perfect Christian to God. He continued to say, “To this end I labour, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” May we learn to have such labour and such an end in serving God’s flock of sheep. Let’s remember that Paul could bear this struggle with Christ’s energy. (I can do everything through him who gives me strength.) Second, the mystery of God, Christ (2:1-5). Look at 2:1. “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” Paul was a man of struggle, much struggle to serve God’s flock of sheep, scattered here and there. (Here struggle’ means ‘agon’ in Greek, and the English word ‘agony’ is derived from it.) Then want was the purpose of his struggle? Look at verse 2a. “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love…” They needed encouragement and unity. In our life-journey heavenward, we need encouragement again and again. Paul encouraged them with the words of the Scriptures and also prayed that God might give them encouragement. Encouragement in heart is long-lasting. Paul’s encouragement was on more than a personal level. It goes together with unity, unity in love (Romans 15:4,5). Unity in God’s love is the most beautiful unity. We pray for the vessel of God-loving and God’s love. Look at verse 2b,3. “…so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” “The full riches of complete understanding” means “the full assurance of understanding” (New American Standard Version). It refers not to the vague and ambiguous knowledge of Christ but the definite and confident knowledge of Christ without any hint of doubt and question. Paul says continually, “in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Here Paul said that Christ is the mystery of God. The word “mystery” was a popular, pagan religious term, used in mystery religions at that time. It was tempting and the Colossian Christians could be misled. If they were talking about the mystery, Paul said that Christ is the mystery of God. The mystery of God is the mystery God has prepared for mankind as the most precious one (Great mystery; secret). The mystery of God is open to all those who seek God humbly and earnestly, while mystery religions were referred to only special people. Christ Jesus is the mystery of God. As we studied, Jesus is the image of the invisible God. God invisible became human visible. This can be the mystery of all mysteries. The Creator of all things became a created being born as a man. The reconciler himself became a sacrifice of atonement for the reconciliation. His birth, life, death and resurrection are all mysterious, though they are crystal clear. The mystery of God is deep and profound. Isaiah cried out in Isaiah 53:1, “Who has believed our message?” “To whom has the arm of the Lord revealed?” He is so mysterious that knowing him and the one who sent him is eternal life here and now and forevermore (Jn 17:3). Anyone who has come to know him becomes truly happy;full of joy and satisfaction and hope regardless of the human conditions. No one can fathom the mystery of God, Christ fully. St. Paul said, “I want to know Christ,” when he was in great maturity of his faith. Verse 3 days, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” First of all, in Christ is the knowledge of salvation. The knowledge of salvation can be so simple: those who repent and believe in Jesus can be saved. (“The time has come; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe.”). But behind it is the deep love of God, the cross of Jesus, which is the power of God and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). In Jesus are all things that mankind have been seeking for. John 1:4 says, “In him was life; that life was the light of men.” In Jesus we have true meaning and purpose of life. In him there is true peace and hope. Jesus was full of wisdom while on earth. Once some wicked people brought to him a woman caught in the act of adultery. It was to trap Jesus between his own law of love and the Moses’ law of stoning such a woman. They said to Jesus, “Now what do you say?” They were sure that Jesus was trapped not being able to say, “Stone her” or “Do not stone her.” After a time of silence Jesus said, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The enemies of Jesus were defeated and went away one by one until no one was left (Jn 8:3-11). Another occasion the enemies of Jesus wanted to trap Jesus through tax matter. They asked Jesus, “…Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” Jesus answered, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mk 12:17). They were amazed at him. In Jesus there is always a way out. As the Creator, all creation wisdom is in him. In his wisdom he made you so beautiful and handsome compared to people with developmental disabilities. His creation wisdom is endless. Jesus is also full of knowledge. We are amazed by Jesus’ transcendental knowledge (Nathanael, a Samaritan woman, a 38-year invalid man, a four drachma coin in the first fish, ,many fish in the deep water, his origin and the time for him to die and to rise again and how he will come again). As the good shepherd he knows each of us (each one’s name) very personally, even if there are so many of his sheep in the world. The Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. (Pro 1:7; 9:10). Jesus taught us how to fear God. Even at the time of crucifixion he trusted in God and loved God. Look at verse 2:4, “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” It is not easy to outwit human wisdom and the deception of this world, fine-sounding arguments. The deception of this world is great. But as we grow in the knowledge of Christ, we can overcome any deception, false religion and false messiahs and false teachings of this world. Look at verse 2:5. “For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.” Here the words ‘orderly’ and ‘firm’ are military terms. ‘Order’ means arrangement and to keep things in line, and ‘firm’ means a strong barricade or many military units in a small area. The Roman army could defeat any enemy through their training of order and firmness. This shows that Colossian believers can defeat any enemy and heresy if they live an orderly life and stand firm in their faith. Third, continue to live in him (2:6-7). Look at verse 6. “So then, just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to live him.” So far Paul talked about the supremacy of Christ and the mystery of God. It was really a great teaching. Then, what could the Colossian Christians do? They were those who received Christ Jesus as Lord. They received Jesus not only as their Saviour and Christ, but also the Lord. As we studied, he is the Lord over all things. He is the Lord of our campus, our nation and the whole world. More personally, he is the Lord of my whole life, my time, my body, my money, my skill and talent, my family. All are his. He is the Lord of our past, our present and our future. Those who received Christ Jesus as Lord are truly great people. Then, what should be their life direction? Paul said, “…continue to live him.” What a grace it is to live in him! Christ Jesus is the mystery of God. Any mystery can appear for a time being and then disappear. But the mystery of God, Christ, is to be made known and believed and lived in. Wow! Christianity is the person Jesus, and Christian life is living together with him and in him. Christ Jesus wants to stay and live with me and in me, and I in him. As fish swim in the sea only, so are we to live in him. Outside him we cannot live. Since he is the mystery of God, he can be our best life-companion. We, as Christians, have a life together with him and in him. Not just one or several days, but many days. In the Old Testament there is a book, Hosea. He was a prophet. In order to share God’s pained heart and love, God told him to take an adulterous woman. He married a woman named Gomer. After having a child through Hosea, she went after another lover and had children. We can imagine heart-broken pain of Hosea. Then God’s command is this: “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is adulterous…” When she became like a prostitute, she was worthless. Yet, Hosea bought her and brought her back home. He told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” What a heart-moving appeal! We are to live with Jesus and in him, not just several day but many days in intimate relationship, and then to the end of life and forevermore. And not intermittently but continually. That’s why Paul exhorted, “Continue to live in him.” When we take a medicine, we should take it continually to the end. When we exercise, we should do it continually. Otherwise, it will have not much effect. It is much more true with living in Christ. We are to continue to live in him, fixing our eyes and thoughts to him. (Continue in your faith, testimony, prayer, daily bread, worship.) Look at verse 7. “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.” We cannot emphasize too much the importance of “being rooted.” Without root anything cannot last long. In a matter of time it is gone. But with roots, it is nourished and grows. With roots a tree stands firm and withstands the blowing wind. We can be rooted him, as when we are rooted in the words of God or when God’s word takes root in our hearts. Especially, one word of God must be rooted in our hearts. It is through repentance and obedience to one word of God, denying my own ideas. For this we need to hold to one word of God (Jn 8:31). In this way we can be rooted in him. And then built up in him. When one is built up in him, it becomes like a house. In being built up to be a house, there are many temptations and trials. However, Jesus promised that as we put his words into practice, we would become a house on the rock. Time and again we need strength in the faith. We cannot have strength through visible favourable situations. We can be strengthened only in the faith, remembering and newly believing in the words of God we had been taught. And we should always remember that unthankfulness is a cause of man’s fall. In overflowing thankfulness we do not give any room for our spiritual enemies to attack us. Thank and praise God for the mystery of Gods’ word and the mystery of God, Christ. Thank God for the wonderful grace of living with him and in him. May we continue to live in him rooted and built up in him with faith and thankfulness. In doing so we can grow in the knowledge of Christ and be shepherds like St. Paul who labored to present the word of God and then present each one perfect in God.


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