Col. 1:24-2:3 The Mystery that Paul Proclaims
The selection from Colossians 1:24–2:3 can be outlined as follows:
- The Mystery for which Paul Struggles (24–27)
- Paul rejoices in his sufferings for the Church (24)
- which he serves as a minister of the word of God (25)
- that word which is the mystery hidden in past but now made known (26)
- which mystery is Christ (27)
- Is Christ Whom the Apostle Proclaims (28–29)
- The mystery is Christ whom the apostles proclaim to all men convincing them and teaching them so as to present all men perfect in Christ (28)
- It is for this that Paul labors and struggles (29)
- That All May Know Christ in whom is all Wisdom and Knowledge
- Paul intends to make known his struggles for the Churches — in Colossae and Laodicea and for all who have not seen him face to face (3:1)
- that they may find consolation and be securely founded in love so that they may havea complete understanding of the mystery (2)
- which is Christ in whom is found all Wisdom and Knowledge (3)
The division of this section is based on the main verbs “I rejoice” (24), “which we proclaim” (28) and “I wish you to know”. The sentence flow upon which this outline is based is found here.
Important to note here is that Paul identifies the mystery that God has recently made known with Christ (2:27, 3:2), who is the Word of God entrusted to Paul and the apostles (2:25). Paul repeats throughout words that are related to wisdom and knowledge, using verbs that impart these (e.g. convincing, teaching). Ultimately, all wisdom and knowledge is found in Christ who is the Word of God. And Paul tells us that he labors under this commission even going through the tribulations to which the Body of Christ is subject. More about this topic here.
In 1:29-2:3, Paul expresses his desire to tell the Colossians about his struggles. This is not for vainglory or for gaining the sympathy of his audience. In the letters of Paul, the sufferings of the apostle is the sign of the sincerity of his work. Thus, by telling of his own personal sufferings on account of the mystery revealed in Christ, he intends that his listeners be strengthened in the faith, hope and love they already have.
I think those who already participate in the work of the apostles in the work of sustaining and building-up communities of the faith (e.g. basic ecclesial communities) would readily understand the sentiments of Paul. The trust given to him is not just any word, but Christ Himself, who is to be proclaimed to all men, that all men may be presented “perfect in Christ Jesus”. Such a trust, Paul tells us, is worth all the inconvenience, even suffering, in this world.
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