Struggle for the Sake of Jesus Christ
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you… (2:1)” Paul is repeatedly told the Church in Colossae that he was suffering. So what was his purpose of letting them know about his struggle? And what was he struggling for?
The Purpose of Sending Letters in Paul’s Days
As Paul wrote in the very end of this letter, he sent this letter from the prison. So you can tell that one of the cause of his struggle was an imprisonment. While he was in prison, he received the news about the love between the church. This led Paul to the thankfulness and prayer about them. So Paul wanted let them know about his struggle but the church was also letting him know about what is happening to them by writing him letters. We can say that one of the main purpose of sending letters in Paul’s days was letting each other know about what is happening.
Struggle for the Sake of Jesus Christ
In Colossians 1:24, Paul is telling the church that he is suffering for their sake. And he also said that even the struggle is his joy. Because suffering for Christ’s church also means that they are suffering for Christ’s sake. For the church is the body of Christ and Christ is it’s head. Than what is the struggle for Christ’s sake? It is the struggle for spreading the Gospel but they were also promised that the Glory of Christ will be shown at the end of their suffering.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,”
- Colossians 1:24
True Hope in the Days of Struggle
Glory of Christ was Paul’s hope in the days of his struggle(1:23). So he encouraged the church to have hope in Christ and to stand firm in the faith by sending this letter. So I think that one of the purposes of sending this letter was to let the church know about his labor for the gospel so that they can follow his example. Because Paul also became the servant of Christ’s church(1:25) by following the perfect example of Jesus Christ(1:13-14, 1:18, 2:13-14).
To Be Aware of the False Teaching
In this letter, Paul is encouraging the church to have hope in Christ, but also to beware of the false teaching. Because the deceptive teaching that was threatening the Colossian church was completely different and opposite from the word of the truth, gospel(1:5). Not only that it doesn’t get them closer to God but it separate them from Jesus Christ. As Paul said, the Colossian church used to follow the worldly teaching but by the forgiveness of their sins through the redemption that came by Christ, they were given the true knowledge of God. So Paul is teaching them repeatedly in this letter not to return to the rules of the world but to live as the new man(3:10).
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
- Colossians 3:9-10
What is the Worldly Teaching?
Than what is the worldly teaching? “self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body (2:23)” are what Paul described about it. As you can tell from this passage, these are completely different from the true knowledge of God. We once followed the worldly teaching but we have put off the old self and have put on the new self. So we no longer walk like we used to walk but we have to live as the new man pleasing God in every way, “filled with the full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (1:9-12).” And we have to spend a lot of time in prayer to make that happen like Paul always prayed for the Colossian church.
“These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
- Colossians 2:23
What is the True knowledge of God?
What is the true knowledge of God? Jesus Christ himself is the answer for that question. And we can embody that answer by living like Jesus lived. As Paul gave the specific order to wives, husbands, children, fathers, masters and servants in chapter 3 to 4 (3:18-4:6), to live like Jesus is to be thankful and to love each other for the sake of Jesus Christ (1:28, 2:7, 3:12-17).
Spreading the gospel is to preach the true knowledge of God to the people, and Paul was struggling for that (1:24, 29, 2:1). So by understanding his struggle and work for Christ, it will lead you to the wisdom of Christ himself (2:2).
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ…”
- Colossians 2:1-2