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Walking Points

The Hope of Glory: Lesson 4

This Week's Bible Study: Colossians 1:24-29


“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, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me." (Colossians 1:24-29, ESV)

N.T. Wright, in his commentary on Colossians, states: “The mystery is not a puzzle that we could solve if only we thought hard enough; it is a truth which, though revealed, is still in many ways beyond human comprehension, yet is gloriously present in the reality of Christ within us, the hope of glory.” In Colossians 1:24-29, Paul articulates deep truths about the nature of suffering, the mystery of the Gospel, and our mission as believers. This passage offers both comfort and challenge, calling us to rejoice in our sufferings, recognize the revealed mystery of Christ in us, and commit to proclaiming him with wisdom.

Paul begins with an astounding declaration: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (v. 24). This echoes Christ’s own attitude toward suffering, as expressed in Hebrews 12:2, where Jesus is described as enduring the cross “for the joy that was set before him.” Just as Jesus’ suffering was redemptive, Paul’s afflictions contribute to the growth and health of the Church. This concept can be extremely difficult for us to wrap our minds around, much less accept, yet it aligns with the biblical theme of redemptive suffering seen throughout Scripture.

John Bunyan, in his classic work The Pilgrim’s Progress, portrays Christian’s journey as one fraught with trials and hardships, yet each trial brings him closer to the Celestial City. And each temptation and trial, through the power of God, better equips him to continue along his pilgrimage and see it to the end. Similarly, our sufferings, when embraced for the sake of Christ, serve a greater purpose in God’s redemptive plan. To be sure, we do not often know what that “greater purpose” is, but we do know God and can trust him in the midst of our trials.

Paul’s statement about “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (v. 24) does not imply that Christ’s suffering on the cross was insufficient. Rather, it indicates that as the body of Christ, the Church participates in his sufferings. This idea is beautifully captured in the hymn The Church’s One Foundation, which speaks of the Church’s endurance and faith through trials and tribulations.

In verses 25-27, Paul highlights his role as a minister and steward of God’s mystery, now revealed to the saints: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (v. 27). This mystery, once hidden, is now made known to both Jews and Gentiles. It’s the indwelling presence of Christ that assures us of our future glory. Theologian J.I. Packer emphasizes this in Knowing God, where he describes the Christian life as a continual experience of God’s presence, transforming us from the inside out. (Buy and read this book.)

Paul’s mission is clear: to proclaim Christ, warning and teaching everyone with wisdom, to present them mature in Christ (v. 28). This is the heart of discipleship, as described in Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus commands us to make disciples of all nations. The wisdom Paul speaks of is not merely intellectual but deeply spiritual, rooted in the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10).

Finally, Paul acknowledges his toil and struggle, energized by God’s power working within him (v. 29). This reliance on divine strength rather than human effort is crucial for effective ministry. As Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” That’s not only true of personal spiritual growth, but also includes serving our Lord as we serve others.

Key Principles

1.      Rejoice in Suffering: Embrace trials as opportunities to participate in Christ’s redemptive work.

2.      Christ in Us: Understand and cherish the mystery of Christ dwelling within us, providing hope and assurance of glory. 

3.      Proclaim and Teach: Commit to making the word of God fully known, striving to present everyone mature in Christ through wisdom and perseverance.

Bible Study Questions

1.      How does Paul describe his sufferings in Colossians 1:24?

2.      What does Paul mean by “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?”  

3.      What is the “mystery” that Paul refers to in this passage? 

4.      How does Paul’s role as a minister relate to the mystery being revealed?  

5.      Why is the phrase “Christ in you, the hope of glory” significant? 

6.      What are the implications of this mystery for both Jews and Gentiles?   

7.      How does Paul describe his mission in verse 28?  

8.      What is the importance of wisdom in warning and teaching everyone?   

9.      How does Paul view his toil and struggle in verse 29?   

10.   In what ways does God’s power enable Paul’s ministry?

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

1.      How do you usually respond to suffering in your life?  

2.      In what ways can you find joy in your trials and afflictions? (What do you think it means to “find joy” in the midst of your trials and afflictions (James 1:2)?) 

3.      What does it mean to you that Christ dwells within you? What difference does that reality make in your daily walk with Christ?  

4.      How can the hope of glory transform your daily living, in a practical way?  

5.      What steps can you take to proclaim Christ more effectively in your personal mission field?  

6.      How can you cultivate wisdom in your teaching and warning of others?   

7.      What areas of your life need to be strengthened by God’s power? What are some ways you can begin cultivating God’s strength in your life?  

8.      How can you better participate in the mission of the Church? How can spending time with, and investing in the lives of 1-3 people with the Gospel, God’s Word, and the love of God, serve in fulfilling the Great Commission?  

9.      What should maturity in Christ look like in your life? What are some areas in your life where you are experiencing this maturity? What are some areas you still have a way to go? What will you do to begin maturing in those areas?  

10.   How can you support others in their spiritual growth and maturity?

Action Steps

1.      Embrace Suffering: Identify a current trial you are experiencing and consciously choose to view it as a participation in Christ’s redemptive work. Be intentional in looking for ways to understand it from this new perspective. 

2.      Deepen Understanding: Spend time in prayer and study, asking God to reveal the depths of the mystery of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This won’t happen accidentally. Find mature, knowledgeable, and godly people in your life, as well as authors, who can lead you in deepening your understanding.  

3.      Proclaim Boldly: Look for opportunities to share the Gospel and teach others about Christ’s indwelling presence. Help them see life in Christ as more than a ticket to Heaven, but a new and abundant life enabled by Christ’s Spirit here and now. 

4.      Rely on God’s Strength: Acknowledge areas of struggle and consciously rely on God’s power rather than your own effort. You cannot successfully navigate the Christian life in your own strength. Ask God’s Spirit to fill, empower, and direct you each day to live a life worthy of his calling for you.



Dale Tedder

Dale Tedder is a Global Methodist pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like to keep up with his online ministry or read other things Dale has written, you can check out his website, Walking Points. You can check out his author’s page for books he has written. Finally, Dale’s podcast, Walking Points, can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts.

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