The Book Of Colossians And Paul's Ministry

Brent Gallagher

Outside of Jesus Christ probably the Apostle Paul is the person most closely associated with Christianity. The conversion of Paul has even been used as an evidence for the authenticity of Christianity. Why would a man who had so much going for him in Judaism (Phil. 3:4-6) reject his spiritual past unless there truly was a person named Jesus who had been resurrected from the dead and who had appeared to him on the road to Damascus? Why would a man suffer the way Paul did if he did not believe in the reality of Jesus’ claims (2 Cor. 11:23-29)? In the book of Colossians, we get some insight into Paul – what motivated him and what his attitude toward God and others was.

First, Paul had the proper attitude toward God. He wrote in Col. 1:25 that he was “a minister according to the stewardship from God.” In New Testament times, stewards were slaves given positions of responsibility within a household. They realized that they would have to give an account of their stewardship to their masters. Undoubtedly, Paul had a strong sense of the fact that he simply was God’s servant. Moreover, as being God’s servant, he had no right to change the message that God had given him. Paul’s message, which he delivered, was one of hope that was focused on Christ. He said, in Col. 1:28, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Second, Paul had the proper attitude toward those whom he taught. He wrote, in Col. 2:1, “what a great conflict I have for you and for those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.” Paul was not only concerned about those he knew, but also he was concerned about those whom he had never seen. The term “great conflict” suggests that Paul truly was concerned about these Christians and agonized over their spiritual growth. His goal for these disciples is found in Col. 2:2 where he states, “their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ.” He also warned his readers in Col. 2:8-23 not to be deceived by false teachings, which are contrary to Christ’s doctrine. Paul did not want anything to stand between these Christians and their reward.

Third, Paul’s motivation in serving God and others was Christ. As one reads the book of Colossians, he is taught the supremacy of Christ, the futility of false doctrines and of sin, and the hope he has in Christ. In Col. 1:24-2:7, a section where Paul specifically talked about his ministry, Christ is referred to either by name or personal pronoun thirteen times. Paul wrote elsewhere about his own unworthiness as God’s servant and of a strong appreciation of what Jesus had done for him (Phil. 3:1-11; 1 Tim. 1:12-17).

Much can be learned from the book of Colossians about Paul as a minister. He considered himself a steward of God; he desired that Christians grow and mature in Christ (even those whom he had not seen), and he was motivated by what Christ had done for him. Modern day ministers need to learn from Paul’s model. –1 Oakwood Rd., Fairmont, WV 26554.

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