Stewards of the Mystery - Colossians 1:24-29
In Matthew 25 we have a story told by Jesus that reminds us of the importance of being faithful stewards. In the story the master of a house is leaving on a long trip; before he goes he entrusts three of his servants with portions of his estate to for them to manage. When he returns two of them have been faithful stewards and are blessed, but the third has been unfaithful and is punished.
In Colossians 1 Paul’s aim is to help the Colossians see the importance and the preeminence of Jesus and in the process he begins to describe his own ministry to them – a ministry that is all about Jesus. God has called Paul to be a steward of the church of God and the message of Jesus – to ensure that Jesus is proclaimed fully and that everyone grows to maturity in Him.
As we consider the ministry of Paul it helps us understand what God has called us to: we are called to be stewards as well. As the people of God we are to give our lives to the proclamation of Christ and to the growth of the church in Him. As we consider this passage we get a better understanding of this call and our responsibility as “stewards of the mystery.”
The Nature of Paul’s Stewardship (1:24-25)
- A Ministry Worthy of Suffering (vs. 24) – As Paul begins the description of his ministry he makes this clear: his ministryhas been accompanied by suffering. But Paul doesn’t see his suffering as a reason for discouragement, instead he sees it as a reason for joy. While the suffering of Jesus purchased our salvation, it is through the suffering of His followers that the message is carried to the world.
- A Ministry Given by God (vs. 25a) – Paul doesn’t view his ministry as something that he chose, it is something that has been entrusted to him by God – God has given him a stewardship – God has entrusted him with a responsibilityto the church.
- A Ministry for the Church (vs. 24-25) - The stewardship that God has given Paul is to care for the church by making the Word (message) of God fully known. The rest of the passage describes the message, the method of proclaiming the message and the goal of the message.
The Message of Paul’s Stewardship (1:26-27) – Paul’s stewardship is to make the Word of God fully known; the “Word of God” is defined as “the mystery.” Verses 26-27 help us understand the meaning of “the mystery.”
- The Mystery Has Been Hidden – The first thing Paul explains about “the mystery” is that it has been hidden for ages and generations. Prior to the coming of Christ no one could fully understand the nature of salvation or how God would fulfill His promises, though many longed to understand (Ephesians 3:1-10; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Romans 16:25-27).
- The Mystery is Christ – The hope and source of salvation that previous generations longed to understand (the mystery) is revealed and completed in the person and work of Jesus (vs. 27b, Col. 2:1-3).
- The Mystery is Christ to All Men – Another layer of the mystery that Paul proclaims is that salvation is not only for the Jews – it is for all men, Jew and Gentile (vs. 27a; Ephesians 3:1-10).
The Method of Paul’s Stewardship (1:28) – Paul’s calling is to steward the message of Jesus by making it fully known; in verse 28 he outlines the method of his ministry: Him we proclaim. (We preach Christ; 1 Cor. 1:23).
This proclamation has two forms: Warning and teaching. Everyone must be warned of the consequences of denying Christ and everyone must continue to be taught the fullness of Christ in all wisdom.
The Goal of Paul’s Stewardship (1:28b) – The aim of Paul’s proclamation is the same as the aim of the Christian life: maturity. Paul’s goal is that every person would know Christ and continue to grow towards maturity in Him (Ephesians 4:11-15).
The Enabling of Paul’s Stewardship (1:29) – While Paul makes it clear that he works hard to fulfill his stewardship, he recognizes that his efforts cannot be accomplished in his own power; he must rely on the energy and power of God.
The Requirement of a Steward: Faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) – As we consider the example of Paul we must recognize that we have been given the same stewardship. We are called to proclaim Christ and to help all men grow to maturity in Him. While this is a lifelong calling, the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 4 provide a good reminder: Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. May we be faithful stewards of the mystery of Christ – that we may present everyone mature in Christ.