Colossians Bible Study– Chapters 1

Christ in you – The Hope of Glory!

 

By I Gordon

 

These five verses in Colossians 1:24-29 form an awesome little passage. The key thought in the passage is of course, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory!’ Whatever that means! Well, that is what we will investigate and let’s start with a few questions to get the old grey matter (and possibly the conscience!) working.

 

Do you believe that Christ is in you?[1]

Is it simply a mental believe or does it impact your life?

In what ways does it affect your life?

If you believe that Christ is in you, when was the last time you thanked God for that?

Why do you think Jesus Christ would want to dwell in us?

What should our response be to God?

 

That should be enough questions… for the moment anyway. Let’s look at the passage and then we will break it down verse by verse.

 

Col 1:24-29 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

 

The Apostle Paul - A real life example of the indwelling Christ!

 

Paul is obviously the author of the book of Colossians and he starts this little section by saying ‘I rejoice in what was suffered for you…’ So where was Paul when he wrote Colossians and what was he up to? Was he suffering for the church? Yep, you bet. Like Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon, Colossians was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.[2] That is why Paul is a living walking example of what he is declaring to the Colossians – that Christ in us is our hope of glory. He had learned through countless difficulties that Jesus was all he needed and that Christ’s strength was made perfect in his own weaknesses.

 

The Word of God in all it’s fullness.  

 

If I said to you ‘What do you think is the most important message that Christians need to hear?’ what would you answer? Think. Put another way, what is the ‘word of God in all its fullness?’ That makes it slightly easier because we have already read the answer above! For Paul, the word of God in all its fullness was encapsulated in the teaching that Christ was in us, and that He was our hope of glory. In verse 25, this teaching is called the ‘mystery[3] that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.’ Paul also called it the ‘glorious riches of this mystery…’ which ‘God has chosen to make known.’ It may have been something that was kept hidden for ages past, but it is now something that God wants known! It is not a secret anymore… He wants the riches of this mystery revealed. So that is what we will now look at.

 

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

I asked at the start of this study, ‘who believes that Christ is in them and when was the last time you thanked God for His presence in you?’ It is a telling sign as to whether your belief is more than head knowledge if you are thanking God for this wonderful truth. The language of all true faith is simply ‘thank you!’ That is your response to God. Don’t complicate it. Jesus Christ has given you Himself because you do not have what it takes to live the Christian life.

 

The other important point that should be made concerns the phrase ‘the hope of glory.’ What is ‘the hope of glory’ in this context? Let’s make it multi-choice!

 

a) The hope of shining brightly

b) The hope of being with the Lord in heaven

c) The hope of displaying the nature and character of God

d) The hope of being praised and thought of as something great

 

Well? What do you pick? Clearly the answer is d. Oh, ok, c is the correct answer for this context. As a fallen creation ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ That is, they have fallen short of God’s perfect moral character and nature.[4] Our hope then is not in ourselves, but in Christ. In ourselves and our own strength we will continue to fall short of God’s glory. But through dependence upon Christ, because He dwells in us, we can now break free from the bondage to sin and failure. And remember… our response should be ‘thank you!’ Keep it simple! Face each new challenge thanking Him that He has given you His Spirit and that He is adequate!

 

An example from the life of Moses  

 

Let’s look at an example of this in the life of Moses, which combines God’s presence, our inadequacy, and the glory of God.

 

Exodus 33:12-14 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’  13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

 

You can imagine the pressure Moses was under can’t you? Here he has to lead the entire nation of Israel through the wilderness and all the while they have moaning and grumblings within the group…not to mention the enemies in the surrounding nations that want to destroy them. So Moses asks the Lord how it is going to happen… Who is going to help? Look at the Lord’s response… ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Oh what a great assurance to the one who walks by faith. Because of the Lord’s presence with us, we too can have rest! In fact, rest in the midst of difficulty is the great sign of the Lord’s presence. Remember… keep it simple! Thank Him for the fact that He has promised to be with you also.   

 

The witness depends on the Presence!

 

Exodus 33:15-17 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

 

Again we see Moses’ reluctance to move unless the Lord is with him. This is not stubbornness. This is reality! This is Moses knowing fully well that he is not up to the task at hand. This is Moses showing his utter dependency upon the Lord. And look at the Lord’s response – ‘I will do the thing you have asked because I am pleased with you.’ God wants to be wanted. He wants His people to take Him into account. When we do that, we will see what the scripture says above… that we will be distinguished from ‘all the other people on the face of the earth.’ And that is the crux of the matter. God has always wanted a people that, because of His presence in their life, display and reflect His glory… a living testimony to those in the world that God is!

 

Show me the money… Uh, no, show me the Glory!

 

Exodus 33 18-20 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

 

‘Show me your glory’[5], Moses asks, and God is happy to oblige. But notice that God says that ‘all my goodness’ will pass in front of you. In Exodus 34:6-7 we read of that goodness when it says – ‘And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

 

‘Compassionate, gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness… yet just and righteous as well.’ – In response to Moses’ request to see God’s glory, God spoke of His character. But that is not all because God’s holy character radiates! The ‘shekinah’ glory of God – the manifest radiance of God’s glory was seen (to a limited extend) by Moses. Do you want to shine? Then keep your eyes upon Jesus![6]

 

The Glory is seen from the Rock!

 

Exodus 23:21-23 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

 

The final point I want to draw to your attention is that Moses could see the glory of God only while he hid in the cleft of the rock. He had to stand on the rock, and be in the rock, to see such glory! The rock of course, is a picture of Jesus. (1 Cor 10:4) We too have the promise of ‘the hope of glory’ but, like Moses, we need to be standing upon, and dwelling in, our rock – the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only as we learn to reckon upon the Lord Jesus and His presence in our lives, that we can expect to see the same character and nature of God displayed in our lives.

 

Conclusion

 

Col 1:28-29 ‘We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

 

The passage in Exodus and the example of Moses brings us full circle and right back to the last verses in our Colossians passage – and it is a handy place to conclude! We proclaim, admonish, and teach Him! It is all about the Lord Jesus (even though we are good at making it all about us!) God has no favourites in terms of who He is willing to work through. He is willing to display His energy, His life and His character through your little life as well. We are all different and it will be displayed in different ways but the key, and the challenge for us all is to get our priorities right. Desire to see the character of God manifest in your life. Is ‘show me your glory’ the cry of your heart? Do you thank the Lord for His presence in you life? I hope so. And, in the words of a hymn (an oldie, but definitely a goodie!)…

 

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,

and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

in the light of His glory and grace.’



[1] I should probably qualify this straight away. I’m not talking about some new age mumbo-jumbo where you are Christ or you are a ‘god’ in any sense of the word. Sorry, but, if you are reading this sentence, then you are what they call, ‘Human’! But you may have an awesome treasure in that little human vessel of yours! When the Bible talks about Christ being in us, it is talking about the fact that when a believer is born again, they receive the Holy Spirit to indwell them. I draw no distinction between ‘Christ being in us’, or the Holy Spirit being in us. The Bible uses both interchangeably because of the unity and ‘oneness’ of the trinity. 

 

[2] What gets me is that Paul barely even mentions his imprisonment. If I was writing a letter from prison, or while chained up, you can bet they would hear about it. I’d be asking for prayer big time, (not to mention a cake with a file inside!), but not Paul. He is so Christ centred he doesn’t even mention himself or his situation. Everything is focused on Jesus Christ. It is awesome. It is not till you get to the last verse of the book of Colossians where he simply says ‘remember my imprisonment.’ 

 

[3] A biblical ‘mystery’ is not an Agatha Christie ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ type of thing. Its OK, no one dies with these mysteries. It means a truth which God has kept hidden throughout the Old Testament but has now revealed. See Rom 16:25-26 if interested.

 

[4] Jesus displayed the full glory of God. In everything He said, in everything He did, Jesus displayed the nature and character of God the Father. Thus it was written of Him -  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’ John 1:14 Jesus was and is the only one who could successfully live this type of life. It makes sense then doesn’t it, why He had to give Himself to us? To do what we could not! Have the glory (nature, character) of God displayed within us.

 

[5] A good request this one, honoured by God. To many Christians try to use God for material gain. Their hearts cry is not concerned so much with God’s glory shown forth through their lives, but in being blessed by God in order to live an easy life. Their cry is not ‘show me the glory!’, but, to quote the movie Jerry Maguire, ‘show me the money!’

 

[6] For your own study, compare Exodus chapter 33 and 34 with 2 Corinthians chapter 3. One point that should be highlighted is that the glory of God is still being manifested in the lives of God’s people today. And just as Moses had to look upon God to see His glory, so believers today ‘with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.’ As we keep our eyes upon Jesus, we too are changed into His likeness!