24: Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: 25: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; 26: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Paul says he rejoices in his sufferings on their behalf and he wants to fill up what was lacking of the sufferings of Christ in his flesh for the sake of the church which is his body. What Paul is saying is that the church takes a certain amount of flak for Christ and he wants to draw as much of it as he can so that others might be alleviated. This is courage and devotion of the highest order. This is the sort of courage that is awarded on the battlefield with a Victoria Cross. Paul draws the fire of the enemy so that others might escape and sacrifices himself in the process. And he does not see this as a hardship but as a great privilege and a joy. What mother would not take a bullet for her child and what shepherd would not suffer on behalf of his flock? Christ said I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the flock. Paul refers to himself as a minister of God specifically in relation to the stewardship which he has received from God for them. Then he goes on to explain what this message was that he was to bring to the church. It was a mystery which was hidden in God from previous ages and generations but which is now revealed to his church. This mystery is that Christ is in you - the hope of glory. So the presence of Christ in the NT believer is the basis of the hope that the believer has of resurrection and glorification. Paul says, we preach Christ, warning every believer so that we might present every believer complete in Christ Jesus. Paul says it is for this purpose that l work to exhaustion – striving according to the almighty power of God which works mightily in me. Paul’s work which was exhausting was not in his own strength but in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit in his weak body. We all need to learn to work in the empowering of the Holy Spirit. So that we might say with Paul, when l am weak - then l am strong.
- How does Paul describe his ministry?
- What was ‘the mystery’ here?
- What was the aim of Paul’s ministry?