As previously noted, Paul did not regard himself as a ‘prima donna’. He was no big shot superstar in his own eyes. He was a ‘’servant’’ of the church (25). This was God’s call on his life. How did he serve the church?
- By presenting ‘’the word of God in its fullness’’ (25b). In particular, this entailed focussing on the Person and work of Christ (25-28). There was much about this message that was kept secret in the past, until the right time came to make it known. It was a ‘’mystery’’ (26), which really means an ‘open secret’. It was a message for Gentiles as well as Jews (27).
- By suffering (24). This is not an easy verse to understand. We may ask, ‘What could possibly be ‘’lacking’’ in ‘’Christ’s afflictions’’? The answer is, of course, nothing! Jesus paid the necessary price for the sins of the whole world when He died on the cross. Nothing needs to be added to His work, and it is blasphemous to suggest otherwise. But the church by its very nature is a suffering church. There is a sense in which Jesus continues to suffer in and with His suffering people (see e.g. Philippians 3:10). From this angle, His sufferings will not be completed until He returns to earth. As long as the gospel is being preached in this world, the church will suffer, and Jesus, the ‘Head’ will continue to experience all the pain in ‘’his body, which is the church.’’ How can my body experience pain without my head also ‘suffering’?
- In the strength of Christ (29). There is a remarkable balance in this verse. Paul worked so hard at his ministry of preaching Christ; bringing people to know Him and helping them to grow in Him. But he knew that he could not do what he did in his own strength. He was completely reliant on Jesus for the ‘’energy’’ to do His work. There was an intense ‘struggle’ involved in all that he did for Christ, and he needed supernatural equipping for it.
We can take heart from Paul and learn from him. Our priority should be to make Jesus known, relying on His strength, and being prepared to struggle and suffer in His cause.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I rely on your strength to live and speak for you.