Colossians 1:23
if indeed you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
A Good Hope DistinguishedCongregational PulpitColossians 1:23
Changeful ChristiansC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:23
Immovable ChristiansArrine.Colossians 1:23
Our Life-WorkJ. J. Black, LL. D.Colossians 1:23
StandfastC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:23
The Condition of Man's Final BlessednessG. Barlow.Colossians 1:23
Which was Preached to EveryN. Byfield.Colossians 1:23
Prayer Leading Up to the Person of ChristR. Finlayson Colossians 1:9-23
Christ All in AllU.R. Thomas Colossians 1:15-29
Application of the Reconciliation to the Special Case of the ColossiansT. Croskery Colossians 1:21-23
Our ReconciliationW.F. Adneney Colossians 1:21-23
The Apostle's Comprehensive View of SalvationE.S. Prout Colossians 1:21-23
The Indwelling Christ the Believer's Hope of GloryR.M. Edgar Colossians 1:21-29
Holiness Through ChristNew Encyclopedia of AnecdotesColossians 1:22-23
The Ultimate Purpose of ReconciliationA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 1:22-23
The Ministry of the MysteryU.R. Thomas Colossians 1:23-29
In these words the apostle dwells on his own part in carrying out Christ's work of reconciling men to God. That he does this in no boastful spirit goes without saying; but that he does so without any affectation of reserve or of modesty is equally plain. Indeed, he sets forth with unusual oral basis the glory of the Word the apostle has to proclaim, and the greatness of the work that proclamation involves: that Word, he shows, is a sublime mystery; that work a manifold ministry.

I. THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY IS THE PROCLAIMING OF A BLESSED MYSTERY, The term "mystery," as Paul here twice uses it, and often in this Epistle, does not describe what is essentially incomprehensible, but rather what was hidden but is now revealed. The gospel is a mystery, but a mystery that is to be preached fully, as Bishop Lightfoot renders the word "fulfil;" a mystery that is made manifest, a mystery into which (as the word borrowed from the ancient mysteries, in ver. 28, suggests) every man may be initiated.

1. The gospel a mystery. All religion deals with mystery. Genuine mystery is the stamp of a religious divinity; false mystery is the counterfeit superstition stamps. In its aspect towards the vast, the infinite, the Divine, religion must always have some mystery to man.

2. The gospel a mystery that was long secret from man. "Hidden things belong to God." There are hidden facts and laws in nature that science has only gradually discovered or is now only gradually discovering; hidden moral meanings in nature and history that poet's sight only can descry and poet's song only describe. There were hidden things in religion that only holy men of old moved by the Holy Ghost could reveal.

3. The gospel is a mystery that is now fully revealed. Whatever may have been the guesses of nobler pagans, or the anticipations of patriarchs, or the predictions of prophets, all was only the pale light of very early dawn upon the hills of ancient time. It was noon when Christ lived, taught, died. The seal was broken, the secret was revealed. What secret?

4. The gospel is the revealed secret of God's universal redeeming love. Christ is fully proclaimed. And Christ is the Mystery. In him are all the treasures, all the wealth, of God stored away.

(1) All the mystery is revealed in Christ. As the rainbow has all possible colors in its wondrous arc, as the fabled music of the spheres has all possible tones in its chord, so in Christ is all the wisdom, all the righteousness, all the love, of God.

(2) All men may receive the blessings of this mystery. Christ, and Christ freely given to the Gentiles, and Christ freely given to be an indwelling Power in them, is the great Mystery, which, as Paul dwelt on it, made him proclaim it with newer and deepening joy. "Now," when I see the full extent of God's mercy - "now," when I ponder his mighty, all-sufficient, all-embracing love, I rejoice, not only to proclaim, but to suffer untold sacrifices in proclaiming it to men. Anything, Paul felt and said, was worth doing, anything was worth suffering, if he might but preach the whole gospel without reserve, to all men without restriction. This leads us to notice -

II. THIS WORK INVOLVES COMPLETE CONSECRATION ON THE PART OF ITS MINISTERS. This consecration may, indeed often does, involve:

1. Intensity of suffering. Very bold does the assertion of the apostle seem about "filling up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ." Were his sufferings incomplete, then? No and yes. Yes; for he left work to be done that involves suffering. There must be suffering sympathy, suffering self denial, sometimes suffering death, in carrying on the work of bringing men to God. This consecration will involve:

2. Manifoldness of labour. There is the threefold function of the Christian worker denoted here. This consecration is the result of:

3. The highest constraint. - U.R.T.

If ye continue in the faith.
Man's final blessedness depends on —

I. HIS UNSWERVING CONTINUANCE IN THE FAITH. There is implied a continuance in —

1. The doctrines of the faith. What a man believes has a powerful influence in moulding his character. Unbelief lures the soul from its confidence, sets it adrift amidst the cross currents of doubt, and exposes it to moral shipwreck. The soul's safety is ensured not by an in fatuated devotion to mere opinions, but by an intelligent and constant faith in Divine verities.

2. In the profession of the faith. The believer is a witness for the truth, and it is imperative that he should bear his testimony (Romans 10:9, 10; Matthew 10:32).

3. The practice of the faith. Faith supplies the motive and rule of all right conduct.

4. Continuance in the faith must be permanent. "Grounded and settled." In order to permanency in the faith, the truth must be —

(1)Apprehended intelligently.

(2)Embraced cordially.

(3)Maintained courageously.


1. The gospel reveals a bright future.

2. The gospel to be effectual must come in contact with individual mind. "Which ye have heard." Epaphras had declared to them the Divine message.

3. The gospel is adapted to universal man. "Which was preached to every creature which is under heaven."

4. The gospel invested the apostle with an office of high authority. "Whereof I, Paul, am made a minister." There is an implied possibility of relinquishing our hold of gospel hope. The multiplicity and fulness of our blessings may prove a snare to us; prosperity tempts to relax watchfulness. Our retention of the gospel hope is rendered immovable —

(1)By constant prayer;

(2)Growing acquaintance with the Word of promise;

(3)Continual anticipation of future bliss.

(G. Barlow.)

In the end of vers. 22 and 28 we learn the great object of salvation. We should be fellow-workers with God in this (Philippians 2:12). Like an artist student copying the work of a great master under his superintendence, we must "work out" the beauty of Christ in our lives, though the great Master Himself must give the finishing touch and make it perfect. Here we are told what the Christian's course of conduct must be if this end is attained.

I. THE FOUNDATION, the starting-point, "the gospel."

1. From various expressions in the chapter we can learn what Paul means by "Gospel."(1) News of a personal Savior. (ver. 20, 28, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11).(2) The blood of the Cross (ver. 20; cf. Hebrews 9:22).(3) An indwelling Saviour (ver. 27). The searching medicine; the healing balm; the pledge and security of salvation.

2. The responsibility of the Colossians in connection with this gospel.(1) "Which ye have heard." The hearing has put them in a new position (John 15:24).(2) It was preached universally. Every one now has the offer.(3) Paul a minister of this gospel. The gospel you have heard from Epaphras your minister is mine. I got it by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12).

3. This gospel demands faith and hope. These, like light and heat, go together; the two poles on which Christian life turns. Faith fixes the lower end of the ladder on the Rock, and Hope rests the higher end in the promised glory.


1. Faith must be kept in continual exercise. Religion is a life of faith.(1) Continuance a necessary consequence of true faith. Three things are wanted for a good harvest — good seed, soil, sunshine, and shower. Having these the harvest is a necessity. So in spiritual things; the only thing We have to do with is the soil; the seed is good, and sunshine and shower are assured. If the soil "receives" and retains the Word, there must be "first the blade, then the ear," etc.(2) Here, then, is the test of faith. Is it the faith that continues and overcomes the world? That opens the soil, and draws down the roots into its bosom? That keeps the vessels filled with oil while the virgins wait? That draws the fruit-bearing sap from the True Vine?(3) The connection of faith is not loose and wavering. "Grounded" like the foundation of Eddystone — a grip — an identification. "Settled" — seated, restful, satisfied, un-doubting.

2. Hope meanwhile is steadily maintained. We have the object of hope in two words — "with Him," "like Him." That consummation we are never to lose sight of. Faith helps here; it makes substantial the things hoped for, and makes evident the things not seen: the telescope which brings within the range of hope's vision the unseen. Conclusion: —

1. There is danger implied in this waning, and experience shows how real it is.

2. Steady progress inculcated. To move on the only way to keep from moving away. The unseen should act as a magnet drawing us to itself. "Looking for and hasting unto."

(J. J. Black, LL. D.)

Be not moved away from the hope of the gospel
It has cost many a soul a great struggle to obtain this hope, and when attained do not think that the conflict is over. It then becomes more fierce. Be not moved away, however —

I. FROM THE SUBJECT OF THAT HOPE. What is that? It is the hope —

1. Of full salvation, that we shall be "presented holy, unblameable," etc. "He that hath this hope in him purifieth himself," etc.

2. Of final perseverance, that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

3. Of the resurrection. Christ brought not one-half, but the whole trinity of our manhood.

4. Of the second advent.

5. Of being, not in purgatory, but for ever with the Lord.


1. The rich, free, sovereign grace of God. He who could save the dying thief can save all.

2. The merit of Christ, which is the only ground on which God saves men.

3. The Divine pledge that whosoever believeth in Christ shall not perish, etc.

4. The immutability of God.

5. The infallibility of the Scriptures.


1. By a conceit of ourselves. "Let him that thinketh he standeth," etc.

2. By despondency. Satan does not mind whether you jump up or jump down from the rock. The least sin ought to make you humble, the greatest ought not to make you despair.

3. By false teaching. If you have been persuaded that Christ is not Divine, or not the only Priest, or that you have merit of your own, you are removed.

4. By hoping to live by feelings instead of faith.

5. By a dazzle of intellect and "modern thought."

6. By persecution, sneers, and ridicule.


1. Because there is nothing to take its place.

2. Because if we did we should soon be in bondage.

3. Because we should become mean, miserable wretches who have deserted their Saviour.

4. Because it would be something like a soldier entrenched in an impregnable fortress accepting an invitation to come out.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Congregational Pulpit.

1. It is in harmony with God's plan of salvation.

2. It springs from the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart.

3. It is grounded on the truth and power of God. Not upon impressions and feelings — no, but upon the declarations, promises, and Almighty power of Him who has "laid up the hope for us in heaven.


1. It produces holiness (1 John 3:2, 3).

2. It begets Christian resignation (Hebrews 6:18, 19).

3. It enkindles pious zeal (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

4. It lights up the valley of death.Reflections: —

1. It is dismal to be without hope (Ephesians 2:12).

2. It is madness to deceive ourselves.

3. It is necessary to be watchful and persevering.

(Congregational Pulpit.)

Oh, how many there are that are never settled. The tree which should be transplanted every week would soon die. Nay, if it were moved, no matter how skilfully, once every year, no gardener would expect fruit from it. How many Christians there be that are transplanting themselves constantly, even as to their doctrinal sentiments. There be some who believe according to the last speaker; and there be others who do not know what they do believe, but they believe almost anything that is told them. Men have come to believe that it does not matter what they do believe — who are like the weathercock upon the steeple, they will turn just as the wind blows. As good Mr. Whitfield said, "You might as well measure the moon for a suit of clothes as tell their doctrinal sentiments," for they are ever changing. Now, I pray that this may be taken away from any of you, if this be your weakness, and that you may be settled.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

, when on his road to suffer martyrdom, was told by the emperor that he would give him time to consider whether he had not better cast a grain of incense into the fire, in honour of idols, than die so degraded a death. The martyr nobly answered, "There needs no deliberation in the case." John Huss was offered a pardon when at the stake, about to suffer for his attachment to Christ, if he would recant; his reply was, "I am here ready to suffer death." Anne Askew when asked under similar circumstances to avoid the flames, answered, "I came not here to deny my God and Master." Mr. Thomas Hawkes, an Essex gentleman, said, on a like occasion, "If I had a hundred bodies, I would suffer them all to be torn in pieces, rather than recant." When the cruel Bonner told John Ardly of the pain connected with burning, and how hard it must be to endure it, with a view to leading the martyr to recant, he replied, "If I had as many lives as I have hairs on my head, I would lose them all in the fire, before I would lose Christ." Galeazius, a gentleman of great wealth, who suffered martyrdom at St. Angelo, in Italy, being much entreated by his friends to recant, replied, "Death is much sweeter to me with the testimony of truth, than life with its least denial."


Which was preached to every .

creature. — There may be seven observations gathered out of this speech of the apostle.

1. That doctrine only is true which is agreeable to the doctrine of the apostles, by which the world was converted to God.

2. That no power is like the power of the Word of God. Here it converts a world in a short time. And our eyes have beheld that it hath almost in as short time restored a world of men from the power of antichrist.

3. That the words "all" and "every one" are not always in Scripture to be understood universally of all the singular persons in the world, as the universalists conceive.

4. They were but a few fishermen that did this great work, and they were much opposed and persecuted, and in some less matters they jarred sometime among themselves. Whence we may observe that doctrine may be exceeding effectual, though

(1)but few teach it;

(2)though they be but of mean estate and condition;

(3)though it be opposed by cross and contrary teaching;

(4)though it be persecuted;

(5)though the people be indisposed and nozzled in sin and superstition, as the Gentiles were;

(6)though the preacher be often restrained;

(7)though there be some dissension in less matters.

5. That in the conversion of sinners God is no respecter of persons; men of any age, nation, sex, condition, life or quality, may be converted by the gospel.

6. It is that preaching is the ordinary means to convert every creature, so as ordinarily there is none converted but by preaching.

7. If any one ask what shall become of those nations, or particular persons, that never yet heard of the gospel, I answer, the way of God in divers things is not revealed, and His judgments are a great deep. It belongs to us to look to ourselves to whom the gospel is come.

(N. Byfield.)

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