Interpretations: The Mystery Program - The mystery of the Body-of-Christ
At the beginning of his epistle to the Colossians, Paul wrote that believers in Christ have been reconciled with God the Father through the bodily death of Jesus, which we could not do ourselves, Colossians 1:12-14, Romans 5:8-11. Our standing now is that we are presented holy, unblameable, Ephesians 1:4, and unreproveable, Romans 8:1, 33-34, in His sight because Jesus had died in the flesh, Colossians 1:21-22. Further, as believers who continue in the faith, we prove that we are grounded and settled, not moved away from the hope of the gospel (1Corinthians 15:1-4), Colossians 1:23. Paul again asserts his position as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Colossians 1:1, as he does in his other epistles, where:
- His gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven, Romans 2:16, Titus 2:11
- As a minister, he rejoiced in his sufferings for us, Colossians 1:24
- Paul had a burning love for the Gentiles, which is expressly penned in the greeting and ending of most of his epistles.
- • Paul had a deep desire to spread the gospel to a dark and lost world, was like Jeremiah who tried to stop speaking God’s Word, but the Word burned in his heart and he had to speak out, Jeremiah 20:8-9
Paul rejoiced in his sufferings because he wanted to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. Paul was apprehending for that which he was apprehended of by Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:10:12. Warren W. Wiersbe wrote in his exposition commentary on Colossians, that Paul’s sufferings were three-fold:
- He shared in the joy, as with the 12 apostles, to be counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus Christ, Acts 5:41
- Paul had a passion for the Gentiles, and suffered because of the Gentiles, 2Corinthians 12:14-18, 2Thessalonians 3:7-9, for he is the apostle to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:1-13, Romans 11:13
- Paul suffered following the sufferings of Christ in his flesh for Christ’s body’s sake, which is the church (the Body-of-Christ), Colossians 1:24
- God comforts us in our tribulation, and as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so also our consolation abounds by Christ, 2Corinthians 1:3-7
Paul continued in his epistle to the Colossians to describe what and who the Body-of-Christ is, Colossians 1:25-27. First, to reinforce his authority as apostle to the Gentiles, Paul declared that he is the apostle to the Body-of-Christ, Colossians 1:25. He then showed that:
- This position was given to him by God
- God charged Paul to be the steward of this dispensation we call the dispensation of grace
- This dispensation was revealed to Paul, who then shared with the Body-of-Christ
Paul is doing all this to fulfill the Word of God, Acts 9:15-16.
To describe the Body-of-Christ, it is important to start at the beginning. The revealed mysteries to Paul were prepared and hidden before the world began, but are manifest to God’s saints today, Colossians 1:26, Romans 16:25-26, Ephesians 3:1-7. The riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles is that Christ is in us, the hope of glory, and not just us personally, but in the aggregate. This all began when Paul first preached about this dispensation, and will continue until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in (the last Gentile to believe in Christ Jesus in this dispensation of grace) and the snatching away (or rapture) occurs, Colossians 1:27, Romans 11:25, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The following graphic shows the prophetic program of Israel in the gold-colored box, fading into the blue box, which is the mystery program enforce with the church today. The prophetic program of Israel faded due to Israel’s fall. However, once the church is snatched up to be with the Christ Jesus in the air, the prophetic program of Israel will immediately be resumed.
In many of Paul’s epistles, he writes that Christ is living in us through the Holy Spirit, which is the characteristic of the Body-of-Christ, 1Corinthians 3:16, John 15:26. Being in Christ, we are now a new creature, 2Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 6:15, Colossians 2:13. It is the Holy spirit that seals us for God once we believe, Ephesians 1:13, 3:17. As a result, the flesh is now dead and our spirit is alive, Romans 7:4, Romans 8:10. In our old nature, we were dead in our sins, we led our lives according to our own will. But now that the Spirit is within us, our soul (or will) succumbs to the will of God via the Spirit working within us, John 18:36. Now that we have a new nature in Christ, we fight against principalities, powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places, Ephesians 6:12, Romans 12:2, 1Corinthians 2:6., and have been delivered from the god of this world, 2Corinthians 4:4.