Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the mystery of God’s economy, the mystery that is actually Christ Himself.
In 1:25 Paul speaks of the stewardship of God. The Greek word rendered stewardship, oikonomia, may also be rendered economy or administration. The stewardship is the economy, and God’s economy is His dispensation. God’s intention in His economy is to dispense Himself—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—into His chosen people.
Christ is the mystery, the secret, and the crucial focus, of the divine economy. This means that the secret of the dispensation of the Triune God into God’s chosen people is Christ Himself. Christ is the focal point of God’s dispensation. God’s dispensation is altogether related to Christ and focused on Him.
For centuries, Christians have been reading the Epistles of Paul, but very few have seen the matter of God’s economy and Christ as the mystery of this economy. I can testify that I read Ephesians and Colossians for years before I began to see that Christ is the mystery of God’s economy. Early in my Christian life, I did not see that Christ is the secret of God’s dispensation. This matter is hidden and is not according to our natural concept. In order to see it we need to pray and to exercise our spirit as we study the Epistle of Colossians in a detailed way. Let us now consider 1:25-29 in some detail.
Verse 25 says, “Of which I became a minister according to the stewardship of God, which was given to me for you, to complete the word of God.” The word “which” refers to the church in verse 24. This indicates that Paul became a minister, not of a certain mission work or of a particular work of teaching and preaching, but of the church. The word minister describes one who serves. Paul became such a minister of the church according to the stewardship, the economy, the dispensation, of God. This stewardship was given to Paul for the church. The goal of God’s stewardship for the church was to complete the word of God.
Notice that verse 25 does not end with a period, but with a comma. Then in verse 26 Paul continues, “The mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but now has been manifested to His saints.” According to grammar, the mystery in verse 26 is in apposition to the word of God in verse 25. This means that the word of God is the very mystery which has been hidden from the ages and generations, but is now made manifest to the saints. The ages here denote eternity, whereas the generations denote the times. The mystery concerning Christ and the church had been hidden from eternity and from all times until the New Testament age, when it was manifested to the saints, the believers in Christ.
It is important that in verse 26 Paul does not say that the mystery has been manifested to the apostles; he says that it has been manifested to the saints. Due to the influence of religious tradition, many believe that such things as God’s economy cannot be understood by the so-called laymen. How we thank the Lord that the mystery has been manifested to the saints, to all those who believe in Christ! Even the youngest ones among us have both the position to see this mystery and the privilege of seeing it. We have the privilege of seeing something that was not revealed to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, or to the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. Praise the Lord that we can know the completion of the word of God! We can know Christ as the mystery of God’s economy and the Body as Christ’s fullness. Furthermore, we can know that the church is the new man with Christ as the content and constituent. None of these things was made known to God’s people in the Old Testament age.
Today we focus our attention upon Christ as the mystery of God and upon the church as the mystery of Christ. As the mystery of God, the all-inclusive Christ is the embodiment of God and also the life-giving Spirit. As the mystery of Christ, the church is the Body of Christ, His fullness, and the new man to be the full expression of Christ as well. This is the mystery that has been made manifest to the saints.
Paul’s writing in this Epistle is quite complex. He uses many long sentences with various clauses and relative pronouns. Actually, verses 24 through 29 should be regarded as a single sentence. In verse 27, the continuation of verse 26, Paul says, “To whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The word “whom” at the beginning of this verse refers to the saints mentioned in the preceding verse. To us God has willed to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery. This mystery, which is Christ in us as the hope of glory, is made known among the nations. The word “which” in verse 27 refers to the mystery. This mystery full of glory among the nations is Christ in us. Christ in us is mysterious and glorious as well. Because Paul was dealing with matters deep and profound, his writing was complex, and his sentences were long.
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