Friday, 7 April 2017
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
The words “To them” are referring to the saints as stated in the previous verse. It is to the saints that “God willed.” The words are emphatic in the Greek. Thus it reads, “To whom has willed God…” It was God’s sovereign choice alone “to make known what are the riches.”
The “riches” of God are many. The word indicates a great amount in number or quantity, and thus abundance. These riches are described by Paul in Romans 2 and include His 1) “goodness” – this is His benign nature. He is a compassionate God who is in no way arbitrary or vindictive; 2) His “forbearance” – this reflects God’s restraint. When judgment would be expected under almost any conceivable circumstance, He still withholds His wrath, understanding that we are prone to sin from birth; and 3) because of His forbearance, He is also “long-suffering.” This concept shows that not only does He withhold His wrath, but He is also “slow to anger” as is noted in Exodus 34:6, 7 –
“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Such riches as these are included in “the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles.” The Old Testament deals almost exclusively with a single line of people who became Israel. God revealed Himself to them, and they were considered the people of God. However, in Christ, that honorable title now extends to any and all. This is the “mystery” that Paul speaks of. He, the apostle to the Gentiles” is making it fully known to the Gentile people of the world who now can share in these riches of God.
He makes this explicitly known by finishing with, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The words, “Christ in you” indicate what has occurred when a person (Jew or Gentile) believes in the finished work of Jesus. The moment that belief is exercised, he is sealed with the Holy Spirit, and is thus saved. He moves from Adam to Jesus and has a new and glorious hope. There is a slight variation in some manuscripts concerning the words, “which is Christ in you.” Some have it as masculine, and thus it would be referring to the riches. Others have it as neuter, and thus it would be referring to the mystery.
Either way, the fact that Christ is now in those who believe, this has become our “hope of glory.” There is an article in front of glory, and so it more accurately reads, “the glory.” Those who have received Christ have not yet obtained the full measure of the glory of Christ. Rather, it indicates a future hope which will be realized when He returns for us and we are glorified. It is a glory for which we have been destined, and nothing will thwart its coming and consummation in us. Such is the hope of the believer in Christ. It is a grounded hope in the sure promises of God.
Life application: When we stand at the graveside of a believer in Christ, we have the absolute guarantee that death cannot hold that person. There is a time for mourning because we will miss the presence of the one that we have cherished and shared in life with, but there should also be a sense of joy that the great and eternal promises of God cannot be overcome by the death which we have faced. It is but a temporary separation which will be ended with the blast of the trumpet and the gathering together of the saints of God.
Most gracious heavenly Father, thank You for the sure and eternal promises we possess because of what You have done for us in Christ Jesus. We have a certain hope that the troubles of this life are temporary. They will pass away, and all the sadness and loss of this life will be forgotten. Your saints will rise to eternal life, and the riches which lie ahead are far greater than anything we now possess. And best of all, we will be in Your glorious presence for all eternity. Thank You for what You have done for us in Christ Jesus. Amen.