The apostle Paul was a missionary. He travelled the areas about the Great Sea from A.D. 49-62 to spread the news about Jesus the Christ. There were many converts which he fathered. The epistles are the letters he wrote to these dearly loved saints, to encourage and instruct them. He often shares his heart. In Colossians 1:24-29 he writes of his calling from God, his vision of the call and what it cost him.
His Calling from God
Paul claims God entrusted him to preach the gospel. If we look back to Galatians, we read he received the gospel as a revelation from God. We also read that his call came from a desire to please God rather than men. It was to be a specific work with Gentiles. Paul explains God revealed this the same way he revealed Peter’s work was primarily to the Jews. Where their work was effective was the confirmation of their call.
His Vision of the Call
“Christ in you, the hope of glory” are the words Paul uses to describe what he is attempting to achieve. It has been a mystery, a hidden truth for ages, and now it is being revealed to the saints. Peter was proclaiming such to the Jews, and now Paul was instructing the Gentiles. God willed for them to know Christ in their lives and all it meant for their future. He would preach Christ and warn everyone with the wisdom God had given in Christ, to present them perfect in His name. God worked mightily within him to accomplish it.
What it Cost
Paul’s high call had a high price. He suffered. In the letter to the Corinthians, he expounds on his sufferings. He laboured harder than many of his colleagues; received beatings beyond what he could count; he endured imprisonment. He was stoned, shipwrecked, in dangerous situations, weary yet unable to sleep. Many times he was hungry or without clothing. Above it all, he had the deep concern for those he had fathered in Christ, some who turned their backs on the truths he proclaimed. His response to his suffering baffles me. He says he rejoices in his suffering. In Corinthians he speaks of his suffering as a place of strength, because in His own weakness, he experiences the strength of Christ. He sees his suffering as part of the work for Christ. Again, God works mightily in Him.
Paul’s temporary suffering had an eternal weight of glory. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 he writes, “We do not lose heart,” “Our light affliction, which is for a moment, is working for us” “We do not look to the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” “The things which are not seen are eternal.”
Thus from Colossians 1:24-29, we understand Paul’s calling from God, his vision of the call and what it cost him.