Summary of Paul’s Ministry—1:28-29
Paul sums up this section by establishing that his ministry was threefold:
· His message was to proclaim Christ (“We proclaim Him”). The word hon (whom: KJV; him NASB), “stresses the personal character of the mystery, Paul’s message does not proclaim a system of theology ...a theory of knowledge; He proclaims a person” observes Johnson. The verb, proclaim (katangello), has the basic meaning of to announce, to tell forth, or to proclaim a new revelation that is a completed fact. It has the idea of continually distributing a completed message. Paul proclaims or preaches Christ “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25), which now has been made known. However,
is correct when he points out that “The key thing to see here is that Paul’s message
centered in the person of Jesus Christ.” Campbell
There are two areas to Paul’s proclamation of Christ. First, it involved a negative: “admonishing every man” (1:28). The word admonishing (noutheteo) has the meaning of warning, admonish, or putting in mind. It denotes correction, setting the mind of someone in proper order. The second is positive: “teaching every man” (1:28). Both speak of the manner of proclamation. Harris notes that both “are two natural and necessary concomitants of the proclamation of the mystery of Christ.” Eadie sees these words as general and more specific, saying, “one as describing the means employed to arouse the soul and stimulate it to reflection, and the other as the definite form of instruction....” Some seem to hold that admonish applies to unbelievers, while teaching to believers. However, that does not seem to be the case. The word admonish is used of believers as well (Col. 3:16—the Greek word is the same in both passages; cf. Acts 20:30-31; 1 Thess. 5:14). Admonishing is the warning against sin and not obeying the truth of the gospel, and is directed toward whomever needs the warning—believer or unbeliever. Its purpose is correction.
How this is done is “with all wisdom” (1:28), however, the KJV seems to be better: “in all wisdom.” This difference of translation is seen in the translators taking the Greek preposition en, as instrumental or locative. It could be either. I believe it is talking about the content of the teaching which is in the sphere of all wisdom.
has noted the word wisdom in Paul can
be tantamount with the mystery. Note the
following passages: Campbell
1 Corinthians 2:6-7. “We do speak wisdom...a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory.” This passage harmonizes well with Colossians 1:25-29. The wisdom is the divine truth once unknown in past ages, but now revealed, proclaimed, and understood by believers. The mystery is the very nature of the wisdom of God.
Ephesians 1:8-9. “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” Again we see wisdom is connected directly with the mystery. Some connect wisdom with grace in this passage, however it is an unnatural fit. As Eadie notes, “Wisdom and prudence have no natural connection with the abounding of grace. Grace in its wealth or profusion does not suggest the notions of wisdom and prudence.” There is no need to place it with grace, for the participle is intimately connected with making known the mystery.
Ephesians 3:9-10. “To bring to light what is the administration [dispensation—KJV] of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places].” Again Paul equates mystery and wisdom.
It seems natural to equate the two in the Colossians passage as well.
word wisdom here is in the singular and it refers to a given body of truth the
mystery, which is the subject of this context”
This is reinforced by the fact that Ephesians and Colossians are sister
epistles which parallel one another contextually. They cover the same truth
from different directions. Campbell
· His purpose was to “present every man complete in Christ” (1:28). Paul refers to every man three times in these verses. This was a thrust against the intellectuals (Gnostic Judaizers), who advocate this wisdom was limited to just a few special intellectuals who have the ability to comprehend this special wisdom. Christianity knows no limits, it is for every man, and every man has access to the wisdom of God through the word of God. Paul’s aim is seen from the Greek word hina (that), which expresses purpose.
His aim is not simple salvation of every man, but to present them “complete in Christ.” We need to be careful here. It is not talking about our position in Christ in this text, the subject is our sanctification. This is seen by the following:
First, this is speaking of the goal of the apostolic ministry of Paul through the process of admonition and teaching. It is speaking of an eschatological event.
Second, the word rendered complete in our text is not the best translation. It is better translated mature or perfect. His goal was to lead them to maturity in Christ.
Third, the word complete in 1:28 is not the same word rendered so in Col. 2:10. There it speaks of positional completeness and is the Greek word pleroo meaning our fullness in Christ. Here the word is teleios (complete, mature), meaning to bring to completion, fully develop, or fully realize. It speaks here of a process. It speaks of the moving toward a goal that will be actualized when we stand before our Lord. He is seeking to produce a growing spiritual maturity in the believer.
· He labors by the enablement of Christ: “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to his power, which mightily works within me” (1:29). Paul summarizes his service in two ways:
First, it is work. Notice the words labor and striving. These two words are metaphors from the athletic world. Labor is the Greek word kopio, meant original a beating, or weariness as though one had been beaten. However, in the NT is speak of being exhausted, weary, or spent from physical effort. It is the image of an athlete who is spent after giving his whole-hearted effort in an athletic contest. The word striving is the Greek word agonizomenos, meaning to be combative in a game, to contend, or strive earnestly (cf. 1 Cor. 9:25). It has the implication of giving oneself in maximum effort. It, thereby, speaks of the intensely of the effort. Both words are used of Paul’s effort for the proclamation of the mystery, the truth for today. It clearly speaks of the effort required to perform the duties of his office. It declares Paul’s personal involvement.
Second, he declares how he is able to perform such effort: “according to His power” (1:29). Paul did not labor in his own efforts. “Ministry is a divine-human effort.” The word according is the Greek proposition kata, found with the accusative case, which denotes horizontal motion, indicating a connection with Paul’s striving and the active energy of God. Paul’s effort and God’s working are connected. The word translated power is the Greek word energeia, were we get the English word energy. It means efficacy, working, active energy, or operation. He energizes us in our efforts to serve Him. God is the might of ministry. It “mightily works within me” (1:29). God works within us (cf. Phil. 2:13). He is the force that was transmitted to Paul (and us), to have an effective ministry.
The summary of Paul’s ministry is to proclaim Christ according to the wisdom of the mystery; to perfect believers in Christ was its object; and the means was by the power of God in conjunction with Paul’s labor. In Ephesians 3:7 this energy is a part of grace that is given to him, as it is to us (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10). Paul never allows one to think that he strives or labors in his own energy. He is a co-laborer with Christ.
 S. Lewis Johnson, “Studies in Colossians—Part V: The Minister of the Mystery, BIB-SAC, July 62, 233.
 Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 77.
 Behm, “nouqetew, nouqesia,” TDNT, 4:1019-22.
Murray J. Harris, EXEGETICAL GUIDE TO THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT:
COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, ( , B&H, 2010), 65.
Also see James D.G. Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 124. Nashville
 John Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 102.
 J.B. Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 168: Curtis Vaugham, EBC: COLOSSIANS, 193.
 Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 78.
 Bornkamm, “musthrion, muew.” TDNT, 4:819.
 John Eadie, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS, [
Zondervan, 1977), 45. Grand Rapids MI
 Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 78.
 Hauck, “kopoV, koriaw,” TDNT, 8:827-830.
 Gromacki, STAND PERFECT IN WISDOM, 86.