“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under Heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the Word of God; even the Mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this Mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:25-27; cf., Eph. 2:7; 4:4; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; Phil. 3:13-21; 2 Cor. 12:1-5).
The Colossian Saints had received the “hope of the Gospel” (vs. 23) and subsequently the “hope of glory” (vs. 27). This was accomplished because of Paul’s “ministry” and “sufferings” in his “flesh,” on their behalf. In doing so, he also fills up the “afflictions of Christ for His Body’s sake which is the Church.” He is not referring to the afflictions Christ suffered in securing the sinner’s redemption; that was “finished” on the Cross (Jn. 19:30). No! Paul is referring to his own sufferings as a member of what, for want of a better term, I call the Mystical Christ. I use this term to distinguish between Christ’s mediatorial work of redemption and the result of His unifying work on behalf of the Church.
The Unity of the Mystery
The unifying work of Christ is the result of the revelation of the Mystery and the baptizing ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Thus, a “new man” was created (Eph. 2:14-16) and Christ has a new identity. Christ is now both Head and Body, inseparably joined forever, and identified as “the Christ.” Christ is the Head and the Church, which is His Body. Christ is in us and we are in Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13; 2 Cor. 5:16-17). When Paul speaks of “Christ in you,” he is referring to this union which is the believer’s foundation for both the “riches” and the “hope of glory” (vs. 27; cf., Rom. 5:2).
The Hope of the Mystery
Because this “hope” is revealed through the “Mystery,” it is to be distinguished from other hopes. For example: Israel has the hope of one day receiving all the promises made to them in the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:2-3; 15:4-6), Davidic (2 Sam. 7:12-16), and the Palestinian (Gen. 13:14-18) Covenants. Their hope is to reign with Christ. He will be the King. They will be a “kingdom of priests” (Rev. 5:10). They will be the “head” nation (Deut. 28:13). Peter will have the keys to the Kingdom (Mt. 16:18-19) and execute all civil authority, and the Twelve Apostles will rule over Israel (Mt. 19:28). Then, for all eternity, in the New Jerusalem, God will give Abraham the city for which he searched: “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). What a wonderful hope Israel has! Oh, what blessings are in store for them—blessings that are built upon the promises of a God who cannot lie (Heb. 6:17-18). Israel’s “hope” is no small hope. It is no second-class hope. It is an eternal hope, but may properly be referred to as an earthly hope since it is carried right on into the New Earth and New Jerusalem (Lk. 1:33; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 3:12; 21:2). This is in contrast to the “hope” of the Mystery and should not be confused with it. The hope of the Church is in contrast to the hope of Israel (Rom. 4:18-22). Do not confuse the “New Jerusalem” and the “New Earth” (Rev. 21-22) as being the hope of the Body of Christ Church.
Brief Comments About Our Hope
- Our hope is uniquely associated with the Pauline Gospel, the Mystery and the Dispensation of Grace (Col. 1:23; Eph. 1:18).
- Our hope is the “one hope” (Eph. 4:4) for the Church. We are not at liberty to choose more than one “hope” any more than believers are at liberty to choose more than “one baptism” or “one faith” or “one Lord” for this Dispensation of Grace (Eph. 4:3-6). This “hope” is a multifaceted “hope,” but its many parts make up the “one hope” for the Church.
- The Hope of Eternal Life (Titus 2:1; 3:7).
- The Hope of Resurrection’s Transformation (Rom. 8:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Phil. 3:20).
- The Hope of the Rapture (1 Thess. 5:8-9; 4:13-18; cf., 1 Thess. 1:10; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
- The Hope of Righteousness Independent of the Law (Gal. 5:1-5).
- The Hope of Glory (Titus 2:13; Rom. 5:2; Col. 1:27; cf., Rom. 8:17-21).
- Our hope is a heavenly hope. In Philippians 3:20 we are clearly told the members of the Body of Christ are “citizens of Heaven.” Furthermore, we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3, 19-20; 2:5-7; 3:10; 2 Tim. 4:18).
- Our “hope” is not a think so, maybe so, could be, or a might be hope. It is the kind of hope that looks down the corridors of time with a confident assurance of future good. See the Greek word ELPIS.
- Our hope is:
- A “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)
- A “comforting hope” (1 Thess. 4:18)
- A “sanctifying hope” (Titus 2:12)
- A “good hope” (2 Thess. 2:16)
- A “sure hope” (Rom. 5:5)
- Without Christ as your personal Savior, there is no hope (Eph. 2:12; 1 Tim.1:1; 1 Thess. 1:3)!
A Few Comments About Our Glory
- Members of the Body of Christ are said to have the “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
- The word “glory” refers to a quality of God’s character that emphasizes His greatness, authority, beauty, power, honor – all that God is and possesses – and, of course, it also refers to Heaven. It is God’s intention that all members of His Body will be fully glorified at the end of time in God’s heavenly presence (Rom. 5:2; 8:20-25, 28-30; Col. 3:4).
- Heaven for the Body of Christ is the “Third Heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2-4) and “in the sides of the north” (Isa. 14:13; cf., Ezek. 1:4). The root word for “north” (TASPHON/Heb.) means the “hidden or secret place.”
- Only a few men have brought back a report of what the Throne Room of God is like:
- As seen by Ezekiel (Ezek. l:3, 12-14, 26-28).
- As seen by Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-3).
- As seen by John (Rev. l:12-17; 4:l; 15:5; 19:11; 21:1-2).
- As seen by Stephen (Acts 7:55-56).
- As seen by Peter (Acts 10:11-17).
- As seen by Paul (2 Cor. 12:1-5, 7).
- Body of Christ believers are not told much about our Heaven. We know very little about Heaven aside from being told that members of the Body of Christ will “rule” with Christ and will “judge angels” (2 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 6:3). I believe that God wants Heaven to be a suprise! (2 Cor. 12:1-5). Apparently, Heaven, with all its beauties and wonders, is so infinitely beyond our capacity to apprehend that God has decided not to tell us about it now. He has decided to show it to us later! He has promised that “in the ages to come,” He will show us “the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
Beloved, we may be living in the closing moments of the Dispensation of the Mystery. How did you live today?