that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,Colossians 1:26(NASB)
Paul was surrounded by a host of enemies, both physical and spiritual, and experienced the most acute hardships and persecutions during his God-appointed ministry. He had been chosen to be the missionary to the Gentiles who were formerly alienated from God, hopelessly dead in sins, and engaged in evil deeds, but by God's grace, many were reconciled to Him through faith in Christ for their salvation.
Paul's singular purpose in his God-appointed ministry was to preach Christ crucified, and his great desire was to establish mature believers, in order to present them holy and blameless before God at Christ's appearing. And much of his teaching and many of his epistles were delivered to establish foundational truths and clarify important doctrinal issues in order to counteract the many false teachings and demonic doctrines that were entering into the various churches.
Paul's ministry was unique, for he was the one individual who had been called by God to establish much post-Cross Church doctrine, as distinct from Christ's pre-Cross ministry, where He was introduced as the Lamb of God and Messiah of Israel. Paul was appointed by God to serve the Church in a unique position of responsibility, and entrusted with post-Cross principles and practices which God gave to him for our benefit. Paul was chosen by God to be the expositor of certain mysteries which had been kept hidden from earlier generations, but which were fully unveiled to Paul for our learning.
There are many Christian doctrines that are clearly laid out in the Old Testament. We are saved by faith as exemplified by Abraham. A Messiah was to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem and He was to be Emmanuel (God with us). He was to die a cruel death and have His hands and feet pierced. He was to rise again on the third day, be seated on the right hand of the Majesty of high, and set up His millennial kingdom of peace and prosperity, sitting on the throne of David and surrounded by His chosen people, Israel. But to Paul was given certain new revelation that God had kept hidden in past ages - until the Messiah had fulfilled His sacrificial role as Kinsman-Redeemer on Calvary's Cross.
The ministry of the apostle Paul is as significant to the Church today as it was in the time that he penned his epistles, for by him the mystery which had been kept hidden in past ages and generations, was manifested to His saints through his ministry: "Christ in you the hope of glory."
Today, as then, the ministry of Paul is attacked from many quarters. It is distorted and discredited. It is twisted and disbelieved. Nevertheless, God in His wisdom caused the many imprisonments Paul endured, and the multiplied attacks that were made on the truth of the glorious gospel of grace to be used for our good, for by it we have the books of Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and other important God-breathed documents that give us clear teaching on our position in Christ, and how to live our life in this Church dispensation.
Let us rightly divide the Word of God, study to show ourselves approved, and seek to live as we have been taught - not only being identified with His death for the forgiveness of sins, but with His new born-again life within. Let us study the Word of truth to discover the riches of the glory of this mystery that has now been made manifest to the saints through Paul "which is Christ in you the hope of glory," a mystery revealed for our learning.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the ministry which was revealed to the apostle Paul and for the truths that are laid out for my learning in the God-breathed Scriptures. I pray that You would lead and guide me into full maturity and that in turn, You would use me to encourage other brothers and sisters in Christ, to Your praise and glory, AMEN.