Colossians 1:23 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; (KJV)
I’m not going to speak to the obvious warning in this verse, but to what is said about the gospel in this verse.
How is it possible that Paul can say that the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven. Did he mean for us to understand that at that very moment this had been accomplished? Certainly his own words and actions elsewhere deny that to be the case. I have actually had this verse thrown up to me when I state that the gospel must be preached to all nations and then the end shall come. After all, this is what Jesus stated to us. But, the argument goes something like this. This command of Jesus to take the gospel to every creature was already completed at that very moment according to this verse, and therefore His coming has always been imminent.
Did Paul really mean that all had heard the gospel already? Why then was he so engulfed and engaged in doing just that: spreading the gospel. I don’t know that we can really know what it was that had overwhelmed him as he pennned these words. Perhaps he was reflecting on Jesus Himself having come to earth to die for the sins of the whole world. Perhaps it was the creation itself of which he spoke in Romans chapter 1, which was what he was occupied with as he penned these words. Or perhaps it was a vision of things of which he felt unworthy to communicate to us when he was swept up into the third heaven and saw those things unspeakable. Perhaps it was all of this and more that caused him to pen these prophetic words. At any event he Paul saw all men as being totally responsible for their sin and standing alone and bare before their creator, as being accountable to Christ alone for their belief or their unbelief.
But surely Paul knew of the battle yet to take place on earth for the souls of men, when he stated what he did to the Ephesian elders as recorded in Acts 20
Acts 20:20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (NASB)
Acts 20:25 “And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. 26 “Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build [you] up and to give [you] the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (NASB)
Paul could say here that the blood of no man could be called to his charge, because he did what was asked of him and he did it willingly and dutifully because elsewhere he says that he was compelled to preach this gospel — what he calls here the whole council of God.
Are you compelled to seek out and acknowledge His truth, and to share it with those you love? Are you compelled to admonish with the word and call others to His truths? Has His word of truth made a difference in your life? Are you an overcomer? Will you be seen an overcomer when you stand before Him?
Perhaps Paul who had been taken up into the third heaven and seen unspeakable things. Things of which he was not free to tell as a message as was John. But things certainly that did impact his thinking; his knowledge; and his teachings to us in his letters. He must have been made aware of the challenges that believers and the world would face in this journey toward Judgment.
Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (NASB)
Oh Father God, compel us who believe in you to be overcomers in this walk into which You have called us. Allow us to gain inspiration from the writings sent to us by You through your servant Paul. Cause us to stand firm in the armor you have given for clothing for us from Your word.
The whole counsel of God, does not sugar coat the things that will impact believers in the last days of mankind before His coming.
Even though men will reject you and us. Even though things are looking bad and will get worse. Even so come Lord Jesus.