Colossians 1:24-25 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
‘Fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake.’ To complete, not the sufferings of Christ for our sins, but that which all believers are called to suffer for Christ’s body and truth (Rom. 8:18; 2Tim. 3:12).
‘Dispensation of God which is given to me for you.’ There are five dispensations named in Scripture: The dispensation or administration of the unjust steward (Luke 16:1-9). Dispensation of the gospel (1Cor. 9:17), which is Paul’s administration of the gospel of grace. The dispensation of the grace of God (Eph. 3:2); is the same as the dispensation of the gospel. The dispensation of God (Col. 1:25 – God’s own administration of grace given to Paul; the same as pt. 2). The dispensation of the fullness of times, in which God gathers together all things in heaven and the earth in Christ ridding the earth of all rebellion (Eph. 1:10; 1Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 20:1-15).
Seven dispensations of man are noted beside the dispensation of angels (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:11-17) and the eternal dispensation of the redeemed and faithful angels (Rev. 21-22; Isa. 66:22-24; 2Pet. 3:13), there are seven dispensations of man between the restoration of the earth from chaos (Gen. 1:3 – 2:25) and the New Heavens and the New Earth: the dispensation of Innocence (Gen. 3:1-24); the dispensation of Conscience (Gen. 4-8); the dispensation of Human Government (Gen. 9-11); the dispensation of Promise (Gen. 12:1- Ex. 12:36); the dispensation of Law (Ex. 12:37 – Matt. 3); the dispensation of Grace (Matt. 3:1 – Rev. 19-21); the dispensation of Divine Government during the Millennium (Rev. 20:1-15).
‘To fulfil the word of God’ – To preach the gospel in all fullness (Rom. 15:29).