NBC Sunday School Manual For June 2, 2024 : Topic – HOPE AMIDST SUFFERING

NBC Sunday School Manual For June 2, 2024 : Topic – HOPE AMIDST SUFFERING

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Sunday, June 2, 2024


Devotional Reading: Galatians 3:19-29

Background Scripture: Colossians 1:19-2:5

Lesson Scripture: Colossians 1:24-2:3

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Objectives: By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:

I. Discuss the reason Paul was joyful in the face of suffering and what this teaches believers.

II. Discuss how to find hope in time of suffering without magnifying the suffering.

III. Whole-heartedly resolve to be hopeful and resilient amid suffering.

Following a report that Paul got about the Colossian church that they were falling into error due to influence from false teachings, Paul wrote his epistle to them. Although Paul was quite encouraged with their faith, love and hope, he wrote to counter the wrong teachings with the aim that the people will have a balanced understanding of the personality of Jesus so that they would be able to refute the false teachers. One of the things Paul addressed in his epistle was the concept of suffering and the perspective believers need to have about afflictions.

It is natural human tendency to try to run from suffering and wish that our loved ones do not experience hardship in any form. Even for
some believers in Christ, suffering is considered something abominable which should be reserved only for our ‘enemies’. The problem about this perspective is that it is not in tandem with the Scripture, and it takes us away from connection with Christ our Lord who took on the suffering of humankind and endured pain and the eventual death on the cross. In today’s lesson, we will consider a scriptural perspective of suffering as shared by Paul in his letter to the Colossians. The lesson will answer questions such as “Is there a purpose for suffering in God’s kingdom?” “What should be the Christian response to suffering? And “Is there hope in the midst of our suffering?”


A. Paul’s Hope amidst Suffering. Colossians 1:24-29
Though confined inside a Roman jail, Paul had a clear understanding of his experience and put it in proper perspective. He saw purpose in his suffering, which is that he was suffering for the sake of the body of Christ, the Church. That is why he could rejoice in his sufferings. By saying “…and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ for the sake of His body…”, Paul did not mean that he was making up for what is lacking in Christ’s suffering on the cross. It is an undisputable fact that Christ’s suffering for the sins of the whole world was complete and perfect. This is why Christ exclaimed that “It is finished” (John 19:30). What Paul meant was that his suffering was part of the affliction the Church will suffer because we represent Christ. And for having his own share of that suffering, Paul rejoiced. The Message translation renders verses 24-25 this way: I want you to know how glad I am that it’s me sitting here in this jail and not you. There’s a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world–the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church’s part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God’s way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.” Paul was confident amid suffering; after all, he had been told how much he would suffer for the sake of the Gospel (Acts 9:16).

The concept of Christ indwelling the believer is a mystery which was not revealed until the New Testament period, and Paul said this indwelling presence of Christ in the believer is the hope of glory. In other words, even when believers experience suffering, the presence of Christ in them gives them hope of a glorious moment to come. Paul asserted that Christ is what he preached, using the means of warning and teaching (in all wisdom) and the aim is to present everyone perfect in Christ Jesus. To achieve this aim, Paul laboured, not in his own power, but according to the workings of Christ which works in Him mightily (vv. 28-29). Believers can rest in the assurance that when we suffer for Christ’s sake, it works for a glory that surpasses the intensity of our experience. This assurance should change our attitude to suffering and cause us to rejoice in hope when we face persecutions.

1. Do believers today rejoice in suffering?

2. Discuss how believers can find hope in suffering.

B. Courage, Love and Truth in the Face of Opposition. Colossians 2:1-3
Paul expressed his relentless struggle and concern for the brethren in Colossae, Laodicea and others who have had personal encounter with him. His desire for them is stated in verse 2 as follows: ▪︎ That they might be filled with enough courage to stand firm, even in the face of strong oppositions.

▪︎ That they might be united in love.

▪︎ That they might have the full riches of complete understanding in Christ.

Paul was concerned about their spiritual wellbeing and that was why he prayed that they would be filled with courage to withstand opposition – anything or any force that stood opposed to their faith in Christ. Being united in communion with other brethren will strengthen their faith and confidence in Christ such that they would collectively resist false teachings and everything that wars against their soul. Having the complete understanding of Christ will position the believers to enjoy the fullness of God and maximise their God-given potentials. In Christ alone is hidden all God’s treasures of wisdom and knowledge (v. 3).

The encouragement to contemporary Christians is that we need to be courageous, united in Christ’s love and seek to have complete knowledge and understanding of God’s mystery hidden in Christ so that we can make the most of God’s investment upon our lives. When we know and understand the mystery of God, we will not be deceived or carried away by every form of doctrine. We need faith to remain steadfast in the love of God, particularly in this contemporary time when false teaching is widespread. In addition, believers in Christ should emulate Paul who consistently laboured for the gospel message so that those who are hopeless may come to a complete understanding of the mystery of God – Christ Jesus.

1. What was Paul’s motivation to have laboured so hard for the Colossian and Laodicean Christians?

2. What can contemporary Christians learn from it? Why is it necessary for us to have a complete understanding of who Christ is?

Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity
Let at least two class members share their personal experiences of how they suffered for the sake of the Gospel and their source of encouragement.

Take Home: Write down three lessons you are taking home from today’s lesson.

Commitment: Based on today’s lesson, make a personal commitment to hope and not give up, even amid suffering.

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