LOVE'S STRUGGLE (Colossians 2:1)
2:1 I want you to know how great a struggle I am going through for you, and for the people of Laodicaea, and for all those who have never seen me face to face.
Here is a brief lifting of the curtain and a poignant glimpse into Paul's heart. He is going through a struggle for these Christians whom he had never seen but whom he loved.
He associates the Laodicaeans with the Colossians, and speaks of all those who had never seen his face. He is thinking of the Christians in that group of three towns in the Lycus valley, Laodicaea, Hierapolis and Colosse and picturing them in his mind's eye.
The word he uses for struggle is a vivid word; it is agon (Greek #73), from which comes our own word agony. Paul is fighting a hard battle for his friends. We must remember that, when he wrote this letter, he was in prison in Rome, awaiting judgment and almost certain condemnation. What then was his struggle?
(i) It was a struggle in prayer. He must have longed to go to Colosse himself. He must have longed to face the false teachers and deal with their arguments and recall those who were straying from the truth. But he was in prison. There had come a time when there was nothing left to do but to pray; what he could not do himself, he must leave to God. So Paul wrestled in prayer for those whom he could not see. When time and distance and circumstance separate us from those whom we long to help, there is always one way left to help them and that is the way of prayer.
(ii) It may well be that there was another struggle going on in Paul's mind. He was a human being with all a man's natural problems. He was in prison, awaiting trial before Nero, and the issue was almost certainly death. It would have been easy to play the coward and abandon the truth for the sake of safety. Paul well knew that such a desertion would be disastrous in its consequences. If the young Churches knew that Paul had denied Christ, the heart would be taken from them and it would be the end of Christianity for many. His struggle was not for himself alone; it was also for those whose eyes were fixed upon him as their leader and father in the faith. We do well to remember that in any situation there are those who are watching us; and that our action will either confirm or destroy their faith. Our struggle is never for ourselves alone; always the honour of Christ is in our hands and the faith of others in our keeping.
From William Barclay's Daily Study Bible