Colossians 1:28 (ESV) … “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.”
As a preacher Paul pastors the people through the proclamation of the Word of God. This is why the Bible is to be read at every church service and why the preaching part of the service is the pinnacle of gathered church worship (4:16). It is like reaching the top of the St Bernard pass in Switzerland. To do so you must expend great energy, but once at the top you rejoice as you experience the freshness and the peace of that place before you descend to the lower slopes and the valley below. Similarly, when the Word of God is read and Christ is preached, the churches are meant to hear the voice of God and be greatly edified through joy and peace in believing (Eph. 4:11–16).
Paul defines preaching here by showing that it has a prophetic and fatherly side as well as a didactic and scholarly aspect. He says that it comes as a ‘warning’ to his hearers and it is ‘teaching’ for education and explanation. ‘Warning’ comes from the heart while ‘teaching’ comes from the head, and both heart and head must be involved in preaching. preaching must be wise (sensible and insightful) so as to achieve the goal of presenting ‘every man perfect in Christ Jesus’ (cf. 3:16). Humanly speaking, this would be impossible, but we know that the Word of God is living, powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). The means to achieve ‘perfection’ (maturity), therefore, is through preaching the Word of God ‘to affect personality and behavioural change’ (John 17:17).
In Paul’s sermon preparation and presentation he ‘labours’—he toils to the point of weariness and exhaustion (Gal. 4:11; Phil. 2:16)—and ‘strives’—he struggles, as an athlete. We get the word ‘agonizing’ from the Greek used here. These words reveal the hard work necessary to produce good sermons every week. Only because the Holy Spirit works powerfully in Paul can he possibly achieve this high and holy calling. We need to pray for the church’s pastors and preachers (4:3; 2 Cor. 1:11).