Powerful implications

To this I labor, contending with adversaries* according to His power that works powerfully in me. Col. 1:29

The word “agōnizomai” means to contend in gymnastic games. It includes the idea of adversaries and a prize. The traditional translation of  “agōnizomai” is “striving.” Figuring out the subject of the struggle (to what does Paul labor?) and figuring out who the adversary is determines what Paul is saying about himself. It goes back to how we understand the previous verse. If maturity is indeed what Paul is contending with, and  the previous verse really is about human responsibility for their own perfection then the adversary is within. Whatever thoughts, behaviors, influences that are keeping Paul from maturing are what he is striving against*.  If communicating the gospel of Christ is the subject of the previous verse then what Paul is struggling to do is teach, and his adversaries are the people who put him in jail, his circumstantial struggles,  and the false messages and messengers he addresses in the next chapter. Either way you want to look at it, what Paul is saying about God remains the same: the power of Christ in us carries us through every struggle.

Lord, I can’t do any of this without Your power in me.

(*Even if internal strife isn’t what Paul is talking about in this specific verse, and I don’t think it is,  it would be dishonest not to acknowledge that internal conflict is real and sometimes debilitating.)