Col. 2:1. “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;”
Paul had such zeal for the welfare of the Colossian Christians that he referred to it as “a great conflict.” In v. 29 of the previous chapter, Paul, not uncommonly for him, used a sports metaphor with the word striving, and he continues the metaphor now with the great conflict. Both terms are indicative of a great physical effort to win a race, or a wrestling match. Both required training, strength, and the ultimate exertion to accomplish the goal.
He also mentions the people in Laodicea, who, along with the Colossian believers, he had not met face to face.
Paul’s authority as an apostle extended to the people of his own day, although they had never seen him, just as it extends to us today. We can accept his teaching as having the authority of the leading of the Holy Spirit, just as valid now as it was then.
I don’t believe Paul was a prophet, in the sense that he could see down through the centuries in the way that Isaiah or Jeremiah did. But Paul did understand the importance of the clear teaching of the truth of the gospel for the believers of his day; I believe he understood that there would always be conflict stirred up by Satan as long as God allowed believers to spread His Word, even into our present day. Paul’s burden for the clear truth of the Word was a heavy one.
Maybe our world wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today if only our own zeal were as hot as Paul’s.