Yesterday, I wrote that I believed the Gospel had already been spread to the whole world by the time Paul wrote the Book of Colossians. Let me begin today by explaining my reasoning. First, the Apostles had absolutely no clue as to when Jesus would return except one: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt. 24:14). Ironically, this verse is speaking of a yet future event: the Tribulation. Does that mean the Gospel was not already preached everywhere when Paul wrote Colossians? Possibly, but it seems strange that more than one Apostle believed it already had been accomplished, because they spoke of Christ's return as being imminent. Paul clearly implied that in Romans 13:11, and when he used the pronoun "we" in referring to the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15::51. James taught the Lord's return was near (Jam. 5:8), and Peter did as well in 1 Peter 4:7. They must have believed the Gospel had been preached everywhere because they were looking for His return in the first century!
The persecution of the Church may have appeared to them to actually be the Tribulation. In Acts 8:1, Luke wrote, "...at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles." In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus had warned those in Judea to flee when they saw the persecution taking place in the Tribulation (Matt. 24:16). I am sure they believed Christ was returning very soon. They may even have believed that Saul of Tarsus was the antichrist.
Getting back to our study of Paul and the Gospel, we will now look at the Book of 1 Thessalonians. Paul had gone from calling the Gospel "my Gospel" (Rom. 2:16), to calling it "our Gospel" (1:5; 3:2). He was obviously referring to himself, Silvanus, and Timotheus (1:1). Apparently, Paul had faced a great deal of resistance at Philippi, and the Thessalonians gave him a hard time as well (2:1-2). Luke made reference to it in Acts 17:11. But, because he had been sent by God to preach the Gospel, he did so freely, and did not "sugarcoat it" (2:3-9).
In his second epistle to them, Paul makes an astounding statement. In discussing their being persecuted and suffering tribulation, he tells them that God will deal with those who do them harm: "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:,,," (1:8).
For those who claim that all they have to do to be saved is believe, Paul made it absolutely clear that salvation is evidenced by obedience! Yes, we are saved by grace through faith, but we are saved to become God's "project" (Eph. 2:8-10). Philippians 2:13 says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Amen!