Paul prays that his readers might be filled with the knowledge of God's will, enabling them "to live a life worthy of the Lord" in "bearing fruit", "growing", "being strengthened" and "giving thanks". He wants the Colossians to know what is spiritually important.
v9. Paul asks that God might "fill" the Colossians with knowledge. The false teachers in Colossae claim they are able to supply fullness in the Christian life. They can provide the extra - full sanctification. Yet, the Colossians have already heard "the word of truth, the gospel." Paul now asks that God fill them with this truth. And what is this knowledge, this truth? The "perception of God's will consists in wisdom and understanding of every sort, on the spiritual level", so says C.F.D. Moule.
v10. Paul's prayer for wisdom and knowledge has an intended purpose. It is so the Colossian Christians may live a life that is worthy of their Lord. The phrase "live a life" is actually "walk" in the Greek, such that the Christian life is often described as a walk - a walk that is worthy of God, pleasing to God. Of course, we must always remember, even when our life is less than honouring to him, less than pleasing to him, God still loves us in Christ, yes, is even pleased with us. Paul now explains the Christian "walk" with four descriptives. The first two are in v10: "bearing fruit", producing an abundance of good works, and "growing in the knowledge of God", growing in our understanding of God (acquiring the mind of Christ).
v11. In this verse we find the third description of the "walk". "Strengthened with all power" indicates the enabling source of our "walk". The power Paul is speaking of here is the power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ who enables us to walk in a way that is worthy of God, pleasing to God. This empowering will give us perseverance and patience as we struggle against the trials, temptations and opposition of the powers of darkness.
v12. The fourth description of the walk is contained in the words "Giving thanks". This involves a joyful thanksgiving to the Father. Paul explains the ground of this joyful thanksgiving in terms of the gift of an eternal inheritance. The "inheritance" is the promise of a kingdom. The Colossians are already "qualified" to share in this gift. The tense here is important because it undermines the false teachers who have failed to understand that eternal perfection is already theirs in Christ.
v13. Paul goes on to explain the eternal inheritance in terms of a deliverance from the tyranny of darkness and of a transfer into the kingdom of God's Son. Deliverance from the alien power images the escape of Israel from Egypt. For us it is an escape from sin and death - a deliverance "from the wrath to come", 1Thess.1:10.
v14. Finally, Paul defines how it is that through God's Son we have deliverance from bondage and entrance into the kingdom. Jesus has gained for us "redemption" and "forgiveness of sins". For Paul, both mean the same thing. Redemption is liberation from the bondage of sin by means of Christ's perfect sacrifice.
Sanctification is a state of holiness, which, in the renewing power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, we seek to realize in our daily life; albeit, always imperfectly. The Word of God, and our reliance upon that Word, is the instrument by which the Spirit shapes a life lived worthily of the Lord.
In our passage for study Paul explains four elements of this holy life:
1. Bearing fruit in every good work, v10. An abundance of goodness. It's true isn't it, that the good we so rarely do is but by the grace of God? How can I be the person I want to be, the person God wants me to be? Reliance on the indwelling Spirit is the means of renewal, of a growth in Christ-likeness. The more we look to Jesus in his Word the more we become like him.
2. Growing in the knowledge of God, v10. Wisdom begets wisdom. A life lived worthily of the Lord is a life lived under the Word of God.
3. Being strengthened with all power to endure unto the end, v11. "Don't lead us not into temptation, but instead, deliver us from the Evil One." How shall I endure through the rough and tumble of life? In the power of the Spirit I will stand.
4. Giving thanks to the Father for the salvation we have in Christ, v12. We have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and now reside, and will eternally reside, in the kingdom of light. Such an eternal truth fosters a thankful people.
So let us walk!
1. Identify the point of Paul's prayer and the inevitable result which will flow from it.
2. Discuss the meaning of the four descriptives which illustrate the consequence of Paul's prayer for the Colossians.
3. Note the tense of v13 and discuss the theological implications of Paul's assertion here.
4. Seek to apply the central place Paul gives to the ministry of the Word in the life of the Colossian church. How does your church stack up?