As we continue our study of Colossians, we come to Paul’s prayer for this group of believers—a prayer that I have borrowed from many times as I pray for those I love.
Colossians 1:3-4 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
Paul encourages the believers at Colosse by letting them know that he gives thanks to God in his continual prayers for them. By identifying God as “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he was affirming the truth as stated by Jesus during His ministry on earth.
John 8:54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God….
It was this claim that had motivated the Pharisees to seek to have Jesus put to death. It was probably this claim that most motivated Saul to seek to destroy the sect of the Nazarenes, those that followed Jesus. This was such an eye-opening truth for Paul that he repeated it clearly many times throughout his epistles.
Colossians 1:5-6 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth….
I had to go back to the beginning and read again to get the flow. Paul is giving thanks not only for the active faith of this body of believers, but “for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” The Greek for hope is a reference to anticipation with pleasure and confidence. Because of their faith, they could now look forward to eternity in the presence of God. The Greek for heaven makes reference to the abode of God and is affirmed in scripture.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
1Peter 3:18 & 22 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit…. Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.
Just as the gospel had brought forth fruit in the lives of the believers at Colosse, so it would wherever it was preached. Once people hear the gospel and respond to its truth through the grace of God, there will be evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in their lives by the fruits that are produced.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Paul was a man who rejoiced at the effective spread of the gospel and was a faithful prayer warrior for the Gentile churches in particular. My understanding of his prayer:
- That the believers be filled with the knowledge of His will. – This is the ability to discern or recognize God’s purpose(s) (from the Greek). Webster defines knowledge as clear perception of the truth. I interpret this to mean that Paul is praying for them to become totally familiar with the Word of God—His message of truth to us.
- That their knowledge be put to use with wisdom. – Wisdom is the ability to make good use of knowledge or truth.
- That their wisdom be based on spiritual understanding. – Spiritual understanding would be wisdom as based on the meaning and intent of the Word of God. This is an area in which the Pharisees were woefully lacking.
As a former Pharisee, Paul knew firsthand what it was to possess knowledge and earthly wisdom without spiritual understanding. It was his desire that these believers not fall into that trap.
Paul also prays for God to strengthen the Colossian believers with ability and power so abundant that their works will be a source of praise and worship to God (from the Greek for might and glorious power). It is only through God’s enablement that any believer can possibly walk worthy of the Lord and be fruitful in every good work. Through God’s empowerment, the believer can live with patience (cheerful endurance, constancy) and longsuffering (not easily provoked) while having a joyful spirit in spite of trouble or trying circumstances. Joy is synonymous with the hope of the Christian; it’s an expectation of good to come.
Colossians 1:12-13 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Paul now transitions into a time of praise to God, which should be an important part of our prayer life. It is through the Father’s provision that believers have part in an inheritance specifically designated for the pure and morally blameless (from Greek for saints). It is only “in Christ” that we meet those qualifications. When we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, we are “imputed His righteousness.”
2Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Romans 4:20-24 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God….And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead….
Paul notes that this inheritance is “in light.” This would be a reference to the presence of God. I am reminded of the words of John.
1John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Paul contrasts our inheritance “in light” to our deliverance from “the power of darkness. I believe this is a reference to Satan, the ruler of the “rulers of the darkness of this world.”
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
We have been rescued from one kingdom (Satan’s) and carried away to the safety of another (Christ’s, the dear Son of God).
(to be continued…)