“For this reason we continually pray, since the day we heard, that you will completely understand His will through acute spiritual wisdom and discernment, that you will lead a life worthy of the Master and please Him in everything you do, perpetually growing through a comprehensive knowledge of God, being empowered and strengthened in proportion to the might of His majesty, preparing you to cheerfully endure all things with patience and perseverance, giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the light the saints will inherit, who has rescued us from the tyrannical powers of darkness and re-established us in the kingdom of His beloved Son, through whom we have had our sins forgiven by His redeeming blood.” (1:9-14, paraphrased)
The phrase “for this reason” refers to the gratitude Paul has just expressed. By their faith and love the Colossians prove they are disposed to do the will of God. Because of what He has already done in their lives, Paul is confident of what God will continue to do in the future (Phil. 1:6). They need deeper spiritual perception, so Paul prays they will grow in knowledge (v. 9), sanctification (v. 10), spiritual power, patience, joy (v. 11), and thankfulness (v. 12). His prayer for their spiritual enrichment evolves into one of the most profound of all Christological passages.
Their progress inspires him to pray they may become more spiritually mature through the accurate comprehension (plerothete) of His will. Plerothete involves grasping the knowledge only God can supply. The key to wisdom is not amassing knowledge, but familiarization with the Lord’s will. Even though the Gospel message sounds foolish to the skeptic, God seeks to enlighten the human intellect (I Cor. 1:18). Discernment of God’s will stands in contrast with the speculative knowledge touted by esoteric heretics. The secretive, exclusive knowledge purportedly held by a few is compared to God’s will freely available to all.
The Holy Spirit imparts godly wisdom, whereas false teachers possess only sectarian wisdom. One facet of the term “understanding” (sunesei) is the ability to think through a subject clearly and discriminate between what is true and what is false. The words “wisdom” and “understanding” together express the idea of practical spiritual discernment. Although Gnostics worship knowledge for knowledge sake, true knowledge begins with respect for Jehovah. Continual obedience is mandatory for receiving greater knowledge (Pv. 1:7).
The pragmatic result of this wisdom is leading a life pleasing to the Lord. An increasing knowledge of God manifests itself by transforming one’s character. This godly lifestyle is what Paul calls a “walk” (2:6; 3:7 & 4:5). “Worthy” (axios) is often used in reference to a pair of scales in which both pans contain equal weight. Believers bring glory to His name through a balanced life. Walking worthy of the Lord means living a life which reflects His character and lifestyle.
“Bearing fruit” (karpophorountes) is in the present tense, indicating a continuing process. As rain affects the maturation of fruit, so the knowledge of God affects spiritual growth. The knowledge of God perpetuates a hunger for deeper knowledge of Him. Knowing only a Spirit-controlled intellect can bear spiritual fruit, Paul prays for the steadily increasing growth of this knowledge.
The terms “strengthen” and “might” (KJV) both come from the root word dunimis. Paul’s sincere petition is that they may be endowed not only with knowledge but “empowered with all power” (dunamei dunamoumenoi) (Phil. 4:13).
“His glorious power” (kratos tes doxes) pinpoints the source of our strength, for “power” (kratos) in the New Testament is applied only to God. Paul subtly contrasts God’s power with the Stoic virtue of self-sufficiency. The Lord’s self-sustaining strength not only meets but far surpasses all human needs. He empowers and sustains the Colossians as they face persecution. Spiritual strength encourages and enables Believers to persevere and endure all temptations and trials.
The threefold power God provides is patience, longsuffering, and joy. Patience (hupomone) refers to steadfast, unrelenting persistence despite trials and setbacks. Hupomone indicates an attitude of endurance that refuses to succumb to cowardice or despondency. Longsuffering (makrothumia) restrains the human instinct to retaliate against those who injure us. It is a Christ-like attitude, for when He is reviled He does not retaliate (I Pet. 2:23). Believers can “smile through every trial,” for the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10). Patient endurance breeds joyful optimism (Gal. 5:22).
Paul’s continuing prayer includes renewed thankfulness (eucharisteo) for all the blessings that flow from the Gospel. The apostle views gratitude as a virtue that characterizes Christian living. Jesus furnishes numerous reasons for our gratitude, for He qualifies (hikanosanti) us to share in His inheritance. Hikanosanti means to be made competent to accomplish a task. By His grace we are qualified to share in the inheritance He provides for us. We find true satisfaction only in things that please God. Holy living allows us to enjoy on earth what the saints enjoy in heaven as “children of light” (Lk. 16:8).
Another reason for gratitude is our complete deliverance (errhusato) from the realm of darkness and transference into the kingdom of His beloved Son. The Greek term errhusato depicts an extremely intense experience, such as the Jews’ deliverance from Egypt or Assyria. The Lord delivers us from bondage then personally leads us into His Promised Land. Our rescue from the powers of the demonic realm assures us of our inheritance.
The chief characteristic of Satan’s empire is darkness (skotous), which Paul contrasts with light (photi) in the previous verse. Darkness not only describes one’s condition apart from God, it refers to an evil realm diametrically opposed to God. Darkness is equated with falsehood and sin; light is equated with truth and redemption (I Jn. 1:5). False prophets are compared to the rulers of darkness and Christ to the light of the glory of God (Eph. 6:12 & II Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the light of the world (Jn. 8:12) whose effulgence illuminates the heavenly city of God (Rev. 21:23).
With a stroke of his pen, Paul invalidates the entire angelic hierarchy the Gnostics place above Jesus Christ. The angelic principalities to which the Colossian Believers are urged to pay homage were defeated on the Cross of Calvary (Rom. 8:38). Christians now enjoy the benefits of a new kingdom procured for them by their King. Into this kingdom we have been transferred (metestesen). Metestesen is the same term used regarding the translation of Enoch into heaven (Heb. 11:5). As a monarch relocates a nation from their ancestral land to his kingdom, so Christ re-establishes the saints in His domain. Paul does not refer to this as a future experience but as something already realized. Regeneration transfers us from the domain of sin and ignorance into the realm of freedom and understanding. We are now subjects of a different kingdom, serving a different Master under different laws.
Paul fittingly concludes his prayer by reminding the Colossians of Christ’s atonement. His petitions are based on the reality of redemption (apolutrosin). Jesus comes to offer His life a ransom (lutron) for many (Mk. 10:45). The fundamental meaning of apolutrosin is deliverance. This can be illustrated b a slave freed when payment is made or a prisoner released from captivity. Believers are Christ’s purchased possession and our ransom price is His precious blood (I Pet. 1:19). Paul speaks of redemption as a current possession rather than something anticipated. Christ’s self-sacrificing love bought our freedom and our salvation is enriched as we ponder the enormous cost.
Points to Ponder
1. After Paul’s conversion, what is the first thing he does (Acts 9:11)?
2. What does Paul pray for regarding the Thessalonians (I Th. 3:10 & 5:23)?
3. How can Believers gain the spiritual wisdom Paul prayed the Colossians would have (II Timothy 2:15)?
4. How do unsaved persons view spiritual wisdom (I Corinthians 2:14)?
5. Paraphrase what Paul tells the Corinthians about human wisdom (I Cor. 1:17-24).
6. From the following verses, list ways a Believer must “walk.”
Romans 6:4 & 13:13
Colossians 2:6 & 4:5
I Thessalonians 4:12
I John 1:7
II John 6
Revelation 3:4 & 21:24
7. How is “light” contrasted with “darkness” in the following passages?
Psalm 18:28 & 112: 4
John 1:5; 3:19 & 8:12
8. From the following verses, list some facts regarding Jesus’ redeeming blood:
I Peter 1:19
9. What is reserved for Believers (I Peter 1:3-4)?