Colossians 1:9-14 | Knowing God’s Will
9And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him:
- Paul’s primary concern for these new believers is no material need but that they might know God’s will. The ‘will of God’ here is not a specific will for a given situation but the general will of God in how these believers (and us) might please God and walk worthily before him.
- ‘spiritual wisdom and understanding’ – Spiritual because it is a thing of God which is given, not a thing of man which can be learnt. Wisdom and understanding because it is something to be fully embraced and become part of our lives, not just saved to memory. We do not recite the will of God from cerebral knowledge, but live it out with practical wisdom. It shows that we must use wisdom day by day, moment by moment to discern and decide how best to please God and walk worthily before him.
- Paul then starts to list some of the ways in which we can please God…
bearing fruit in every good work
- GOSPEL FRUIT
- The first way we are to please God is bearing fruit in good work. What is the work and what is the fruit? The work is the mission of God to redeem all of creation to himself, and our work is to be ambassadors of his gospel, making disciples of all nations. The fruit then is as pictured in verses 4-6, new people placing their faith and hope in Jesus Christ and in result loving God and each other.
- Churches and individual believers must ask of themselves, are we/am I bearing fruit in every good work?
and increasing in the knowledge of God;
- GOSPEL KNOWLEDGE
- The second way we are to walk worthily before God and please him is to grow in the knowledge of God. This is to grow in our knowledge of his person and plans, who God is and what he is doing.
- The Greek for ‘knowledge’ here is epignósis, meaning ‘first-hand knowledge’. It is elsewhere translated as ‘true knowledge’ or ‘real knowledge’. It is knowledge and understanding gained through personal experience and relationship with God. Not knowledge imported from others but developed through personal relationships and learning.
11being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;
- GOSPEL POWER
- The third way in which we please God is to be strengthened with His power. Note that this is not simply a means towards holiness but something that God actually delights in; we being strengthened by his power.
- The purpose of his power is that we might be empowered to endure (‘remain under’), be patient (long-suffering) and be joyful. These three states build on top of each other. God empowers us to ‘remain under’ and endure the hardships of life without quitting and forsaking God. Not only this, but he empowers us to do so patiently and without anger. Finally, it is not just this but the abundance of joy which he blesses us with, that we might endure the hardships of life patiently and with joy.
- His power (described here) produces endurance, patience and joy, not supernatural workings. This is truly the power of faith, trust in the unseen which produces fruit of character. Therefore, a ‘powerful Christian’ is of sincere faith and godly character.
12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
- GOSPEL THANKS
- The fourth way in which we please God is simply by giving thanks. Just as God delights in empowering us, he also delights in our thankfulness for it gives him glory. The more we rely on God and thank God, the more we glorify God.
- ‘qualified’ – we thank God because he has qualified us (made us sufficient) for his inheritance. We were not good enough, but he has made us good enough through Jesus Christ.
- Our inheritance is something we share with all other saints, and so as our sharing is corporate, so should our thankfulness be too. This is partly why we sing songs of praise and thanksgiving in church, so that we corporately share in thanking God
- ‘in light’ – just as one might feel a sense of joy stepping out of a gloomy cave into the light, so we can be filled with joy and thankfulness stepping out of sin into the light of God’s grace. We have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his son
- Our thankfulness is two fold here, thankfulness for deliverance from the oppression of sin, and thankfulness for the forgiveness of the conviction of sin. In sin we are both victims and offenders. In Jesus we are delivered victims and redeemed offenders.