Posted by: Moses | January 8, 2007

Colossians 1:9-14

9 And 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, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

So you’ve heard about Christ, and the grace he bought when He conquered death? Great, ’cause that’s just the shot that starts the race. If I were to hear of the Colossians conversion and love, I’d be like “Yay God, look what You’ve done.” Paul on the other hand looks at Colossae and seems almost disappointed; he looks forward with a holy discontentment saying, “Yay God, look what awesome stuff You’re about to do!” He knows that God is only getting started.

Paul’s continued prayer is that the Colossians would be intimitately familiar with God’s will, what God wants. He specifies this statement into two spheres, Spiritual wisdom and understanding. Now, to me that’s really enigmatic, so I’m glad Paul continued on. The purpose of those two virtues is to “walk worthy…fully pleasing to [Christ].” They are the means to that end. Furthermore Verse 10 elucidates how His will manifests in a believer’s life: “bearing fruit… and increasing in the knowledge of God.

So post-justification, understanding and wisdom are the means to “fully pleasing” Christ. Commentaries on the specific distinctions between these words are a dime a dozen, so I’m kind of at a loss. In my mind, understanding is the ability to comprehend (academic mastery), and wisdom is the ability to use that comprehension skilfullly (applied learning).

Both Galatians 5 and Romans 8 are in-depth studies of fighting sin and bearing fruit. Both carry a strong theme that both activities are only accomplished by a faith in Christ, given by God and wielded by the Holy Spirit. Now, Biblical faith is characterized by two things, a confident knowledge of something not present, and an active reaction to that knowledge (Heb. 11, James 2). Biblical faith is characterized by producing fruit and knowing God. Sound familiar? There aren’t two ways to reach sanctification; it is always the Spirit of God working faith in a believer’s heart. Therefore, regardless of which hairs understanding and wisdom split, they have to be deeply rooted in an active, God delighting faith.

Furthermore, usually the preposition “in” is relatively unimportant because it can mean any number of things. However, it is interesting that Paul does not want them just to be filled with a “knowledge of His will.” He wants that with a proviso. Perhaps spiritual understanding of our dependence on God would temper the pride that threatens to well up when we think we know what God wants for us. And perhaps spiritual wisdom would allow us to communicate that humility lovingly so as to edify our brothers. Paul wants the Colossians love to be preserved, even as they grow up. He is not just interested in seeing the gospel advance grow (v. 6); he is deeply concerned with preserving the saints who Christ has already won (v. 11).

11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The implied exhortation of this whole section is clear. Let me fall on my face before God, pleading for strength. In full knowledge of my weakness, let me seek to know my God, and then to work harder then any man to display His fruit, knowing and proclaiming that His power is producing it in me (v. 11, 29).

So give thanks! His power is sufficient so that we can endure with joy! Wow. What other response can there be since we didn’t do any of this? It is all grace. “He qualified us” while we were still in the “domain of darkness.” That’s like picking soldiers from the enemy army, while they are still shooting at you, and pardoning them. He issued pardons to us even as we blasted holes through His hands, feet, and side. We are citizens of His country. We have redemption. We have the forgiveness of sins. Thanksgiving is not a requirement; it’s any human’s God-designed response to that kind of mercy.



  1. I like the metaphor in your last paragraph.

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