Commentary on Colossians, 1:9-12 (Pattern for Prayer)

Colossians 1:9-12

“9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard, do not cease to pray and make request for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Verses 9 thru 12 provides us with a wonderful pattern for prayer when praying for other Christians, and of course, for ourselves. When praying for my children, this is a prayer that I have applied to them many times over the years. There is power in praying the Word of God. It’s a good practice.

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard, do not cease to pray and make request for you”

Ever since Paul and his fellow-servants heard of the Colossians coming to faith in Christ, they were continually in prayer for them. As I mentioned earlier, we need to be praying for one another, especially new believers. However, none of us are beyond need of it. Even the strongest and most mature Christian needs the prayers of others. It’s easy to feel the burden to pray for Christians who are struggling spiritually, but we must not neglect to pray for Christians who seem to have it all together. It’s so easy to begin slipping in our walk with Christ. 

All of us should have a prayer list of Christians we know that we pray for regularly (I’m exhorting myself here). Prayer lists are a good idea because it’s so easy to forget about someone….for “out of sight out of mind.” Prayer lists are also good for recording answers to our prayers, and that provides encouragement to keep praying. It also results in praises to God for His faithfulness and mercy and grace.

“that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”

Paul here mentions knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The three go hand in hand. Knowledge is more than knowing facts. True knowledge is characterized by wisdom and understanding. Knowing God’s will is important, and we need to be obedient whether we understand it or or not. However, if we understand why something is God’s will, it makes it easier to submit. Sometimes we think, “I just don’t understand why this is wrong.” And so it often makes it hard to obey. But if understand why it is wrong, then it’s like, “I get it now, I can see now why it’s so sinful in the eyes of God.”

That acquired understanding, our eyes now being opened to the ugliness of it, compels us to cease. 

“spiritual wisdom”

Let’s first define what wisdom is. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge. It’s the spiritual discernment to know how to apply what the Holy Spirit teaches us to be true. Knowledge by itself is important, but it’s incomplete without spiritual wisdom and understanding. A person may know every fact of the Bible, but if he doesn’t understand it or if he doesn’t know how to apply it, it’s not going to make much of a difference in his life. Like the Trinity of God, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding work together as one.

Notice that Paul refers to spiritual wisdom. There is a wisdom of this world, and there is a wisdom from God.Paul tells us that the “wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:19). Later in this book of Colossians, Paul tells us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in hidden Christ (Col 2:3). Hidden from the world, but not from us. If we’re going to grow in spiritual wisdom, we must be in the Word of God. I will talk more about Col 2:3 when we get there, but if we’re going to grow in spiritual wisdom, we must be passionate students of God’s Word, and we must be growing in our relationship with Christ…learning more and more from Him.

If all we’re doing is taking in and taking in of the philosophies and viewpoints of the world (through tv, movies, internet, magazines, books, etc), then that’s the wisdom we will go through life with. But we can’t go through life living according to the wisdom of this world and still be in God’s will. We must not allow the wisdom of this world to conform us to it’s way of thinking. To counter what we hear from the world, we must spend a lot of time in God’s Word, absorbing the wisdom and the knowledge and the understanding that the Holy Spirit reveals to us. He is our Teacher.

Show me a Christian who spends little time in God’s Word, but a lot of time watching tv and movies, and a lot of time reading stuff on the internet, and I will show you a Christian whose way of thinking is much the same way as the non-Christian. We simply can’t continuously be subjected to the ways and viewpoints of this world and not be affected. It WILL have a detrimental influence in the way we view and approach life. As I already indicated, the only way to counter its influence is to faithfully subject ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word. 

I want to spend a little more time on understanding as it relates to doctrine. The church is so divided about so many different doctrines. It’s sad, really, that we’re not more in harmony. I could go into great detail here about where we differ, but that’s not really the purpose of commentary. So let me keep this general and exhort every Christian reading this, to give yourselves wholeheartedly to learning the Word of God. Reading the “Daily Bread” alone just isn’t going to cut it. Reading any devotionals in place of the verse by verse study of God’s Word, will only lead to a misunderstanding of truth – because the foundation just won’t be there.

Without a firm biblical foundation, we leave ourselves open to serious deception. If we are not studying the Word for ourselves, and all our learning is coming from what others are teaching us, then we will not know whether what’s being taught is the truth. Everything we learn from others, including from me, must be tested. The only way to do that, is to study. It’s a long process, and it takes many years to grow in the proper understanding of God’s Word, but it’s absolutely necessary….and I might add, there is nothing more rewarding either. 

But another word of caution is in order. We must approach the learning of God’s Word with a proper balance between personal study and learning from others. The Holy Spirit has gifted certain individuals within the body of Christ in order to teach the others. So we must not disregard what they have to say. However, at the same time, we must do our best to learn the Word for ourselves so that we can test whatever we learn from our pastor and other Bible teachers.

I recommend that when reading the Bible, read several different commentaries. Reading the various viewpoints of different Bible teachers will allow you to think carefully through every verse and passage and doctrine, and will also keep you from straying into really off the wall beliefs. Most importantly, learn to study the Bible by comparing scripture with scripture with scripture….and more scripture. The Bible is the best commentary that we have on the Bible. 

One more point I want to make about acquiring wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, is to learn without personal bias. I believe the number one reason why there’s so many different interpretations regarding so many different doctrines, is because people approach it with a doctrinal bias. Instead of simply allowing truth to take them where it wants to lead them, they end up twisting Scripture to fit their position, rather than sincerely allowing Scripture to form their position. They get it backwards. Positional bias will adversely influence how we understand the Bible. We must be open and honest about what we read, and allow truth to speak the truth, rather than forcing it to mean what we want it to.

“10 to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 

“to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing”

As Christians, who bear the name of Christ, we must walk in a manner that is worthy of Christ, worthy of that holy name. We must live and walk in a manner that honors Him and pleases Him in every area of our lives. As we grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, we will be able to do that more and more. 

The honor of Christ’s name must be the highest priority in our lives. It must be the primary driving force in our lives. Nothing else should matter to us more than bringing glory and honor to the name that is above all names. If we allow that to lead us in all our ways, to be the primary consideration when making all our decisions, then we will save ourselves from going down the wrong paths. As long as we regard the honor of Christ’s name more important than anything else in life, then we will save ourselves from a lot of shame and a lot of regrets. To honor the Lord is to please the Lord.

“bearing fruit in every good work”

When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us, the fruit of the Spirit will be produced in our lives. Furthermore, we will also see fruit being produced in whatever “good work” the Spirit leads us in to. We will see people coming to faith in Christ. We will see Christians taught and growing spiritually. We will see lives being forever changed. Making a difference in people’s lives is what we’re here for. That’s why Jesus came into this world, to make a difference in people’s lives for all eternity. We are to serve others as He did, and to make people a priority in our lives. There are only three things that last forever, God, people, and God’s Word. What sense does it make to commit our lives to anything else?

“increasing in the knowledge of God”

Not only are we to be growing in the knowledge of God’s will, but also in the knowledge of God Himself. We must value our relationship with God above all else; He must be our greatest passion. We must pursue God with everything we have. We must seek to be closer to Him more and more. That comes through much time alone with Him in prayer and in His Word. We must not allow anything to prevent us from those precious times of intimacy with our heavenly Father. We must meet with Him daily, at all costs. The rewards are greater than all other attainments, and will last forever. 

“11 strengthened with all power, according to the might of His glory, unto all patience and longsuffering with joy;”

“strengthened with all power”

Our spiritual strength comes from God. It’s not that He gives us “all power,” but that it comes from Him who has “all power.” From His infinite power, He gives us all the power we need to live for Him, to please Him, to honor Him in our lives. This strength and power comes through a close walk with Him. The closer we are in our walk with Him, the more of His power we will experience….for it takes humility to walk with God, and it’s only to the humble that He grants grace (1 Pet 5:5). A totally humble walk is a totally selfless walk.

“according to the might of His glory”

Expositor’s:   “the might of God’s own manifested nature”

“might” (Gr. kratos – 2904)

Preceptaustin:  Kratos means strength or might, especially manifested power, the power to rule or control or dominion (power to rule, supreme authority, sovereignty, the right to govern or rule or determine). Kratos denotes the presence and significance of force or strength rather than its exercise. It is the ability or express resident strength.”

God’s power and might are inseparable from His glory, for that is who He is. 

Tyndale NT Commentaries:  “The glory of God speaks of the manifestation to men of His essential being. It is, as it were, the shining forth of His majesty. Thus the ‘power (might) of his glory’ means the power which is declared to us when God reveals Himself. The word used for power (might), kratos, is in the New Testament used only of God. This essential divine power, when manifested to us, becomes in us dunamis, here translated strength, which energizes us and enables us to live lives that will please Him.”

“unto all patience and longsuffering with joy”

“for all endurance and patience with joy”  ESV

God’s power and strength allows us to endure whatever comes our way. It allows us to be patient about things that seem to go on forever. This is God’s grace that He extends to us during times of greatest need and weakness. As the Lord said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). His grace and power provides for our lack….and He enables us to do it with “joy.” That’s a work He performs within us that the world knows nothing about. Life can be very scary with so many threats to our comfort and peace, but God is faithful, and we need to trust Him no matter how hopeless or dreadful something may appear to us now. 

“12 giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.”

“fit” (Gr. hikanoo – 2427)

Qualified, enabled, to make sufficient, to equip with adequate power.

We’re to give thanks and praise to God for making us “fit” for Heaven. Apart from Christ we are unfit or unqualified for the Kingdom of God. It’s only through Christ and the sacrifice He made for us that we are made fit to stand in His holy presence, where the “light” of His glory radiates throughout kingdom of His Son (verse 13).