An Introductory Prayer
Paul introduced his letter to the Colossians with prayer. In verses 3-8, he assured them that he gave thanks to God for them, “praying always for you” (v. 3). He specified that he was thankful for their “faith in Christ ... love for all the saints ... hope which is laid up for you in heaven.” (New King James Version) Paul often mentioned faith, hope, and love in his letters (Rom. 5:1-5; Gal. 5:5-6; 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:8; and perhaps the best remembered one in 1 Cor. 13:13). They are mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament (Heb. 10:22-24 and 1 Pet. 1:21-22). “This combination of faith, hope, and love ‘seems to be sort of a compendium of the Christian’s life current in the early apostolic church.’” (Ted J. Clarke, Studies in Philippians and Colossians: The Nineteenth Annual Denton Lectures, ed. by Dub McClish [Valid Publication, Inc., November 12-16, 2000] p. 189).
In verses 9-11, Paul informed them that he also petitioned God to grant them a specific blessing – that they “may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Paul was aware of their needs, especially the heresy they faced. He prayed accordingly and purposefully. He asked God for three things for them: 1) “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,” 2) “being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,” and 3) “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power.” Paul also knew that if the Colossian brethren received those things, there would be resultant blessings. They would enjoy: 1) “all patience,” 2) “longsuffering with joy,” and 3) “giving thanks to the Father.”
Paul wanted all of these things for the Colossians, but all of these spiritual desires that he had for them were based on their “being filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” These spiritual qualities are not had by prayer alone. Just as the gospel of salvation is dependent upon the preaching of God’s (written or spoken) Word, so does the gospel of continued growth, i.e. of growing in fellowship with God and one another. Surely, you have noticed that those who are most active in the kingdom of God and leaders of the body of Christ are those who have nourished their souls by feasting upon God’s Word.
The Hebrew writer made that link in Hebrews 5:11-14. Peter would have his readers to long for God’s word the way a baby desires milk so that they would grow (1 Pet 2:1-3). Paul instructed Timothy to “be diligent (study, KJV) to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Is Paul actually making a link between how we study and apply God’s Word to our lives with whether or not we receive God’s approval? Is it critical to our spiritual survival, maturity, and excellence? Yes, and again, yes! Hey, someone had better tell the saints! -4421 Blacksnake Hill Rd. NE, Dover, OH 44622-7928.
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