“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard” – Colossians 1:21-23 (NASB)
Being on the ‘outs’ of Christian fellowship was our circumstance before we received faith that made it possible to believe that Jesus, the Son of God is our Savior. We are converted from being ‘out’ to being ‘in’ God’s family when we are born of God – a work that God does for us according to his will and promise. It is a real transformation of our lives because before, or as our verse says, formerly we were alienated and had a hostile attitude. We were engaged in what is evil. Yet even in that state, doing nothing ourselves God reconciled us. When did this reconciliation happen? It happened on the cross, at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That is when the work of reconciling our sinful selves with our perfect God happened. Here is our promise: He did this so we can appear before Him holy and blameless (forgiven) and beyond reproach. We are to continue in the faith firmly founded and unwavering, not moved away from the hope of the gospel.
“ He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV)
In our previous verse (Colossians 1:12) we read the promise of a share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. That is why we must today look at the promise that springs from that one. This inheritance is in the … light. Some translations (NIV) supply the words “kingdom of,” which are not in the Greek. Rather this light is the spiritual sphere to which believers have been transferred from the dominion of darkness. From this dominion, power, or authority of darkness We as believers have been rescued, and therefore delivered. Through Christ they were brought from a rebel kingdom and placed under the sovereignty of their rightful King. The sovereign Christ is here called his beloved Son. Through Christ, God’s “Loved One,” Christians have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Let’s emphasize that “redemption” means “to rescue by ransom.” Christ paid that ransom for us on the cross and in His resurrection. And, “forgiveness” means “remission” by the Redeemer. This is our joyful emancipation from darkness which we possess in the Light of our Savior only because of the tremendous cost Christ paid on the cross.
“…strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” – Colossians 1:11-12 (NASB)
Again we look at this passage from the letter Paul the Apostle wrote to the church in Colossae. He cared much for the people in all the churches he had a part in establishing. Praying for them every day, he sought God’s very best for them and for them to recognize the promises and blessings they received. These are promises for us as well. In our passage today is a third factor, spiritual strength, that results from knowing God’s will and pleasing Him. Being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might, a promise for overcoming uses three words for strength: “being strengthened” ⸺enable; make strong;¹ “power” ⸺be able, can;² and “might” ⸺power that overcomes resistance;³ This God-given strength produces great endurance and patience. This endurance or perseverance (James 1:3), we saw characterized by Job (James 5:11). To this endurance Paul added “patience,” a word generally associated with gentleness and calmness. When patience-producing power is manifested it is often accompanied with a joyful spirit of thanksgiving to the Father from whom comes every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Our promise is we are made qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints.
“…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;…” – Colossians 1:10 (NASB)
In the letters written by the Apostle Paul, he often uses long compound sentences. Verses 9 through 12 is one sentence so continuing from yesterday’s consideration of verse 9 we now find the aim of Paul’s petition in his daily prayers. His prayer request was practical: in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord. A genuine knowledge of Christ reveals itself in transformed character, in Christlikeness. In Ephesians, Philippians, and both letters to the Thessalonians this exhortation is used. We are called to live our lives and walk in a manner worthy of God, of his calling us, and of other believers. How we live each day, what we think, say and do is observed by others and it reflects our dedication and conviction of God. Christ Jesus has saved us and called us to be a testimony to His Word. If we are walking worthy of the Lord, the promise is that we will please the Lord in all respects. We will bear fruit in all our good efforts at the work He gives us; our knowledge of God will be increasing daily which also pleases the Lord.
“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,…” – Colossians 1:9 (ESV)
Paul the Apostle was a man of prayer and filled with love for those who had come to know the saving faith of Jesus through his ministry. One of the servant messengers had brought to Paul a good report. This is Epaphras (Epaphroditus), Likely the same one who carried messages and support to Paul from the believers in Philippi (Philippians 4:18). Because of this good report of them from Epaphras, he continued to pray for them. Paul’s ceaseless prayer does not mean that he prayed without ever stopping but that he never forgot to pray for them when he regularly prayed each day. Paul’s primary petition was that God would fill them with the knowledge of His will. There are two key words, “fill” and “knowledge” which Paul used. The first suggests a filling out to entirety, and the latter is a full, deep understanding. Knowledge of this kind, and of God’s will, does not come from a natural or fleshly mind, but from the Word of God through the Holy Spirit who, dwelling in us enlightens our spirit. That is our promise ⸺spiritual wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV)
The promises found in our passage today might remind us of the verse in Genesis 1:26-27 where we find God decided and created male and female in His image. One of the meanings of the phrase “image of God” means that people are created as God’s image—or, as His imagers. This passage speaks of the incarnation of Christ—the eternal God becoming a human being and becoming visible for us. The Son of God, Jesus the Anointed One has existed from eternity past. He is the One who created everything that we can see and what we cannot see, and all things on earth and above the earth in heaven. All were created by Him and for Him, the Son of God. He came to live among us on earth, He lived a perfect life as a man without sin, all to complete and satisfy the promise made in Genesis 3. It was necessary for Him with His divine nature to take on a human nature to fulfill the promise of redemption for all human kind. We can embrace this promise because it is the way God made for us to know Him.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” – Colossians 1:13-14 (NASB)
Recently many thousands of people in the United States were in darkness because of no electricity. Don’t we all prefer being in the light to being in darkness? Being filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding of God, transforms our lives and rescues us from darkness. We are promised wonderful results by following God’s will. Two outcomes from a God-pleasing life are bearing fruit and increasing in knowledge (Col 1:10). Spiritual strength can be considered a third factor that results from knowing God’s will and pleasing Him (Col 1:11). Thankfulness, a keynote in our spiritual life, is a fourth result (Col 1:12). Plus, the promises in today’s passage. God transfers us out of the dominion of darkness which is the domain of Satan. It happens to us the moment we receive redemption and forgiveness from our life of sin and the stubborn rebellion which is sin itself. We now possess inheritance reserved for us in the kingdom of light which is Jesus Christ. We like particularly this word in verse 13, ‘rescued,’ which gives us the picture of being snatched out of danger and assurance that we are out of peril and are now safe and secure in God’s family.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” – Colossians 1:9 (NASB)
The believers in the assembly of the church in Colossae were up against false teachers who were co-opting the truth of the Gospel with fabricated rules about eating, drinking and religious traditions. This false teaching developed into the heresy called Gnosticism. The Colossians, like us, needed to know and understand the deity and superiority of Christ. Paul writes that he prayed for them without ceasing. It means that in his prayer times, they were always included in his prayers. He writes this letter from his prison in Rome and stressed two primary requests. That they, and us, would know fully and be filled with the knowledge of God’s will; that they would be enjoined with spiritual wisdom and understanding of who Jesus Christ truly was. This perverse heresy taught that Christ was not God. It takes believers with spiritual maturity in faith to overcome false teaching and fully embrace the truth of Christ’s deity as taught in the Bible. Paul wrote this for us as well so that we too will learn to hold fast to the truth of Jesus Christ who is, the Son of God, our Savior. And acknowledge Christ as sovereign head of the Church.
Understanding What Gnosticism Is