A Prayer for Power: Colossians 1:9-14

Overview of Verses 9-14

In this passage, Paul shares a prayer that he and his companions have been regularly praying for the Colossians. The apostle prays that the believers would increase in knowledge, fruitfulness, and strength and that they would give thanks to their Father (1:9-12). The prayer ends with a celebratory announcement that in his beloved Son, God has rescued us and brought us into the Kingdom (1:13-14).

The church in Colossae is facing some serious problems; false teachers have come among them like savage wolves. But interestingly, Paul does not pray for their circumstances to change. Instead, he prays for their spiritual maturity. Let us learn from this that God will at times allow us to endure suffering and discomfort, for it refines us and shapes our character to look more like Jesus. (See Isaiah 48:10; Luke 9:23-24; Acts 5:40-42; Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 4:8-11; 1 Peter 1:6-7)

Break it Down: Verse-by-Verse (ESV)

v9: 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,”

Paul prays that the church would know God’s will; that is, that they would know what God wants them to do and how he wants them to live.

This is a mandate for all followers of Jesus. We all must learn to distinguish between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14) and to discern the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

Paul desires that this knowledge of God’s will would be accompanied by “spiritual wisdom and understanding.” The word spiritual is used here to speak of things that come from the Holy Spirit. For this reason, the NIV translates this phrase as “the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” The wisdom of the Spirit helps us understand how to apply God’s will to our everyday lives.

May the Spirit of truth form us into a wise and understanding people, so that we may know the ways of our God and apply this knowledge to every aspect of our lives, as individuals and as a church body.

v10a: “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work”

We are to gain knowledge of God’s will and wisely understand how to apply it to our lives so that we live in a way that reflects the character of Jesus. This makes us worthy to be called his people and is very pleasing to our God.

We are not to be only hearers (and readers) of God’s word; we are called to be doers of the word too (James 1:22-25). Spiritual knowledge is useless without real-life application. “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18 NIV).

v10b: “and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

God desires that we continually grow in our knowledge of him. This knowledge is not only intellectual, but also relational and experiential. A spiritually healthy Christian is constantly seeking to know God on a deeper, more intimate level. They echo Moses’ request of God: show me your glory (Exodus 33:18). Communion with God is the primary aim of the Christian life; everything else is dependent on it. Let us hear the words of our Master: “…this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3 ESV).

v11: “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”

It takes true power to continue in the Christian life; power that we do not naturally have within ourselves. The narrow path is often one of suffering and unceasing anguish. It takes true power to patiently endure as we pick up our cross and follow after him (Luke 9:23), and even more to do so with joy.

But we have no reason to fear the size of the task, for we have a Strengthener who is infinitely powerful and full of glorious might; we have a Lord whose power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9); we have been adopted as children of the God who raises the dead.

v12-14: “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 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.”

~We thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for snatching us out of the darkness and bringing us into your marvelous light. We thank you for giving us the right to become children of the light and share in the inheritance of your holy ones. We praise you for offering us a new and better way of being human, through the rule of King Jesus. We love you with an undying love, for you sent your Son to redeem us and forgive us of our sins. You loved us while we hid in the darkness; may we now love you openly in the light.

May we be empowered through your Spirit, that we may grow in our knowledge, fruitfulness, and strength. May we live in a manner that pleases you. May we intimately know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. Amen.

This post is the fourth in our series on Colossians.

Previous Post: What Is the Church? (https://theologyforreallife.home.blog/2019/08/12/what-is-the-church/)

Next Post: All Things: Colossians 1:15-23 (https://theologyforreallife.home.blog/2019/03/19/colossians-115-23-notes/)

Referenced Sources

The Bible Project – Overview: Colossians (https://youtu.be/pXTXlDxQsvc)

The Naked Bible Podcast – Colossians (https://nakedbiblepodcast.com)

John Chrysostom – Homilies on Colossians (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2303.htm)

N.T. Wright – Colossians and Philemon: Tyndale New Testament Commentary (https://bit.ly/2Houfit)

N.T. Wright – Christian Hope in a Confusing World – Colossians 1:9-23 (https://youtu.be/ci-P0CLCiGM)

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible – Colossians (https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/colossians/)


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