Colossians 1 Part 3
New King James Version 10. that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
The Resultant Version 10. To the end you might walk worthy of the Lord in relation to all pleasing Him, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the realization of God;
Their prayer that the Colossians might realize His will is to the end that they might walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in everything, and bearing fruit in every good work. We understand that the “worthy walk” speaks of the worthy lifestyle. Just as one walks to get just about everywhere in this world, and so walking is one of the most common things one does every day, so one lives one’s lifestyle every day, and this lifestyle should be worthy of the Lord Who bought us. This matter of the worthy walk that comes about as a result of one’s understanding of God’s current will and work is the major topic of the last three chapters of the book of Ephesians. There, the Lord sets forth what the worthy walk of the believer is to be in detail. Here, the need for walking worthy of the Lord is merely mentioned as an outcome of realizing His will in wisdom and spiritual understanding.
The worthy walk will result in them bearing fruit in every good work. Bearing fruit is a common figure in the Bible for the produce brought about by one’s actions. The good works they do as part of their worthy lifestyle will have a significant harvest.
Yet we need to be careful regarding what this harvest might be. Many people, when they read of good works, assume that means they need to roll up their sleeves and get busy doing these works. This might be true, but the problem is that many of these never ask the very important question of what these good works might be? Instead, they just assume they know what good works are, and start doing whatever they please. For many, it might well be working at their church. Even mowing the lawn of the church might be considered a good work, so long as it is benefitting a church. Somehow, it seems, mowing a church lawn is a good work for God, whereas mowing your own lawn is not. The reason this is assumed to be true is because the church is assumed to be associated with God. Yet a realistic look at the Christian church, and an actual comparison of it with the ekklesia of the Bible, will draw this conclusion into serious question. Then, others will assume that anything done for the poor is a good work. If they feed the hungry, if they work on low income housing, if they get involved with politics and rally to support redistributing wealth to the poor, they assume all these things will be good works in God’s sight. Yet in all this, the Bible is never consulted. One might be very busy doing what he assumes to be good, yet only God’s Word can tell us whether or not our efforts are in vain.
The reality is that the works that are good in God’s sight are the works He has called upon us to do in His Word. In many ways, it is the worthy walk of the believer set forth in places like Ephesians 4 to 6 that are the good works that Paul is talking about here. If we are lowly, if we are gentle, if we are longsuffering, if we bear with one another in love, if we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, if we put off the old man and put on the new man, if we imitate God as dear children, if we walk in love, if we walk as children of light, if we walk circumspectly, if we submit to one another in the fear of God, if we are strong in the Lord, if we put on the whole armor of God and stand, and if we pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, then we will be doing the good works that God desires of us. These are the works that God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10.)
Then, Paul prays that the Colossians may be increasing in the knowledge of God. Yet the word here is again epignosis, which means acknowledgement or realization. It is only as we come to realize more and more Who God really is that we can truly grow in our relationships with Him. This would also involve growing in the acknowledgment of God’s current work and plan for His people. If we do not acknowledge what God’s current and future plans are, then we will not be living our lives in light of these things. Thus it is Paul and Timothy’s earnest prayer that the Colossians will grow in their realization of God.
New King James Version 11. strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
The Resultant Version 11. Being endued with all power, in accord with His glorious might, unto all endurance and patience with joy;
Their next prayer is that they will be endued with all power. In Greek there are two forms of the word dunamis here, from which we get our English word “dynamite.” The idea is of inherent power or internal strength. The Greek reads, “En pase dunamei dunamoumenoi,” which we could English as “in all strength strengthened,” or “in all power being empowered.” This is said to be in accord with His glorious might. The word for “might” here is kratos, which has to do with strength or force applied or dominion exercised. His glorious power exercised is what gives internal strength to His people. Many of us no doubt have witnessed the strengthening power of our God upon our lives.
The result of this empowerment should be all endurance and patience with joy. The word for endurance here is hupomone, a word that means patient endurance through all suffering and trials. The word for “longsuffering” in the New King James and “patience” in the Resultant Version is makrothumia, which mean patient endurance regarding all people and circumstances. Hupomone has more to do with suffering, makrothumia with injustices and wrongs. It is God’s will, here expressed through Paul and Timothy’s prayer, that His people display both, and not only so, but also endure them with joy. It is one thing to slog through difficulties, griping and complaining all the way. It is another to bear with people and circumstances with joy! It is a true spirit of God-given endurance that passes through sufferings and injustices with joy. This is what He desires for us in this verse!
The Colossians were having to deal with both people and circumstances at this time, even as we do. Unlike in the Acts period, believers today have to deal with these things without miracles to help them or God-given leaders to encourage them. We truly need God’s hupomone and makrothumia if we are to pass through the trials of this life with joy.
New King James Version 12. giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
The Resultant Version 12. Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us competent for our share of the portion of the hallowed ones in the light:
The prayer of Paul and Timothy is that these Colossians, as they endure suffering and injustice with joy, will do so giving thanks unto the Father as well. Thankfulness is important to God. To demonstrate a lack of thankfulness is to demonstrate a spirit of arrogance, for it assumes that one deserves what one has and even more, which in fact is not the case. We deserve nothing but death from God, and in light of this, we should be thankful for everything we receive from Him, even if it is not perfect or up to our exacting standards.
Moreover, there is nothing for which God deserves more thanks than the fact that He has made us fit or competent to have a share of the portion of the hallowed ones in the light. Again, “saints” means the same as it did in verse 2: those who are hallowed and set apart to God. Yet what is this referring to when it says, “in the light”?
Many people like to bring in the idea of the “shekinah” glory here. This is a Hebrew word developed by the rabbis to explain the glory of the Divine presence in the tabernacle and in the temple. It was associated with some kind of bright light, and it came into the tabernacle and into the temple in the cloud at their dedications. Yet the word shekinah is not found in the Hebrew Bible, though several words supposedly derived from the same root are found there. The reality is that we are not sure what exactly the glory of the LORD was that entered these buildings, as it is not explained to us in great detail. Yet I do not think we should bring this kind of mysterious idea into this verse here.
The reality is that when the Kingdom of God comes in the future, those of us who are hallowed or set apart especially to God in that time will be dwelling in the light at that time. We will be enlightened concerning many things that the common people will not be enlightened about. Some of these things we might give out to the people right away as soon as they are given to us, and other things we might only give out to some or as time or circumstance allows. But the reality is that some will be dwelling in the light in the kingdom, and others will not. This does not mean they are in darkness like we are today, but that the light they receive comes to them second hand, like the light of the sun reflects off the moon to the earth at night, rather than coming to the earth directly. We who are in Christ today have our portion among those in the light at that time. It is not that we are inherently better, but that our Father has made us competent to have the share of our portion among the hallowed ones in the light. This indeed is something for which we should be most thankful! Surely, we could never have made ourselves fit for this kind of privilege on our own.
New King James Version 13. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
The Resultant Version 13. Who has rescued us from the authority of darkness, and has transported us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
The Father has delivered or rescued us from the authority of darkness. The word for authority here is the Greek exousia, which speaks of delegated power. The word for darkness, while it does literally mean darkness, is much more often used for the darkness of ignorance, corruption, and sin. It was a condition of ignorance, sinfulness, and corruption that we were rescued from by God.
Now from this condition we have been transported into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Some might tend to conclude that this means that we have currently been made a part of the kingdom of God. Yet the word “kingdom,” the Greek word basileia, means “government.” To be a part of a government has real meaning. If this is the same as the kingdom of God that we read of many places in Scripture, then we would have to be under God’s governmental control. If we should lie to the Holy Spirit, He would have to strike us dead, even as He did Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. If we tried to purchase the gift of God with money, our money would have to perish along with us if we did not turn from this affront and submit, as Peter warned Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8. If we tried to participate in the things of God unworthily, we would have to get sick or die from it, as the Corinthians did in I Corinthians 11:30. These things all happened to the believers in the Acts period, for they had been transported into the kingdom of God. Yet these things do not happen today, and it is useless to claim that they do. God is not governing us today as He will in the kingdom of God, and to try to claim anything else is simply foolishness.
Yet then we have this verse. What does it mean that we have been transported into the kingdom of the Son of His love, then? To understand this, we must consider two important words here. The first word is the word “Son.” The Hebrew idea of the “son” is of one who represents. Back then, your family was much more of an autonomous unit than it is today. One not only was a part of a family, one also worked for the family business. There was much more that the family did for itself than is true today. One did not just buy and prepare food, but often grew the crops and raised the animals that were eaten. One did not just purchase clothing, but often raised the sheep and sheered them for wool and collected the plants used to dye the wool and spun the wool into cloth and then made the cloth into garments. Your family was not just the ones you lived with, but your family was your life. Therefore, that your family had very good leadership was important. If your family was not led well, you could die.
Now they had a patriarchal system. That is, the father was in charge of the family. He was the one who made all those important decisions that kept the family alive. But it was crucial then to determine who was going to take over the family when the father, through death or injury or old age, could no longer do the job. That one who was chosen to lead the family when his father no longer could was called the son. It was usually the first son born, as the family did not want to risk waiting around for another son, but wanted to get started right away training the first son how to be the leader. Therefore, even if the one chosen was not the oldest boy, he was called the “firstborn.”
Now as he was growing up, the child who had been chosen to be the son was trained in all the things he would need to know to take his father’s leadership position. His second brother might have some training too as a backup, and his third brother some but even less, but it was usually the oldest one who was given the important training. When the father thought that he was ready and that he was now capable of leading the family himself, the father would adopt him as the son. He would not want to do this lightly, for this meant that he was now to be considered equal with his father, and could make all the decisions the father could make and do all the things the father could do.
Now it is true that the New Testament was written in Greek, not in Hebrew, yet remember that it was ancestral Hebrews who wrote it, and though they wrote in the Greek language, they had the Hebrew mindset. When they used the word huios or “son,” they meant this one who would grow up to take his father’s place. Therefore, their idea of a “son” was of one who represents the father.
Taking this all back to Colossians 1:13, we have us transported into the government of the representative of His love. This word “love” is again agape in Greek, their highest word for a self-sacrificing love, the kind of love that only comes from God. Therefore, it is this kind of self-sacrificing love that the Son represents.
So what ultimately is this verse saying we have been transported into? First of all, we have been transported into a government, and a government means control. However, this is not the control of God’s righteous laws and perfect justice. Rather, we have been transported into the control of the Representative of His self-sacrificing love. Because of this, His control over us is not expressed in harsh treatment or punishment. Rather, His representations of love and self-sacrifice to us are what control us. It is not His awesome power to punish that governs our actions, but His overwhelming love that motivates us to please and serve Him.
Thus it is so that He can express His love to us that He has lifted us out of the authority of darkness wherein we dwelt. It is the light of His love and grace toward us that now illumines us and controls our actions. Let us, then, ever more live in response to that love, for it is great indeed!
New King James Version 14. in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
The Resultant Version 14. In Whom we have the redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins:
It is in Jesus Christ, the Son of His love, that we have redemption through His blood. Redemption speaks of a releasing affected by payment, and He indeed paid the price for our release. Is there any expression of self-sacrificing love greater than that which He displayed when the very God Who made us died for us on the cross and shed His blood on our behalf? That God Himself, Who need never have died at all, took upon Himself our flesh in order to die in our place and to take the blame for our sins is indeed the greatest expression of self-sacrificing love imaginable. This is the expression of grace that controls us today, who have been rescued from darkness’ authority.
The redemption or release that we enjoy is the forgiveness of our sins. We were under the condemnation of our sins, and could expect nothing but to pay the penalty in full: death. Yet Christ made the payment for us by His Own blood, so that we could be released from the penalty we were destined to pay. Our every sin has been paid for, and all has been forgiven before God through the payment of His Son. Praise God for His amazing sacrifice!