Prayer: Part 2 Colossians 1:9-12a The Community of Believers
Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father…
I. Christians are a Spiritually Organic Community
C. It is therefore impossible for a Christian to be disconnected from the fellowship of believers (out of touch, out of fellowship–perhaps; spiritually disconnected–never!)
II. The Community of Believers as Exemplified in Colossians
A. How does faith come?
Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Colossians 1:5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel
B. Epaphras most likely learned from Paul; Paul from Christ and then from Ananias and the other believers in Damascus.
1. Epaphras reported to Paul and Paul to his “team.”
2. This entire group prays regularly and frequently for the Colossian believers.
C. This is the New Testament pattern and it remains so today:
1. As believers, we are never cut off nor alone, no matter how we may perceive our situation.
2. We are always connected both to Christ and to his body.
Paraphrase #1 verses 9-10:
Paul and Timothy continue to pray for the Colossians, asking God…
- to fill them with________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- through all (or, in all) ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- in order that _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Paraphrase # 2 verses 9-12a:
“Basically, his [Paul’s] petition is that his readers might know God’s will and have the power to do it.” (O’Brien, 86)
III. The Petition portion of Paul’s prayer flows naturally out of the Thanksgiving portion (Thanksgiving–Colossians Week 6).
c. Application: Are we remembering to incorporate thanksgiving into each intercessory prayer we make?
IV. Paul’s prayer of Petition summarizes the saint’s (believer’s) LIFE IN CHRIST
A. CHRIST IS THE MODEL of how we are to live in him.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters…” –Matthew 10:24-25a
B. A life in Christ produces FRUIT, just as the gospel does:
the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. –Colossians 1:5-6
so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, –Colossians 1:10
1. fruit carries two meanings
a. reproduction–sharing the gospel with others so that they may come to faith
a) the gospel bears fruit and grows throughout the whole world (v. 6)
b. Christ-like character within the life of every believer (v. 10)
i. walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord in every way
ii. engage in good works
iii. increasing in the knowledge of God
C. A life in Christ leads the believer to the CROSS, just as Christ’s path led him to the cross.
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, –Colossians 1:11
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. —Luke 9:23
1. endurance (ὑπομονὴ, hu-po-mon-ee) is bearing up for a long while under a weight of difficult circumstances without giving up or losing faith in Christ
2. patience (μακροθυμία, ma-cro-thee-me-a) is having mercy, patience, tolerance, and love towards people in our lives who are difficult to deal with, just as God has great patience with us
D. Paul prays for TWO ITEMS that are essential to the Colossians’ successful walk of faith in Christ
a. clear knowledge, understanding, and wisdom concerning the ways and will of God in Christ
i. Christ based his walk on exact knowledge and agreement with the will of God. Can you think of biblical examples that demonstrate this?
b. God’s mighty power acting in grace on behalf of and within each believer
V. All of the above is to be accomplished with JOY and THANKSGIVING to the Father, who qualifies believers to partake in his kingdom of light.
B. Grammatically the joy and thanksgiving can apply to the overall walk of faith–to the entire package of blessing and responsibility that is the inheritance of every believer in Christ.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. –the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:18
Here is a great link that examines a small portion of the massive evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ actually occurred in history: Evidence for the Resurrection
What is the Gospel? It’s the Good News of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.
1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
That is the Gospel in a nutshell.
Also: “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.” from Luke 24:46-48
Here is the Gospel from Isaiah. Note how much the same it is! Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
The phrase from Isaiah, “…so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he,” is (mini-Colossians 1:5-6).
In 1 John 5:11 (see the 2nd verse Above) “testimony” is the same word as “witness” in Isaiah. A witness is one that gives testimony. John tells us that the testimony is that God has given us eternal life in Jesus the Son of God. Jesus Christ himself IS the basic Gospel message. Part and parcel of Christ is the fact that as Savior he died on the cross for our sins. When we receive the testimony of Christ, it is with the realization that we are sinners who need to be cleansed, and that cleansing Christ provides. No one else does this.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 is also the Gospel. God-giving-his-Son means that God gave him to incarnation and to death and resurrection on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins.
MY POINT: So often when we hear evangelists we hear a focus on ourselves and our sins. This (according to my reading of Scripture) is NOT the focus of the Gospel. The focus is Jesus Christ and who HE is. Presenting Christ–a God who loves us and is for us is tremendously joyful Good News! It is easy to present Christ this way: “Hey, did you know that God loves you?”
As it turns out, the only people who will receive this news are the lowly in heart, those who need a Savior, those who are aware of their sins. Christ IS Savior. What he did as Savior is die on the cross for our sins.
The Good News is that I have eternal life in Christ. That’s what I want to share, because our world is ruled and dominated by death in all its many forms. That my sins are forgiven, is also great news, because my sins are Death. Christ’s defeat of death is the Good News! His love for me is Good News! In order to make those things happen, Christ died on the cross and rose again. Christ and the cross are inseparable. And I do believe that many if not most sinners need to hear about the LOVE of God in Christ before any focus or attention is given to their own sins. It’s about Christ–it’s not mainly about my sin.
May God bless us all richly on Good Friday and on Easter.
A. Introduction–Laying a Good Foundation
A. Introduction–Laying a Good Foundation
1. Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians (vv 1:3-12a)
a. Thanksgiving (1:3-8) THIS LESSON
b. Paul describes his Supplication for them (vv 1:9-12a)
Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving–Colossians 1:3-8
I Statement of the Prayer: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, (v 3 NIV)
II Paraphrase: We always include you in our prayers, and when we do, we always thank God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you.
III Paul’s Reason for his Thanksgiving: because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— (v 4)
A. Their faith in Christ Jesus
B. The love they have for all God’s people
IV Explication of Faith and Love: 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. (vv 5-6)
V The Means by which the Colossians Heard the Gospel: 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. (vv 7-8)
VI Chronological Order of the events leading up to and resulting in Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving for the Colossians (mostly working backwards through the text, vv 3-8)
- Epaphras learned the gospel from Paul and discipled with him, possibly while Paul was in Ephesus for two years (Acts 19:1-10, specifically vv 1 and 10)
- Epaphras was from Colosse (Colossians 4:12) and returned there to spread the true message of the gospel (v 5) in his own neighborhood
- The gospel grew and bore fruit among the Colossians, just as in the whole world (v 6)
- The Colossians realized the hope stored up for them [you] in heaven (v 5)
- This realization resulted in the Colossians’ faith in Christ Jesus and … love…for all God’s people (v 4)
- Paul heard about their faith and love from Epaphras (vv 4 and 8)
- Paul began regularly praying for them (v 3)
- Paul wrote his letter of thanksgiving, encouragement, and exhortation (encouragement and instruction) to them
VII Key Words: hope, faith, love, gospel, fruit
1. as a verb–an attitude and activity of heart and mind
2. as a noun–here in this verse–not mere wishing
a. the full Christ-centered assurance and yearning for the fulfillment of the promises of God
b. a “living and sanctifying force” (Hendriksen, 49) (1Peter 1:3)
c. the thing hoped for; the object of hoping, the inheritance all saints receive in Christ (Colossians 1:12)
i. Jesus himself (Colossians 1:27)
ii. Jesus’s heavenly treasure, the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20)
iii. the inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and that can never fade (1 Peter 1:4)
v. we see this hope from far away (the present) and greet it joyfully (Hebrews 11:13)
3. The living hope produces faith and love within the believer’s heart.
B. Faith — saving faith in Christ in response to hearing the Word preached, the Gospel of life in Christ
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” -Acts 16:31
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Romans 10:9
For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. -1 Corinthians 1:21
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17
C. Love — Christ-like actions, speech, motives towards others, inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of believers (Colossians 1:8)
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. -1 John 3:10
For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. -1 John 3:11
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30
D. Gospel — Can you state the gospel in no more than one or two sentences?
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. -Romans 1:1-5
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. -1 Corinthians 1:17-18
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21
He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. -2 Timothy 1:9
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, -2 Timothy 2:8
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:30-31
E. Fruit …the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:6
1. within the lives of individual believers as they become more fully conformed to Christ’s nature and character through Scripture and the promptings of the Holy Spirit
2. within communities of believers (local churches) as they express the love of Christ in word and actions among themselves and to other communities of believers
3. to the unbelieving world at large through acts of love and through the preaching of the gospel
4. in this way, the quality of Christ-like character increases in believers throughout the world, and the numbers of believers increase throughout the world
VIII Key Points
A. How did the Colossians arrive at their belief? (Colossians 1:6-7)
1. hearing (So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17 )
2. understanding – ἐπέγνωτε (e-peg-no-te) = full knowledge, no mysteries left untold
3. learning – ἐμάθετε (e-math-e-te) = discipleship, not a quick dip and I’m outta’ here, detailed lessons and practice and life application over time, what the disciples did in the years that they spent with Christ
B. Initial faith can be instantaneous and there is nothing simpler in the whole world: believe that Jesus Christ is Son of God, was born as man, died for our sins, rose again, and is preparing an eternal place by his side for all who believe.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, –1 Corinthians 15:3
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. -John 14:2
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26
C. Discipleship–fruitful increase in faith and love–is an ongoing process that lasts one’s entire life.
IX How does Paul in this portion of his letter, this prayer of thanksgiving, lay a good foundation for the key issues he brings up in Chapter 2 and beyond?
A. He establishes his approval of the Colossians
1. He commends the Colossians’ faith, love, and hope.
2. He commends the Colossians’ pastor, Epaphras, on whose gospel message and discipleship training their beliefs are based.
3. Paul approves of them so much that whenever he prays for them he gives thanks to God.
B. He lays out the main realities of Christian belief–grace, faith, hope, love, truth, the gospel, fruit, the Spirit, Christ—to be developed later.
C. He introduces the themes of learning and full understanding, which were themes used by the false teachers to entice the Colossians into compromise.
1. He states that the Colossians already have full knowledge.
2. They have this in Christ.
A. Take a dipstick test of my love for “all the saints.” Name specific ways – make a list – of how I regularly and frequently express this love in action. Where do I fall short? Where should my prayer focus be?
B. If not already doing so, begin incorporating statements of genuine thankfulness in my intercessory prayers for others, naming specific qualities or facts about them.
C. Am I doing my part to share the spoken-out-loud Gospel of Christ with others, so that they too may hear and believe?
D. Do I spend more time with my thoughts fixed on worry or on the hope that is stored up for me in heaven?
NEXT WEEK: We will be having a Fellowship Dinner, so no new lesson.
Link to (Colossians Bibliography)
B. Two Kinds of Biblical Peace for Humans: these are covenantal peace (think peace treaty) and subjective peace (think peace of mind)
1. Covenantal Peace–(legal peace, our standing with God, our position with God).
a. In Christ the paradox between God’s eternal, untouchable, unchanging peace and his being able to have fellow-feelings (emotions) with humans is resolved (see above.)
b. In Christ we not only have peace; he is our peace.
i. Jesus is the logos of God, the full expression and outward manifestation of the Triune Deity.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (Colossians 2:9)
ii. As God incarnate, God in a human body, Christ is the intermediary between God eternal and man.
iii. Along with the attribute of peace, God also has attributes of perfect holiness and justice.
a) Humankind’s sinful nature and acts of sin (anything that contradicts the Ten Commandments) are incompatible with God’s nature.
b) Sin cannot live in God’s presence, and indeed, must be cast out. Such casting out is punishment, because God is light and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
Whoever is cast out from the presence of God abides in eternal darkness.
v. Apart from Christ, there is only enmity and wrath between us and God. (As concerns we humans, NOT everything we do is okay with the God who is peace–a paradox? If so, it lies with us, not within God.) (Isaiah 57:21) (Romans 5:9-10) (John 3:36)
vi. Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection into life fulfills the terms of the everlasting covenant between himself and God the Father.
a) Those who are in Christ (those who believe in him) are beneficiaries with Christ of his eternal reward, according to the terms of the everlasting covenant between Christ and God the Father.
b) This is LEGAL peace. (Hallelujia!!)
c. Why did God make an everlasting covenant with Christ that includes Christ’s people, “whomsoever wills” (everyone who wants to be included–see Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat)?
i. The only reason lies in God himself–it is his nature to be kind, loving, generous, spectacular, merciful, and good.
ii. God’s grace is displayed in his opening the means of peace–the doorway to peace–through Christ’s blood of the cross. This blood through the Holy Spirit regenerated our spirits, the part of us that died when our first parents rebelled against God.
iii. God’s grace is displayed by means of the Holy Spirit, who prepares our hearts to receive God’s gracious gift of reconciliation (making up after a H-U-G-E fight) in Christ.
iv. Without God’s grace, his own freewill gift to us, we would still be his enemies by our own choosing.
Before the sinner can be reconciled to God and enter into participation of the peace which Christ has made with Him, he must cease his rebellion, throw down the weapons of his warfare, and yield to God’s rightful authority. But, in order to do that, a miracle of grace must be wrought in the sinner by the Holy Spirit. As the Father ordained peace, as the incarnate Son made peace, so the Holy Spirit brings us into the same. He convicts us of our awful sins and makes us willing to forsake them. He communicates faith to the heart whereby we savingly believe in Christ. Then “being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Romans 5:1) objectively. (Pink, 34)
2. Subjective peace
a. What is it? Subjective peace is how we feel inside when we are at rest with ourselves and with God–happy, secure, safe, joyful.
b. How do we get it? One result of covenantal peace, the legal peace described above, is the feeling of peace we receive.
c. Subjective peace is the feeling of contentment and well-being we have when we know that God is pleased with us and we know that we are in his company, his presence, in “fellowship” with him, in communication with him.
3. How do we maintain this feeling of subjective peace?
a. Obedience to God and his way (his precepts, principles, commandments)
i. Since humanity lost objective (external, formal, legal) peace with God as a result of their fall into rebellion (sin) when they chose to disobey God and believe Satan’s word above that of God, it makes sense that we would lose our subjective peace whenever we disobey God’s precepts, thinking and acting in ways not in agreement with his nature and sovereignty (sin).
ii. Therefore, obedience to God and his precepts is the best way to maintain subjective peace with God. Those who believe in Christ never lose their objective (covenantal) peace with God.
i. When we sin, we need to confess our sin quickly and receive God’s forgiveness and restoration (see scripture below).
ii. When we fail to forgive another and harbor a grudge or bitterness, or when we nurse our wounds and live out from the broken places in our lives, we forfeit peace with God, ourselves, and others. Our physical health also suffers.
a) not forgiving others brings our spiritual growth to a standstill (Parable of the Unmerciful Servant)
b) forgiving others frees us up to move on in Christ and to experience joy and peace unspeakable
c. How do we restore subjective peace once lost?
i. Turning quickly to God in repentance to confess and receive forgiveness of our sins. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:8-9)
ii. Keeping at prayer asking God by his grace to help us forgive so-and-so for such-and-such until that prayer is fully, 100% answered, which, if we fight on courageously, it will be!
iii. Spending time with God in Scripture, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers results in subjective peace with God.
“Now the God of peace be with you all” implies that the saints must conduct themselves in harmony, that amity and concord must prevail among them, so that there be no grievous failure on their part that would offend God and cause Him to withdraw His manifested presence from them. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). Individuals as well as a corporate company of believers must be in subjection to the divine authority and maintain scriptural discipline if they would enjoy the peace of God (see 2 Corinthians 13:11). Charles Hodge well said, ‘It is vain for us to pray for the presence of the God of love and peace unless we strive to free our hearts from all evil passions.’” (Pink, Gleanings from Paul, 34) (Bibliography).