John T. Willis

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paul Intercedes for Christians--Colossian 1:9-11

Frequently in Paul's letters, Paul [often with Timothy and others] offers extended prayers of various types. Colossians 1:3-11 contains just such a prayer. First, Paul and Timothy express THANKSGIVING to God for all God has done for Christians at Colossae, which we discussed in the previous blog, dealing with verses 3-8. Now, Paul and Timothy transition to INTERCESSION for God in behalf of Christians at Colossae. This appears in verses 9-11, which we will treat briefly in this blog. Thanksgiving and intercession fit well together in Paul's prayers: examples appear in 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2:13; Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:15. In the present intercession, Paul and Timothy begin with a "reflective" introduction, and then enumerate FIVE intercessory petitions of God in behalf of Christians.

With the expression, "For this reason," changes the prayer from thanksgiving to intercession. "We" in this introduction is plural, thus referring to Paul and Timothy--see verse 1. Paul and Timothy speak of what they had "heard" events that occurred in Colossae--see verse 6. They were not there in person. Epaphras apparently established the church there. See verses 7-8. But since they "heard" this, they had not ceased to pray "FOR" the Christians at Colossae. "Pray for" is intercession.

I. First Intercessory Petition--verse 9c-d.
First, Paul and Timothy pray that the Christians at Colossae may be filled with "knowledge," "spiritual wisdom," and "understanding" or "insight." The passive "be filled" clearly refers to God. God and God alone is able to "fill" the needs of all people. "Knowledge," "wisdom," and "understanding" are not human achievements, but a gift of God. Paul and Timothy pray that they may be filled "with the knowledge of GOD'S WILL." Knowledge here does not come from human intellectual learning, but from divine revelation. Later, Paul distinguishes between "the knowledge of God's mystery, Christ" (Colossians 2:2) and human "appearance of wisdom" (Colossians 2:23). Knowledge comes from God, not from human beings.

II. Second Intercessory Petition--verse 10a-b.
Paul and Timothy affirm that they desire that Christians be filled with the knowledge of the will of God "SO THAT" they may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to God. People must not be satisfied with "hearing" and "learning" God's will; they must "DO" what God's will is. See Romans 2:18; Ephesians 5:17; Matthew 7:21; James 2:14-26. Living a godly life is an a "good work" to achieve righteousness before God. Just the reverse: Living a godly life is the natural outcome or expression of God's prior grace and salvation in the heart--see Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7. God is the standard, and wishes that human beings strive to glorify HIM by desiring to live according to that standard--see Colossians 2:6. The daily goal is to "please" God--see 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

III. Third Intercessory Petition--verse 10c-d.
Paul and Timothy yearn that Christians "bear fruit" in every good work and "grow" in the knowledge of God. Paul and Timothy had already thanked God that the Christians at Colossae bore fruit and grew--verse 6. Now, they beseech God to enable them to continue and excel in bearing fruit and growing. "Good works" here are not human achievements so that people may "deserve" salvation from God. On the contrary--they are the appropriate expression of God's salvation through grace already granted to every person--see Galatians 5:6; 6:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Titus 1:16; 3:1.

IV. Fourth Intercessory Petition--verse 11a-b.
As Paul and Timothy continue, they pray that Christians may be made story with strength that comes from God's power. The passive "be made strong" obviously refers to God. God alone has and gives power and strength to others. Without God, there is no strength. God's power is "glorious." God's "glory" is his magnificence, splendor, wonder. All of this is beyond human comprehension. But it is real, as we know from our own experiences. Remember the song: Savior, He can move the mountains!!!

V. Fifth Intercessory Petition--verse 11c-d.
Finally, Paul and Timothy ask that Christians may be prepared to endure everything with patience. The passive "be prepared" is not something any human being can accomplish, but a gift of God. God alone prepares us to carry out his purposes. "Endurance" is a military term. Endurance is perseverance to be proved in battle by holdingt he position one has taken against all enemy attacks. Satan and his angels unleash numerous powerful weapons against Christians. Endurance, God's great gift, sustains us. See Romans 2:7; 5:4; 8:25; 15:4; 2 Corinthians
1:6. "Patience" is the refusal of being swayed from one's hope by any power and of growing weary in love. See Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; Colossians 3:12.

Throughout this intercessory portion of this prayer, Paul and Timothy repeatedly use comprehensive words: "not ceased," "all," "fully," "every," "everything." God makes available to human beings EVERYTHING we need. Let us open our hands and receive his marvelous blessings.

How do YOU respond to this intercessory prayer? Do other pray FOR YOU? Do YOU pray FOR others? It is imperative that we pray FOR others. I hope YOU do this daily. Let me hear from YOU. I am praying FOR YOU daily.

John Willis


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