Translations: Chinese GB Big5

   THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST

Colossians 1 (web)

Receive the Knowledge of Christ

From us

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
1:2 to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Thanksgiving for the Reception of the Knowledge of Christ

1:3 We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
 
1:4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus,
and of the love which you have toward all the saints,
 
1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens,
whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
 
1:6 which has come to you; even as it is in all the world
and is bearing fruit and growing, as it does in you also,
since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

1:7 even as you learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow servant,
who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf,
1:8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

Praying to be Filled with the Knowledge of Christ

1:9 For this cause, we also, since the day we heard this, don't cease praying and making requests for you, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

1:10 that you may walk worthily of the Lord, to please him in all respects,


1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness,
and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love;

1:14 in whom we have our redemption,{TR adds "through his blood,"}
the forgiveness of our sins;
1:15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
1:16 For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth,
things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things have been created through him, and for him.
1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.
1:18 He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
1:19 For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him;
1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself, by him, whether things on the earth,
or things in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of his cross.
1:21 You, being in past times alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works,
1:22 yet now he has reconciled in the body of his flesh through death,
to present you holy and without blemish and blameless before him,
1:23 if it is so that you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast,
and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard,
which is being proclaimed in all creation under heaven;
of which I, Paul, was made a servant.

Suffering to Impart the Knowledge of Christ

1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the assembly;
 
1:25 of which I was made a servant,
according to the stewardship of God which was given me toward you,
to fulfill the word of God,
1:26 the mystery which has been hidden for ages and generations.
But now it has been revealed to his saints,

1:27 to whom God was pleased to make known
what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory;

1:28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom,
that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus;
 

1:29 for which I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.

Discussion Questions

vs 5 Describe how Christian faith and love spring up from hope.
vs 9-12 What effects does the knowledge of God have on a Christian's life?
Does the gospel you preach include the first part of vs 23?
How does this differ from performance-based salvation?
vs 13-22 In what ways is Jesus Savior and Lord?
vs 24 What is lacking in the afllictions of Christ?
vs 24-29 What kinds of things do you suppose Paul suffered in his ministry?
vs 29 To what end did Paul labor?
How would you counsel someone who says they are "struggling" to
live the Christian life?


Comments

To the Saints

Col 1:1,2
  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

As with many of his letters, Paul starts with his credentials. But also characteristic of many of his letters, he also mentions others on his team. Paul was an apostle by the will of God. In Acts chapter 1, prior to receiving the Holy Spirit and despite being told to wait, the Eleven insisted upon chosing the 12th apostle according to their own will. So they gave God two choices and flipped a coin to "determine God's will" among their choices. But Paul was chosen not by the will of the Eleven, who would have never have chosen him, but rather according to the will of God. As an apostle chosen by God, Paul's writings are scripture, as Peter also acknowledges in 2Peter 3:15,16

The ones he's writing to are characterized as holy and faithful, being brothers in the faith, seeing as all believers are born into the same family and thus siblings. The word "holy" ("hagios" in Gk) is also the word for "saints". Indeed while we generally use the word "Christian" today, "Christian" is only used three times in the Bible and always it seems to refer to what outsiders call insiders, while the more commonly used word "saints" is what insiders called insiders. If you are a Christian, you would in New Testament times be referred to as a "saint". Now by saying "faithful", he's not referring to a sub-category of saints, but rather that being faithful is characteristic of the saints. He likewise starts his letter to the Ephesians, "To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:" Eph 1:1

Then he prays grace and peace to such people. While the briefest of prayers, this is something you can incoporate into your prayer life. Pray for the saints to experience God's grace and peace.


Thank God for Christians in View of their Faith and Love

Col 1:3,4 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because
Prayer today tends to be primarily focused on deficiencies. But much of Paul's prayers were a thankful reflection upon the fruitfulness of the saints. I would infer that hearing of their faith was really hearing of their works of faith, such as in the bold proclamation of their personal faith. For example Paul notes of the Thessalonians, "The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere." 1Th 1:8

And likewise their love for all the saints was not simply referring to their attitude, but their actions. "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1John 3:18 Doing what is right and loving our fellow saints is the measure of one born of God. "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 a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

So when you pray for fellow saints, consider not only their deficiencies, but also express thankfulness for their fruitfulness in the faith and love.


The Fruitfulness of the Gospel

Col 1:5,6 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.

Applications of faith and love spring up from HOPE, the hope of that which is to come after we die, a perspective which affects our priorities in life. John writes, "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." 1John 2:17 Conversely the man who lives forever will do the will of God, seeing as everything else is destined to pass away.

Devote yourself to the propagation of the gospel. For it is promised to bear fruit. "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Is 55:10,11 If you hear and understand the gospel, it will bear fruit in your life. How do you measure up?


Epaphras

Col 1:7,8 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Epaphras initiated the church at Colosse who is characterized as "always laboring fervently for you in prayers" Col 4:12 A faithful minister is one who consistently prays for his people. Thus the prophet Samuel said, "as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way." 1Sam 12:23

Unlike many who minister today, Paul and Epaphras did not view themselves in competition. Much to the contrary, the spiritually mature delight in the success of fellow ministers. Epaphras was also a fellow prisoner with Paul indicating that he was not afraid of the consequences of his convictions.

What in particular is commonly spoken of as a measure of the fruitfulness of a church is it's love, as noted in verse 4, Paul giving thanks, "because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints" Col 1:4


Pray for the Knowledge of God's Will

Col 1:9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

It is especially the duty of teachers not only to teach, but also to pray. As I mentioned, the prophet Samuel said, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right." 1Sam 12:23 Just as Epaphras consistently prayed for them, so also Paul. In particular he was concerned for their maturing in understanding. For many a young Christian may be enthusiastic and have good intentions, but "it is not good to have zeal without knowledge" Pr 19:2 Neither is it good to have knowledge apart from wisdom (which is the right application of knowledge) or love, which is the attitude with which such knowledge is applied. Thus Paul also wrote in 1Cor 8:1 "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

But to walk worthy of the Lord one needs all these - love, knowledge and wisdom. If a person abides in Christ, they will be fruitful, as Jesus said, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" John 15:5b and He wants us to be fruitful. He says, "I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit— fruit that will last." John 15:16b Paul is praying to this end.

And "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2Cor 9:8


A Worthy Walk

Col 1:10-12
that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,
Being filled with the knowledge of God's will is not intended to be an end it itself, but rather it is intended to result in a lifestyle which pleases the Lord, a lifestyle which corresponds to our status as children of God and our claim of Jesus being our Lord.

What the knowledge 
of God's Will produces
How it produces it
bearing fruit in every good work When we know God's will, then by doing it we will produce fruit that glorifies God. But if we don't know God's will, then it becomes difficult to actually do it.
growing in the knowledge of God If we know God's will and do it, He will reveal even more (John 14:21)
Being strengthened in the Christian characteristics of endurance and patience.  If we are convinced that we know God's will, we will apply it with strength of conviction. Doing so will develop in us characteristics of endurance and patience.
And producing a thankful heart for salvation.  If we understand God's will with respect to our salvation, we will naturally be thankful both for justification and eternal security.


Redeemed

Col 1:13,14 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Eph 5:8  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light

Fundamental to living a lifestyle worthy of Lord is embracing our salvation status secured for us by the Lord. With confidence Paul indicates of the Colossian Christians that their citizenship has in fact without doubt been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ, being redeemed, having been forgiven of sin.

Indeed how could one be thankful and joyful if one doubt's their salvation status? How can one preach the gospel confidently if one is uncertain about one's own salvation? Thus Paul associates a lifestyle worthy of the Lord with one's sense of security in Christ, but at the same time reckoning Christ as Lord seeing as it's a kingdom and not a democracy.

But to enter the kingdom sin must be dealt with, but "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace." Eph 1:7


Christ, the Creator

Col 1:15-17  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

"The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Heb 1:3a

Jesus is the Creator. For "through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3, which also indicates that Jesus was not a created being. What it means here in Col of Jesus being "firstborn over all creation" is to say that he takes precedence over creation. There's creation, and then there's Jesus. Jesus takes precedence over creation. "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being." Rev 4:11

Not only were all things created by Jesus, but all things were also created for Him. You were created for Jesus. "And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15


Christ, the Head of the Church

Col 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.

While Catholics may be under the misconception that the Pope is the head of the church, in fact Jesus is the head of the church. And this also affects one's view of marriage. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Eph 5:23

Being the beginning it is written, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1, and not only so but He said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." Rev 22:13 Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet, and Omega the last.

Again concerning firstborn, Jesus takes precedence, being preeminent over the living and the dead. "Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth." Rev 1:5


Christ, the Redeemer

Col 1:19,20 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.

"In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." Col 2:9 To Jesus "God gives the Spirit without limit." John 3:34

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace." Eph 1:7 So "to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28b, be all honor and glory. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" Rom 5:1


Christ, the Sanctifier

Col 1:21,22 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

"All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath." Eph 2:3 It is firstly with respect to how we think about things that we are enemies of God, and only secondly with regards to behavior. For as Solomon said, "As he thinks in his heart, so is he." Pr 23:7 "In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God." Ps 10:4 And so "since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Rom 1:28

Conversely the Christians life is firstly about how we think about things. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Rom 12:2a The very entry into the faith, the object of our faith, is the idea that Christ died for ours to reconcile us with God. But the salvation God has provided through Christ goes beyond our justification in His sight. For it also involves our sanctification to holiness. "God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" 2Thess 2:13b Sanctification involves changing our attitude, our heart, such that our behavior reflects Jesus Christ.


The Perseverance of the Saints

Col 1:23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

The conditional clause is simply to say that the faith that saves is the faith that persists. Thus John diagnosed the following situation. "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 Thus "by this gospel you are saved,if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 A vain belief - one which does not persist - does not save. Such faith is like that of the seed which feel on the rocky ground. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Mt 13:20,21 Or another way to say it, "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14


Ministering to Finish Christ's Work

Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

What could possibly be lacking in Christ's affliction? Very simply, Christ died for sins, and nothing can be added the effect of his death. But, for example, to be saved, for the effect of Christ's death be applied to one's own account, it is required that one believe in Jesus.  "'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Rom 10:13,14 The labor of the preaching of the gospel is one affliction which Christ himself lacked. For though having died for the sins of the world, seeing as salvation is conditioned upon faith, His death would have had no effect if no one took up the cause of the preaching of the gospel. Also is the work of following up, discipling young Christians to maturity. Though Christ live in believers by the proxy of the Holy Spirit, it takes cooperation on our part to complete that which Christ's death alone was not intended to accomplish. In this way God gives us believers the honor of partnering with Christ in the work of salvation.

This may also be the reason for the poor state of historic post-Biblical Christianity and consequently for the delay of the Lord's return. For large periods of time the Christian community has not been involved in such work, but has been distracted by peripheral issues. Yet the church is to be the body of Christ - his outward expression.  "Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Eph 5:23b


The Mystery of the Gospel

Col 1:25,26 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.

Jesus said, "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel." Acts 9:15 Here Paul presents his commission, revealing the word of God in its fulness. It was more than presenting a 5-minute gospel presentation and moving on.

Paul doesn't elaborate here upon the mystery, but if were to observe how the word "mystery" is used in the New Testament letters, we find a variety of aspects of the mystery associated with the gospel. In Ephesians, were the word "mystery" is used abundantly, there he speaks of the mystery of the fact that the gospel has no ethnic boundaries, that it was not exclusive to Jews only. In 1Corinthians 15 he speaks of the mystery of the Rapture in verse 51. But in fact these and other things are not the mystery itself but various aspect of the one mystery of which he will mention in Col 2:2 where he speaks of  "the mystery of God, namely, Christ" of which he will speak on in the next verse.


Christ in You

Col 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

"Them" (or "you") here is the "saints" which includes you who believe in Christ. While there are various aspects to the mystery of the gospel, the glorious riches of this mystery is Christ in you, which also reflects our destiny. The gospel is not just about justification, salvation from God's wrath, it goes beyond that. When a person is in Christ, Christ is in them. "This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." 1John 5:11,12 Speaking of his own experience Paul says to Peter, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Gal 2:20

Now in particular we find elsewhere Paul teaching about the Holy Spirit living in us presently and that we are awaiting the return of Christ who is in heaven. One may say that Christ lives in us believers by proxy through the Holy Spirit. But we also realize that the members of the Trinity while spoken of as distinct persons, are so united that the Bible often ignores such distinctions in its rhetoric.


Laboring in Ministry

Col 1:28,29 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

"Perfect" meaning completes as the NASB put it. In practice it's referring to spiritual maturity as is reflected in Paul's epistles. Justification is just the start. He uses this same word in 1Cor 14:20 "do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature." So let us apply ourselves and exhort others "till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" Eph 4:13

Part of being perfected in Christ is reckoning Christ to be in us and consequently ministering in the power of Christ. "Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Php 2:12b-13 Christian ministry is a synergistic relationship, making all effect on our part, which is actually God working in us. Consequently it's not particularly feasible for a Christian to distinguish between our own effort and God's working in us, as the two are so intertwined. As the parable of the vine and branches of John 15 indicates, He is both in us and we are in Him.

Yet I find a number of Christian today who see a ministering Christians laboring hard and offhandedly reckon such labor as simply laboring in the flesh. They might do so out of envy, or as an excuse to avoid ministry themselves, or simply be influenced by a pleasure-seeking culture which avoids labor at any cost, even if it means slandering fellow Christians, accusing them of legalisim if struggle and effort is involved in living the Christian life, and avoiding the hard work of ministry, only opting for that which is "fun". "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Heb 6:12

Could you honestly say of yourself, "To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me."


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Jan 19,2013