You Want What??? – Colossians 1:9-11 06/07/20

You Want What??? – Colossians 1:9-11 06/07/20

Today we begin to dig into the details of the letter to the Colossians, and almost immediately we’re going to come up on a topic that many of us have struggled with. That’s God’s will.

Remember, the Apostle Paul was writing to address heretical teachings that were beginning to spread through the congregation. The recipients of the letter were Christians, but they were struggling with what the truth is and what God wanted from them. So Paul started off by telling them what he’d been praying for them to receive. The contents of the prayer is recorded in Colossians 1:9-11.

Paul is praying for the Colossian Christians to experience some interesting things. Chief among these “things” is that they would know the will of God, and so we fine Paul praying that the Colossians would be filled with “knowledge.”[1] This “knowledge” is an interesting word; it conveys more than simply knowing about something. It’s used in the New Testament exclusively for moral or religious knowledge.[2] But we’re not talking about the kind of religious knowledge you gain by going to a Bible School or Seminary. The word used is (ἐπίγνωσις),[3] with the root word (γνωσις) literally being “knowledge.” Added to this is the prefix (ἐπί). The result is an intensification of the (γνωσις) Paul wants them to have.[4]

(ἐπίγνωσις)[5] conveys precise and correct comprehension,[6] more than just knowing something, it involves understanding it.[7] This kind of knowledge of God’s will is the foundation of the Christian life.[8] It suggests that it works its way throughout all of our lives, it impacts our thoughts and affections, our purposes and our plans.[9] In short, it produces obedience.[10]

That knowledge will be experienced in, as Paul puts it, “all wisdom and spiritual understanding. The word is (σοφία)[11] and includes the ideas of both prudence and discretion in the sense of having the capacity to understand and then to act wisely.[12] Coupled with (σοφία)[13] is “understanding” (συνεσει).[14] This includes quick comprehension, mother-wit, sagacity.[15] Used in conjunction with “spiritual,” this would result in comprehending the things of God.[16] In context, that would include comprehending the will of God.

We next begin to discover how this knowledge, characterized by wisdom and spiritual understanding, will be worked out in practical ways in the life of each Christian. It is God’s will that the possession of these things should produce lives that are pleasing to Him.[17] This is the natural result of possessing true wisdom and honest spiritual understanding; we will live in such a way that our lives are pleasing to God.[18]

The key word (περιπατησαι),[19] is variously translated as “live” or “walk.” Used literally, it means to walk, to move around on our two legs from place to place. Paul often uses it metaphorically, as he does here, to convey a mode of living, a lifestyle. In our sentence this verb is in the aorist tense. The aorist tense is used to give the action of a verb as a “snapshot” event while providing no information about duration or process.[20] All you can infer is that it happens, it could be something that took place, is taking place, or will take place, There may be all kinds of processes working in the background that bring it about, but those details are not provided with this verb tense. All it tells you is that it happened.

Interestingly, it is also in the infinitive mood, which by definition is “non-finite.”[21] There’s no limit to its action. Here it is functioning as an infinitive indicating purpose,[22] it introduces what this walking is intended to produce, a life worthy of the Lord. But it is a life worthy of the Lord unendingly.

This is the will of God for you… That you honor God through how you live your life. In each phase of our lives our intent is to be pleasing to God. That word “pleasing” (αρεσκειαν) [23] suggests an attitude that anticipates every wish.[24] This is the action of trying to please,[25] even to the extent of being prepared to do anything to please.[26] It’s a noun in the accusative case.[27] The accusative case fundamentally defines the extent or limit of something,[28] and is normally the direct object of the verb.[29] Here it’s embedded in a prepositional phrase and operates as the object of the preposition[30] as an accusative of time.[31] It is indicating that our pleasing God is ongoing.

This is followed by three participles that expand on how this “pleasing” is going to take place. First, our walking worthy of the Lord will result in “bearing fruit” (καρποφορουντες), [32] a present active participle.[33] This is indicating what happens when we actively walk worthy of the Lord. The Christian life is supposed to exhibit constant fruitfulness.[34] Interestingly, although this is something that we actively seek to do, we know that it is not something that we are able to do ourselves, Jesus said this only happens when we live in Him. Surprisingly, even though we cannot bear fruit on our own, God is pleased when we abide in Christ and fruit is produced.

What kind of fruit could we expect? I used to think this referred to leading people to the Lord… that’s actually incorrect. The fruit in mind is the fruit of the Spirit. This is simply a changed life. How is this going to happen? Well, we talked about this a few weeks ago, it happens as we walk in step with the Spirit of God. This will then result in fruit that reflects the nature of God and will produce good works,[35] works that God has for each of us.

Next, we see that the will of God is that we will be “growing” (αυξανομενοι), [36] in our knowledge of God. This a present passive participle[37] pointing to a couple of surprising details. First, what’s produced in us, as we actively seek to bear fruit, iswe passively grow in our knowledge of the Lord. This growth is not something we do, it’s something that God produces in us. It’s not head knowledge, it is experiential knowledge of God. It happens as we walk worthy of the Lord. Again, the present tense indicates this is a habitual development. Fundamentally, this will result in whatever it is we may be doing, we do it as unto the Lord.[38] If we cannot do it unto the Lord, well then, we won’t be doing it. The result of this is we’re supposed to “increase in the knowledge of God.”

The passage continues: it is God’s will that we be strengthened, but this isn’t a fitness routine we’re called to begin. Here we find that “being strengthened” (δυναμουμενοι), [39] is also a present passive participle.[40] It points out the result of walking worthily, we are, passively, strengthened. God does this. This is something God desires for us, and it is something we receive, divine empowering that enables us to stand.[41] Remember, this strengthening is in the present tense, taking place at the same time as “walking”[42] and it happens so long as we’re doing something specific, “Walking worthy of the Lord.” This empowering is in no way dependent on our resources, it’s founded on the limits of “His glorious power.”[43] In other words, this spiritual strengthening is without limit.

This strengthening makes something surprising possible, it makes patience and longsuffering possible… with joy.[44] The word translated as “patience” (υπομονην)[45] indicates the opposite of cowardice.[46] It includes the capacity to continue, to bear up under difficult circumstances, to stand firm in the face of overwhelming odds.[47] The second word, translated as “long suffering” (μακροθυμιαν),[48] speaks of even-temperedness, the attitude that allows us to not retaliate in the face of spite or injury.[49]

But beyond simply enduring hardship and adversity, here we’re told we can do so joyfully.[50] The joy is not present because of the problems, but because of what we have that transcends the problems. This joy, which is also God’s will for us, is because we’re “in the Lord.”

In each case, these participles are in the present tense, and therefore take place at the same time as the main verb, which was walking.[51] You may remember that “walking” was in the aorist tense, and therefore tells us nothing about the “when.” It simply is happening. But it was also in the infinitive mood, indicating it is without limit.

The will of God is not some esoteric thing “out there” that we need to discover. It’s not something God’s hiding from us, demanding that we know it but not revealing it. He doesn’t play those kind of games. The will of God for us is expressed clearly and practically, and is worked out through our daily lives. As we walk this path, then we’re in the place we need to be for further more specific direction.

Are you walking in His revealed will, and therefore ready to be guided specifically?

[1] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 337. [2] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177. [3]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:9. [4] Richard Chenevix Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co., 1880), 285. [5]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:9. [6] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [7] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177. [8] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177. [9] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177. [10] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed., Helmut Koester, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 25. [11]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:9. [12] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). [13]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:9. [14]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:9. [15] H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 774. [16] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177. [17] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 337. [18] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 177-178. [19]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:10. [20] Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013). [21] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2002), 24. [22] Albert L. Lukaszewski, The Lexham Syntactic Greek New Testament Glossary (Lexham Press, 2007). [23]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:10. [24] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [25] Werner Foerster, “Ἀρέσκω, Ἀνθρωπάρεσκος, Ἀρεσκεία, Ἀρεστός, Εὐάρεστος, Εὐαρεστέω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 455. [26] Cleon Rogers Jr. and Cleon Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1998), 460. [27] Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2000), 73. [28] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 1998), 54. [29] William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, (ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1993), 32. [30] Logos Bible Software 8.138.13.0.0008 Bible Sense Lexicon DB:WORD-SENSES2020-05-07T16:54:45ZWordSenses.lbswsd, 2020. [31] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 1998), 54-55. [32]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:10. [33] Logos Bible Software 8.138.13.0.0008 Bible Sense Lexicon DB:WORD-SENSES2020-05-07T16:54:45ZWordSenses.lbswsd, 2020. [34] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [35] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [36]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:10. [37] Logos Bible Software 8.138.13.0.0008 Bible Sense Lexicon DB:WORD-SENSES2020-05-07T16:54:45ZWordSenses.lbswsd, 2020. [38] Eduard Lohse, Colossians and Philemon, Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, ed., Helmut Koester, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 30. [39]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:11. [40] Logos Bible Software 8.138.13.0.0008 Bible Sense Lexicon DB:WORD-SENSES2020-05-07T16:54:45ZWordSenses.lbswsd, 2020. [41] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [42] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [43] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 178. [44] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 179. [45]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:11. [46] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 179. [47] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 307. [48]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), Col 1:11. [49] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 179. [50] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. Ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 179. [51] David Black, It’s Still Greek to Me: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek, (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI.: 1998), 124.

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