The Fulness That Resides in Christ

 •  23 min. read  •  grade level: 9
(Chapters 1:1–2:3)
In view of what was troubling the Colossian saints, it is interesting that Paul does not begin with warning them of the spurious teaching circulating in their region and immediately launch into an exposure of the error. Rather, in this first chapter, he sets the glory of Christ before them so that they would get a true estimate of the greatness of His Person and His work. In doing this, the Colossians would see that they had all that they would ever need in Him, and thus they wouldn’t be tempted to turn aside after the novel ideas that were being put forth. Paul also shows the Colossians that Christians have been given “all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge” in the Mystery (chap. 2:2-3), and that they are thus “complete in Him” (chap. 2:10). Having been given all of the truth of God, there was no need for them to be looking for something more. Hence, the Colossian saints needed to understand the fulness that resides in Christ. It is not until the second chapter that Paul exposes the enemy’s evil teaching and work. This order is instructive; it is God’s way of delivering souls from error. It is to ground the saints in the truth first, and then they will be able to readily identify error when it comes along, and reject it.
The Salutation
Vss. 1-2—In writing to the Philippians, Paul does not mention his apostleship, but spoke of Timothy and himself as “servants [bondmen]” of the Lord; whereas here, in writing to the Colossians, he employs his apostleship, stating that he was an “apostle of Christ Jesus, by God’s will.” This is significant; it brings in his official authority. Due to the nature of the problem that the Colossians faced, this was necessary. As mentioned, there was serious doctrinal error concerning the Person and work of Christ being pressed upon them by certain mystic teachers. Paul, therefore, used his apostolic authority to refute the error and to insist on the truth. Things were altogether different at Philippi; there was nothing there that required the use of his apostleship, and so he writes to them as “servants” of the Lord.
It is of note that Paul said that he was an apostle “of Christ Jesus.” (The KJV says “Jesus Christ,” but it should be rendered “Christ Jesus.”) When the Lord’s title (Christ) is placed before His Manhood name (Jesus), it refers to Him as having completed redemption and gone back into heaven as a glorified Man. Thus, Paul was indicating that he received his apostleship from Christ in heaven (1 Cor. 9:11Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? (1 Corinthians 9:1)). Peter, on the other hand, calls himself an apostle “of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:11Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1); 2 Peter 1:11Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)). Stating the Lord’s Manhood name (Jesus) before His title (Christ) refers to Him as having come down from heaven to glorify God in His death. Accordingly, Peter received his apostleship from the Lord when the Lord was here on earth (Luke 6:13-1613And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; 14Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, 15Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon called Zelotes, 16And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor. (Luke 6:13‑16)).
Paul adds, “By the will of God.” This means that his apostleship wasn’t something that he sought after and aspired to have; it was something that the Lord had chosen for him (Acts 9:1515But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15)). Paul includes “Timothy” in the salutation, not because he was the co-author, but because he bore witness to the truth which Paul was about to give (2 Cor. 13:11This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. (2 Corinthians 13:1)).
Paul addressed the Colossians as “holy and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus.” Being “holy,” in the sense in which he was speaking here, is a result of what believers are before God through being sanctified by faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross (Heb. 10:10-1410By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:10‑14)). (“Sanctified” and “holiness” are from the same root word in the Greek.) This aspect of sanctification has been called “positional sanctification,” because it refers to the believer being set apart from the mass of humanity into a holy place with Christ. The KJV translates “holy,” as “saints,” which means “sanctified ones,” or “set apart ones.” All the saints are “holy” brethren by virtue of what Christ has accomplished in redemption, but they may not all be “faithful brethren” This shows that a certain state of soul existed among the Colossians that made it possible for them to profit from the truth that Paul was about to give to them. F. B. Hole said, “All believers may rightly be called ‘holy’ brethren for all are ‘saints’ or ‘holy ones,’ that is, ‘ones set apart for God.’ But can we all be addressed as ‘faithful brethren?’ Are we all going forward in faith and faithfulness? Let us take these questions to heart for the unfaithful believer is not likely to appreciate much, or understand, the truth unfolded in this epistle” (Paul’s Epistles, vol. 2, p. 89).
Further to this, Paul speaks of the Colossian saints as being “in Christ Jesus.” As mentioned earlier, “Christ Jesus” refers to the Lord as a glorified Man at God’s right hand. By stating that the saints were “in Christ Jesus,” Paul was indicating that they stood, as far as their position before God is concerned, in the very same place of acceptance as Christ Himself! This is quite incredible, but it is just what grace has done. Simply put, to be “in Christ” is to be in Christ’s place before God. It is the position of all Christians, regardless of their state of soul. Old Testament saints are blessed of God in heaven, but they are not said to have this blessing and position. Believers in other ages are “accepted with” Him (Acts 10:3535But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:35)), but only Christians are said to be “accepted in” Him (Eph. 1:66To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)). This link with Christ on high is through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in believers. Thus, the position in which Christians are before God is a special position in God’s family (connected with sonship – Gal. 3:2626For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)) which all others in His family do not have.
Paul then says, “Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus, a fresh supply of divine grace from above was upon the Colossians (as it is upon all Christians), and thus they could count on God’s help in standing together against the inroads of the new mystical teaching that was coming in.
Paul’s Thanksgiving
Vss. 3-8—Paul begins by thanking God for the Colossians. He says, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (vs. 3). Thus, he would have them to know that he appreciated God’s work of grace in them and that he was praying for them.
Vss. 4-5—In an effort to help the Colossians regain a sense of their union with Christ as Head of the body—which they had lost, or were in danger of losing—Paul began at the point where they were at spiritually, and worked from there. This union, thankfully, can never be lost, but the practical realization of it can be. When this occurs, the saints cease to look to Christ for all their spiritual needs, and thus, do not hold the Head practically (chap. 2:19). Instead, they begin looking to other things which they think will give them spiritual fulfillment. This, more or less, was the situation of the Colossians. They were in danger of having their minds drawn away from Christ and their portion in Him. They were, in some measure, becoming intrigued with the high-sounding, philosophical ideas of the mystics, and thought that those things would fill their spiritual needs.
Beginning where he perceived the Colossians to be at spiritually, Paul mentions three Christian virtues which were evident among them—“faith,” “love,” and “hope”—and commends them for these things. He had “heard” this by way of report, having not been to Colosse personally. These virtues should accompany every conversion and should be seen in every believer's life as evidence that he is truly saved. These three things are grouped together in at least ten places in the New Testament (1 Cor. 13:1313And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13); Gal. 5:5-65For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. (Galatians 5:5‑6); Eph. 1:15-18; 4:2-515Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:15‑18)
2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, (Ephesians 4:2‑5)
; Col. 1:4-54Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; (Colossians 1:4‑5); 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:83Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; (1 Thessalonians 1:3)
8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:8)
; Heb. 6:9-129But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. 10For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9‑12); 1 Peter 1:3-8, 21-223Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:3‑8)
21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: (1 Peter 1:21‑22)
) and are seen in Scripture as being essential to spiritual growth and practical Christian living. They are the springs that energize a Christian's life and cause him to live for unseen and eternal things which his faith has laid hold of.
Their faith was “in Christ Jesus” who is at God’s right hand in heaven and their love was to “all the saints” on earth. The latter shows that their love, like that of the Ephesians (Eph. 1:1515Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (Ephesians 1:15)), was not narrowed in upon themselves. They loved all God’s people, and this is commendable. We should have the same love for all Christians—not just those with whom we meet on the same ground of gathering. We may not be able, with good conscience, to walk in fellowship with all Christians on account of some holding bad doctrine (2 John 9-119Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 9‑11); 2 Tim. 2:16-2116But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:16‑21)) and others having bad moral practice (1 Cor. 5:1111But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11); 2 Tim. 3:1-51This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1‑5)), but we can still love all the saints of God and pray for them.
The Colossians were also living in view of their hope of being “in heaven.” This, too, was commendable. They were marked by their steadfast waiting for the Lord to come. By saying, “On account of the hope,” Paul suggests that their love to all the saints was because they knew that all the saints share the same common hope of being together in heaven. With this “hope” before them, it produced right affections for God’s people who will all be together one day. In Scripture, hope is not used in the same way that it is in the common vernacular of today’s language. We use the word in our day to refer to something that we would like to see happen, but we have no guarantee that it will. In the Bible, hope is a deferred certainty; it has expectancy with assurance connected with it. Thus, we are sure that the Lord is coming because Scripture tells us that He will come again to receive us to Himself (John 14:2-32In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2‑3)). These three virtues showed that the Colossians were generally in a good state.
Vs. 6—Moreover, since the gospel first came to them and they had received it in faith, it had been “bearing fruit and growing.” This means that they not only believed the good news themselves, but they were also sharing it with others, and those people were getting saved too. This was another sign that the Colossians were generally in a healthy state.
In saying that the gospel was going forth “in all the world,” Paul was not meaning that every last person in the world had heard the gospel, but that people from “every nation under heaven” in the habitable world were hearing it (Acts 2:55And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. (Acts 2:5)). Paul’s use of the word “as” here in verse 6 indicates that the Colossians had heard the very same message of grace that was being preached elsewhere in the world. And, in each place that it went forth there wasn’t the slightest hint given to anyone that they needed to seek for higher knowledge beyond what the apostles had delivered to them.
Two Spheres of Divine Knowledge
In the next few verses, Paul mentions two spheres of divine knowledge that are to govern the saints. He speaks of:
•  Knowing “the grace of God in truth” (vs. 6), and,
•  Growing in “the full knowledge of God” and “His will” (vss. 9-10).
W. Kelly said, “Knowing the grace of God in truth is not the same thing as being filled with the knowledge or full knowledge of His will” (Lectures on Colossians, p. 89). The first of these has to do with the truth of the gospel (vs. 6) and the second refers to the truth of the Mystery displayed in the saints’ walk (vss. 9-10). These things are intimately connected, and understanding both is necessary to “establish” the believer (Rom. 16:2525Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (Romans 16:25)). Having the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins and being justified by faith are not the ultimate end of the gospel. Rather, it is to have the believer intelligent as to the purpose of God in connection with the display of Christ’s glory in the Church, and this, so that he might be found promoting Christ’s glory in this world. This is what is unfolded in the Mystery.
It is significant that Paul credits the Colossians for having an understanding of the grace of God in the gospel, but not so with the knowledge of God’s will in the Mystery. The fact that he prays that they would be filled with that knowledge clearly shows that they weren’t as yet. Herein lies the crux of the problem with the Colossians. They had received and believed the gospel, but were deficient in their understanding of the Mystery. The enemy had taken note of this and was working through false teachers to seduce them, if possible, into thinking that they needed to seek for higher truth. Had the Colossians been established in the truth of the Mystery, they would have known that the claims of these mystics were false, for in the Mystery they had been given “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:33In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)).
The Colossians are not alone in this deficiency. Many Christians today know the truth of the gospel and have believed it but they are not clear as to the Mystery, which explains the true nature and calling of the Church as being a special company of blessed persons who will reign in heaven with Christ. Most have the old Reformers idea of merging the respective callings of Israel and the Church into one, known as “Covenant Theology.” Consequently, they have a completely different and erroneous view of God’s plan to publicly glorify His Son in the world to come. The practical ramifications of these “covenantal” doctrines are such that Christians don’t understand their true calling and service in the Lord. As a result, instead of seeking to put the truth of the Mystery into practice as Christians should, they are involving themselves in the political affairs of this world and are trying to set the world right through various programs and protests, etc. They earnestly believe that it is their duty to involve themselves these causes. This is a classic example of how our doctrine affects our practice—either for bad or for good.
Vs. 7—The gospel of God’s grace had reached the Colossians through Epaphras. Paul warmly commends him and his ministry to the saints at Colosse, speaking of him as “our beloved fellow-bondman, who is a faithful minister of Christ.” Epaphras had given the gospel to the Colossians and laboured earnestly in prayer for them (Col. 4:12-1312Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12‑13)). Commending Epaphras as he did, Paul sought to shore up the Colossians’ confidence in him, and thus assure them that what Epaphras had taught them was the truth, and that they needed to continue in what he had given, without looking for something new.
Vs. 8—Epaphras had also reported to Paul the Colossians’ genuine “love in the Spirit.” The Spirit of God had produced those divine feelings in them. It is significant that the Holy Spirit is only mentioned this one time in the epistle, and that incidentally. This is so different from Ephesians where there is not a chapter where the Person of the Holy Spirit is not mentioned as having an integral part in God’s work in souls, revealing truth, etc. The reason for this is that the Spirit is so intent on glorifying Christ and turning the focus of the Colossian saints toward Him that He purposely keeps Himself out of the picture (John 16:13-1413Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:13‑14)). Moreover, due to the nature of the teaching that was coming in from the false teachers, which occupied people with unseen mystical things, dwelling on the Spirit’s work (which is unseen) might very well have encouraged the Colossians in a wrong direction. The Apostle, therefore, purposely does not enter upon the Spirit’s work in this epistle, but wisely de-emphasizes it, and thus waited for another time to speak to them about the Spirit’s work.
Paul’s Prayer
Vss. 9-14—The report of Epaphras concerning the Colossians had not only moved the Apostle to thanksgiving, but also to earnest prayer for them. Having learned of their state, the Apostle makes known to them what his desires were for them, by reiterating in writing a typical prayer of his for them. There is perhaps no greater service that we can do for the saints of God than to pray for them. Paul is a wonderful example of this, as we can see from the large place that he gives to prayer in his epistles. Epaphras is another example (Col. 4:1212Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (Colossians 4:12)). This, of course, shouldn’t be our only service for the saints, but it’s where our service should start.
In his prayer, Paul emphasizes thoroughness and completeness in his requests for them regarding the truth and its practice, by repeatedly using superlatives such as: “full,” “all,” and “every.” The prayer consists of four main requests:
1) That they might be “filled with the full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (vs. 9). As in the epistle to the Ephesians, the will of God is prominent in this epistle (Eph. 1:1; 5, 9, 11; 5:17; 6:61Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 1:1)
17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
6Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; (Ephesians 6:6)
; Col. 1:1, 9; 4:121Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, (Colossians 1:1)
9For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9)
12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. (Colossians 4:12)
). Albeit, a different aspect of God’s will is in view in this epistle. In Ephesians, it is “the Mystery of His will” (Eph. 1:99Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (Ephesians 1:9)), which has to do with God’s purpose to bring Christ and the Church into display in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times in the world to come (Eph. 1:10; 2:710That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10)
7That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
). Whereas, in Colossians, it is the practical working out of God’s will in the saints in connection with the truth of the Mystery, so that there would be a present manifestation of Christ and the Church in this world (Col. 1:26-2726Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:26‑27)).
In this first prayer request, Paul mentions three things in connection with learning and applying the great truth of the Mystery:
•   “Knowledge”—This has to do with having an intellectual grasp of the truth. Since the New Testament Scriptures have now been written, wherein the Mystery has been unfolded, this knowledge can be acquired through a careful study of the epistles—especially Ephesians and Colossians.
•  “Wisdom”—This has to do with applying the knowledge of the Mystery practically. This is largely acquired through prayer.
•  “Spiritual understanding”—This refers to having spiritual insight to discern the mind of God revealed by the Holy Spirit. It is acquired through reflection and meditation in the presence of the Lord.
Some have summarized these three things as: “K” (knowledge) plus “W” (wisdom) equals “U” (understanding)—but this might be an overly-simplistic explanation of how these things inter-connect with each other.
The aspect of God’s will which Paul refers to in verse 9 is not exactly knowing the mind of the Lord in practical matters in daily life—i.e. where we should live, which line of employment we should pursue, which house or car to buy, etc. Paul’s prayer here has to do with the saints having a full understanding of God’s will concerning the carrying out of the truth of the Mystery. If these dear Colossian saints understood this, they would immediately know that the mixture of philosophy, Judaism, and mysticism that was being propagated in that region was false. Thus, the greatest safeguard against error is an intimate acquaintance with the truth. Then, when error presents itself, it will be easily identified as such, and immediately rejected
2) That they might “walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God” (vs. 10). We see from this that Paul’s second prayer request for the saints was that in being filled with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, they would not use it to compete with the philosophers of their day on the stage of intellectualism, but rather, that they would “walk” pleasing to the Lord.
This shows that the motive for learning the truth is never for the purpose of showing off one’s knowledge. Learning the truth always has in view the putting of it into practice in our life. However, this will not be possible without us first knowing what His will is. Quite naturally, then, this second item in Paul’s prayer grows out of the first. The key point here is that the truth of the Mystery should govern our walk. Walking worthy is mentioned at least four times in Paul’s epistles:
The practice of the truth is just as important as learning it. Thus, knowledge of the truth should result in “bearing fruit in every good work.” As we walk in the truth of the Mystery according to God’s will, we will grow “by the true knowledge of God.” This equates with the “understanding” that Paul has referred to in verse 9.
3) That they would be “strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory unto all endurance and longsuffering with joy.” We might have supposed that praying for the saints to be endowed with divine power, as Paul does here, would be in view of them performing mighty works in service, such as those recorded in the early chapters of the book of the Acts. But not so; it was to give them strength to withstand the opposition and persecution that they would surely encounter in putting the truth of the Mystery into practice. Thus, Paul prayed that they would have “endurance and longsuffering” patience, because they would need it living in a world that is opposed to Christ.
This shows that if we walk in the full revealed truth of God and exhibit the character of Christ in our lives, it will draw forth the hatred of the world. The world hates Christ, and if we exhibit Christ, it will hate us too (John 15:18-2018If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (John 15:18‑20)). Strengthening of the saints for this kind of opposition is, therefore, necessary. Hence, Paul prays that the saints would have “power” from God, not to do some great work for Christ, but to suffer for Christ. He adds that our endurance and longsuffering is to be “with joyfulness.” Taking patiently the buffeting of the world is good and acceptable (1 Peter 2:2020For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Peter 2:20)), but enduring it with joyfulness is better. It makes our faces to shine (1 Peter 4:1414If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:14)), and that renders a powerful testimony to all. A Christian martyr dying at the stake in flames, and doing it joyfully, is a manifestation of this kind of divine strength.
4) That they would be filled with the spirit of thanksgiving and praise. Paul says, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, who has delivered us from the authority [power] of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love: in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (vss. 12-14). thus, he prayed that the saints would be found in a spirit of thankfulness for the present “portion” into which they had been brought through grace. He mentions “the Father,” who is the Source of all blessing; and “the Son of His love,” who is the Channel through which blessing has come to us; and a “kingdom,” into which we have been brought that is governed by divine “light” and “love.” What a wonderful place to be! This surely calls for thanksgiving and praise.
We enter the kingdom through being born again (John 3:55Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)), but new birth in itself does not make us “fit” for this blessed portion in Christ. We need something more; we need to be resting in faith on the finished work of Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:1313In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13)). This brings us into our full Christian position before God (Rom. 8:99But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9)). J. N. Darby said, “So we are taught in that verse [13] of Colossians 1, ‘Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.’ A man’s being born again does not make him meet; his being quickened makes him feel the need of it; there is another thing needed that fits you for glory, and that is Christ’s work in grace” (Collected Writings, vol. 21, p. 193).
The “portion” that Paul refers to here is the whole scope of our heavenly blessings in Christ. It is an inheritance of spiritual things, whereas in Ephesians 1, the inheritance is material things of this creation in the heavens and on earth (Eph. 1:11, 14, 1811In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)
14Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)
18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:18)
). Thus, there are two aspects to the Christian’s inheritance in the New Testament. Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18), Colossians 1:12, and 1 Peter 1:44To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (1 Peter 1:4) refer to spiritual side in Christ “in heaven.” J. N. Darby spoke of this aspect of the inheritance as being “over our heads” (in the heavenlies), because those references view the believer as a pilgrim treading the path of faith on earth. In contrast to this, Mr. Darby spoke of the Ephesians’ aspect as something that stretches out “under our feet. This is because in that epistle the believer is viewed as seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)) and everything in the universe is under him—even the angelic beings (Eph. 1:20-2120Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (Ephesians 1:20‑21)). Mr. Darby distinguished these two aspects as follows: “The inheritance is the inheritance of all things that Christ created. But in 1 Peter, or in Colossians 1, the thing is in heaven” (Notes and Jottings, p. 101). To help distinguish these two things, his Translation of the Bible renders the spiritual side as “portion,” and the material side as “inheritance.”
In order for us to be made fit for such great blessing, deliverance had to reach us. Satan’s clutch on lost souls is referred to here as “the power of darkness” (Luke 22:5353When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:53); Acts 26:1818To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18); Eph. 6:1212For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)). But the mighty power and grace of God has “delivered” us from that and has “translated” us into “the kingdom of the Son of His love.” There are at least ten different aspects of the kingdom mentioned in Scripture. In this passage, it has to do with our being in a sphere of privilege wherein we dwell in fellowship with the Father and the Son, and we enjoy their affection. Thus, in this kingdom, we are loved by God just as much as He loves His own Son! (John 17:2323I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23))
It is in the Son of His love that we have our “redemption.” In order for us to be made fit for this kingdom a “ransom” had to be paid, and this was done in Christ’s finished work on the cross (Matt. 20:2828Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28); 1 Tim. 2:66Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:6)). Redemption signifies that the believer has been “bought back” to God and “set free” from the consequences of his sins, and from the power of sin, and Satan. Hence, Paul adds, “Even the forgiveness of sins.” This means that a full release from the eternal judgment of our sins has been granted to us! The expression “through His blood,” found in the KJV, has little manuscript authority, and really should not be in the text because the emphasis in the passage is on the Person who accomplished the work, rather than on the greatness of the work—which will come in later in the chapter.