Colossians 1:9-11

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 8, 2000


The city of Colosse was located in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey) along the Lycus River, about 10 to 20 miles from the cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.  These three cities were known as the region of Phrygia.  Colosse was not considered a large city in Paul’s day, not nearly of the importance of Laodicea and Hierapolis.  It is pretty certain that Paul had never visited the city of Colosse before (2:1).  But as you read this letter, you find that he genuinely cares for these people.The church may have been started by Phrygians who were present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), but more likely was started during the three years that Paul was in Ephesus, when the Ephesian church had been used to preach the gospel through the whole area of Asia Minor (Acts 19:10).

Paul writes to the Colossians while in prison in Rome, around the same time as the epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon.

We’re going to look at one of Paul’s prayers, how he prays for these Colossians.

:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you

for this cause – because of the genuineness of their faith and love (vs. 8)

ceasepauo – to make to cease or desist; to restrain a thing or person from something; to cease, to leave off

:9 …and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will

knowledgeepignosis – precise and correct knowledge.  Knowledge by experience.

willthelema – what one wishes or has determined shall be done; of what God wishes to be done by us; will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure

Some people see different classifications of God’s “will”.  They talk about His irresistible will and His permissible will.  His irresistible will is when He commands something to be done, and it is done, no matter what anyone thinks.  The word here is His permissible will, the things which God desires for us, but not necessarily forces us to do.


God wants you to know His will

God has a purpose for your life.  He has desires and wishes for your life.  But these are things in which it appears you have the ability to choose not to accept.
What is God’s will for my life?  Here’s three general areas:
1.  God’s will is for you to be saved.

(1 Tim 2:3-4 NASB)  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, {4} who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(2 Pet 3:9 NASB)  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Life is kind of like an “independent study” course where you work all semester on your own.  But there will be a time when the semester ends, and you will receive a grade from the professor, based on how you did.

The problem is that each of us is failing the course.  Each of us has sinned and fallen short of a passing grade.  But instead of just getting an “F”, the consequence of failing the course of life is to be punished for our sins.  And that’s something that none of us would want to do.

But Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, and became an acceptable sacrifice to die in our place.  He died on a cross to pay for my sins.  And because He has paid for my sins, I have the ability to actually be forgiven by God.

The catch? Only that I receive the gift God offers me.  Will I be willing to admit that I’m failing and need His help?

Does God want me to be saved?  Yes He does. He wants me to be saved so much that He sent His Son to die in my place.

2.  God’s will is that you live in a way that pleases Him.

(1 Th 4:1-4 NIV)  Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. {2} For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. {3} It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; {4} that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable,

One of the ways that we can live that pleases Him is when we do not give in to temptations towards sex outside of marriage.  God wants us to control our body in a way that pleases Him.

Some people are afraid of God’s will.  They think that if they yield to God, that He will take all the fun out of life and will make us do horrible things.  Not so.

(Rom 12:1-2 NASB)  I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

As we give our selves to Him and allow Him to keep changing us to be more and more like Him, we will prove to ourselves and to the world that God’s will is wonderful.

3.  God’s will is for you to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

(Eph 5:17-18 NIV)  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. {18} Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

The longer you are a Christian, the more you realize that God wants us to be more like Jesus, the more you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s completely IMPOSSIBLE!!!!

The only way that you and I can become more and more like Jesus is by getting help from an outside source, the Holy Spirit.

The filling of the Holy Spirit is what happens as we yield to Him, as we let Him have control of our entire life.

God wants you to have the power to live the kind of life that He has for you.  My job is only to say “yes” to Him.

:9 in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

wisdomsophia – wisdom; Wisdom that is shown in actions.  Not just understanding facts, but involves reasoning things out.

Paul wants them to know God’s will with wisdom, to know how it will affect their actions.

understandingsunesis – a running together; critical knowledge,

spiritualpneumatikos – relating to the spirit; of God the Holy Spirit; one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God

Paul wants them to a critical understanding of God’s will, to see how life flows together through the help of the Holy Spirit.


Applying God’s will

Paul wants the Colossians to not just vaguely know God’s will, but to be up close and experience God’s will.  He wants them to see how God’s will specifically affects their lives.
We’ve talked about general desires that God has for all of us, but what about the specifics?  How do I find out about the specifics of God’s will in my life?
1.  Pray
That’s the whole point here.  Paul is praying that God would show the Colossians His will.
Don’t expect God to clear up the picture with one prayer.  Sometimes we are going to have to pray for awhile before it becomes clear.  Sometimes things aren’t going to come out exactly like we’re wanting them to.

When Paul wrote to the Romans, he had a desire to visit Rome. Paul asked the Romans to pray for him concerning his visit and concerning the possible persecution he might face in Jerusalem.

(Rom 15:29-32 NLT)  And I am sure that when I come, Christ will give me a great blessing for you. {30} Dear friends, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. {31} Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God. Pray also that the Christians there will be willing to accept the donation I am bringing them. {32} Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a happy heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.

How did it turn out?  Paul went to Jerusalem and was arrested, but instead of being killed, he was put in jail for two years, and then shipped as a prisoner to Rome, to visit the Romans.

Did Paul find out God’s will?  Eventually.  Some of it turned out the way he was praying (he wasn’t killed in Jerusalem, he ended up in Rome), but some of it didn’t turn out the way he expected (he came to Rome as a prisoner).

2.  God’s Word
It’s in the Bible that we get familiar with God’s voice.

When I answer the phone, sometimes I can recognize the person on the line, but only if it’s someone I’m real familiar with.  We can grow in recognizing God’s directing of us if we spend time in His word.

God’s Word gives us guidance for where we need to go.

(Psa 119:105 KJV)  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

You will find that God’s Word has a LOT to say about how we ought to live and what we ought to do.

Are you reading your Bible and paying attention?

For some, the place to start is just in getting yourself to read the Bible in the first place.

For others, you’ve gotten to the place where you regularly open the book, but the question is, are you paying attention to what God is saying?

Here’s where I will struggle from time to time.  I’ll read every day because I’m in the habit.  But sometimes I don’t pay very much attention to what I’m reading.

Can you say that God spoke to you this week?  What did He say?  Could you show me the verse?

:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

worthyaxios – suitably, worthily, in a manner worthy of

Reminds me of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians –

(Eph 4:1 KJV)  I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

pleasingareskeia – desire to please

(NAS) to please Him in all respects

Three things result when we are filled with the right understanding of God’s will for our lives:

1.  We have the ability to live in a way that please God.

2.  We will see results in what we are doing (we bear fruit)

3.  We will grow in our relationship with God.

increasingauxano – to cause to grow, augment; to increase, become greater; to grow, increase; of plants
knowledgeepignosis – precise and correct knowledge.  Knowledge by experience.
If I want to know God better, then I need to pay attention and do the kinds of things that God is showing me to do, following His will for my life.

:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power,

strengtheneddunamoo – to make strong, confirm, strengthen

mightdunamis – strength power, ability

powerkratos – force, strength; power, might: mighty with great power

We might say, “Powered with all power according to His glorious might”


Receiving His strength

This is the second request of Paul (the first was to know God’s will), to be strengthened.
The level of strength is God’s kind of strength. This can only be done through the Holy Spirit in our lives.
(Acts 1:8 KJV)  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you …

:11  unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

The reason we need God’s strength is because patience is so difficult.  There are two types of patience mentioned here.

patiencehupomone (“under” + “remain”) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose by even the greatest trials and sufferings; a patient enduring of tough times.


The antiquated train on a branch line was creeping slowly through the countryside when suddenly it came to a dead stop. The only passenger in the car, a salesman riding the line for the first time, asked the conductor why they had stopped. The conductor said, “Nothing to worry about, sir. There’s a cow on the tracks.” In about ten minutes the train got under way again, but after chugging along for a mile or two, it again ground to a halt. “Just a temporary delay,” the conductor said. “We’ll be on our way shortly.” The exasperated salesman asked, “What is it now? Did we catch up to the cow again?”
--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 396.

That’s NOT hupomone.  We can only be patient with God’s strength.

longsufferingmakrothumia (“long” + “burning”) – patience, endurance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs.  This is being patient with difficult people.


Debra K. Johnson (Dublin Ohio, Christian Reader, May/June 1996, p. 58.) writes,
My seven-year-old daughter wanted to take violin lessons, so I took her to a music store to rent an instrument.  Hoping she would understand the importance of practicing, I explained that violin lessons were expensive so she would have to work hard. “There may be times when you feel like giving up,” I said, “but I want you to hang in there and keep on trying.”
She nodded and then in her most serious voice said, “It will be just like marriage, right Mommy?”
Sometimes the most difficult people to be patient with are those closest to us.  That doesn’t mean that you should sit here and be thinking, “Yeah, I hope he’s listening to this …”  It means you need to be patient with him.

joyfulnesschara – joy, gladness


Joyful patience

The purpose of being strengthened is so that they might endure both hard times and difficult people, and all the enduring to be done with joy.
It’s not a complaining kind of “I have to put up with all these wretched people!” attitude, but a joyful patience with people.
A key to having joy in patience is looking to the future.  Is there a reason for the wait?

There once was an oyster whose story I tell,

Who found that sand had got under his shell,

Just one little grain, but it gave him much pain,

For oysters have feelings although they’re so plain.

Now, did he berate the working of Fate,

Which had led him to such a deplorable state?

Did he curse out the government, call for an election?

No; as he lay on the shelf he said to himself

“If I cannot remove it, I’ll try to improve it.”

So the years rolled by as the years always do,

And he came to his ultimate destiny—stew.

And this small grain of sand which had bothered him so,

Was a beautiful pearl, all richly aglow.

Now this tale has a moral—for isn’t it grand

What an oyster can do with a morsel of sand;

What couldn’t we do if we’d only begin

With all of the things that get under our skin.

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 19.

Towards the end of his life, Solomon wrote,
(Eccl 7:8 KJV)  Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

God knows what He’s doing.  Let Him finish what He’s doing.  There’s a pearl in it somewhere!