We are coming to the end of our series in the Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. This series of studies was first taught more than 40 years ago as part of a verse-by-verse study that became a series of topical insights from Paul’s great Letters to the Christians in Colossae and Ephesus. If you have not read the previous parts of the series, we invite you to do that at your convenience:
As with other Teaching Notes, we invite you to use this study in any way God leads.
[These notes are from a Bible study taught more than 40 years ago. The notes are in outline form.]
I. The Filling
“For 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
A. The Knowledge of His Will
This means to be filled up full with the advanced and special knowledge of the will of God. Paul was showing that Christians have access to the true knowledge that was superior to all others. The will of God speaks of His will in matters of Christian behavior and lifestyle.
B. Full Saints and Empty Saints
- Full saints are spoken of throughout the Scriptures. In Psalm 23, King David said that the Lord prepared a table for him in the presence of his enemies, anointed his head with oil, and ran his cup of life full and overflowing. In Malachi 3:10, the Lord promised to fill His people up with blessings to the point where they couldn’t stand it anymore. In John 15:11, Jesus said that He wanted His disciples to have His joy in them to remain and be full. In Ephesians 3:19, the Apostle Paul prayed that the saints would be filled up full with all the fullness of God. In Ephesians 5:18, Paul exhorted the Christians to be filled and controlled by the Spirit of God. And in Colossians 1:9, Paul prayed that the saints would be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
- Empty saints are one of the saddest stories in the Scriptures. Probably the saddest of all is the life story of King Solomon:
“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees :I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:1 – 2:11
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul exhorted the saints not to walk any longer as the unsaved people walked in emptiness of life and thought.
II. The Fruit
A. The Walking
The word “walk” means to order one’s behavior or to conduct one’s self. The walk of a Christian is his behavior and conduct before a watching God and a waiting world. The Bible is filled with examples of what the Christian walk should be. Romans 6:4 says that we are to “walk in newness of life.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 says that we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” In Galatians 5:16, Paul wrote “walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” In Ephesians 4:1, he wrote “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul wrote “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” In verse 15, he wrote “be careful how you walk.” In 1 John 2:6, the apostle wrote “the one who says he abides in Christ ought himself to walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.” In Colossians 1:10, Paul wrote that he wanted to see the saints walking “in a manner worthy of the Lord.”
This means that we should behave or conduct ourselves in a way which would be worthy of Christ. What does the word “worthy” mean? It means “having the weight of another thing.” It means being of like value or worth as much. The saints were told that their conduct should be like the conduct of the Lord. Their behavior should weigh as much as His.
B. The Pleasing
What does it mean to “please Him in all respects”? It means that what we do delights Him and brings Him enjoyment. We are to please Him in every possible way. The Scriptures have much to say about pleasing God and the rewards for such behavior. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he wrote, “we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.” In that same Book, Paul wrote “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” In 1 John 3:22, the apostle wrote “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
C. The Bearing
What does it mean to “bear fruit in every good work”? This means that our life of delighting the Lord and conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of Him will bear fruit in every good work. In John 15, Jesus said “I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in Him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing.” He also said “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.” In Ephesians 2:10, Paul wrote “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Bearing fruit in every good work is the natural outgrowth of a Christian who is walking a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects.
D. The Increasing
What does it mean to increase in the knowledge of God? It means to continually grow in the full perception of God’s truth.
III. The Applying
Paul prayed for those saints more than 1,900 years ago. That’s more than 19 centuries ago, but the need is still there and God’s Word still meets the need. Each one of us needs to be filled with the knowledge of His will. Each one of us needs to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of the Lord. Each one of us needs to please God in every respect, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
IV. The Committing
Let’s bow our heads for a few quiet moments and listen to the voice of God. How is it with your soul tonight? Are you in the process of Christian maturity? Are you a filled saint? Are you walking in a way that pleases your Savior? What about your conduct these last few weeks and months? Is your behavior of the same value as Christ’s? Are you bearing fruit in every good work? Are you increasing in the knowledge of God? Let’s wait upon the Lord and allow His voice to penetrate our hearts.
[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you, your family and your ministry.]