Paul's Desire for the Colossians
Colossians 1:9-12
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…

The Colossians were distinguished for love, and for that "cause" the apostle shows his interest in them and gratitude for it by praying for them. Noble example! He goes on to say that he desired certain things for them — lit., "asked," lifted up his desires.


1. That they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will.

(1) It is one thing to have a full knowledge and another to be filled with knowledge. As far as God or His will are concerned we cannot have a full knowledge. God only knows the love, the glory, the will of God. But it is possible to be filled with the knowledge of God. The smallest of cups may be as full as the great ocean. So the smallest minds may be filled with the knowledge of God's will.

(2) It was not immense spaces of vacant imaginations and day-dreamings that he desired, but knowledge of realities, that knowledge which is "the principal thing."(3) But not numerous details of knowledge in general; man's mind is too limited for that. He must choose between knowing a few things well and a large number indifferently. Hence Paul limits his petition to one all-important department — the will of God. This has two distinct applications — what God is determined to do Himself and what He is desirous that we should do. In the first sense it is used in Ephesians 1:11, and in the confession of Nebuchadnezzar; but it is more frequently used in the second. "Thy will be done on earth" — not done by God's self. So far as God's determination to take His own way is concerned His will is always done. The reference is to that will which we ought to do, and with the knowledge of which Paul prayed that the Colossians might be filled.

2. "In all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Wisdom was needed, profitable to direct to the things worthiest and best; and understanding, that they might penetrate beneath the surface of things, so as to be standing under them and thence understanding them. When thus understood, things are joined together in a unity of subjective thought, and a higher agency than man's gets abundant scope for a gracious and beneficent operation.

3. But the highest knowledge is but a means to an end (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The knowledge possessed by God, though immense, is not the most glorious of His attributes; even to Him it is but a means to an end. It is but one of His natural attributes. The most illustrious of God's attributes are the moral — those which have a will within them.

II. THE PURPOSE OF HIS DESIRE. It is not therefore surprising that the apostle should guard the Colossians against the idea that they need aim no higher than this knowledge. He asked that they might have it, that —

1. They should(1) walk — lit., "walk about." He seized a prominent feature of human society. Men walk hither and thither in their homes, in the streets, and in the country. They walk out in the morning, "go about their business"; and in the evening walk about within the circle of their friends and visit. In the homes mothers walk about adjusting various details.

(2) There are different ways of demeaning ourselves as we walk about. Some go about stealthily to entrap the unwary and confiding; some in the dark to conceal their evil deeds; some bent on making profit of others, or on amusement. Paul might have prayed that the Colossians might walk circumspectly, humbly, consistently, with gifts in their hands or love in their hearts; but he chooses to say that ye may walk about in a way worthy of the Lord.

(3) It is assumed that the transcendent worth is in the Lord. As the Apocalyptic visions show us, in the estimation of all heavenly beings He is infinitely worthy; and hence it is that He is worth all the possible honour that can be reflected on Him by the most beautiful demeanour and "most costly sacrifices of His disciples. Hence we should ever make it our aim to walk worthy of Him, and all our knowledge must be subservient to this.

2. The Colossians are told that if they do so Christ will take note of every step we take, and be pleased. He will appreciate our aim, and have in reference to our conduct a feeling of pleasure. How different this from "putting Him to an open shame." We may make our Saviour happy, and not only in reference to a few acts of exceptional effort, but in reference to all the humble incidents of our every-day life.

3. But nothing will be really pleasing if fruitfulness be wanting.

(1) Leaves will not suffice, nor blossoms. Every Colossian was to be a tree of righteousness to bring forth fruit for the refreshment of the great Husbandman.

(2) Fruitful in every good work — in long-suffering in the home and beyond; in the continual restraint and guidance of all the passions; in the fruits of the Spirit — "love, joy, peace," etc.

(3) What are the means of this abounding fruitfulness? "By the knowledge of God." The most effective guarantee for increase in fruitfulness is the knowledge of God with which he desired they might be filled. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee," etc.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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;

WEB: 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,

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