Colossians 1:9-11a

Ever since they hear about the Colossians,[1] Paul and Timothy pray for them,[2] and they don’t give up! They pray that their minds would be filled with God's will: to please the Lord. Such filling results in good works and divine strength.[3]

A filled mind (9b): Their overarching prayer is for the believers to "be filled with the knowledge…" This is a mental filling, a mind saturation, hence, filled with "knowledge." This is specifically "the knowledge of His will," as in the will of the Father.[4] Now, this is not about having an information download. This is far more. This is first a filling. As a cup is filled when the water reaches the brim, so this knowledge should reach a saturation point in our minds. Like the Psalmist who meditates on God's will for him,[5] and the Lord who earnestly sought the Father's will,[6] so should our minds be filled. This is secondly a knowledge that is practical ("wisdom") and insightful ("understanding"). It is vast ("all"), and it is from God the Spirit ("spiritual").[7] This must be prayed for!

Please the Lord (10a): The Father's will is further defined in the phrase: "to walk worthy of the Lord."[8] We have a Lord and we are to live a lifestyle[9] that honors Him. This means pleasing the Lord: "to please Him in all respects."[10] The Father's desire[11] is that we carry out the Son's desires, and that we would do so "in all respects"! We hold back no area of life from the Lord. We exist for His honor and pleasure, not our own. This mentality is what's prayed for.

Do Good Works (10b): Such a mindset inevitably produces[12] "good works." Paul combines two horticultural metaphors[13] to portray this certain result: "bearing fruit and increasing [or, "growing"]." A believer whose mind is filled with this Christ-centered will of the Father is like a well-cared for tree. It assuredly grows and bears fruit. The means of this growth is given here. It is the knowledge of God mentioned earlier.[14] This is to say, the properly "filled" mind inevitably bears the fruit of good works. On the flipside, if our lives are barren of good works, or if we bear bad fruit, we need look no further than our minds. What fills our minds will be manifest in our good (or bad!) works.

Have Divine Strength (11a): Strength is another result of the rightly "filled" mind. And this is no ordinary strength. This is divine power.[15] This comes to us "with all power" and is "according to His glorious might." This is the power of God that enables His people to show "steadfastness" in trials, and to show "patience" when dealing with difficult people.[16] This power is available to those whose minds are filled with God's will in Christ. Our minds matter!

[1] Cf. 1:9a ("since the day we heard… we have not ceased to pray for you") and 1:3 ("praying always for you").

[2] This is also Epaphras' prayer for them. Cf. 4:12 ("fully assured [same verb as 1:9] in all the will of God").

[3] There is one more aspect which is thanksgiving (1:11b-14), which will be addressed in the next exposition.

[4] "Will [the--ma (θέλημα)]" occurs two more times in this book (1:1; 4:12), and both point to the Father's will. This "knowledge" is called in 1:10b, "the knowledge of God," again, pointing to the Father vs. "the Lord."

[5] Cf. Ps. 119:97 ("O how I love Your law [the Mosaic law]! It is my meditation all the day"). Cf. also Ps. 1:2.

[6] Cf. John 4:34 ("My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work").

[7] Paul uses the word "spirit" for the Holy Spirit, the human spirit or angelic spirits. The adjective "spiritual" refers to one of these. Here, the Holy Spirit fits best, as the prayer is not for human wisdom or angelic wisdom.

[8] NASB's "so that you will walk…" is literally "to walk worthy of the Lord." This is an appositional infinitive that defines what was mentioned before. This is not God's will with no specificity. This is His will re: His Son.

[9] Paul often uses "walk" as a metaphor for our conduct and lifestyle (2:6; 3:7). Cf. also Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15.

[10] This infinitival statement in the NASB is actually a prepositional phrase that modifies the main statement of 1:10. Literally it is: "to walk worthy of the Lord for every pleasing thing [or, "everything that pleases Him"]."

[11] The Father establishes the Son's dominion (1:13), pre-eminence (1:18-19) and proclamation (1:25-28).

[12] The 4 participles (bearing fruit, growing, being strengthened, giving thanks) loosely modify the verb "fill."

[13] This hendiadys is used earlier in 1:6. The two verbs (participles) together depict growth and fruit-bearing.

[14] NASB correctly footnotes "by [vs. "in"] the knowledge of God." Knowledge is how good works come about.

[15] This is literally, "being strengthened." It is in the passive voice. God is the actor and we are the recipients.

[16] "Patience [ma-kro-thu-mi-a (μακροθυμία)]" is often applied to people (cf. 3:12; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2).