July 17, 2017: Verse of the day

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A Worthy Walk

so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects (1:10a)

Walk is used in the Bible to refer to one’s pattern of daily conduct. A mind controlled by knowledge, wisdom, and understanding produces a life worthy of the Lord. Although it seems impossible that anyone could walk worthy of the Lord, that is the teaching of Scripture. Paul desired the Thessalonians to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12). He exhorted the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4:1). He told the Philippians to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

God has not left us to our own resources for walking the worthy walk. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now  live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ dwell-s in us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Paul prayed for the Ephesians “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph. 3:16–17). Trying to walk worthy in our own strength is doomed to failure. Martin Luther stated that truth clearly in his hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”:

Did we in our own strength confide

Our striving would be losing,

Were not the right Man on our side,

The Man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He.

Lord Sabaoth His name,

From age to age the same.

And He must win the battle.

The New Testament describes several features of the worthy walk. We are to walk in humility (Eph. 4:1–3); in purity (Rom. 13:13, KJV); in contentedness (1 Cor. 7:17); by faith (2 Cor. 5:7); in good works (Eph. 2:10); different from the world (Eph. 4:17–32); in love (Eph. 5:2); in light (Eph. 5:8); in wisdom (Eph. 5:15); and in truth (3 John 3–4). Such a walk will please Him in all respects.

A Fruitful Life

bearing fruit in every good work (1:10b)

Fruitfulness also results from knowledge. Fruit is the byproduct of righteousness. It is the mark of every redeemed individual. Jesus said in John 15:8, “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (cf. vv. 2, 5–6). Paul told the Romans, “You also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4).

The Bible defines fruit in various ways. Here Paul speaks of bearing fruit in every good work. Converts are referred to as fruit. Paul spoke of the household of Stephanas as the “first fruits of Achaia” (1 Cor. 16:15). He also desired some fruit among the Romans (Rom. 1:13). Hebrews 13:15 defines praise as fruit: “Through Him then, let us  continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Giving money can also be fruit (Rom. 15:26–28). Godly living is fruit, as indicated when the writer of Hebrews tells us that God’s discipline produces in us “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11). Finally, the holy attitudes mentioned in Galatians 5:22–23 are referred to as “the fruit of the Spirit.”

What produces fruit in believers’ lives? First, union with Christ. Jesus said in John 15:4–5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 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.”

Second, wisdom is a necessary prerequisite for bearing fruit. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). Lack of fruit is directly related to lack of spiritual wisdom. Finally, diligent effort on the Christian’s part is required, as Peter writes:

Applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5–8)

Growth

increasing in the knowledge of God; (1:10c)

A third result of knowledge is spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is progressing in the knowledge of God. Tē epignōsei (in the knowledge) is an instrumental dative case. It indicates the means by which our increasing, or growth, takes place. The knowledge of God revealed in His Word is crucial to spiritual growth. Peter wrote, “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). As always, the Holy Spirit infuses our own efforts with God’s enabling grace (2 Pet. 3:18), without which we could not grow.

The marks of spiritual growth include: first, a deeper love for God’s Word. “Oh how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97).

Second, spiritual growth is reflected in a more perfect obedience.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. (1 John 2:3–5)

Third, spiritual growth will result in an enlarged faith. “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged” (2 Thess. 1:3; cf. 2 Cor. 10:15).

A fourth mark of spiritual growth is a greater love: “This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and discernment” (Phil. 1:9).[1]


10a To what end does Paul pray that the Colossians might be filled with the knowledge of the divine will? The apostle prays that these Christians in the Lycus River valley might walk (i.e., live) in a manner “worthy of the Lord.” In his letters Paul frequently employs the metaphor “to walk” (peripateō, GK 4344) when addressing matters of Christian conduct. (This figure of speech appears on three other occasions in Colossians [2:6; 3:7; 4:5].) The apostle was convinced that spiritual knowledge and moral excellence were mutually supportive. Theology and ethics, halakah and haggadah, were meant to go hand in hand. Paul prays that God will enable the Colossians to lead lives worthy of and pleasing to the Lord, i.e., to Jesus. It was Paul’s ambition to please the Lord (2 Co 5:9), and he had the same spiritual aspirations for the Colossians.

10b A life that pleases the Lord will be fruitful, marked by every kind of good work. Even as the gospel is fruitful (v. 6), those who have embraced the good news should bear spiritual fruit (cf. Gal 5:22–23). Popular Protestant perceptions notwithstanding, Paul was a proponent of good works (cf. 2 Co 9:8; Gal 6:10; Eph 2:10; 2 Th 2:17). He did not think that humanity could merit God’s mercy; however, he advocated and exemplified working and striving for Christ’s sake (1:29; cf. Php 2:12).

A worthy walk is not only characterized by fruit-bearing for God; it is also typified by knowledge of God. Here Paul reiterates the importance of knowing God (cf. v. 9). The word rendered “growing” in the NIV (NASB, “increasing”) is a present passive participle in Greek (auxanomenos, GK 889), suggesting that it is God who enables people to grow in the knowledge of himself. According to Paul, God’s knowledge of us makes it possible for us to know God (1 Co 8:3; 13:12; Gal 4:9).[2]


1:10. Being controlled by God’s will is not an end in itself; it is only a means to an end. The goal is to live a life worthy of the Lord and … please him in every way. The request of verse 9 was made so that the Colossians would live lives which please God. The word worthy refers to conduct that is expected and appropriate for God’s children.

If pleasing God is the goal, how do we achieve it? Paul spells that out very clearly in verses 10–12. By bearing fruit, growing in knowledge, being strengthened for adversity, and giving thanks for salvation, we please God.

First, believers please God when they are bearing fruit in every good work. Good works are not a means to achieve salvation, but a natural result of it. Good works in the life of the believer please God because good works are God’s plan for the believer (Eph. 2:8–10).

Second, God is pleased when believers are growing in the knowledge of God. The more we know of God’s character, his ways, and his expectations, the more we are able to bring our lives into conformity with what pleases him.[3]


1:10 There is a very important connection between verse 10 and verse 9. Why did the Apostle Paul want the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? Was it so they might become mighty preachers or sensational teachers? Was it so they might attract large followings to themselves, as the Gnostics sought to do? No, the true purpose of spiritual wisdom and understanding is to enable Christians to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him. Here we have a very important lesson on the subject of guidance. God does not reveal His will to us in order to satisfy our curiosity. Neither is it intended to cater to our ambition or pride. Rather the Lord shows us His will for our lives in order that we might please Him in all that we do.

Being fruitful in every good work. Here is a helpful reminder that although a person is not saved by good works, he most certainly is saved for good works. Sometimes in emphasizing the utter worthlessness of good works in the salvation of souls, we may create the impression that Christians do not believe in good works. Nothing could be further from the truth! We learn in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.” Again, Paul wrote to Titus: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works” (Tit. 3:8).

Not only did Paul want them to bear fruit in every good work, but also to increase in the knowledge of God. How is this done? First of all, it is done through the diligent study of God’s word. Then it is also found in obeying His teachings and serving Him faithfully. (The latter seems to be the prominent thought here.) As we do these things, we enter into a deeper knowledge of the Lord. “Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord (Hos. 6:3, KJV).

Notice the repetition of words dealing with knowledge in chapter 1 and realize that there is a definite advance in thought with each use. In verse 6, they “knew the grace of God.” In verse 9, they had “the knowledge of His will.” In verse 10, they were “increasing in the knowledge of God.” Perhaps we could say that the first refers to salvation, the second to study of the Scriptures, and the third to service and Christian living. Sound doctrine should lead to right conduct, which expresses itself in obedient service.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 29–32). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 284–285). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 281). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1991). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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