Meditation on Colossians 1:1-12
Col 1:3-4 : « We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ continually when praying for you, having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which ye have towards all the saints »
Colossians 1:7 : « As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ »
: The effect of the ministry of Christ is that faith in Christ Jesus
and love to all the saints
is brought about (Colossians 1:4).
Epaphras ministered Christ; he was
a faithful minister of Christ
God has shown us great favour in allowing us to be under the influence of a precious ministry of Christ; we hardly realise how great a favour it is. The effect is that we become conscious there is one Man who can be trusted ; there is one Man whom God has trusted.
If there is faith in Christ Jesus there will be with it love to all the saints (Colossians 1:4); we become interested in the saints for they are of and in Christ; they are of that order of man.
Faith in Christ Jesus and love to all the saints
is the starting point in connection with assembly privilege; it is a good beginning.
The foundation is a necessary part of the house, but it is not all the house. There was a condition in Colosse which was a good starting point, but it was not the finish.
Col 1:9 : « For this reason we also, from the day we heard of your faith and love, do not cease praying and asking for you, to the end that ye may be filled with the full knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding »
: What is the full knowledge of His will
? (Colossians 1:9)
: It is the full scope of the pleasure of God in connection with the Head
; it does not refer to the believer’s individual pathway.
We have to grow up in ability to rightly act in relation to the Head. If all saints were filled with the full knowledge of God’s will everyone would have learned to act in relation to God’s anointed Man, and in that way the body of Christ would come into evidence. Everyone would be found doing what he ought to do and saying what he ought to say at the right moment and doing and saying it in relation to a glorified Man in heaven.
God would have us to understand His blessed will for us as connected with Christ. Everything that is for God’s pleasure centres in Christ, so that, if I want to understand the will of God, Christ must be the starting point.
The importance of prayer is very great. When we find the apostle praying it indicates that the things he prays for can only be got by prayer, they cannot be imparted by ministry. Prayer brings in the divine acting, the working of God. It is blessed to have ministry that is of God, but there is something more needed, that is divine operation in the souls of saints, and that stands connected with prayer. As the apostle prays here he goes on into an illimitable expanse of things till he has brought in Christ and the assembly, and the reconciliation of all things.
In Paul we see a man who had
wisdom and spiritual understanding
(Colossians 1:9). He was able to compass the immense thoughts of God in Christ, and all that Christ was to the body, and he could bring it before the saints in wisdom, and give the presentation of it that the saints needed at the moment.
Col 2:1 : « For I would have you know what combat I have for you, and those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in flesh »
He had never seen these Colossian saints (Colossians 2:1) but he could bring the unsearchable riches of the Christ to them in a suitable way as they needed it. We might desire a little of that wisdom and spiritual understanding; it can be got where Paul got it.
Col 4:18 : « The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen »
: He was in prison (Colossians 4:18).
: Yes, the epistles that are so rich in the ministry of Christ came from prison -- Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians are prison epistles. I suppose it is often when things are most straitened outwardly that there is the greatest expansion spiritually.
Mat 14:15-16 : « And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat »
: Is ministry on the line of
Give ye them to eat
? (Matthew 14:16)
: There are three distinct features in the Lord’s ministry, and they are characteristic of true ministry; they are
If people are suffering from maladies they cannot enjoy food, so spiritual healing
comes first in Christ’s ministry. That is negative; it is what corrects and heals all that is out of order
. There are all sorts of moral diseases and infirmities amongst the saints, but spiritual ministry is a corrective of all that.
Then the Lord not only healed but fed
. That is positive nourishing and strengthening, in the good of all that is blessed -- all that is of God and of Christ -- it is made available for us as food. We need building up spiritually in all that there is in divine Persons for us; there is a wondrous supply of food in the making known of what God is and of what Christ is
Lastly the Lord taught
them; He gave them the most wonderful and blessed unfoldings of the mind of God that were ever known. Spiritual teaching gives us intelligent access to the mind of God, to the great thoughts cherished in His mind
; it puts us on confidential terms with God. God communicates His thoughts to us; this is not what meets my need but what satisfies His heart
. He says,
I will put you on such terms with Me that I will tell you all I am thinking of and going to do
. Think of the blessed God communicating to us all His thoughts ! The king would not do it, but God does it.
These three features were demonstrated in all their blessedness in the Lord’s ministry, and all true ministry is the result of an impression of Christ.
If you are suffering from moral disease you cannot enjoy food; and if you are not nourished you do not understand what divine Persons are as available for food, and you are not man enough to take in the thoughts of God.
What we get here is on the line of
, entering into
all that is for the pleasure of God
, so that we might be able to act in relation to it,
to walk worthily of the Lord
Isaiah 53:10 : « Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath subjected him to suffering. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see a seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand »
He was the One of whom it was said,
the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand
(Isaiah 53:10). God put all His pleasure, all that He delighted in, in the hands of the Lord to be carried out, and we are to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing; it takes in everything pleasing to God.
The apostle has in mind that every one of the saints should be put in his right place in relation to the Head, so that the pleasure of God might come out in the body in the way saints move together.
Colossians 1:10 : « ... so as to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God »
: What would
every good work
be ? (Colossians 1:10)
: They are set forth in Christ. In Ephesians it says they are
before prepared that we should walk in them
(Ephesians 2:10). Everything that God can delight in in man has been seen in the Lord Jesus, so we have not to start out in a new path. It is new to us, but all the characteristics of that path have been set forth in Christ; He went about doing good.
Matthew 26:6-10 : « But Jesus being in Bethany, in Simon the leper's house, a woman, having an alabaster flask of very precious ointment, came to him and poured it out upon his head as he lay at table. But the disciples seeing it became indignant, saying, To what end was this waste ? for this might have been sold for much and been given to the poor. But Jesus knowing it said to them, Why do ye trouble the woman? for she has wrought a good work toward me »
The test of whether a thing is a good work is, is it expressive of Christ ? Is it the character of things that came out in Christ ? If it is not, then it is not a good work. It was said of one,
She has wrought a good work toward me
To come together to remember the Lord is a good work; He was the One to suggest it so that makes it a good work. He taught His disciples to pray, so prayer is a good work. If our hearts learnt to connect everything with Christ it would give us a good idea of spiritual things; if we cannot trace them to Christ they are not good works. It is a good work to read the Scriptures; the Lord was accustomed to read them in public as well as in private. We are encouraged to believe we are doing a good work tonight in reading the Scriptures publicly together because the Lord did it.
What makes a thing right and good is that Christ is the moving impulse of it; that is what gives it value before God.
When He was here everything He did was done in obedience and communion; it all moved from the Father -- the Head of Christ is God. There was a Man here on earth who was always true to the fact that God was His Head; He never exercised divine power by an act of His own will but in relation to His Head.
Now we have Christ for our Head. This epistle is full of the headship of Christ; everything good and right gets its impulse from Christ. I may do a thing with mixed motives, but the little bit of Christ’s influence in it is what gives it value with God. There may be a mixture of vanity or desire to be thought well of in what we do, but, if it is right at all, there is a streak of gold in it and that is what gives it value.
One might give vast sums of money to do good and there might be no fruit for God because it did not spring from abiding in Christ. He is the Spring of everything for God’s pleasure, and fruitfulness is connected with abiding in Him.
Colossians 1:10 : « so as to walk worthily of the Lord unto all well-pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing by the true knowledge of God »
2 Peter 1:3-4 : « As his divine power has given to us all things which relate to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us by glory and virtue, through which he has given to us the greatest and precious promises, that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. »
: How does
growing by the true knowledge of God
come about ? (Colossians 1:10)
: I suppose all edification is increase by the knowledge of God; there is no true growth apart from that. As we learn God we are formed in the divine nature.
Peter puts it as through
the greatest and precious promises
(2 Peter 1:4). The promises express to me what God is; every promise is the setting forth of what God is for man. As I take hold of the great and precious promises I become partaker of the divine nature.
: What is the full knowledge of God ?
: All that God is has come into view. God is in the light; there is no limitation on the side of revelation. If we are not formed in the divine nature we have not much capacity
for sharing the portion of saints in light
Col 1:11-12 : « Strengthened with all power according to the might of his glory unto all endurance and longsuffering with joy; Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light »
The glory of young men is their strength. Colossians answers to John’s
. In John
it is babes, young men and fathers. Paul has his three epistles. Romans
would answer to babes, Colossians
to young men, and Ephesians
to John’s fathers. Paul and John both regard the saints in three distinct stages of spiritual growth.
If one is
strengthened with all might according to the power of His glory
(Colossians 1:11) one has got beyond the babe stage.
I have written to you, young men, because ye are strong
(1 John 2:14). One who has reached this point is more than a babe.
It is not strength
for action but for suffering
; it is ability to endure and to suffer
. It is wonderful to think of the power of His glory coming down to enable saints to endure and to suffer with joy.