Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Colossians 1:11

Here we come to their fifth and final petition in this constant prayer for those in Colossae. Paul and Timothy pray that they would have strength and power that comes only from God and is produced by His Spirit living in us.

Paul understood that we are engaged in a spiritual conflict,[1] and therefore the strength and power we need must come from God. The word strengthened (Greek dunamoo) is in the present tense, and thus indicates that God’s actions are continuous and progressive.[2] When one considers God’s great omnipotence, we see the power available to believers in the struggle.

F.F. Bruce has written, 

“In Ephesians this idea is made even more explicit: there Paul describes the “immeasurable greatness” of God’s power which he imparts to believers in terms of the power which he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of universal supremacy at his right hand (Eph. 1:20).”[3]

This strengthening will bring about the endurance (Greek hupomone) and patience (Greek makrothumnia). The word translated endurance literally means to bear or carry by being under, and thus metaphorically to endure. The word translated patience literally means to be long-tempered. Paul and Timothy pray that these Colossian believers will have God’s strength to remain under the difficulties they were facing without succumbing to them. The patience they pray for does not retaliate in spite of injury or insults.[4]

Many have tried to connect this ability to the Stoic self-mastery beliefs of the day. However, Paul makes a sharp distinction here, he says they are to do it with joy (Greek chara). They would be more than conquerors, they would “possess that tenacious and cheerful buoyancy which made the apostolic church, even in that Roman world, invincible and indestructible.”[5] This called for them to not go about with a long face, or a plastered on smile, but with songs in the night, “The Joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).[6]

Prayer: Most Holy God, when I consider the magnitude of Your great Might, Your Onmipotence, and realize that You will give it to men to overcome temptation, I earnestly pray for that strength and power. In Jesus name I ask, Amen.

[1] See his teaching in Ephesians 6:10ff.
[2] Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1990. Page 108.
[3] Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's Publishing Co, 1984. Page 47.
[4] Falwell, Jerry, ed. Liberty Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983. Page 2456.
[5] Allen, Clifton J., ed. The Broadman Bible Commentary. Vol. 11. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1971. Page 225.
[6] This calls to mind the example set by Paul and Silas in Acts 16 – while in prison, beaten wrongfully, at midnight they sang praise to God.

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