Where the world comes to study the Bible

Filled With the Knowledge of His Will (Col. 1:9)

Outline Review:

I. Doctrinal: The Person and Work of Christ (1:1-23)

    A. Introduction (1:1-14)

      1. Paul’s Greeting to the Colossians (1:1-2)

      2. Paul’s Thanksgiving for the Colossians (1:3-8)

      3. Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians (1:9-14)

        (a) The Cause of Paul’s Prayer (1:9a)

        (a) The Content of Paul’s Prayer (1:9b-14)

          (1) The Root and the Trunk—“filled with the knowledge of His will” (vs. 9b)

Introductory Remarks

The apostle greeted the Colossians (1:1-2), gave thanks to God for their faith and love (1:3-8), and then followed with a specific prayer for their growth in the knowledge of God’s will (1:9-14). Many would be content with the fact the Colossians were demonstrating faith and love, but the apostle Paul prayed for further spiritual growth, because without it Christians will become stagnant and unproductive (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4-11). The same emphasis can be seen in Paul’s prayers in Ephesians and Philippians (cf. Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-19; Phil. 1:9-11). The thrust of these prayers on spiritual growth and understanding should teach us that imbalances and foolish conflicts often exist in the Christian community over the issue of Bible study versus the expression of love. In some churches, the emphasis is on expressing love in meaningful relationships both within and without the body of Christ. In others, the emphasis may be on the corporate life of the body, or it may be on evangelism, teaching, or theology. One is often used against the others as though they were contrary to one another.

All of these responsibilities for the body of Christ are necessary, and should never be pitted against each other. They are allies and go together like a hand in a glove. The important principle is that they are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they are interwoven and related, much as cause and effect when properly and biblically understood. The opening verses of Colossians illustrate this beautifully. The apostle Paul felt able to commend the Colossians for their faith, love, and hope (1:4-5), but this was not sufficient. One’s walk with Christ is not a static relationship. As Christians, we can never sit still or rest on our laurels. People have a tendency to live out of their past or even their present experiences and to stick with what’s comfortable for them. Since no one ever arrives at ultimate spiritual maturity in this life, there is always room for spiritual growth.

If we are to continue to please the Lord, bear fruit in every good work and genuinely grow in Christ, it is necessary that we "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Why is this true? First, because love and ministry without biblical insight and the knowledge of the truth will become only a soft and cheap imitation largely motivated by selfish concerns and desires. Because of this reality, Paul warned against simulated or hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9). And secondly, because without biblical insight and motivation, even genuine Christian love will grow dim and die. Acts of Christian love and service will be turned into drudgery and sour resignation, if they are present at all.

Without love and close relationships within the body of Christ, the knowledge we gain through in-depth study of the Bible will invariably become cold, critical, boring, and mere intellectualism. Knowledge without application is inept because it fails to grasp the meaning and purpose of knowing the Word. Bible study is never an end in itself, but it is an essential element in the life of the believer and one sorely neglected in the church today. As the apostle Paul warns, knowledge without discernment and Christ-like love becomes arrogant, literally, puffed up or inflated, and fails to fulfill the will of God (cf. Col. 2:18; 1 Cor. 8:1).76 If our knowledge of the Savior and our life in Him does not lead to the practice of genuine love, we are nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).

Therefore, in verses 9-14, the apostle moves from thanksgiving to a very specific petition that illustrates the practical outworking of having the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. As Johnson points out,

Christians frequently ask, “How shall I pray, and for what shall I pray?” The Pauline prayers are reliable guides. They were brief and explicit, directed to the needs at hand. He did not “pray all around the world” before coming to the point. There is an amusing anecdote about Billy Nicholson, the famous Irish evangelist. In a large meeting he called upon a brother to pray who was noted for mentioning all the missionaries he knew in every one of his public prayers. “Brother So-and-So,” said Billy, “will you please lead us in prayer, but keep it in County Donegal!”77

Paul’s prayers are tremendously instructive and often stand as a rebuke to the way many Christians pray. These prayers are not only brief and explicit, but they are spiritually strategic in nature. They center on the great spiritual issues facing individual believers and the body of Christ as a whole. The Christian life is a spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-18), and our prayer life should illustrate this by the way we pray. In war or military combat, the objectives usually fall into three areas: the strategic (the primary and essential objectives), the tactical (the more immediate, less long range operations), and the logistic (distribution of supplies, men, and material, etc.). Today, the prayer life of many Christians centers primarily on logistics, on health and wealth issues. By contrast, Paul’s prayers focus mostly on the strategic and the tactical.

Finally, as the world is doing today, the heretics at Colossae were offering the church false knowledge and false solutions to the needs and problems of people. To counter the false knowledge of the heretics, Paul prays for a full and more penetrating knowledge of God's will. Two of the terms he uses in this section (vss. 9-14), “bearing fruit” and “growing,” suggest the figure of a tree to describe God's desire for them and for us as the church, the body of Christ. It calls to mind the words of Jer. 17:8 and Psalm 1:3 that portray the people of God as people of His Holy Word: "He is like a tree planted by flowing streams, it yields its fruit at the proper time…" (Ps. 1:3). When men and women regularly nourish their hearts with the perennial streams of God’s Word, they will become fruitful regardless of the circumstances of life (cf. Dan. 11:32).

The Cause for the Prayer (vs. 9a)

1:9a For this reason we also, from the day we heard, have not ceased praying for you and asking God78 to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

"For this reason we also" links verses 9-14 with the preceding section of thanksgiving, specifically (1) the report regarding their faith, love, and hope, and (2) the success of the gospel in their midst through the ministry of Epaphras, his faithful coworker and bondservant. Paul was grateful for what God had done in their lives, but because of the principle already discussed concerning spiritual growth, the apostle knew that their love would fizzle and die without continued growth in the truth of the Savior. Thus, we are introduced to Paul’s prayer for their further enrichment and growth in the knowledge of God's will.

"From the day we heard" brings out the sensitivity and quickness of the apostle to go to the throne of grace for the body of Christ. It shows us how Paul's life was engrossed in concern for others and for the glory of God, and how he believed in the all sufficiency of God. Prayer was never far from his heart and on his lips because God was his confidence and people were his concern.

"Have not ceased praying for you and asking" again draws our attention, as in verse 3, to the persistency of Paul's prayer life. Why do we see so little hunger for the Word and so few results in the lives of others? Surely, one reason is because we fail to pray and pray and pray.

"Praying" is the Greek proseuchomai. This word points to the general privilege of prayer and lays stress on prayer as an act of worship and devotion to God. It looks at prayer as an approach to God from a recognition of (1) one’s need and inadequacy and (2) of God's loving and all wise character and omnipotent ability or total sufficiency to meet those needs. The word “asking” is the Greek aiteo, which means "to ask, desire, or request." This is another word for prayer, a synonym, but it brings out the concept of the specific needs and desires that we bring before God in specific requests.

But a comparison of Psalm 37:4 with James 4:3 reminds us that if our prayer life is to be biblical and effective, our delight must be in the Lord and His purposes. Delighting in the Lord is what guides our desires and requests so they are in keeping with godly motives. God never intended prayer to become a blank check for selfishness. We must learn and seek to pray in the will of God according to His purpose and values. A beautiful Psalm that illustrates the principle is Psalm 40:16:

May all those who seek you be happy and rejoice in you! May those who love to experience your deliverance say continually, “May the Lord be praised!” (magnified, NASB, exalted, NIV) (Ps. 40:16)

The Content of the Paul’s Prayer (vss. 9b-14)

The Root and the Trunk, “filled with the knowledge of His will" (vs. 9b)

1:9b to fill you with the knowldege of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

The tree figure seen in the terms, “bearing fruit and growing,” reminds us of a very important principle in life, that of the root and the trunk. You simply can’t have fruit without the root to provide the life sustaining nourishment needed and a strong trunk to give stability so the fruit doesn’t lie in the dirt or the trunk doesn’t break off and cut off the supply of nourishment from the fruit. Ours is a day, however, when people want to by pass the root system and go directly to the fruit. Today, in many schools those in authority have abolished failing grades and care more about making certain the children feel good about themselves even if they cannot spell, read or, add and subtract. But these simple ABCs form the root and trunk. The real world out there won’t care about one’s self-image. Rather, the world of business expects its employees to be able to add, subtract, spell, read, and write so these employees can do the job they were hired for. Likewise, developing a healthy spiritual root system and a strong trunk are vital to fruitful Christian living.79

With the words “to fill you" in verse 9, we are introduced to the content and purpose of Paul’s prayer. Literally, the Greek text has, “that you may be filled.” The Greek text uses a hina clause with the subjunctive mood. This construction may express the content (substantival use of hina) or the design (the purpose-result use of hina) of Paul’s prayer. While this construction is probably best understood to point to the content (substantival use) of their prayer, surely Paul and his associates prayed this prayer because this was also the purpose or the result they sought from the Lord in the life of the Colossians. Essentially, Paul prayed for two things: (1) that his readers might have a full knowledge of the will of God and (2) that, as a result, they might live in manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in every respect. Both requests, though distinctive, are intimately related and bound up one with the other as cause and effect. Verse 9 without verse 10 is incomplete and falls short of the will of God, but verse 10 without verse 9 is impossible.

This request forms the objective of the prayer, but essentially, it is also the root and foundation for all that follows. This request points us to the great need in every believer’s life and the means by which this need is met. It is important that the readers, and by application all believers, be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (the need), but not any means will accomplish this. We must never seek to fill this void through man’s fleshly wisdom or human imagination (cf. 2:2-3, 8, 18 and Rom. 1:18ff). Thus, with the words in (or by) all spiritual wisdom and understanding, the apostle points to the all-important means.

Through out this epistle, the apostle used biblical terms like knowledge, filled, spiritual, understanding, and wisdom. These terms also formed part of the vocabulary adopted by the false teachers, but what they meant by these terms was a far cry from sound doctrine or biblical truth. As Wiersbe points out, “Satan is so deceptive! He likes to borrow Christian vocabulary, but he does not use the Christian dictionary! Long before the false teachers had adopted these terms, the words had been in the Christian vocabulary.”80 In this epistle, the apostle often used the theme of “fullness” or “completeness” to combat the claims of the false teachers. This can be seen in the different, but similar terms used in 1:9, 19, 24, 25; 2:2, 3, 9, 10; 4:12, 17. “It seems that the false teachers boasted that they offered the fullness of truth and spiritual maturity, while Epaphras had only instructed the Colossians in the first steps (Beare, 156).”81

“To fill you…” may also be translated, “that you may be filled…” As previously mentioned, this clause does more than refer to the content or substance of what Paul and his team prayed for. It points also to the design and the reason for the prayer! The Colossians had been told that they needed more knowledge and deeper wisdom beyond what they had been taught regarding the person and work of Christ. Now Paul shows them they indeed needed more knowledge, but the true knowledge of God’s will by means of all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Satan has all sorts of tricks he uses to distract and turn people away from the Word. He especially seeks to keep them an understanding of the sufficiency of salvation in Christ alone. "That you may be filled" represents the subjunctive mood in the Greek, which is the mood of potentiality. It points to that which is God’s designed potential for every believer, i.e., to be filled with the knowledge of His will, but not necessarily the reality. So, while this is the potential and God's design, it may not become a reality. Its reality can be hindered by all kinds of distractions like indifference, laziness, carnality, materialism, and wrong priorities. Or, it can be hindered by counterfeit ideas that seek to add to or subtract from the fullness of salvation as revealed in Christ. It is this that the Colossians were facing with the false teachers at Colossae. God wants all believers in Christ to have their roots deeply planted in His Word like a tree planted by flowing streams.

I grew up on a small cattle ranch in east Texas. Around our house were some towering oaks that spread their branches out providing shade and beauty to our home. Just behind these oaks was our garden where my mom raised vegetables like squash and cucumbers. Now it took years to produce those huge and enjoyable oaks that gave us shade and beauty year after year, but it only took a few weeks to produce a squash or cucumber. So, we might ask, “What kind of Christian do we want to be? Do we want to be like an oak or a squash?” Solid and strong spiritual growth requires time and a life that is perennially fed by the streams of God’s Word, the source for the knowledge of His will.

"Be filled" is full of meaning and significance. First, the tense is aorist, which looks at the effective culmination, the end product and the design of acquiring the knowledge of God's will. The idea is filled full and running over. No one ever reaches this goal, but should it not be our objective. Second, the heretics regularly used the word fullness. It was their claim that what they were offering as a substitute or addition to the gospel and to the believer's life in Christ would bring an added fullness of life. Don't believe it! The world and Satan are always making this claim, but it is a lie. Fullness of life only comes through an understanding of the fullness Christians automatically have in Christ as they continue to grow and relate their lives to Him through the Word (2:6-10). Third, the verb is the Greek pleroo, which may carry three key ideas, all of which may have application here though the first meaning listed below is primary:

  • “To fill up a deficiency.” Every believer has deficiencies in his or her knowledge of the Word and these deficiencies need to be removed through a careful and accurate handling of the Word (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15).
  • “To fully possess, influence, control, take over.” What comes to your mind when you hear the statement, "he was filled with fear?" Don't you envision a man so controlled and motivated by fear that his every move and action is the product of that fear? Likewise, the knowledge of God's will is to so pervade all our being that it controls all our thoughts, affections, purposes, and plans. The more of the mind of Christ we have, the more God can bring His control into our lives.
  • “To fill with a certain quality or character.” When a house is filled with a certain fragrance, that house takes on the quality of that fragrance (cf. John 12:3). The more our lives are filled with the Word, the mind of Christ, the more our lives can take on the quality and character of Christ's life (cf. Eph. 3:16-19).

“Knowledge” is the Greek epignosis, a compound form of gnosis, “knowledge.” A concordance study of this word in the New Testament reveals that it is used only of moral and spiritual knowledge (the knowledge of God and His truth), but there is considerable debate as to its precise meaning. Vaughn has a good summary of the issues in the debate:

…Armitage Robinson, for instance, concludes that the simple, uncompounded form (gnosis) [This is a quote. What do you do about the lack of omega?] is the wider word and denotes knowledge in “the fullest sense.” The compound form used here he takes to be “knowledge directed toward a particular object” (Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 254). Earlier scholars, on the other hand, are inclined to see epignosis as the larger and stronger word. Meyer, for example, defines it as “the knowledge which grasps and penetrates into the object” (p. 215). Lightfoot remarks that “it was used especially of the knowledge of God and of Christ as being the perfection of knowledge” (p. 138). The older interpreters who understand the word as denoting thorough knowledge, that is, a deep and accurate comprehension, are probably correct. Such knowledge of God’s will is the foundation of all Christian character and conduct.82

Whether epignosis refers to knowledge directed toward a specific area of knowledge like the knowledge of God and spiritual things or to a deeper understanding of the knowledge under consideration, it refers to a knowledge that impacts the life for positive spiritual change and blessing. In Paul’s prayer, the issue is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God’s will. “Of his will” points us to the precise area of knowledge needed, but in context, what precisely does the apostle have in mind?

In general, the knowledge of God’s will concerns the whole counsel of God’s truth as it is found in the Bible (the source) regarding the person and work of Christ (the primary subject). As Revelation 19:10 points out, “Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The point is simple and clear. The purpose of prophecy, all prophecy, is essentially to bear testimony to Jesus Christ and to glorify Him. The prophetic Scripture, by its very design in the plan of God, is to unfold the beauty of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In both His first and second advents, He is God’s perfect solution to the evils of a fallen world. Thus, all Scripture ultimately points to the person and work of Christ in His preincarnate glory, His incarnation and ministry on earth, His death, resurrection, ascension, session, and imminent return. This was precisely the Lord’s point to the two disciples on the Emmaus road in Luke 24.

24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 24:26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 24:27 And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27). (NASB)

In this context (vss. 9-14), the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding has as its focus the dynamic result that a proper understanding of the person and work of Christ should have on one’s spiritual walk. In this case, God’s will refers to the complete rule of faith and practice. It is a knowledge that should lead to Christ-like living in the many and varied situations of life. As verse 10 will show, properly understanding the will of God should yield fruit in a worthy walk that pleases the Lord in every respect. This passage is not primarily speaking about the vague impressions people may have about God’s will regarding those questions that concern where one should live or what car one should buy or what person one should marry. Instead, it refers primarily to the principles and promises of Scripture that point believers to the theological and moral will of God. It is this that forms the basis for making wise biblical choices. Such knowledge gives discernment and enables believers to make choices that will glorify God in all the questions and issues of life. In this prayer of Paul, the great object is to grow in the knowledge of God's will so that it leads to pleasing Him, not ourselves. Barclay is correct when he says,

…We are trying not so much to make God listen to us as to make ourselves listen to him; we are trying not to persuade God to do what we want, but to find out what he wants us to do. It so often happens that in prayer we are really saying, “Thy will be changed,” when we ought to be saying, “Thy will be done.” The first object of prayer is not so much to speak to God as to listen to him.83

The important question is how do we gain such knowledge, and how does it manifest itself? What form is it to take? This is answered for us in the next statement, "in (or ‘by’) all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Several things need to be considered here.

First, such knowledge is not the fruit of man’s wisdom or searching. It comes through the illumination of the Holy Spirit who imparts “wisdom and understanding” from the Scripture, God’s revealed will to man. Paul had just mentioned a “love by the Spirit” and now speaks of spiritual wisdom and understanding. “Spiritual” is the Greek adjective pneumatikos, which is emphatic in the Greek text.84 In the New Testament, this adjective most often means “actuated or controlled by the divine Spirit” or “pertaining to the divine Spirit” (pneuma)” whether of things or persons. Here in 1:9, it means a wisdom and understanding given by the Spirit.85 The false teachers also boasted of wisdom, but it was only a show of man’s wisdom (2:23). This is an empty wisdom that belongs to human philosophy and is even the product of the delusions of demonic spirits (cf. 2:8 with 1 Tim. 4:1). By contrast, believers need the wisdom and understanding that is found in the Scripture and is taught by the Holy Spirit, an important theme of the New Testament (cf. John 16:7-15; 1 Cor. 2:6-3:3; Eph. 1:17f; 3:16-19; 1 John 2:20, 27).

Second, what is meant by “wisdom and understanding”? "Wisdom" is the Greek sophia. Sophia refers to the basic, fundamental precepts, the facts and first principles of any subject. In this context, it refers to the basic principles and truths of the Word that every believer should know and live by. However, it is not just knowledge because it looks at a knowledge that makes one wise. And who is a wise person? He or she is one who has a holy reverence or awe for God. Reverence for God forms the beginning and essence of wisdom (Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 4:7; 9:10). But such reverence or wisdom comes from an understanding of God’s being—His divine essence or character, especially as God has manifested Himself in the person and work of Christ. “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30) (NASB)

Biblical wisdom, then, is a knowledge that shows one how to live so that one’s life is meaningful and good, just and right, effective or fruitful regardless of what life might bring. How, then, can we define wisdom? Two definitions might be offered. First, biblical wisdom consists in choosing the best means to the best end. The effect of this wisdom "…is to make us more humble, more joyful, more godly, more quick sighted as to His will, more resolute in the doing of it and less troubled (not less sensitive, but less bewildered) than we were at the dark and painful things of which our life in this fallen world is full…"86 Second, "Wisdom is the God-given ability to see life with rare objectivity and to handle life with rare stability."87 But the knowledge of God as He is revealed in the Word is always the root of wisdom and its effects (cf. Ps. 119:97ff).

Interestingly, the text does not say "all wisdom and all understanding" as though they were two independent and unrelated things, but all wisdom and understanding because they are intimately tied together. When you think of wisdom, the book of the Bible that probably comes to your mind is the book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters of Proverbs give us a single sustained exhortation to seek this gift from God, but we should also notice that Solomon mentions these two together nearly half the time. In fourteen of some thirty-five references to wisdom, he includes understanding.

"Understanding" is the Greek word sunesis, which literally means, "a uniting, union, a bringing together." It looks at the faculty of putting two and two together. In sunesis you take wisdom (biblical truth) and apply it to the details of your life or to a specific problem or issue for critical discernment. Understanding is what allows one to see clearly to discern the good from the bad and the best over the good. Whereas "wisdom" (sophia) looks at the theoretical, the theological, or the various truths of Scripture, "understanding" (sunesis) looks at the practical, the application of wisdom.

The wise application of God’s truth is the reason for studying and living in the Word on a daily basis. Oh, that we might become burdened and hungry for God’s Word and that this might take root throughout the Christian community. God says in effect, "stay in My Word and I'll change your life." God places no value on ignorance. Ignorance is not bliss. To remain ignorant when you can know and learn is to play the fool (cf. Prov. 1:20-22 with 1:29f).

Third, the apostle prays that they might be filled with “all spiritual…” The word "all" (pas) may refer to everything that belongs in kind to the word with which it is used, i.e., every kind or category or area of wisdom.88 There are many spheres or categories of wisdom God's wants us to know and have, and this is undoubtedly involved here. But in this context with the term “filled,” perhaps the primary idea is "the highest degree, the maximum."89 This means the maximum knowledge of God's will in all its categories is the goal of the request. God wants us to have a maximum of wisdom and understanding. God does not want His people to remain spiritual babies or adolescents. Milk is fine for the babe for a while, but eventually, if the babe is to grow and become strong, he or she needs a solid meal of spiritual meat and potatoes (Heb. 5:11-6:1). God wants us to be continually growing in the knowledge and application of His will in all spheres of life (cf. 1 Cor. 14:20; 1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). As Wiersbe humorously points out:

Spiritual intelligence is the beginning of a successful, fruitful Christian life. God puts no premium on ignorance. I once heard a preacher say, “I didn’t never go to school. I’m just a igerant Christian, and I’m glad I is!” A man does not have to go to school to gain spiritual intelligence; but neither should he magnify his “igerance.”

Great men of God like Charles Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan, and H.A. Ironside never had the privilege of formal Bible training. But they were devoted students of the Word, learning its deeper truths through hours of study, meditation, and prayer. The first step toward fullness of life is spiritual intelligence—growing in the will of God by knowing the Word of God.90

Conclusion

As the next verse will stress, the knowledge of God in all spiritual wisdom and understanding enables us to walk in a worthy manner so we can please the Lord in every situation of life and bear fruit for Him. Perhaps an illustration will help. Kathie, my precious and faithful wife and co-laborer for the last forty-one years, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in June 99, just seventeen months ago. Her myeloma is the kind that also attacks the kidneys and she is now experiencing kidney failure. About twelve weeks ago, the doctors thought she had only four to six weeks to live, and though the Lord continues to give her one good day after another, we know that her time on this earth is short, barring, of course, a miraculous healing. We were devastated when she was diagnosed with this terrible disease and were faced with choices concerning how we will respond to the Lord and to this terrible disease. Would we get angry with God, question His love and wisdom? After all, she is not even sixty years old and a vibrant and contributing member of her family, her church, her friends, and of the BSF staff.

As Bible believing Christians, we have continually cast this burden on the Savior and have sought to trust and honor Him throughout this entire ordeal. Because of the principles and promises of Scripture and what it teaches us about God and the Savior’s love (God’s wisdom to us), we know that the Lord could have healed her instantaneously anywhere along this road and still could. We know that with God nothing is impossible (Gen. 19:14; Matt. 19:26; Mark 14:36; Luke 1:37), but we also know from Scripture that healing her might not be His will or what is best according to His infinite wisdom and eternal plan. Naturally, my heart is breaking over the thought of losing her and I, along with many others, pray daily for her healing if that can be His will and will glorify Him the most. While the hurt is deep and the tears have been many, our biblical responsibility (the knowledge of God’s will) is to humble ourselves under His might hand, to desire His glory and honor, and to rest in His loving care and perfect wisdom (1 Pet. 5:6-7) (biblical understanding or wisdom applied). Again our need is to remember Psalm 40:16:

May all those who seek you be happy and rejoice in you! May those who love to experience your deliverance say continually, “May the Lord be praised!” (magnified, NASB, exalted, NIV).

We also know she, as all believers in Christ, has an eternal home and a hope laid up for her in the heavens with the Lord where there is joy unspeakable and glory beyond our imagination. In knowing and resting in these and other truths of the Bible, we know that there are things going on behind the scenes of human history that are beyond our comprehension. This is one of the great lessons in the book of Job as is so evident in Job 1-2. And it is interesting and significant that, when Job had become a bit demanding with God, God never told Job about the angelic conflict going on behind the scenes. He simply reminded Job of Who He is as the sovereign and infinitely wise creator of the universe (see Job 38-41).

Job learned much from this encounter with God and responded:

42:1 Then Job answered the Lord:

42:2 “I know that you can do all things;

no purpose of yours can be thwarted;

42:3 you asked,

‘Who is this who darkens counsel

without knowledge?’

But I have declared without understanding

things too wonderful for me to know.

42:4 You said,

‘Pay attention, and I will speak;

I will question you, and you will answer me.’

42:5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,

but now my eye has seen you.

42:6 Therefore I despise myself,

and I repent in dust and ashes!

When Job said, “but now my eye has seen you” (vs. 5), he was not necessarily saying that he had had a vision. He was simply saying that this experience with God was real and personal. In the past, his knowledge of God was what he had heard. Now, through the suffering he had endured and through this encounter with the Almighty, he had grown in his knowledge and understanding of God.

Thus, greater glory can accrue to God through our suffering when Christians simply rest in God and His infinite wisdom and mercy in spite of their own pain or loss. Kathie has shared her experience and testimony in various e-mail messages to a number of people around the world. These have touched the lives of Christians and non-Christians alike. We know of two people in India who, being fearful of dying, wanted to know more when they heard of Kathie’s peace in the face of death. For those interested, she has shared her faith and thoughts in a document on our web site called, “Calm Amidst the Storm.” This entire experience has already been used of the Lord in many lives in ways far beyond our comprehension.


76 The verb used in each of these passages is phusioo, “to puff up, to blow up like a billows.” It is found mostly in Christian literature (BAGD) and is used metaphorically for the idea of becoming arrogant, conceited, proud.

77 S. Lewis Johnson, "Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians, Part I," Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 118, #472, Oct. 61), 340.

78 “The term “God” does not appear in the Greek text, but the following reference to “his knowledge” makes it clear that “God” is in view as the object of the “praying and asking,” and should therefore be included in the English translation for clarity.” (Translator’s Note from the NET Bible)

79 For a series of studies devoted to the ABCs of the Christian life, see the author’s study, The ABCs for Christian Growth, Laying the Foundation on our web site, www.bible.org.

80 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Complete (Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1986), Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Complete (Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1986), 32-33.

81 Peter T. O'Brien, Word Biblical Commentary, Colossians, Philemon, gen. ed., Glenn W. Barker, NT., ed., Ralph P. Martin (Word Books, Publisher, Waco, TX, vol. 44), 20.

82 Curtis Vaughn, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1976-1992), electronic media.

83 William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (Revised Edition), ns (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000, c1975), electronic media.

84 Pneumatikos modifies both “wisdom and understanding.” It follows the second noun because it is emphatic, but it logically applies to both.

85 Walter Bauer, Wilbur F. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979), electronic media. Here after referenced as BAGD.

86 J. I. Packer, Knowing God (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 1973), 97.

87 Charles R. Swindoll, Living on the Ragged Edge (Word Books, Waco, 1985), 208.

88 BAGD, electronic media

89 BAGD, electronic media.

90 Wiersbe, 35.

Related Topics: Theology Proper (God), Prayer, Faith