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Colossians 1:9-11

9. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

9. Propterea nos quoque, ex quo die audivimus, non cessamus pro vobis orare, et petere ut impleamini cognitione voluntatis ipsius, in omni sapientia et prudentia 287287     “Prudence, ou intelligence;” — “prudence, or understanding.” spirituali:

10. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

10. Ut ambuletis digne Deo, in omne obsequium, in omni bono opere fructificantes, et crescentes in cognitione Dei:

11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

11. Omni robore roborati, secundum potentiam gloriae ipsius, in omnem tolerantiam et patientiam, cum gaudio.

 

9. For this cause we also. As he has previously shewn his affection for them in his thanksgivings, so he now shews it still farther in the earnestness of his prayers in their behalf. 288288     “Comme il a ci dessus demonstré l’amour qu’il auoit enuers eux, en protestant qu’il s’esiouit de leurs auancemens, et en rend graces a Dieu, aussi le fait — il maintenant en son affection vehemente, et continuation de prier;” — “As he has already shewn the love which he cherished towards them, by declaring that he rejoices in their proficiency, and gives thanks to God for it, so he does the same now by his intense eagerness and perseverance in prayer.” And, assuredly, the more that the grace of God is conspicuous in any, we ought in that proportion specially to love and esteem them, and to be concerned as to their welfare. But what does he pray for in their behalf? That they may know God more fully; by which he indirectly intimates, that something is still wanting in them, that he may prepare the way for imparting instruction to them, and may secure their attention to a fuller statement of doctrine. For those who think that they have already attained everything that is worthy of being known, despise and disdain everything farther that is presented to them. Hence he removes from the Colossians an impression of this nature, lest it should be a hinderance in the way of their cheerfully making progress, and allowing what had been begun in them to receive an additional polish. But what knowledge does he desire in their behalf? The knowledge of the divine will, by which expression he sets aside all inventions of men, and all speculations that are at variance with the word of God. For his will is not to be sought anywhere else than in his word.

He adds — in all wisdom; by which he intimates that the will of God, of which he had made mention, was the only rule of right knowledge. For if any one is desirous simply to know those things which it has pleased God to reveal, that is the man who accurately knows what it is to be truly wise. If we desire anything beyond that, this will be nothing else than to be foolish, by not keeping within due bounds. By the word συνέσεως which we render prudentiam, (prudence,) I understand — that discrimination which proceeds from intelligence. Both are called spiritual by Paul, because they are not attained in any other way than by the guidance of the Spirit.

For the animal man does not perceive the things that are of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:14.)

So long as men are regulated by their own carnal perceptions, they have also their own wisdom, but it is of such a nature as is mere vanity, however much they may delight themselves in it. We see what sort of theology there is under the Papacy, what is contained in the books of philosophers, and what wisdom profane men hold in estimation. Let us, however, bear in mind, that the wisdom which is alone commended by Paul is comprehended in the will of God.

10. That ye may walk worthy of God. In the first place he teaches, what is the end of spiritual understanding, and for what purpose we ought to make proficiency in God’s school — that we may walk worthy of God, that is, that it may be manifest in our life, that we have not in vain been taught by God. Whoever they may be that do not direct their endeavors towards this object, may possibly toil and labor much, but they do nothing better than wander about in endless windings, without making any progress. 289289     “Mais ils ne feront que tracasser çà et là, et tourner a l’entour du pot (comme on dit) sans s’auancer;” — “But they will do nothing else than hurry hither and thither, and go about the bush (as they say) without making progress.” Farther, he admonishes us, that if we would walk worthy of God, we must above all things take heed that we regulate our whole course of life according to the will of God, renouncing our own understanding, and bidding farewell to all the inclinations of our flesh.

This also he again confirms by saying — unto all obedience, or, as they commonly say, well-pleasing. Hence if it is asked, what kind of life is worthy of God, let us always keep in view this definition of Paul — that it is such a life as, leaving the opinions of men, and leaving, in short, all carnal inclination, is regulated so as to be in subjection to God alone. From this follow good works, which are the fruits that God requires from us.

Increasing, in the knowledge of God. He again repeats, that they have not arrived at such perfection as not to stand in need of farther increase; by which admonition he prepares them, and as it were leads them by the hand, to an eagerness for proficiency, that they may shew themselves ready to listen, and teachable. What is here said to the Colossians, let all believers take as said to themselves, and draw from this a common exhortation that we must always make progress in the doctrine of piety until death.

11. Strengthened with all might. As he has previously prayed that they might have both a sound understanding and the right use of it, so also now he prays that they may have courage and constancy. In this manner he puts them in mind of their own weakness, for he says, that they will not be strong otherwise than by the Lord’s help; and not only so, but with the view of magnifying this exercise of grace the more, he adds, according to his glorious power. “So far from any one being able to stand, through dependence on his own strength, the power of God shews itself illustriously in helping our infirmity.” Lastly, he shews in what it is that the strength of believers ought to display itself — in all patience and long-suffering. For they are constantly, while in this world, exercised with the cross, and a thousand temptations daily present themselves, so as to weigh them down, and they see nothing of what God has promised. They must, therefore, arm themselves with an admirable patience, that what Isaiah says may be accomplished,

In hope and in silence shall be your strength. 290290     Lowth’s rendering of the passage is similar: “In silence, and in pious confidence, shall be your strength.” — Ed.
(Isaiah 30:15.)

It is preferable to connect with this sentence the clause, with joy. For although the other reading is more commonly to be met with in the Latin versions, this is more in accordance with the Greek manuscripts, and, unquestionably, patience is not sustained otherwise than by alacrity of mind, and will never be maintained with fortitude by any one that is not satisfied with his condition.


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