Reflection: Paul’s concern for others is so obvious in his letters, and that comes through here. In his deep desire to see people grow and persist in Christ, he tells us what to pray – and what we should be pursuing in the Christian life.
So, what is Paul’s goal for Christian believers? That they be ‘encouraged in heart’ – as individuals, full of an energetic hope that produces a longing for God’s kingdom, without dismay. And that they be ‘united in love’ – for in this, they are to be turned to one another in the real affection that comes from God. Through these two things they will achieve a deeper knowledge of God’s purposes in Jesus Christ.
Paul brings out several words that have to do with knowledge here – knowing, wisdom, understanding. The believers are not simply to have the information about God, but to know God himself in Christ. When they know Christ, they know the mystery of God – in him is revealed all the wisdom of God from before the ages. In Christ, God has declared his love and his justice, and his determination to save for himself a people.
And that knowledge and wisdom should protect them from being deceived by ‘fine-sounding arguments’ – whether distortions of the truth of Christianity or outright challenges to the truth of the gospel. The wisdom that comes from the knowledge of the divine mystery in Jesus Christ should produce the fruit of persistence in him. And so, Paul delights in the reports of the Colossians’ faith – their discipline and their endurance in the faith.
Prayer: Father, give me that encouragement of heart and oneness of love that leads to wisdom: the wisdom that produces endurance in faith. Fill my mind with the knowledge of you. Amen.