That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Walk worthy (worthily) of the Lord. Here St. Paul begins to dwell on the practical life, much in the same spirit in which, in Ephesians 4:1, he returns from the profound thought of Colossians 2, 3 to the entreaty “to walk worthy of the vocation with which they are called.” “The Lord” is here, as usual, the Lord Jesus Christ; to walk worthy of Him is to have His life reproduced in us, to follow His example, to have “the mind of Christ Jesus.” The “worthiness” is, of course, relative to our capacity, not absolute.
All pleasing.—The word here used is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but is employed in classic and Hellenistic Greek to mean “a general disposition to please”—a constant preference of the will of others before our own. It is here used with tacit reference to God, since towards Him alone can it be a safe guide of action. Otherwise it must have the bad sense which in general usage was attached to it. St. Paul emphatically disowns and condemns the temper of “men-pleasing” (see Galatians 1:10; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22; 1Thessalonians 2:4), as incompatible with being “the servant of Christ.” He could, indeed, “be all things to all men” (1Corinthians 9:22); he could bid each man “please his neighbour for his edification” (Romans 15:12). But the only “pleasing” to which the whole life can be conformed is (see 1Thessalonians 4:1) the consideration “how we ought to walk and to please God.” Only in subordination to this can we safely act on the desire of “all pleasing” towards men.
Increasing in (or, by) the knowledge of God.—The context evidently shows that the path towards the knowledge of God here indicated is not the path of thoughtful speculation, or of meditative devotion, but the third path co-ordinate with these—the path of earnest practice, of which the watchword is, “Do and thou shalt know.”
Unto all pleasing - So as to please him in all things; compare Hebrews 11:5.
Being fruitful in every good work - This is one way in which we are to walk worthy of the Lord, and so as to please him; see the notes at John 15:8.
And increasing in the knowledge of God - This is another way in which we may walk worthy of the Lord, and so as to please him. It is by endeavoring to become better acquainted with his true character. God is pleased with those who desire to understand what he is; what he does; what he purposes; what he commands. Hence he not only commands us to study his works (compare Psalm 111:2), but he has made a world so beautiful as to invite us to contemplate his perfections as reflected in that world. All good beings desire that others should understand their character, and God delights in those who are sincerely desirous of knowing what he is, and who inquire with humility and reverence into his counsels and his will. People are often displeased when others attempt to look into their plans, for they are sensible they will not bear the light of investigation. God has no plans which would not be seen to be, in the highest degree, glorious to him.
worthy of the Lord—(Eph 4:1).
unto—so as in every way to be well-pleasing to God.
pleasing—literally, "desire of pleasing."
being fruitful—Greek, "bearing fruit." This is the first manifestation of their "walking worthy of the Lord." The second is, "increasing (growing) in the knowledge of God (or as the oldest manuscripts read, 'growing BY the full knowledge of God')"; thus, as the Gospel word (Col 1:6) was said to "bring forth fruit," and to "grow" in all the world, even as it did in the Colossians, ever since the day they knew the grace of God, so here it is Paul's prayer that they might continue to "bring forth fruit," and "grow" more and more by the full knowledge of God, the more that "knowledge" (Col 1:9) was imparted to them. The full knowledge of God is the real instrument of enlargement in soul and life of the believer [Alford]. The third manifestation of their walk is (Col 1:11), "Being strengthened with all might," &c. The fourth is (Col 1:12), "Giving thanks unto the Father," &c.That ye might walk worthy of the Lord: they prayed for the above mentioned gracious habits, that the Colossians might exercise them in a course of life as it becomes those who are effectually called by the gospel to be the sons of God, and the servants of Christ; suitable to the members of the body of Christ: See Poole on "Ephesians 4:1". See Poole on "Philippians 1:27"; compared with Romans 16:2 1 Thessalonians 2:12 2 Thessalonians 1:11. As the word God alone ordinary connotes the Father, so Lord doth Christ; answerable to whose wisdom, holiness, and example, Christians professing a relation to him, and expecting benefit by his purchase, should behave themselves; so that the papists cannot from this walking
worthy of the Lord justly infer a merit of condignity, behaving ourselves as Christians being so far from any merit or desert of ours, that it is a debt, we being indispensably obliged to do so, practice being the end of our knowledge. And this end we are to respect
unto all pleasing, i.e. designing and endeavouring not in one thing only, or in few things, but in all things whatsoever are incmnbent on us, we may find aceptance with our Lord and Master, Colossians 3:20 1 Corinthians 7:32 10:31 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Hebrews 12:28: all should be great and generous, such as may best like our Lord, keeping themselves from the defilements of the age, Revelation 3:4.
Being fruitful in every good work; particularly fructifying, which in the sense may be joined with being filled, Colossians 1:8: being fruitful is a metaphorical expression borrowed from fruit-bearing trees, unto which godly men and real Christians are compared, Psalm 1:3 John 15:8; and
every good work is the fruit which these plants of the Lord, having his Spirit as the seed remaining in them, 1Jo 3:9, do bring forth of every sort from a right principle, 1 Timothy 1:5, according to rule warranted by God, Isaiah 29:13 Galatians 6:16; or having a call from him, for his glory: see 2 Corinthians 9:8 Philippians 1:11 2 Thessalonians 2:17 Hebrews 13:21.
And increasing in the knowledge of God: the Colossians were not yet perfect in knowledge, and therefore they prayed that they might go on, and grow in grace and knowledge of God and Christ, 2 Peter 3:18, the best here knowing but in part, 1 Corinthians 13:9; therefore they desired these Christians, as the Philippians, Philippians 3:10,12, and the Ephesians, Ephesians 4:13, might come to their stature: see on the texts.
unto all pleasing. The Syriac reads it, "that ye may please God in all good works": an unregenerate man cannot please God in anything; without faith in Christ it is impossible to please him by anything man can do; Christ only could, and did always the things that pleased his Father; there are many things done by believers which are displeasing to God; nor is there anything they can do that is pleasing to God but through Christ, in whom their persons and, services are accepted; good works being done in faith, and from a principle of love, and with a view to the glory of God, are acceptable unto him through Christ; and therefore are to be carefully maintained, and studiously performed by all those that have a spiritual understanding of the will of God, and believe in Christ their Lord and Redeemer:
being fruitful in every good work; saints are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; good works are the fruit, which, under the influence of divine grace, they bring forth; and this is not of one sort only, as trees usually do, but of every kind; being ingrafted into Christ the true vine, and deriving life, sap, and nourishment from him, they are filled with the fruits of righteousness by him, which they bring forth and bear, to the glory of his heavenly Father; and being such, they are pleasant plants to him, as fruit bearing trees are to the owner of them: wherefore, in order to the saints walking in their lives and conversations unto all pleasing, or pleasing in all things, the apostle prays they might be fruitful in good works, and that in everyone, in every kind of good works:
and increasing in the knowledge of God; not barely of his nature and perfections, as they are displayed in the works of creation; but of his mind, and will, and the mysteries of his grace, as they are revealed in the Gospel; of the knowledge of him in Christ, as the God of all grace, and as a covenant God and Father. The apostle had before prayed for an increase of the knowledge of the will of God, previous to his request, for the putting of it in practice; and now suggests, that an increase of the knowledge of God himself may be expected in a practical use of means, an attendance on the ordinances of Christ, and a diligent performance of good works: from the whole of these petitions, it may be observed by the apostle's asking for them, that all our knowledge, and the increase of it, and all our fruitfulness in good works, are all from the Lord; and therefore we have no reason to boast of our knowledge, nor depend upon our works, but frankly to own, that notwithstanding all we know, and do, we are but unprofitable servants.That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Colossians 1:10. The practical aim which that πληρωθῆναι κ.τ.λ. is to accomplish; ἀεὶ τῇ πίστει σὐζεύγνυσι τὴν πολιτείαν, Chrysostom. The Vulgate renders correctly: ut ambuletis (in opposition to Hofmann, see on Colossians 1:9).
ἀξίως τοῦ κυρίου] so that your behaviour may stand in morally appropriate relation to your belonging to Christ. Comp. Romans 16:2; Ephesians 4:1; Php 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 3 John 1:6. The genitive (and in the N. T. such is always used with ἀξίως) does not even “perhaps” (Hofmann) belong to the following εἰς π. ἀρεσκ., especially as ἁρεσκεία, in the Greek writers and in Philo (see Loesner, p. 361), stands partly with, partly without, a genitival definition, and the latter is here quite obvious of itself. Such a combination would be an unnecessary artificial device. Comp. Plat. Conv. p. 180 D: ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ.
εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν] on behalf of every kind of pleasing, that is, in order to please Him in every way. The word only occurs here in the N. T., but the apostle is not on that account to be deprived of it (Holtzmann); it is found frequently in Polybius, Philo, et al.; also Theophr. Char. 5; LXX. Proverbs 31:30 (Proverbs 30:30); Symmachus, Psalm 80:12. On πᾶσαν ἀρ. comp. Polybius, xxxi. 26. 5: πᾶν γένος ἀρεσκείας προσφερόμενος. Among the Greeks, ἀρεσκεία (to be accentuated thus, see Winer, p. 50 [E. T. 57]; Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 11 [E. T. 12]) bears, for the most part, the sense of seeking to please. Comp. Proverbs 31:30 : ψευδεῖς ἀρεσκείαι.
ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ κ.τ.λ.] There now follow three expositions, in order to define more precisely the nature and mode of the περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως κ.τ.λ. We must, in considering these, notice the homogeneous plan of the three clauses, each of which commences with a prepositional relation of the participial idea, viz. (1) ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ κ.τ.λ., (2) ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει, (3) μετὰ χαρᾶς, and ends with a relation expressed by εἰς, viz. (1) εἰς τ. ἐπίγν. τ. Θεοῦ, (2) εἰς πᾶσ. ὑπομ. κ. μακροθυμ., (3) εἰς τὴν μερίδα κ.τ.λ. The construction would be still more symmetrical if, in the third clause, ἐν πάσῃ χαρᾷ (Romans 15:32) had been written instead of μετὰ χαρᾶς—which was easily prevented by the versatility of the apostle’s form of conception.
ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφ. is to be taken together (and then again, αὐξανόμ. εἰς τὴν ἐπίγν. τ. Θεοῦ), inasmuch as ye by every good work (by your accomplishing every morally good action) bear fruit, as good trees, comp. Matthew 7:17. But not as if the καρποφορεῖν and the σὐξάνεσθαι were separate things; they take place, as in Colossians 1:6, jointly and at the same time, although, after the manner of parallelism, a special more precise definition is annexed to each. Moreover, ἐν παντὶ ἔργ. ἀγ. is not to be connected with εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκ. (Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, and others, also Steiger); otherwise we mistake and destroy the symmetrical structure of the passage.
καὶ αὐξανόμ. εἰς τ. ἐπίγν. τ. Θ.] and, inasmuch as with this moral fruit-bearing at the same time ye increase in respect to the knowledge of God, that is, succeed in knowing Him more and more fully. The living, effective knowledge of God, which is meant by ἐπίγν. τ. Θεοῦ (Colossians 1:6; Colossians 3:10; Colossians 2:2), sustains an ethically necessary action and reaction with practical morality. Just as the latter is promoted by the former, so also knowledge grows through moral practice in virtue of the power of inward experience of the divine life (the ζωὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ, Ephesians 4:18), by which God reveals Himself more and more to the inner man. The fact that here τοῦ Θεοῦ generally is said, and not τοῦ θελήματος Θεοῦ repeated, is in keeping with the progressive development set forth; there is something of a climax in it. On εἰς, used of the telic reference, and consequently of the regulative direction of the growth, comp. on Ephesians 4:15; 2 Peter 1:8. The reading τῇ ἐπιγνώσει τ. Θ. would have to be taken as instrumental, with Olshausen, Steiger, Huther, de Wette, Bleek, who follow it, but would yield after Colossians 1:9 something quite self-evident. We may add that αὐξάν., with the dative of spiritual increase by something, is frequent in Plato and classic writers.
As to the nominatives of the participles, which are not to be taken with πληρωθ. (Beza, Bengel, Reiche, and others), but relate to the logical subject of περιπατ. ἀξίως, comp. on Ephesians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 1:7.
 Not to be attached as object of the request immediately to προσευχόμενοι, and all that intervenes to be assigned to the interpolator (Holtzmann, p. 85). Yet, according to Holtzmann, p. 123, ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ down τοῦ Θεοῦ is alleged to be simply an interpolated duplicate of ver. 6; in which case, however, it would not be easy to see why καρποφορούμενοι was not written, after the precedent of ver. 6, but on the contrary καρποφοροῦντες.Colossians 1:10. περιπατῆσαι ἀξίως τοῦ Κυρίου (Cf. Ephesians 4:1). This lofty wisdom and insight is not an end in itself. It must issue in right practice. Doctrine and ethics are for Paul inseparable. Right conduct must be founded on right thinking, but right thinking must also lead to right conduct. The infinitive expresses result “so as to walk”. τοῦ Κυρ., i.e., of Christ, not of God (Hofm., Ol.). In 1 Thessalonians 2:12 τοῦ Θεοῦ is used, but ὁ Κύρ. in Paul means Christ.—ἀρεσκείαν in classical Greek used generally in a bad sense, of obsequiousness. But it often occurs in Philo in a good sense; see the note on the word in Deissmann’s Bible Studies, p. 224. καρποφοροῦντες καὶ αὐξανόμενοι. For the collocation Cf. Colossians 1:6. The participles should probably be connected with περιπατῆσαι, not (as by Beng., Hofm., Weiss) with πληρωθῆτε, which is too far away. The continuation of an infinitive by a nominative participle instead of the accusative is frequent in classical Greek, and occurs several times in Paul (Colossians 2:2, Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 4:2-3). They should not be separated. The whole clause should be translated “bearing fruit and increasing in every good work by the knowledge of God”. Fruit bearing is one of Paul’s favourite metaphors.—τῇ ἐπιγνώσει: not as R.V. and Moule “in the knowledge,” for Paul has already spoken of this in Colossians 1:9, but “by the knowledge,” the knowledge of God being the means of their spiritual growth. Meyer, against the overwhelming weight of evidence, reads εἰς τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν, “as regards the knowledge”. This would make knowledge the goal of conduct (Cf. John 7:17), whereas previously the relation is reversed.10. walk] A very frequent word in St Paul; most frequent in Eph., where see Colossians 4:1 for a close parallel. See 1 Thessalonians 2:12 for one still closer verbally. The word denotes life in its action and intercourse.—The spiritual knowledge which he asks for them is thus sought for the most sacredly practical of purposes—in order to their closer conformity to the will of God in real life.
worthy of the Lord] Lit., worthily &c.; so R.V. But all previous English versions read as A.V., perhaps using the adjective adverbially.—Ideally, of course, no human “walk” is “worthy of the Lord.” But practically it can and should be so, in the sense of being governed at every step by the Divine motive of His love and presence, and so presenting a true correspondence to that motive.
“The Lord:”—“St Paul’s common, and apparently universal, usage requires us to understand [‘the Lord’] of Christ.” (Lightfoot). The “worthy of God” of 1 Thessalonians 2:12 thus gives to the phrase here a deep significance in relation to the Godhead of Christ. Such alternative expressions indicate how truly for St Paul the Father and the Son are Persons of the same Order of being. Cp. for similar indications (among very many passages) Romans 8:35 with 39; Ephesians 2:22 with Colossians 3:17.
unto all pleasing] “So as to aim at, and go the length of, meeting every wish (of the Lord’s).”—The word rendered “pleasing” is most instructive. In classical Greek it denotes a cringing and subservient habit, ready to do or say anything to please a patron; not only to meet but to anticipate his most trivial wishes. But when transferred to the spiritual region, and the believer’s relations to his Lord, the word at once rises by its association. To do anything to meet, to anticipate, His wishes, is not only the most beneficial but the most absolutely right thing we can do. It is His eternal and sacred due; it is at the same time the surest path to our own highest development and gain.—See Lightfoot’s excellent note.—For a close parallel to the wording here, see 1 Thessalonians 4:1, where the cognate verb is used.
fruitful] See above on Colossians 1:6. The verb here is in the active, not middle, and so somewhat less pregnant in meaning.
every good work] Observe the characteristic impartiality and whole-heartedness of Christian obedience; as just above, “all pleasing.”
increasing] See above on Colossians 1:6; and cp. below Colossians 2:19; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18.
in the knowledge] The Greek, in the best-attested reading, is capable also of the rendering “by the knowledge;” and so Ellicott, Lightfoot, and margin R.V. But the text R.V. renders as A.V., though using this other and better-attested Greek, which gives epignósis in the dative, without preposition. This is quite good grammatically; cp. e.g. the Greek of Romans 4:20; Php 2:8. The dative is used as the case of reference; the growth is growth with regard to spiritual knowledge of God; that is, it is a development of that knowledge in the believer, a growth in it.—The other (and we think inferior) rendering meanwhile conveys an undoubted and important truth.
“The knowledge of God:”—which “is life eternal” (John 17:3). “You must needs know that to enjoy God and His Christ is eternal Life; and the soul’s enjoying is in knowing” (Baxter, Saint’s Everlasting Rest, Part i. sect. vii.).Colossians 1:10. Περιπατῆσαι) that ye may walk. Such walking is derived from the knowledge of the will of God.—αξίως τοῦ Κυριου) as it is worthy of Christ the Lord, Ephesians 4:1.—ἀρέσκειαν, the desire of pleasing) on your part; so far as (even to that degree that) in reality you may please the Lord. חן, LXX., αρέσκειαι, Proverbs 31:30.—καρποφοροῦντες, bearing fruit) The participles, bearing fruit, increasing, strengthened, depend on the verb πληρωθῆτε, Colossians 1:9, that ye may be filled.Verse 10. - To walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing (Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 11; 1 John 2:6; Revelation 3:4; Hebrews 13:21); so as to please him in every way. "The end of all knowledge, the apostle would say, is conduct" (Lightfoot). Spiritual enlightenment (ver. 9) enables the Christian to walk (a Hebraism adopted also into biblical English) in a way "worthy of the Lord" (Christ, Colossians 2:6; Colossians 3:24; Acts 20:19, etc.), becoming those who have such a Lord and who profess to be his servants. And to be "worthy of Christ" is to "please God" (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11; 1 Corinthians 1:9). This is the ideal and the aim of the religious life throughout the Bible (comp. 1 Samuel 13:14; Micah 6:6-8; Hebrews 11:5, 6; John 8:29; Romans 8:8). The characteristics of this walk are set forth by three coordinate participial phrases (vers. 10b-12), standing in the half independent nominative case instead of the more regular accusative (as agreeing with the understood object of the infinitive περιπατῆσαι: see Winer's ' N. T. Grammar,' p. 716: compare, for the idiom, Colossians 3:16, also Colossians 2:2). In every good work bearing fruit (Ephesians 4:28; Galatians 6:9, 10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 1 Timothy 5:10; Titus 3:8; Hebrews 13:16; Acts 9:36). "Good work" is that which is beneficial, practically good (see parallel passages). "In every good work" might grammatically qualify the foregoing" pleasing ' (so R.V. margin and many older interpreters), but appears to be parallel in position and sense with "in all power" (ver. 11). On"bearing fruit" (active in voice where the subject is personal: comp. ἐνεργέω in Colossians 1:29 and in Philippians 2:13), see note to ver. 6. While doing good to his fellow-men, the Christian is growing by (or, in) the knowledge of God (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 4:13-16; 2 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 14:20; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Hebrews 5:12-14). His own nature becomes larger, stronger, more complete. Here it is individual (internal) growth, in ver. 6 collective (external) growth (of the gospel, the Church) that is implied; the two are combined in Ephesians 4:13-16. The dative τῇ ἐπιγνώσει (so best copies and Revised Text: the Received, unto the knowledge, is a repetition of ver. 9) is "dative of instrument" (Alford, Lightfoot) rather than "of respect" (in the knowledge; so R.V.).
Unto all pleasing (εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρέσκειαν)
So as to please God in all ways. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Ἁρέσκεια pleasing, only here in the New Testament. In classical Greek it has a bad sense, obsequiousness, cringing. Compare men-pleasers, Colossians 3:22.
In the knowledge (εἰς τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν)
Lit. unto the knowledge. The best texts read τῇ ἐπιγνώσει "by the knowledge:" by means of.
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