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Walking Points

Walking Worthy: Lesson 2

This Week's Bible Study: Walking Worthy
Colossians 1:3-14


In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he writes with a heart full of thanksgiving and a spirit rich in prayer. Colossians 1:3-14 serves as a profound reminder of the faith and love that stem from hope in the gospel, the transformative power of God’s grace, and our calling to live lives worthy of the Lord.

Faith, Love, and Hope

"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit." (Colossians 1:3-8)

Paul’s opening words highlight a triad often found in his writings: faith, love, and hope (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13). These virtues are not mere abstractions but are dynamically interrelated. Faith in Christ transforms hearts, producing love for God and others, and both are anchored in the hope of the gospel. As New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright, observes, “Faith and love spring from hope, the ultimate gift that God has laid up in heaven.”

This hope, securely stored in heaven, is not wishful thinking but a confident expectation rooted in God’s promises. It is akin to the hope that stirred characters in literature, such as in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, where Christian’s journey is fueled by the celestial city awaiting him.

Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding

"And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light." (Colossians 1:9-12)

Paul’s prayer shifts to a petition for spiritual growth. He prays for the Colossians to be filled with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. This triad is not merely intellectual but deeply spiritual, essential for discerning God’s will and walking worthily of the Lord. Paul is calling believers to a holistic knowledge that results in practical living in every sphere of their lives.

The concept of “walking” in a manner worthy of the Lord can be paralleled with the philosophy of virtue ethics, where character formation is central. Aristotle’s idea of becoming virtuous through habitual actions resonates with Paul’s exhortation. However, unlike Aristotle’s virtues grounded in human effort, Paul roots Christian virtues in the power of God’s Spirit and grace.

Rescue and Redemption

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13-14)

In these closing verses, Paul succinctly encapsulates the gospel’s power: deliverance, transfer, redemption, and forgiveness. This dramatic rescue from “the domain of darkness” into Christ’s kingdom echoes the grand narrative of redemptive history, from Israel’s exodus to Jesus’ triumph over sin and death.

Art has powerfully depicted this transition; consider Caravaggio’s “Conversion of Saint Paul,” where light pierces the darkness, symbolizing God’s intervention. Similarly, Paul’s theology of redemption is a powerful reminder of the cross’s significance, where, as John Stott writes, “the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God... the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man.”

Key Principles

1.      Interconnected Virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope: Faith in Christ naturally leads to love for God and others, sustained by the hope of the gospel.  

2.      Spiritual Growth through Knowledge and Wisdom: True knowledge of God’s will involves spiritual wisdom that transforms our daily walk with Christ.  

3.      Redemption and Deliverance: The gospel is the story of our rescue from darkness and our miraculous deliverance into Christ’s kingdom, marked by redemption and forgiveness.

Bible Study Questions

1.      What does Paul thank God for in his prayers for the Colossians (v. 3)? 

2.      How are faith, love, and hope connected in these verses?

3.      What does Paul mean by “the hope laid up for you in heaven” (v.5)? 

4.      How does the gospel bear fruit and increase in the world (v. 6)? 

5.      What is the significance of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will (v.9)? 

6.      How can we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord? 

7.      What are the characteristics of a life that is pleasing to God? 

8.      How does God strengthen believers according to this passage (v. 11)? 

9.      What is the “inheritance of the saints in light” (v. 12)? 

10.   How does Paul describe our rescue from the domain of darkness (vv. 13-14)?

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

1.      How has your faith in Christ led you to love others more deeply? 

2.      In what ways does the hope of the gospel sustain you in difficult times? 

3.      How can you grow in your knowledge of God’s will? 

4.      What does walking in a manner worthy of the Lord look like in your daily life? 

5.      How have you experienced God’s strength in times of need?    

6.      What does it mean to you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light?

7.      How does understanding redemption deepen your appreciation of the gospel? 

8.      What are some practical ways you can bear fruit in every good work? 

9.      How can you cultivate a habit of giving thanks in all circumstances?

10.   In what areas of your life do you still need to experience God’s rescue and deliverance?

Action Steps

1.      Commit to Daily Prayer: Follow Paul’s example by praying consistently for yourself and others, seeking spiritual growth. 

2.      Engage in Bible Study: Dedicate time each week to studying God’s word, focusing on gaining deeper knowledge and understanding of his will. (Going deeper in this Bible study is a good start.)

3.      Practice Gratitude: Make it a daily habit to thank God for specific aspects of your faith journey and his work in your life. Being specific in what you are thankful for will help you become more aware of how God is working and thus enable you to better see and appreciate God’s gracious hand in your life.

4.      Serve Others: Actively look for opportunities to demonstrate love through acts of service, reflecting the faith and hope you have in Christ. When you do your good works before others, they will not be able to help but give praise to our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Dale Tedder

Dale Tedder is a Global Methodist pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like to keep up with his online ministry or read other things Dale has written, you can check out his website, Walking Points. You can check out his author’s page for books he has written. Finally, Dale’s podcast, Walking Points, can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts.

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