which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world
it is bearing fruit and growing–
as it also does among you… (Col. 1:6)
This Sunday I am preaching at Kenwood Baptist Church in South Louisville. I am tremendously excited about the opportunity and about the chance to proclaim the message of the gospel which is “is bearing fruit and growing” all over the world. In a day when economic forecasts are anything but prosperous and increasing, the hope that is found in heaven (Col. 1:5) promises to bear fruit in the lives of all those who believe. Moreover, the proclamation of the gospel always accomplishes its fruit-producing task (cf. Mark 4), it never returns void (cf. Isa. 55:10-11).
Meditating on the truths of Colossians 1:1-8, I came across this succinct statement by New Testament scholar, Douglas Moo, in his recent commentary on Paul’s Christocentric epistle. Consider the redemptive historical unity of his comments on Colossians 1:6 and ask how the gospel is bearing fruit in your life and all over the world.
The language bearing fruit and growing is reminiscent of the Genesis creation story, where God commands human beings to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Gen. 1:28; see also 1:22). After the Flood the mandate is reiterated (Gen. 8:17; 9:1, 7), and the same language is later used in God’s promises to Abraham and the patriarchs that he would ‘increase’ their number and ‘multiply’ their seed (e.g., Gen. 17:20; 28:3; 35;11). The nation Israel attains this blessing in Egypt (Gen. 48:4; Exod. 1:7) but then, of course, suffers judgment and disperal. So the formula appears again in God’s promises to regather his people after the exile (Jer. 3:16; 23:3). Paul may , then, be deliberately echoing a biblical-theological motif according to which God’s orignal mandate to humans finds preliminary fulfillment in the nation Israel but ultimate fulfillment ini the worldwide transformation of people into the image of God by means of their incorporation into Christ, the “image of God.” Colossians 3:10 echoes the same idea, referring to the ‘new self’ (the new people of God in Christ) as ‘renewed in knowledge of the image of its Creator’ (see also v. 10 and cf. 1:15) (Douglas Moo, The Letter to the Colossians and to Philemon in the PNTC [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008], 88).
May the God of all life-giving grace bear fruit in our lives and may his glorious kingdom increase until it covers the earth!
Sola Deo Gloria, dss