Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part II: Spiritual Knowledge and Walking Worthily of the Lord -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:472 (Oct 1961)
Article: Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part II: Spiritual Knowledge and Walking Worthily of the Lord
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians
Part II:
Spiritual Knowledge and Walking Worthily of the Lord

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

[Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series on the subject, “Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians.”]

Foolish conflict still exists in Christian ranks over the relative place of theology and ethics in the faith. One company (often weak in theology) advocates the primacy of ethics. “Give us love—love for one another—and we shall remove mountains and claim the world for Christ” is their battle cry. Another company (frequently weak in ethics) rallies around the standard “Knowledge—knowledge of theology—is power,” thus preferring the credenda to the agenda. But theology and ethics are allies, not enemies. Love without the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ is not only not Christian love, it is, in fact, only a soft and cheap sentimentalism. On the other hand, knowledge of theology apart from the new commandment is simply a hard and bitter intellectualism. United, as they are in the New Testament, they provide the Christian believer with the power and the passion, the heart of flame, to storm the citadels of unbelief in the name of the Lord.1

The opening section of Colossians illustrates this very nicely. The Apostle Paul felt able to commend the Colossians for their faith, love, and hope (1:4–5), but this was not sufficient. For the walk worthy of the Lord it was necessary, in addition, that they be filled “with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (1:9). If the believers were not strong in the truth, they might fall prey to the “enticing words” (2:4) of the Colossian heretics. The Christian, then, must hold the truth in love and love in the truth.

“I cannot claim deep knowledge of Bach,” wrote Adolf Deissmann, “but I can claim that I have received much from

him. When I open the chapel door of the Epistle to the Colossians it is to me as if Johann Sebastian himself sat at the organ.”2 This may well be true of Colossians, with its surging rhythm and hymn-like utterances. And who, indeed, may dispute with a Deissmann? On the other hand, in coming to Colossians do we not also see, not only a Bach at an organ, but a missionary upon his knees, with thankful praise upon his lips and prayerful concern upon his heart? At any rate, to investigate the matter for ourselves we open the chapel door.

I. Doctrinal:...
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