“…rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” ~ Colossians 2:7
Explanation of the Text: In our last devotion, we left off in the middle of Paul’s thought and point in order to spend time examining Paul’s writing more closely. In verse six, Paul exhorts the believers to walk in the Lord Jesus Christ just as they have received Him. He now encourages them in what walking in Christ looks like. This is the character of one who walks in Christ. Although I use the English Standard Version for our devotions, I want to point you to the New American Standard Version because it draws out some very important points from the original language. It words the text like this:
“having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
This is important because we can see the tenses of the participles. First off, note that it says ‘having been firmly rooted.’ This form of the past tense indicates something that has happened in the past but has consequences now. Upon truly receiving Christ, every believer has been planted, or rooted in Him. But then look as the verse continues on. The following participles are then in the present tense (being build up, being established, and overflowing). That is to say that when one has been rooted in Christ, there is a continuous process that follows that includes building a person up, establishing them in the things of the Lord and as a result, they will be overflowing with thanksgiving for the Lord.
Upon being rooted and built up, a person is then established in the faith. The idea of being established suggests being firmly grounded. As one is established, it suggests that the person is firmly planted or grounded. They will not be easily moved. Specifically, the person who is rooted and built up in Christ will be established in faith. This is important because it means that one is not simply established in whatever a person wants, but in their faith. As they are firmly grounded then, the person will not be simply moved by the winds of the world, but will remain firmly planted standing strong and unbroken in their faith. Greg Gilbert indicates that faith is a reliance on Jesus “to secure a righteous verdict from God.” It is a logical trust in Jesus Christ, and His work in order that one may be declared righteous by God, instead of guilty because of the sin that permeates man’s heart attitude. Even more so, as we look at this, Paul writes this phrase in the passive voice, indicating that the work of being established in one’s faith is not simply the work of the individual, but rather is the work of God. For one to be established in their faith in Christ, it must be God who does the work, and is not something that any of us can do on our own.
Finally, Paul concludes this specific though noting that it should result in thanksgiving. However, it is not simply just thanksgiving, but overflowing gratitude that dominates. As a common response to all of this work that God has done through Jesus Christ, the natural outpouring, the natural reaction should always be an overwhelming act of thanksgiving and gratitude. “Gratitude completes the circle whereby blessings from God are returned to the Giver in the form of unending, loving, and spontaneous adoration. Moreover, such giving of thanks increases the sense of obligation (Psalm 116:12-14) so that those who overflow with this grace feel all the less ready to turn away from the abundance which they have in Christ Jesus the Lord, and to follow the advice of false teachers.” Not only should our response be adoration and thanksgiving to this gracious God, but it should cause an unbreakable loyalty to Him. This being established in Him, faith is unshakable, adoration is unparalleled, and loyalty is unbreakable.
Examination & Application of the Text: Having accepted Jesus Christ, having become a believer in Him, having become a disciple of His, it is expected that one will embark on the continuous process of Christian growth. That is that the believer will always be in the process of being established by God. This constant growth, continuing education in Christianity, and commitment to Christ the Lord should always result in three things:
- Authentic Faith: Perhaps there is better terminology to use here, because realistically, one does not become a believer in Jesus Christ is their faith is not already authentic. However, the concept that I am trying to convey is that as a person grows and is established, their faith is lived out in an authentic manner.
- Adoring Worship: The verse ends with the concept of worship. In our discussion about the meaning of the text we have indicated that the response to being rooted in Christ, and the continuous action of being built up and established, should be a complete, awe-inspired worship of our Lord. There can be no other response for someone so worthy of all of man’s praises.
- Adamant Loyalty: The quote from William Hendriksen above sheds great light on the verse. Worship that is grounded in Him, in response to Him, and comes from Him is one that recognizes the truth of the faith. All of this culminates into a loyalty that is not seen anywhere else. We should be so thankful, so struck by our God that it produces a loyalty in us that cannot be described or understood except by those who also are committed to walking in Him.
As we end, it is important to remember that our “conduct should be in harmony with the truth of the Lordship of Christ. Believers should (therefore) continue to live:
- In dependence upon Him
- In deference to Him
- In defense of Him.
 Greg Gilber, What Is the Gospel? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 76.
 John MacArthur Jr., Colossians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 92.
 William Hendriksen, Phlippians, Colossians, and Philemon, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), 108.
 Ian S. McNaughton, Opening Up Colossians & Philemon, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 42.