Prayer for the Colossians

Paul offers a prayer for the "holy brothers and believers in Jesus" who are at Colosse. The items in the prayer map to the 13 tribes.


Tribe Prayer
9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Colossians 1:9-14 (Colossians 1:9 NIV)
Judah Praying that you might be filled with knowledge of God

Judah comes first in the list and therefore seems to always get the overarching thing the list is about. In this prayer the theme is growing in knowledge of God.

Reuben In all wisdom and spiritual understanding

Reuben is to grow in wisdom and understanding. Jacob addresses Reuben as the man who lacks wisdom. In the paragraph to Reuben, Jacob says this man is like the waves of the sea and double minded. The point being Reuben needs to grow in wisdom so that he is not tossed to and fro.

10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Colossians 1:10 NIV)
Gad That you might live a righteous life,

Gad is to grow so he can live righteously. A righteous person is someone who goes when God sends. Noah was righteous when he built the ark God told him to build. Abraham was righteous when he left Ur to go to the place God told him to go.

Gad is the tribe that is most prolific for going, for leaving the old world for the new. Israel left Egypt on Gad's holiday, the opening of Unleavened Bread, and Gad was the first tribe across the Jordan. So the prayer for Gad is that he is able to go as he was designed by God.

Asher Please God with all good works,

Asher is to please God with good works. Normally "work" or "labor" or "burdens" land on Issachar, so the focus here is probably not works as much as works that are "pleasing" to God.

Naphtali Bring forth good fruits,

Naphtali is to bring forth good fruits. This is a direct play to his holiday, which is First Fruits.

Manasseh And grow in the knowledge of God;

Manasseh is to grow in the knowledge of God. As mentioned in the notes on mapping below, this is the general theme for the whole list. This item is reiterated on Manasseh is evidence we're mapping things correctly thus far. Manasseh is often a reflection of the other tribes.

11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully (Colossians 1:11 NIV)
Simeon And be strengthened with all might according to the greatness of his glory,

Simeon is to be strengthened with all might according to the greatness of the glory of God. This feels like jargon. The application here is unclear.

Levi In all patience and long-suffering,

Levi is to grow his patience and long-suffering. Levi is often seen ministering to others. This is a skill needed in that activity. Patience is needed in ministry to people.

12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:12 NIV)
Issachar So you may joyfully give thanks to God the Father,

Issachar is to joyfully give thanks to God. Issachar's aspect of love is that "love always rejoices." So perhaps being able to rejoice with others is the same or predicated on joyfully thanking God. This theme of joy or rejoicing is probably the growth Issachar needs to endure his hard labor that shows up in other parts of the grid.

Zebulun Who has enlightened us,

Zebulun has been enlightened. This plays to Zebulun's plague which is darkness. While Egypt is dark there was light for those who lived in Goshen. God has enlightened "us" as contrasted to those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 9 adds to the idea that Zebulun has a dark/light theme.

Joseph And made us worthy partakers of the inheritance of the saints,

Joseph is made a worthy partaker in the inheritance of the saints. This fits well given that Joseph ends up with the firstborn portion that Reuben lost. The term "saints" also plays to the whole, all the saints. Joseph and Manasseh typically have the whole within them. This nods to all the saints.

13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (Colossians 1:13 NIV)
Benjamin And has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us to the kingdom of his beloved son,

Benjamin is rescued from darkness and brought into the kingdom of God's son. Besides "son" being a direct play on "Ben." Benjamin is the tribe that has historically not understood Jesus. In that sense this prayer is still pending. It's like a prayer for now and will lead to a time when modern Israel as a whole can say he's been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into Jesus' kingdom.

14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14 NIV)
Dan By whom we have obtained salvation and forgiveness of sins.

Dan lands on the point that Jesus has given us salvation. Think of Dan as the judge, one whose job is to do the accounting for sins/crimes. To be forgiven means the judge has erased crimes from the record.

Notes on mapping

This list has the overarching theme of growing in the knowledge of God. This is Judah's item in the list, but it's reiterated again about halfway down. Manasseh and Joseph are often microcosms of the whole. In this list the reiteration of the whole purpose of the list, to grow in knowledge of God, lands on Manasseh. This pattern happens often. In the Elder lists the purpose of the whole list is to find someone blameless who can serve and the need to be blameless is reiterated on Manasseh just as knowledge of God is reiterated on Manasseh here.