I was preparing the last Bible study of the term and I came across this verse from Colossians chapter 4, verse 2: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Now in the context of the letter it is pretty clear what we have to give thanks for. But what about being watchful? I wasn’t so sure about the answer to that question, so I went off on one of my tangents.
Because, being a linguist, one thing I love to do is to search for all the instances where a particular Greek word or root crops up in the New Testament. Not only do I find it fun (yes, I know that must sound pretty weird to a lot of people), but in the end I find it certainly gives me a greater understanding of Scripture and helps me see the bigger picture.
So why are we to be watchful as Christians? As I trawled through my online Greek bible, I came up with seven distinct answers. And just to make it clear, although the English translates the root differently in different passages, in all the passages quoted below the one same root word is used in the Greek. We are to watch:
- For the Lord’s return (Matt 24:42-44) – because it will come as a thief in the night (Rev 3:3, 16:15).
- To resist temptation (Matt 26:38-41) – because the spirit is willing but the body is weak.
- Against false teaching (Acts 20:30-31) – because false teachers will arise and distort the truth.
- Against drunkenness and anything that inhibits our self-control (1 Thess 5:4-7) – because we are sons of the light.
- Against the devil (1 Peter 5:8) – because he is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour.
- Against spiritual deadness (Rev 3:13) – because otherwise we will be unprepared for the Lord’s coming.
It seems that in this season of Advent there is no more important thing that we can do, other than to keep watch.