For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:5—NKJV)

From a distance, Paul was trying to discern the spiritual state of the Colossian believers. Paul loved the believers dearly, prayed for them intensely, and invested his heart in their eternal welfare. Any little bit of information which came to him concerning them was taken to heart as he pieced together a picture of their spiritual health.

As the picture became clear to him, he put what he saw into the words of our verse. The words he chose have a distinctly martial tone that is easily discernable to the reader. Paul says that he sees them prepared for the battle of life in the “good order” and “steadfastness” of their faith. Good order refers to arrangement of the army, and steadfastness is representative of the preparation of the individual soldiers in their military formation.

It is interesting to me that the translators of the Greek word that means “firm, solid expanse, solid, stiff, and standing firmly” chose the English word “steadfast” to best communicate the idea. Steadfast is of Anglo-Saxon derivation and is incorporated into several words and phrases. “Stead” means a firm place (like a town), or the position of a thing filled by a replacement, a successor which may substitute in the place of another (our phrase “stand in good stead” means to give good advantage and serve well in the place of something). These definitions enhance the meaning of “instead.” They communicate the foundational thought behind the words “homestead” (house, outbuildings and farmland as settled property), bedstead, and “steadfast” (firm, fixed, settled, established, and constant as opposed to fickle).

Paul’s view of the Colossian believers was like a drill master surveying his recruits he has trained, that have now gone off to war, standing on the field of battle in battle array with the steady heart of a soldier beating within. Each soldier knows the enemy is on the march; he knows the business of war; he knows the strength of his training; he knows the great heart of his fellow soldiers; and he stands fixedly in perfect confidence with a sure grip upon his accustomed weapon (“steadfast in your faith”), ready to take on the enemy. “Steady” describes the troops’ firmness, stability, loyalty, constancy, and fixedness.

The same Greek word is found in other places in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:19 says, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the Name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” Hebrews 5:12, 14 reads, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” The word is used by Luke in the book of Acts (3:7, 16, and 16:5) to describe the miraculous strengthening of a man’s legs through healing to leap and walk, and is used to describe the spiritual firming of churches in their faith.

In 1 Peter 5:8–9, Peter says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” Peter calls upon believers to be solid—like a foundation, to be stubborn in the faith—immoveable, hard—like good Christian soldiers ought to be in their faith!

How well trained are you in spiritual things? Is your Christianity the kind that is in good order and are you steadfast in your faith? What steps must you take in order to be a faithful soldier of Jesus Christ? Trust and obey.