Commentary on Colossians 3:1-4
1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. (ASV)
NET — 1 Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, 3 for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.
(Colossians 3:1) – 1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. (ASV)
At the point of conversion, upon regeneration (new birth), we are brought into union with Christ and His Church. His death is our death, His resurrection is our resurrection. We died to the penalty and power of sin. We died to our old life. We died to the world (Ro 6:1-7; Ga 2:20; Ga 5:24; Ga 6:14). Positionally, that is who we are. We’re always to be growing into our position in Christ. We’ve been raised to new life in Christ. We’ve been raised to live and serve in the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13), which is now in this life.
“Seek” in the Greek, is in the present tense, which calls for continuous action. We are to keep seeking the things that are above. In Christ, we are a new creation, and all things have become new in our lives (2 Cor 5:17; Ga 6:15; Eph 2:10, 15; Eph 4:24). Therefore, we’re to no longer seek the things of this world, but to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is…” We’re to continuously live with eternity in view. This world is not our home, we’re just passing through. This world is temporary, but our heavenly home is eternal. Therefore, we’re to keep our focus on, and live for, the things that last forever.
As followers of Christ, what sense does it make if one continues to live for the same things as those who don’t follow Christ, or even reject Christ? Those who are living for Christ, who have eternity in view, provide evidence of true salvation. We who have been born-again, have been given a new heart for God. Our eyes have been opened to Christ and to the truth that is in Him. If someone professes Christ, but their heart is still in the world, that’s an indication that they haven’t been born-again. Jesus changes our hearts and He changes our lives. If we claim to place faith in Christ as Savior, but our lives never change, then we’re looking at a false conversion, a false salvation.
As new creations in Christ, having died to sin (Ro 6:1-14), we have a whole new perspective in regard to sin and to the things of the world. We no longer view life as we did before. What we see now is Christ our King, who sits upon His throne “at the right hand of God.” Our focus is no longer on the things of this life and the things of this world, but on Jesus and His Kingdom. That’s the normal Christian perspective. There is something very wrong if someone professes Christ, but has the same perspective on life as he or she did before. With new life in Christ, comes a new perspective on life. It’s not the Christian norm for someone to claim Christ as Savior, but are not seeing Him upon His throne as our King. Opening our eyes to Jesus and His authority is something the Holy Spirit does for us as He’s drawing us to the cross. Seeing Jesus in His authority, and understanding our proper response to His authority, is something our eyes must be opened to in order to obtain salvation in Him. This spiritual awareness continues from the point of conversion, and leads us along a new path of life in sincere surrender to His will.
The idea that one can obtain salvation while rejecting Him as Lord is not taught in the Word of God. Jesus is both Savior and Lord. He cannot be divided. He is who He is. It was Christ the Lord who paid the price for our sins. His very title implies, and requires, humble submission. True saving faith is a faith characterized by humility. There is no salvation apart from humility. Therefore, salvation occurs when we embrace Christ as both Savior and Lord of our lives.
When Paul says to “keep seeking the things that are above,” he means that just as we did in the beginning, at the time of conversion, we’re to continue to seek those things throughout our lives. This continuous seeking of Christ and the things above is the evidence of salvation.
A return to sin and to seeking the things of the world, shows that there is something wrong with our faith. True saving faith is an enduring faith, which is characterized by faithfulness. True faith is evidenced by a continuous view of Christ as Lord and King. Not that we don’t sin, but true salvation will always be evidenced by a life that is Christ-centered, and not self-centered.
(Colossians 3:2) – 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. (ASV)
The way we “keep seeking the things that are above” is to “keep our minds on the things that are above.” Our lives are transformed by the renewing of the mind (Ro 12:2), and our minds can only be renewed by the Word of God. As we continuously take in God’s Word, the Holy Spirit continuously works the miracle of conforming our mind to His mind. We are what we think. The way we live our lives is really a result of what we think about things. We are slaves to the thinking of our minds. Therefore, in order to have a Christian perspective and a Christian approach to life in this world, our way of thinking must continuously be brought into harmony with the mind of God. That’s why it’s so important to allow the Word of God to saturate our minds. A Word-saturated mind, results in a life that is lived from Christ’s perspective.
(Colossians 3:3) – 3 For ye died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (ASV)
As believers, we have died to sin and to the old life. We now have new life in Christ. We’ve been born-again with a new nature. We’ve been born into the family of God as His children (Jn 1:12-13). We’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Christ (Col 1:13). We’ve been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). All of this is “hidden with Christ in God.” Meaning, it’s all spiritual. It’s not something that anyone can see, like we can see in the physical realm. We can see evidence of this new life, but it’s not something that our eyes can behold until we are in the presence of God, and our eyes have been fully opened (1 Cor 13:12; 1 Jn 3:2).
“Hidden” also has the idea that we don’t live by sight, but by faith (He 11:1; Ro 8:24-25). Faith is something that the Holy Spirit produces within us as we hear the Word of God (Ro 10:17). As we hear God’s Word, the Holy Spirit enables us to believe. This faith occurs at conversion when the gospel is presented to us, and it continues and is strengthened throughout our lives in Christ as we yield ourselves to learning God’s Word. Thus, our new life may be hidden to the world, but it’s something we personally experience as we walk with Christ, which is the fruit of true faith.
(Colossians 3:4) – 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. (ASV)
When Christ is revealed (“manifested”), that is, when He returns to this earth in glory, we too will appear with Him in our glorified, resurrected bodies (1 Cor 15:21-24; 1 Th 4:16-17), and “we shall be like Him:”
(1 John 3:2-3) – 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV)
Everyone who has this “hope” in Christ, will seek to live the life of Christ—that is, they will seek to live “pure” lives, just as “He is pure (see 2 Pe 3:11-13).” This world is not our home. Our true “citizenship is in Heaven” (Ph 3:20). Therefore, let us take our eyes off the temporary, and keep our eyes on that which lasts forever.
We live in a world that is anti-Christian. We are mocked and persecuted. We are hated and rejected. But one day we will be revealed with Christ our Savior for all to see. They will then know the truth about Jesus and about those who belong to Him. They will pay an eternal price for what they were unwilling to see before.
As Christians, we’re followers of Christ. This is both our present and future. Therefore, Paul exhorts the Colossian Christians – and us – to live according to who we really are, and not to get caught up in the temporary things of the world. Let us give our hearts and lives to the things that have a happy ending. Our life in this world will end, but it will mark the beginning of our life in the eternal presence of God.