Commentary on Colossians, 3:1-4 (Things Above)

Colossians 3:1-4

“1 If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

“If then you were raised together with Christ”

Please read commentary on Romans 6:1-14. Here’s the link to the first verse:

At the point of conversion, when regenerated, we are brought into union with Christ. His death is our death, and His resurrection is our resurrection. We died to the penalty and power of sin. We died to ourselves. We died to this world. 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).

“seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

“Seek” in the Greek, is in the present tense, which calls for continuous action, that we are to keep seeking the things that are above.

In Christ, we are new creations, and all things have become new in our lives (2 Cor 5:17). 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 no longer our home, but 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 to continue to live for the same things as those who don’t know Christ, or even reject Christ? Those who are living for Christ, with eternity in view, is evidence of true salvation. It’s evidence of the new birth. 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 this world, that’s an indication that they haven’t been born-again. Jesus changes our hearts and 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.

As new creations in Christ, and having died to sin (Ro 6:1-14), we have a whole new perspective in regard to sin and to the things of this 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 did before. 

With new life in Christ, comes a new perspective on life. It’s not the Christian norm for someone who claims to have Christ as Savior, but are not seeing Him upon His throne as Ruler of the universe. Opening our eyes to Jesus and to 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 receive Christ as Savior while rejecting Him as Lord, and still experience salvation, is not taught in the Word of God. Jesus is both Savior and Lord, and 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, 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. The fact that Paul exhorts us to keep seeking the things of Christ, tells us that it’s possible to lose our focus, and to return to seeking the things of this world.

If we turn back to the world, and no longer living for Christ and His will, then we’re no longer living according to the faith that we had in the beginning. A return to sin and to this world shows that there is something very wrong with our faith. Saving faith is an enduring faith. The same faith that got us saved, must keep us saved. True faith is characterized by faithfulness. True faith is evidenced by a continuous focus on 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.

“2 Set your mind on the things that are above, no on the things that are upon the earth.”

The way we “keep seeking the things that are above,” is to keep our mind 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 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.

“3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

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 occurs at conversion when the gospel is presented to us, and it continues and is strengthened throughout our life 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, as the fruit of faith.

“4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then will you also appear with Him in glory.”

“appear”  (Gr. phaneroo – 5319)

To reveal, to make known or made visible what has been hidden or unknown.

When Christ is revealed, 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). Furthermore, when we stand before Christ, with the sheep (saved) on His right, and the goats (unsaved) on His left, we will appear before Him as His own for all to see.

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 know then 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.

This is who we as Christians. We’re followers of Christ. This is our present, and this is our future. Therefore, Paul is exhorting the Colossian Christians, and he’s exhorting us, to live according to who we really are, and not to get caught up in the temporary things of this world. Let’s keep our focus on the things that lead to 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.