Online Bible Commentary
Seek those Things which are Above
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (NKJV)
The book of Colossians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
It is believed that the epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Colossae, Asia Minor. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Colossians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first two chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last two chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the books of Romans and Ephesians, Paul’s previous writings.
Colossae, in Paul’s time, was a small city in decline. Once a great mercantile city, it was now the least significant of the cities to whom Paul wrote his letters.
The city of Colossae was located in what is southwestern Turkey today. It was located in the province of Phrygia, ten miles east of Laodicea, thirteen miles southeast of Hierapolis, and about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was about a hundred miles north of the Mediterranean Sea.
In this passage, Paul begins with the second half of the book of Colossians. The final two Chapters, three and four, are concerned with the practical, how we work out our position in Christ through practical Christian living.
Paul writes “If then you were raised with Christ” (v. 1a). The word translated “if” is the Greek word “ei” which can also be translated “since”.
So, Paul is saying “since we have been raised with Christ”, a reference to our new life in Christ.
When one becomes a Christian, he has a new life in Christ. He is not the same person. He is now a follower of Christ.
The new Christian is baptized by immersion in water, which is symbolic of our new life. As we are being raised out of the water, we are being “raised with Christ”.
We are now a new person, one who follows Christ and not the ways of the world. We now identify with Christ and not the world.
Our baptism is our announcement to the church of our new self. However, this world does not, and never will, understand our new self.
Paul continues by writing “seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.” (v. 1b). This is a reference to the practical, how we shall live our new Christian life.
As a Christian, we are now living to please God, and not the world. We can’t do both, because the world is the dominion of the evil one, Satan.
So, we are called “to seek” the “things which are above”, the things of God, the things of Heaven. We call this having a Heavenly perspective, a Kingdom perspective, or an eternal perspective.
God has revealed Himself in three persons, a theological concept we call the Trinity. God the Father resides in Heaven, as does Jesus who sits at His right hand. The Holy Spirit does the work of God on earth.
As Christians, we are now citizens of Heaven, not the world, and we should think of ourselves in that way. We are in the world, but should not be of the world. We are citizens of Heaven, just passing through the world.
So, Paul writes “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (v. 2). As we are citizens of Heaven, our thoughts should be of Heavenly matters and not earthly matters.
We should always seek to please God, whether on earth or in Heaven (2 Cor. 5:9). Therefore, our practical Christian living should be to please God.
This means we should be involved in earthly matters, not just a bystander. We should be spending our time on earth to please God, by representing His values on earth.
We should be practicing Biblical values and spreading these values where we can. Our mind should always be on the things of Heaven, and not the things of earth.
Paul continues this passage “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (v. 3). Because our old self has “died”, who we are now is “hidden with Christ in God”.
The world does not understand our new self, we are “hidden”, with Christ. Christians, our ways and thoughts, will never be understood by non-Christians. We are citizens of a different world, Heaven, and we have a different worldview.
However, there will come a day when the world will understand. Paul writes “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (v. 4).
That day is when “Christ appears”, a reference to the second coming of Christ to set up His kingdom on earth. Every knee shall bow to Him and all things shall be made clear.
And every Christian will also appear with “Him in glory”. When Christ returns, all Christians will return to earth with Him. Just as He is glorified in Heaven now, He will also be glorified on earth then.
So, for the Christian, it is quite the exciting ride! Don’t miss it!
First, we live our lives on this earth. Then, we, our soul and spirit, eject from these earth suits and ascend to Heaven where we are given a Heavenly body (2 Cor. 5).
Next, we leave Heaven with Jesus and are joined with our resurrected body in the air. (Thessalonians 4:13-17). Finally, our resurrected body, which is now suitable for our new life back on earth, returns to the new Heaven and earth. (Revelation 1:21).
Then, we will no longer be “hidden”. Christians, and the things of Christ, will be understood by all.
But, for now, we live in a fallen world, a world of sin. We are representatives of Christ, who sits at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven.
And, whether here or there, we should seek those things which are above. We should always seek to please God.