Colossians 3:3
For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Ye are dead.—Properly, ye died. See Colossians 2:20, and Note there. The phrase here is to be taken in its whole sense, both of “death to sin” and “death to the visible world.”

Your life is hid with Christ in God . . . Christ who is our life.—In these two phrases, again, we pass from a lower to a higher expression of the same truth. (1) First, “our life is hid with Christ in God.” The spiritual life in man is a “hidden life,” having its source in God; the full conviction of it, as distinct from the mere instinctive consciousness of it in the mind itself, comes only from the belief that it is the image of God in us, and is sustained by constant communion with Him. If God be our God at all, we must live; for “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32). It is also “hid with Christ.” Our Lord’s ascent to His glory in heaven is at once the pledge and the means of this our spiritual communion with God. It is “with Him” that we can “in heart and mind ascend;” it is “with Him” that we can “continually dwell.” (2) But this is not all. “Christ is our life” now as well as hereafter. This is simply a summary of the two truths;” Christ liveth in me (see Galatians 2:20), as the source of life; and “To me to live (the actual condition of life) is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). It is but a brief expression of faith in the truth which our Lord Himself declared (John 11:25), “I am the Life; whoso liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” (Comp. John 14:6.) Hence our spiritual life is not only a being “with Christ;” it is also unity with Christ in the bosom of the Father.

Colossians

RISEN WITH CHRIST

Colossians 3:1-15.

The resurrection is regarded in Scripture in three aspects--as a fact establishing our Lord’s Messiahship, as a prophecy of our rising from the dead, and as a symbol of the Christian life even now. The last is the aspect under which Paul deals with it here.

I. Verses 1-4 set forth the wonderful but most real union of the believer with the risen Christ.

We have said that the Lord’s resurrection is regarded as a symbol, but that is an incomplete representation of the truth here taught, for Paul believed that the Christian is so joined to Jesus as that he has, not in symbol only, but in truth, risen with him. Mark the emphasis and depth of the expressions setting forth the believer’s unity with his Lord: ‘Ye were raised together with Christ’; ‘Ye died, and your life is hid with Christ.’ And these wonderful statements do not go to the bottom of the fact, for Paul goes beyond even them, and does not scruple to say that Christ ‘ is our life.’

The ground of these great declarations is found in the fact that faith joins us in most real and close union to Jesus Christ, so that in His death we die to sin and the world, and that, even while we live the bodily life of men here, we have in us another life, derived from Jesus. Unless our Christianity has grasped that great truth, it has not risen to the height of New Testament teaching and Christian privilege. We cannot make too much of ‘Christ our sacrifice,’ but some of us make too little of ‘Christ our life,’ and thereby fail to understand in all its fulness that other truth on which they fasten so exclusively. Union with Christ in the possession of His life in us, and the consequent rooting of our lives in Him, is a truth which much of the evangelical Christianity of this day needs to see more clearly.

The life is ‘hid,’ as being united with Jesus, and consequently withdrawn from the world, which neither comprehends nor sustains it. A Christian man is bound to manifest to the utmost of his power what is the motive and aim of his life; but the devout life is, like the divine life, a mystery, unrevealed after all revelation.

The practical conclusion from this blessed union with Jesus is that we are, as Christians, bound to be true in our conduct to the facts of our spiritual life, and to turn away from the world, which is now not our home, and set our mind {not only our ‘affections’} on things above. Surely the Christ, ‘seated on the right hand of God,’ will be as a magnet to draw our conscious being upwards to Himself. Surely union with Him in His death will lead us to die to the world which is alien to us, and to live in aspiration, thought, desire, love, and obedience with Him in His calm abode, whence He rules and blesses the souls whom, through their faith, He has made to live the new life of heaven on earth.

II. The first consequence of the risen life is negative, the death or ‘putting off’ of the old nature, the life which belongs to and is ruled by earth.

Verses 5-9 solemnly lay on the Christian the obligation to put this to death. The ‘therefore’ in verse 5 teaches a great lesson, for it implies that the union with Jesus by faith must precede all self-denial which is true to the spirit of the Gospel. Asceticism of any sort which is not built on the evangelical foundation is thereby condemned, whether it is practised by Buddhist, or monk, or Protestant. First be partaker of the new life, and then put off the old man with his deeds. The withered fronds of last year are pushed off the fern by the new ones as they uncurl. That doctrine of life in Christ is set down as mystical; but it is mysticism of the wholesome sort, which is intensely practical, and comes down to the level of the lowest duties,--for observe what homely virtues are enjoined, and how the things prohibited are no fantastic classifications of vices, but the things which all the world owns to be ugly and wrong.

We cannot here enlarge on Paul’s grim catalogue, but only point out that it is in two parts, the former {verses 5, 6} being principally sins of impurity and unregulated passion, to which is added ‘covetousness,’ as the other great vice to which the old nature is exposed. Lust and greed between them are the occasions of most of the sins of men. Stop these fountains, and the streams of evil would shrink to very small trickles. These twin vices attract the lightning of God’s wrath, which ‘cometh’ on their perpetrators, not only in some final future judgment, but here and now. If we were not blind, we should see that thundercloud steadily drawing nearer, and ready to launch its terrors on impure and greedy men. They have set it in motion, and they are right in the path of the avalanche which they have loosened.

The possessors of the risen life are exhorted to put off these things, not only because of the coming wrath, but because continuance in them is inconsistent with their present standing and life {v. 7}. They do not now ‘live in them,’ but in the heavenly places with the risen Lord, therefore to walk in them is a contradiction. Our conduct should correspond to our real affinities, and the surface of our lives should be true to their depths and roots.

The second class of vices are those which mar our intercourse with our fellows,--the more passionate anger and wrath and the more cold-blooded and deadly malice, with the many sins of speech.

III. In verse 9 Paul appends the great reason for all the preceding injunctions; namely, the fact, already enlarged on in verses 1-4, of the Christian’s death and new life by union with Jesus.

He need only have stated the one-half of the fact here, but he never can touch one member of the antithesis without catching fire, as it were, and so he goes on to dwell on the new life in Christ, and thus to prepare for the transition to the exhortation to ‘put on’ its characteristic excellences. We note how true to fact, though apparently illogical, his representation is. He bases the command to put off the old man on the fact that Christians have put it off. They are to be what they are, to work out in daily acts what they did in its full ideal completeness when by faith they died to self and were made alive in and to Christ. A strong motive for a continuous Christian life is the recollection of the initial Christian act.

But Paul’s fervent spirit blazes up as he thinks of that new nature which union with Jesus has brought, and he turns aside from his exhortations to gaze on that great sight. He condenses volumes into a sentence. That new man is not only new, but is perpetually being renewed with a renovation penetrating more and more deeply, and extending more and more widely, in the Christian’s nature. It is continually advancing in knowledge, and tending towards perfect knowledge of Christ. It is being fashioned, by a better creation than that of Adam, into a more perfect likeness of God than our first father bore in his sinless freshness. The possession of it gathers all Christians into a unity in which all distinctions of nationality, religious privilege, culture, or social condition, are lost. Paul the Pharisee and the Colossian brethren, Onesimus the slave and Philemon his master, are one in Jesus. The new life is one in all its recipients, and makes them one. The phenomena of the lowest forms of life are almost repeated in the highest, and, just as in a coral reef the myriads of workers are not individuals so much as parts of one living whole, ‘so also is Christ.’ The union is the closest possible without destruction of our individuality.

IV. The final, positive consequence of the risen life follows in verses 12-15.

Again the Apostle reminds Christians of what they are, as the great motive for putting on the new man. The contemplation of privileges may tend to proud isolation and neglect of duty to our fellows, but the true effect of knowing that we are ‘God’s elect, holy and beloved,’ is to soften our hearts, and to lead us to walk among men as mirrors and embodiments of God’s mercy to us. The only virtues touched on here are the various manifestations of love, such as quick susceptibility to others’ sorrows; readiness to help by act as well as to pity in word; lowliness in estimating one’s own claims, which will lead to bearing evils without resentment or recompensing the like; and patient forgiveness, after the pattern and measure of the forgiveness we have received. All these graces, which would make earth an Eden, and our hearts temples, and our lives calm, are outcomes of love, and must never be divorced from it. Paul uses a striking image to express this thought of their dependence on it. He likens them to the various articles of dress, and bids us hold them all in place with love as a girdle, which keeps together all the various graces that make up ‘perfectness.’

Thus living in love, we shall be free from the tumult of spirit which ever attends a selfish life; for nothing is more certain to stuff a man’s pillow with thorns, and to wreck his tranquillity, than to live in hate and suspicion, or self-absorbed. ‘The peace of Christ’ is ours in the measure in which we live the risen life and put on the new man, and that peace in our hearts will rule, that is, will sit there as umpire; for it will instinctively draw itself into itself, as it were, like the leaves of a sensitive plant, at the approach of evil, and, if we will give heed to its warnings, and have nothing to do with what disturbs it, we shall be saved from falling into many a sin. That peace gathers all the possessors of the new life into blessed harmony. It is peace with God, with ourselves, and with all our brethren; and the fact that all Christians are, by their common life, members of the one body, lays on them all the obligation to keep the unity in the bond of peace. And for all these great blessings, especially for that union with Jesus which gives us a share in his risen life, thankfulness should ever fill our hearts and make all our days and deeds the sacrifice of praise unto him continually. Colossians 3:3-4. For ye are dead — As to sin, so to the world and all earthly things, and that both by profession as Christians, and by an indispensable obligation laid upon you by Him whose laws you have engaged to observe. Yea, and you have solemnly promised and covenanted with him, at least at your baptism, to renounce the pomps and vanities of this evil world, to conduct yourselves as strangers and pilgrims on earth, and to seek a better country, even a heavenly. You are also dead in another sense; your body is dead because of sin; (Romans 8:10;) is sentenced to die, and till that event take place, your life here on earth is hardly worthy of the name of life, compared with the life you expect. It is rather death than life, because of the imperfection, shortness, and uncertainty of it. But there is provided for you a life worthy of your whole affection, of your highest esteem, most fervent desire, most lively expectation, and most cordial delight: — a life solid, satisfying, constant, eternal! This is properly your life, procured by Christ for you, in his gospel promised to you, and in consequence of his resurrection and ascension, received and taken possession of on your account. This life at present is hid — That Isaiah , 1 st, Concealed from you behind the veil of flesh and the visible heavens. Your senses can give you no information concerning it; just as the senses of the unborn child cannot discover to it the life it shall enter upon after its birth. 2d, It is laid up; reserved, kept secured, with Christ — Where he, your living Head, is, and where his members shall be. 3d, It is laid up in God, in the heart and centre, so to speak of Deity, and the infinite perfections of God, especially his wisdom, power, love, faithfulness, mercy, nay, and justice, stand engaged to confer it upon persevering believers, and upon you, if you are and continue to be such. When Christ — The abruptness of this sentence surrounds us with sudden light; who is our life — The procurer and giver of our spiritual and eternal life, yea, the fountain of our holiness and happiness in time and in eternity; shall appear — In the clouds of heaven; (which he soon shall, for behold, he says, I come quickly;) then shall ye also appear with him — He will not only come and take you hence by death, when your spirits shall be instantly with him, John 14:3; 2 Corinthians 5:6-7; Php 1:21; but he will appear unto your final salvation, Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:13; Revelation 1:7; and then especially ye shall appear with him in glory — Bearing his glorious image in soul and body, 1 Corinthians 15:49; yea, you shall be completely like him, for you shall see him as he is, Revelation 22:4; 1 John 3:2.3:1-4 As Christians are freed from the ceremonial law, they must walk the more closely with God in gospel obedience. As heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, both cannot be followed together; and affection to the one will weaken and abate affection to the other. Those that are born again are dead to sin, because its dominion is broken, its power gradually subdued by the operation of grace, and it shall at length be extinguished by the perfection of glory. To be dead, then, means this, that those who have the Holy Spirit, mortifying within them the lusts of the flesh, are able to despise earthly things, and to desire those that are heavenly. Christ is, at present, one whom we have not seen; but our comfort is, that our life is safe with him. The streams of this living water flow into the soul by the influences of the Holy Spirit, through faith. Christ lives in the believer by his Spirit, and the believer lives to him in all he does. At the second coming of Christ, there will be a general assembling of all the redeemed; and those whose life is now hid with Christ, shall then appear with him in his glory. Do we look for such happiness, and should we not set our affections upon that world, and live above this?For ye are dead - Dead to the world; dead to sin; dead to earthly pleasures. On the meaning of the word "dead," see the Romans 6:2 note; Ephesians 2:1 note. The idea of the apostle is, that as Christ became literally dead in the tomb, so we, in virtue of our connection with him, have become dead to sin, to worldly influences, pleasures, and ambition. Or, in other words, we are to be to them as if we were dead, and they had no more influence over us than the things of earth had over him in the grave; Notes, Romans 6:2.

And your life - There is still life. Though dead to one class of objects, you are alive to others. See the sentiment here expressed, explained at large in the notes at Galatians 2:20.

Is hid with Christ in God - The language here is taken probably from treasure which is "hid" or concealed in a place of security; and the idea is, that eternal life is an invaluable jewel or treasure, which is laid up with Christ in heaven where God is. There it is safely deposited. It has this security, that it is with the Redeemer, and that he is in the presence of God; and thus nothing can reach it or take it away. It is not left with us, or intrusted to our keeping - for then it might be lost as we might lose an invaluable jewel; or it might be wrested from us; or we might be defrauded of it; but it is now laid up far out of our sight, and far from the reach of all our enemies, and with one who can "keep that which we have committed to him against that day;" 2 Timothy 1:12. Our eternal life, therefore, is as secure as it could possibly be made. The true condition of the Christian is, that he is "dead" to this world, but that he has immortal life in prospect, and that is secure, being in the holy keeping of his Redeemer, now in the presence of God. From this it follows that he should regard himself as living for heaven.

3. The Greek aorist tense implies, "For ye have died once for all" (Col 2:12; Ro 6:4-7). It is not said, Ye must die practically to the world in order to become dead with Christ; but the latter is assumed as once for all having taken place in the regeneration; what believers are told is, Develop this spiritual life in practice. "No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life" [Augustine].

and your life … hid—(Ps 83:3); like a seed buried in the earth; compare "planted," Ro 6:5. Compare Mt 13:31, 33, "like … leaven … hid." As the glory of Christ now is hid from the world, so also the glory of believers' inner life, proceeding from communion with Him, is still hidden with Christ in God; but (Col 3:4) when Christ, the Source of this life, shall manifest Himself in glory, then shall their hidden glory be manifest, and correspond in appearance to its original [Neander]. The Christian's secret communion with God will now at times make itself seen without his intending it (Mt 5:14, 16); but his full manifestation is at Christ's manifestation (Mt 13:43; Ro 8:19-23). "It doth not yet appear (Greek, 'is not yet manifested') what we shall be" (1Jo 3:2; 1Pe 1:7). As yet Christians do not always recognize the "life" of one another, so hidden is it, and even at times doubt as to their own life, so weak is it, and so harassed with temptations (Ps 51:1-19; Ro 7:1-25).

in God—to whom Christ has ascended. Our "life" is "laid up for" us in God (Col 1:5), and is secured by the decree of Him who is invisible to the world (2Ti 4:8).

For ye are dead; the apostle adds another reason why the believing Colossians should not be earthly-minded, because they were dead, not absolutely, but in a certain respect, viz. of sin, and the world.

1. In regard of that carnal, corrupted, sin-infected life, received from our first parents by carnal generation, the life of the old man, altogether depraved, the real members of Christ are dead: see Colossians 2:11,12,20 Ro 6:2,4,6-8,11 7:9 2 Corinthians 5:14,17 Ga 5:24.

2. In regard of the world, by communion with Christ their Head, Psalm 22:15 Isaiah 26:19 Galatians 6:14 2 Timothy 2:11 1 Peter 4:1,2.

And your life is hid with Christ in God; and their spiritual life, (opposed to the life of sin), which is received by their receiving of Christ, the life they now live by faith, quickened together with Christ, Colossians 2:13 John 11:25,26 14:6 Galatians 2:20 Hebrews 10:38 1Jo 5:11,12; this is hid with Christ by virtue of their union with him, as Christ is in God by union with the Father; Christ in God, and our life in Christ, John 17:21, because in him the the springs of our spiritual life, which in and by our regeneration, renovation, and sanctification is communicated to us; and its progress in fruitfulness till it arrive to perfection, Philippians 3:10,14. For ye are dead,.... Not in a natural or corporeal sense, for they were living in the world; nor in a moral sense, for though they had been dead in sins, they were quickened by the grace of God; nor in a legal sense, for all their trespasses were forgiven them; see Colossians 2:13; but they were dead to the law, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, by the body of Christ; and to sin, as to its damning power, through his bearing it in his own body on the tree; and to the world by his cross: and therefore as dead men have nothing to do with the world, and the things of it, so believers being dead with Christ, should have no regard to the rudiments of the world, the ceremonies of the law, and the ordinances of men; to worldly lusts, and to the things that are in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; but should be dead as to their desires after, affections for, and subjection to these things:

and your life is hid with Christ in God; which is another reason why they should not mind things on earth, but things in heaven. The saint's "life" is either spiritual, and is a life of grace from Christ, a life of faith on him, and a life of communion with him, and may be distinguished into a life of sanctification, both internal and external, and into a life of justification; or eternal, which is a life free from all the sorrows of this, both outward and inward; a life of perfection and pleasure, of vision and enjoyment of God and Christ, and of fellowship with Father, Son, and Spirit, angels and saints, and which will never end. This is "theirs", what they have a right unto, and shall everlastingly enjoy: it is not only promised to them, and prepared and laid up for them, but it is given unto them in Christ; and who has made way for their full possession of it, into which he himself will put them, having power, as Mediator, so to do; and even now they have it, the beginning, pledge, and earnest of it. This is said to be "hid", which denotes the secrecy of it, and is true both of spiritual and eternal life. The spiritual life of the saints is hid from the men of the world, who are alienated from the life of God, are ignorant of the Lord of life, and know nothing of the spirit of life; they are strangers to the nature of this life, and to the food on which believers live, the hidden manna; and to the doctrines of the Gospel, by which they are nourished, these are hid to them that are lost; and to all the joys and pleasures of it: and this is sometimes hid from the saints themselves, when temptations are violent, corruptions prevail, grace is low, and seems to be gone, and God hides his face. Eternal life is also an hidden one from natural men; the things that are eternal, are things unseen by the carnal eye, and not to be conceived of by a carnal heart; and can only be beheld, and that in a very glimmering and imperfect manner, by an eye of faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, the clearest one saints have in this life; for eternal glory and happiness is in part hid from the saints themselves; they see it but through a glass darkly; nor does it appear to themselves, as yet, what that felicity is in its fulness and perfection they shall enjoy. Moreover, this phrase is expressive of the safety, as well as of the value and preciousness of this life, things of worth being hid for security. It is hid, and it is hid "with Christ"; spiritual life is with him, as the head, root, and fountain of it, and so is safe, and can never be lost; because he the head lives, the members shall live also; and as long as it is in him, as the fountain, the streams and supplies of it shall not be wanting to his people; nor can the communication between him and them be ever cut off: eternal life is deposited in his hands by the Father; it is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord God, and is in him for ever safe: nay, it is not only with Christ, where it is secure enough, but it is with Christ "in God"; Christ is in God, the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father; they are one in nature, and so in power and glory; and this union between them, which is natural and perfect, is the foundation of the security both of the persons, and of the life, spiritual and eternal, of God's elect; see John 10:28. Moreover, this life itself is in God. Not only our natural life is in him; we live and move, and have our being in him; but our spiritual and eternal life: he is the spring of it; it arises originally from him; it was purposed in him; it was promised by him; the scheme of it, or what is called the fellowship of the mystery, was hid in him; it was given by him; he is the fountain of it, and that itself; and therefore the saints can never perish, nor need they fear any enemy.

{4} For ye are dead, {5} and your life is hid with Christ in God.

(4) A reason taken of the efficient causes and others: you are dead with regard to the flesh, that is, with regard to the old nature which seeks after all transitory things. And on the other hand, you have begun to live according to the Spirit; therefore give yourselves to spiritual and heavenly, and not to carnal and earthly things.

(5) The taking away of an objection: while we are yet in this world, we are subject to many miseries of this life, so that the life that is in us, is as it were hidden. Yet nonetheless we have the beginnings of life and glory, the accomplishment of which lies now in Christ's and in God's hand, and will assuredly and manifestly be performed in the glorious coming of the Lord.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 3:3. Assigning a reason for the requirement of Colossians 3:2.

For ye are dead; how then could your mind be directed towards earthly things! and your life does not belong to the realm of the visible world, but it is hidden with Christ in God: how should you not then τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖν! It is a guide to a correct and certain interpretation of the passage, that this statement of a reason must affirm the same thing as was already contained, only without special development, in εἰ συνηγέρθ. τ. Χ. of Colossians 3:1. This special exposition Paul now gives. Whosoever is risen, namely, has died and lives, and these are the two points to which Colossians 3:3 refers.

ἀπεθάνετε] namely, by your having entered into the fellowship of the death of Christ. This being dead has dissolved in the consciousness of the Christian the ties that hitherto bound him to earthly things. He finds himself still in the realm of the earthly, but he no longer lives therein, Colossians 2:21. Comp. Php 3:20; Galatians 2:20.

ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν] must necessarily be the life, which has followed the being dead; consequently the eternal life, comp. Colossians 3:4, which set in through the resurrection (of which Christians, in fact, have become partakers with Christ, Colossians 3:1)—a life which the believer has, prior to the Parousia, as a possession that has not yet been manifested but is still in secret (οὔπω ἐφανερώθη, 1 John 3:2), a treasure in heaven, possessed in hope and still unrevealed, destined to appear in glorious manifestation only at the Parousia.

σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ] For Christ Himself, apart from fellowship with whose life the ζωή of His believers cannot have its being and essence, is hidden till the Parousia; and only then sets in His φανέρωσις (Colossians 3:4), ἀποκάλυψις (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13), ἐπιφάνεια (1 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14), with which also the ἀποκάλυψις τῶν υἱῶν τ. Θεοῦ (Romans 8:19) will take place, Colossians 3:4. Comp. 2 Timothy 2:10 f.; 1 John 3:2.

ἐν τῷ Θεῷ] in God, in so far, namely, as Christ, who, according to John (Colossians 1:18), is εἰς τὸν κόλπον τοῦ πατρός, remains hidden in God till the Parousia, as σύνθρονος of God (Colossians 3:1), living united with God in His glory hitherto unseen, in order thereafter to proceed from God and to manifest Himself with the full divine glory. But, as with Christ, so also with our life, which is hidden σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ, and therefore can only issue forth at His second coming from God, and be received by us in real glorious communication and manifestation through our συνδοξασθῆναι (Romans 8:17, comp. Romans 5:2; Romans 5:10). If the coherence of the relation expressed by κέκρυπται was asserted by σὺν τῷ Χ., so also is its inherence by ἐν τῷ Θεῷ. The essential part of our explanation, viz. that ἡ ζωὴ ἡμ. is eternal life, is held also by Chrysostom, Theodoret (ἐκείνου γὰρ ἀναστάντος πάντες ἠγέρθημεν, ἀλλʼ οὐδέπω ὁρῶμεν τῶν πραγμάτων τὴν ἔκβασιν), Oecumenius (τῶν γὰρ ἀληθῶς Χριστιανῶν ζωὴ ἔστιν μένουσα, ἡ μέν τοι πάρουσα εἰκόνα μᾶλλον θανάτου ἢ ζωῆς ἔχει), Theophylact (Paul wished to show αὐτοὺς καθημένους ἄνω καὶ ἄλλην ζῶντας ζωὴν, τὴν ἐν τῷ Θεῷ, τὴν μὴ φαινομένην), Calvin, Beza, Erasmus Schmid, Grotius, and others, including Baumgarten-Crusius. The accurate contextual connection of this view with what precedes, and with Colossians 3:4 (see above), excludes the explanation adopted by many, of ζωή in the ethical, spiritual sense. So Erasmus, Vatablus, Calovius, Bengel, Flatt (“the inner, new, blissful life of true Christians”), Bähr, Böhmer, Steiger, Olshausen,[139] and others, including Huther,[140] Bleek, and de Wette, who apprehends this life as being hidden in two respects: namely, as regards the disposition and striving, it is, because directed to the heavenly, internal and ideal, whereas the life of worldly men in the common sense is real or manifest; as regards the imputation or recompense, it lacks outward happiness, but enjoys internal peace, and is therefore in this respect also hidden or ideal, whereas the worldly life, in unison with the outer world, leads to external peace or to happiness, and is so far, therefore, real or manifest also; the σὺν τῷ Χ. denotes not merely the spiritual fellowship, but is “at the same time to a certain extent” to be understood in a local sense (comp. Colossians 3:1), and ἘΝ Τῷ ΘΕῷ denotes the sphere of the Christian life, or “its relation to the system of the universe, that it belongs to the invisible world, where God Himself lives.” Of all this there is nothing in the words, the historical sense of which neither requires nor bears such a spiritualistic idealisation with more senses than one, but, on the contrary, excludes it as caprice. The ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν does not refer to the ethical life of Christians at all, neither alone nor along with eternal life (Cornelius a Lapide, Estius; comp. Bleek and Ewald). On the contrary, it is aptly said by Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων. not. p. 93: “vitam enim piam et honestam, quam homo Christianus in hac terra vivere possit ac debeat, P. dicere non poterat nunc cum Christo in Deo (in coelis puta, in quibus Christus nunc est) reconditam esse, atque olim in splendido Jesu reditu de coelo revelatum iri; haec non nisi vitae coelesti conveniunt.” Hofmann’s distinction is less clear and definite: the ζωή is meant as the blessing, in which Christians have an advantage over the world, by their having participated in the death and resurrection of Christ,—a life, which is indeed life in the full sense of the word, but which does not appear before the world as what it is, so long as Christ is hidden from the world and in God. Notwithstanding, Hofmann properly rejects the explanations referring it to the holy life of the Christian, and to the holy and blissful life together.

Observe, further, the difference in the tenses, the aorist ἀπεθάνετε denoting the accomplished act of dying at conversion, by which they entered into the fellowship of the death of Christ; and the perfect κέκρ., the continuous subsisting relation in reference to the present up to the (near) Parousia.

[139] “The life of believers is said to be hidden, inasmuch as it is internal, and what is external does not harmonize with it;” and in ἐν τῷ Θεῷ God is conceived as the element, “into whose essence believers, like Christ Himself, are assumed and enwrapped.”

[140] In whose view the Christian leads a life in God, and this is a hidden life, because the world knows nothing about it (comp. Erasmus: “juxta judicium mundi”); in fact, to the Christian himself its full glory is not manifest (comp. Bengel); and by σὺν τῷ Χ. it is shown that the Christian leads such a life not of himself, but only in his fellowship with Christ. Dalmer gives an obscure and heterogeneous explanation.Colossians 3:3. ἀπεθάνετε γάρ: “for ye died,” that is to their old life, at the time of their conversion. It gives the reason for Colossians 3:2. The exhortation is justified because they have died with Christ.—καὶ ἡ ζωὴἐν τῷ Θεῷ. This risen life (ζωή not βιός) which they now enjoy through union with Christ is concealed with Him in God. By the fact that it is hidden is not meant that it is secure (Kl[16]), for the contrast to κέκ. is φαν. (Colossians 3:4), but that it belongs to the invisible and eternal, to which Christ belongs; perhaps not precisely “shrouded in the depths of inward experiences and the mystery of its union with the life of Christ” (Ell.). ἐν Θεῷ asserts Christ’s own union with God, and emphasises our union with God in Him. Meyer thinks ζωὴ is the “eternal life,” now hidden, but to be manifested at the second coming (Colossians 3:4). But this does not suit so well the language of the verse. Our life in God is opposed to life in the world (Colossians 2:20). The transition from the aorist to the perfect is to be noticed.

[16] Klöpper.3. For] The heavenward, Christward, “affection” of the Christian is reasonable, when his spiritual relation to Christ is seen.

ye are dead] Lit. and better, ye died; in Christ’s death for and to sin. See above on Colossians 2:11-12; Colossians 2:20.

your life] assumed to be actually theirs, because He who died, and to whom they were united by faith, rose again. See above on Colossians 2:12, for the nature and import of this wonderful life, which implies the remission of a death-sentence, but also far transcends it. It is in fact, in its full and inmost sense, the life of the glorified Head made present and powerful in His members by the Holy Spirit. Cp. 1 Corinthians 6:17; Galatians 2:20.

is hid] The Greek tense is the perfect. The life was, and is, “hid”; continuously, from its first gift. “You died,” on the other hand, is given in the aorist (in the Greek). The “death” is fact accomplished, the resulting “life” is fact continuing.

Hid:—with the double suggestion of safety and concealment. He “with” Whom it is hidden is there “where no thief approacheth,” and also where “the world seeth Him no more.” The main emphasis is on the latter fact. And the Apostle’s practical aim is to direct the Christian away from the visible, mechanical, routine of Pharisaic or Essenic observance to the secrets of holiness which are as invisible to natural sight as is Christ Himself, in Whom they reside.—We do not think, as Lightfoot, that there is any reference just here to baptismal burial, in which the baptized person was significantly hidden beneath the water. For the baptismal rite instantly went on to an emersion, signifying a life in some sense manifest.

with Christ] Again the mystical Union is in view; the vital secret of the whole matter.

in God] the Father. The word God is here, as very often (see e.g. Php 2:6), used of the Father with a certain distinctiveness. See above, Colossians 1:3, and note there.—What is “with” the glorified Christ is “in God,” inasmuch as the Son is “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). Cp. John 17:21; John 17:23.Colossians 3:3. Ἀπεθάνετε, ye are dead) to the earth and to the world, spiritually, ch. Colossians 2:20.—ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται, your life is hid) An abbreviated expression in this sense: ye are dead to the world, that ye may live to God; but that life is as yet hid.—κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ, is hid with Christ) The world knows neither Christ nor Christians, and Christians do not even know distinctly themselves, i.e. one another.Verse 3. - For ye died, and your life is hid, with Christ, in God (Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Ephesians 4:22; Philippians 3:20; Romans 6:1-14; Romans 7:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:23; John 15:5; John 12:26; Revelation 3:21). In this hidden life of the Christian lies the ground and the spring of the more outward life of thought and endeavour of vers. 1, 2. And this life comes through death, from that "dying with Christ" out of which we "rose with him" (ver. 1; Colossians 2:11-13, 20; Romans 6:3, 4, 8). "The aorist ἀπεθάνετε ('ye died') denotes the past act; the perfect κέκρυπται ('hath been and is hid') the permanent effects" (Lightfoot). (On the nature of this death, see notes to Colossians 2:11-13.) "Died - and your life!" this paradox is explained in Romans 6:10, 11, and repeated in Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15. The Christian's life is lodged in the sphere of "the unseen and eternal." It centres in Christ, and as he is hidden - withdrawn from the world of sense, yet with us always in his Spirit (John 14:16-20; John 16:16-22) - so our life with him. And if "with Christ," then "in God;" for "Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:23); "lives to God" (Romans 6:10), and "is at God's right hand" (ver. 1), being "the Son of his love" (Colossians 1:13; John 1:18). The apostle says, "in God" ("in heaven," Philippians 3:19), to emphasize the fact of the union of Christ with God, or perhaps to deepen the reader's sense of the sacredness of this life in Christ (comp. 1 Timothy 6:14-16). "Is hid" (Colossians 1:26, 27; Colossians 2:2, 3), another allusion to the fondness of the Colossian errorists for mysteries. In Colossians 1:26 St. Paul spoke of the ancient mystery of a Christ for all the world; then of the new, perpetual mystery of a Christ dwelling within believing hearts. But this second mystery is equally that of our life in Christ as of Christ's life in us, lifting us to heaven while it brings him down to earth. This mutual indwelling of the Head in heaven and the members upon earth is the most intimate and inscrutable of all secrets (John 14:20; John 15:1-7; John 17:22, 23, 26). "The world knows neither Christ nor Christians, and Christians do not even know themselves" (Bengel). But as the old historic secret had its manifestation at last (Colossians 1:26), so will the new secret that lies enfolded within every Christian life - Ye are dead (ἀπεθάνετε)

Rev., correctly, ye died, as Colossians 2:20.

Is hid (κέκρυπται)

Your new spiritual life is no longer in the sphere of the earthly and sensual, but is with the life of the risen Christ, who is unseen with God. Compare Philippians 3:20.

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