One of the first things we need to realize is that the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, are ours. Rather, spiritually, we participate or take part in, and receive the benefits, of His dying, burial and conquering death by rising to life again. Dallas Willard in his book, Divine Conspiracy, makes the point that if Christ is who he claims to be—divine—then we must accept He is also intelligent. The most intelligent person who ever lived. He created and holds together the cosmos—Colossians 1:16-17. He understands, as Willard points out, the molecular structure of water in such a way He could rearrange it into wine. He understands the human body in such a way He could and can reverse the effects of illness. He understands the nature of death itself in such a way He could conquer it, for the widow’s son from Nain, for Lazarus, for Himself, and offers to us eternal life—through His own death, burial and resurrection—Col.2:12-13; Romans 6:1-6; Philippians 3:9-11, et al.
So, with that as background, here’s my take on Colossians 3:1-17. I’ll make it through the first few verses today, but for sake of length, will continue it over the next post or maybe two. The text is in black with my commentary in blue.
Colossians 3:1 — So, since you have been raised up together with Christ, keep on [continuously] seeking those things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [This is an acknowledgement of His resurrection and ascension. He is on the throne of heaven. But then, Heaven is not some far off aloof place in far distant outer space—an “undiscovered country” as Star Trek might suggest. Nor is God some “eternal” being yet to be stumbled upon by future space travelers.] We know God through the spirit, His Spirit and our spirit. He is a spiritual being and is spiritually known—not through our five physical senses, but through our 6th, spiritual sense, which some would call faith. So, we are to keep on seeking Him, not in the tangible things of this temporal world, but in the spiritual realm.
2 — Set your mind [focus, and stay focused, set] on things above [spiritual things], not on things on the earth [temporal, temporary, tangible things].
3 — For [a very important word. For, because. On the basis of the following fact.] For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. The term “hidden” carries the context of hidden for protection. Nothing can harm you—you are wrapped up inside Christ, inside God. Whatever comes against you has to get through both of them first. I think it also has Kingdom qualities. The Kingdom is like a mustard seed—small, yet it grows to become larger than any plant of the garden, so that the birds of the air are able to nest in it. Like a seed, hidden in the soil, our life is planted, buried, hidden with Christ in God, so that we may grow in Him into the spiritually focused individuals we were created to be.
4 — When Christ, who is your life, is revealed, then shall you also be revealed with Him in glory. Rather than seeking the things of this world and the attending glory the accumulation of things tends to bring, focus on Him, for that is where your life is. And, when He is revealed, when the manifest evidence of your life, shows that He is indeed your Life, then you will share in the glory that is His.
5 — Therefore consider [mark it down in the spiritual accounting ledger book as accumulated asset or accomplished fact] the members of your body as dead to immorality [standing apart from God in any kind of moral or spiritual act], impurity [embracing any kind of filthiness (think: pure vs. mixture*)], passion [not necessarily a bad word, but here the emphasis would be on a life based on passion without spiritual focus and the attending moral guidance], evil desire [an evil mindset, a mind that looks for evil and wrong choices], and greed which amounts to idolatry [pretty much self-explanatory—the desire for more stuff pretty much equates with worshiping stuff, material, created things].
6-7 — For it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience, and in them you also walked when you were living in them. So in essence, Paul is telling the Christians in Colossae, in contrast to a mind focused on spiritual things, this is how you lived before you were spiritual. It’s reminiscent of Romans 1:18-32. Men without a spiritual focus turn to vain ideas and sinful, immoral life choices.
Enough for today, it’s getting long. And, with all that blue, it looks like I think my commentary is pretty important. Truth is, Scripture can stand quite well on its own without anybody’s explanation or commentary. On the other hand, sometimes reading what someone else has to say about it helps open up insights, and helps inspire us to set our mind and seek those things which are above.
*What’s filthy? That seems to change with our culture. We are told to accept people and not call their choice of lifestyle sinful. Yet there is a standard set forth in both the Bible, and in cultures and history through the ages, that certain behaviors are considered wrong. There is a pure lifestyle, and there are things added to life that have nothing to do with holiness and pleasing God. Additives make a substance no longer pure. Additives make a life no longer pure. It becomes a mixture. Some mixtures are just not suitable for consumption. I won’t get into specifics, because then this degenerates into a discussion of laws and rules. The point of the passage is to not focus on the temporal, but have a spiritual focus, and as a result, this is what life looks like.