5. False teaching exposed and defeated, 2:8-3:4

iv] The consequence of rising with Christ


Paul now addresses the issue of a life which is the product of being raised with Christ, a life shaped by eternal verities rather than ephemeral laws.


i] Context: See 2:8-15. Paul follows up his theological perspective with two sets of implications: a) Consequent upon dying with Christ, v20-23; b) Consequent upon rising with Christ, 3:1-4. Each set of implications begin with a 1st. class conditional clause where the conditions is assumed to be true, ei + ind., "if, as is the case, ..... then ...." = "given that you have died with Christ / have been raised with Christ ...." There is some debate as to whether 3:1-4 is part of the teaching / theological section of the letter or part of the ethical / advice / encouragement section. Some commentators treat it as a guiding thesis to the ethical section, others as a bridge between the teaching and ethical sections of the letter. In Colossians it is difficult to separate theology from ethics as Paul tends to blend them together.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2 The Colossian heresy.


iii] Structure: The consequence of rising with Christ:

Consequent upon rising with Christ, full and complete in him, apart from the law, 3:1-4:

Given that you have been raised with Christ

seek the things above, v1;

set your mind on things above, v2:

gar, "for" - explaining why they should "set their hearts on ...":

the resurrection of Christ, v3;

the future glory, v4.


iv] Interpretation:

In 2:20-23 Paul argued that a believer in Christ, united to Christ, identified with Christ, dies with Christ. Consequent on dying with Christ a believer dies to the law. Given this fact, "why submit to its regulations, do not handle, do not touch ...?"

A believer, identified with Christ, also rises with Christ. Consequent on rising with Christ, a believer, now hid in Christ, is alive in Christ. In one sense we even now reign with Christ at the right hand of God, and yet, in another sense, we expectantly await to share in the manifestation of his glory at the second coming. Given this fact, "set your minds on things above, not on ta epi thV ghV (the things upon the earth)", 3:2. The "earthly things" are the rules and regulations of this present age, the "do not touch" false teaching presently infesting the Colossian church; "regulations which have no authority", Martin, 2:20. So, rather than setting our mind on the don't do this and the don't do that, we are to set our mind on ta anw, "the things above", the heavenly things.

In v1 Paul uses the imperative verb zhteite, "seek [the things above]" - a reminder of Jesus' words "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness", Matt.6:33. Moo argues that Paul is not saying seek to possess, but seek to orientate to these heavenly realities. Yet, surely this is a legalistic slip on Moo's part. "Seek" is probably Paul's intended sense. By seeking after grace, possessing divine grace, we become gracious. By seeking divine mercy, possessing it, we become merciful. So, seek the mind of Christ, think on eternal verities rather than try to orientate oneself to ephemeral laws.

Text - 3:1

The consequence of rising with Christ, v1-4. Given that we believers are united to Christ, are identified with Christ in his resurrection, we should now "focus on the new, heavenly dimension of reality that has dawned with the coming of Christ", Moo.

ei + aor. "since" - if. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true, "if, as is the case, you were raised with Christ, then seek the things....." "Since it is the case that", Dunn. Best translated as a statement of fact, "you have been raised", TEV. The REB goes for a question expecting a positive answer, "Were you not raised with Christ?"

oun "then" - therefore. cf. Rom.12:1, Eph.4:1. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion.

sunhgerqhte (sunegeirw) aor. "you have been raised with" - you were raised together with. cf., "he made you alive together with him (Christ)", Rom.12:13. The raising is obviously a past completed event, therefore aorist. Identification with Christ, with his cause, entails identification with his death and resurrection. Given the context, the sense is ethical, raised to a new freedom in the Spirit expressed in godly living, as compared to the slavery of sin under the law.

tw/ Cristw/ (oV) dat. "Christ" - Dative of direct object after the sun prefix verb "to be raised with". The presence of the article probably doesn't serve to specify "the Christ."

zhteite (zhtew) pres. imp. "set your heart on" - seek, inquire. The sense "aspire to", REB; "Aim at", Moffatt, is commonly accepted by commentators, but "inquire after", indicated by the restatement in v2, "set your minds on", is possible, even with the sense "seek to possess", contra Moo. Present tense indicates continued action. "Continually seek the mind of Christ."

ta anw "things above" - the things above. Think on heavenly things, not so much a broad "what is in heaven", but rather the divine character of love, as opposed to constantly thinking about earthly things, the potential gains of selfishness. O'Brien makes the point that "the things above" do not just refer to "ethical categories." Moule also defines these things as "ultimately essential, transcendent, belonging to God." Paul is telling his readers to set their mind on the impelling nature of Christ's gracious love now infusing the heavenlies - grace!!

ou| "where" - where [christ is]. Genitive relative pronoun serving as a local adverb, "where".

en dezia/ "at the right hand" - [sitting] on right. The preposition en is local, expressing space; the phrase being short for "the right-hand side." Seated in the position of honor.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "God's right-hand side."


froneite (fronew) pres. imp. "set your minds on" - think about [the things above]. Further defining "seek". "Fix your thoughts on", REB.

epi + gen. "[not] on [earthly things]" - [not the things] upon [the earth]. Spacial; "upon, on."

ta "things" - the. The article serves as a nominalizer, turning the prepositional phrase "upon the earth" into a substantive, accusative direct object of the verb "to think"; "the things upon the earth."


The old life of a believer is dead and gone, the new life is an existential reality in Christ, in God.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining the reason why they should "set their hearts on ........"

apoqanete (apoqnhskw) aor. "you died" - The believer is identified with Christ in his death and by implication, his resurrection, and therefore it is illogical for a believer to set their mind on human corruption rather than divine perfection.

kai "and" - and. Probably serving to express result; "And as a consequence."

kekruptai (kruptw) perf. pas. "hidden" - [the life of you] has been hidden. Perfect implies a present state arising from a past action. Identification with Christ is obviously the intended idea, rather than the notion that a believer's real life has not yet been fully revealed and can therefore be described as "hidden".

sun + dat. "with" - with [christ]. Expressing association; "along with."

en + dat. "in" - in [god]. The preposition en is either expressing a locative sense, "in the sphere of the divine", or expressing agency, "by the agency of the divine." Locative is best. We are secure in our identification / union with Christ, who is similarly secure in his identification / union with the godhead.


The believers life, which is presently hidden in Christ, will be revealed in the day of glory.

oJtan + subj "when" - whenever = when. Introducing a temporal clause identifying an indefinite future time.

hJ zwn uJmwn " who is your life" - [christ], the life of you. Textual variant, hJmwn, "our", RSV, the genitive being adjectival, possessive. The phrase stands in apposition to "Christ". As an example of Pauline short-talk, a broad meaning is best attached to this phrase, Christ is the source / substance / goal of our lives, "the secret center of our lives", Phillips.

fanerwqh/ (fanerow) aor. subj. "appears" - is manifested, made plain / clear. Obviously referring to the second coming of Christ.

tote adv. "then" - Temporal; indicating what will develop following the future action that was just alluded to.

fanerwqhsesqe (fanerow) fut. pas. "will appear" - [and = also you with him] will be manifested. A punctiliar sense seems best. Resurrected believers will appear with Christ on the day of his appearing. The future tense expresses a "not yet" appearing, but of course, the "now" also applies in that we have already appeared with Christ in glory and are presently seated with him.

sun + dat. "with" - with [him]. Expressing association / accompaniment; "along with him."

en + dat. "in" - in. Virtually every possible use of the preposition en fits in this context: used instead of eiV, "share his glory", TEV; used adverbially, modal, "will gloriously appear with him" / "in glorious manner", Campbell; attendant circumstance, "attended with glory"; instrumental, "clothed with glory", Zerwick; local, "in glorified bodies", Harris. Local, expressing sphere, seems best.

doxh/ (a) dat. "glory" - glory. Possibly God's glory, or better, Christ's glory, or better still, "a state of glory", Moo.


Colossians Introduction


[Pumpkin Cottage]