by Peter Benyola


(Colossians 3:1-4) “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

This passage from Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians at Colossae expresses the implications of Christ’s work on our behalf in our servanthood that follows. Here, the indicatives of the gospel — who we are by God’s grace — drive the imperatives for our lives — what we should do as a consequence of that grace. The concept of union with Christ is a phrase found throughout Apostle Paul’s theology, especially developed in Philippians. For instance -, in referring to his imprisonment because of Christ, the apostle refers to a greater imprisonment of being in Christ, (Philippians 1:13, NKJV) “so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.” To be “in Christ” is the opposite of being in the flesh (cf. Philippians 3:3-4).

The statement “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” indicates the identity with Christ that we have in our union with Him. To understand what it means to be “hidden with Christ,” we should look at the broad picture of how the Bible depicts “hiding.” It appears in many places in Scripture, and very early in the story. As soon as sin entered the world, Adam and Eve tried to clothe themselves with fig leaves and hide from God. What a tragic response to the same voice that not only had spoken them into existence, but also called them into fellowship with Him. Instead of running to God’s voice, they fled from Him and tried to hide. Their attempt to protect themselves was futile, but God in His grace gave them a covering for their sin in place of the all-consuming judgment that was the due penalty for their rebellion. Humankind has been running from God ever since (Romans 5:12).

During Moses’ intercession (Exodus 33:12-23), he asked the LORD to show him His glory. The LORD indulged His servant and said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘the LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy … But … you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” God had to instruct Moses to hide in the cleft of a nearby rock as His glory passed by that place. This was to protect Moses from the awesome glory of God’s presence. Though the passage speaks of the “goodness” of God the Father, the revelation of God’s glory shows that it is at once good, fearsome, and irradiating for mortal beings.

It is the same with us in eternal terms. We are not only saved from the world, the flesh and the devil, but we are primarily and ultimately saved from God’s righteous fury — His good and holy reaction to these other forces (Hebrews 10:31).

systematic theology

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