Can you explain Colossians 3:3-4?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible says in Colossians 3:3-4: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” That “hidden life” portion is particularly enigmatic; what is it talking about? We just have to note the context and compare some verses, and all will be clear. To the Scriptures we go!

Reading Colossians 3:1-4 to get the thought-flow of the verses: “[1] If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. [2] Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. [3] For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

Note verses 1 and 2, “seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” These verses carry the idea of heaven (“above,” “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God,” “above… not on the earth”). Colossians 3:3-4 is talking about the resurrection life that we will experience in heaven. Remember, chapter 1 already talked about our destiny and future role in the heavenly places (see verses 5 and 16-20). Because we are already citizens of heaven (Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 3:15), already destined to rule in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Colossians 1:16-20), our lives on earth should reflect our heavenly connection (note Colossians 3:5ff.). As Philippians 3:20 says: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20)—we are outposts of the third heaven here in foreign territory (planet earth).

Colossians 3:3: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” We have been crucified with Christ, and we have been raised again with Christ (Romans 6:1-11; Ephesians 2:1-5). Colossians 3:4 says, “Christ, who is our life” (present tense). Although we have eternal life in Jesus Christ right now on earth, these bodies of flesh and blood are fallen and cannot adequately reflect that glory. In that sense, our life is hid with Christ in God. We only see a hint of the eternal life we have now. Only God really knows that life in its full capacity; only God knows what eternal life in heaven is like. What little we know about it now we see through the eyes of faith, what we read in His Word. Physically, that life in heaven cannot be seen… yet. When we receive our glorified bodies at the Rapture, our resurrection, the redemption of our body, those new bodies will better reflect God’s life in us.

As Romans 8:18 says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” It is here at the Rapture and onward, God will display His glory in us for all of creation to see. Continuing in the chapter: “[19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? [25] But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

Think about the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew chapter 17). The Lord Jesus looked like an ordinary human but then He suddenly shone brighter than the noonday sun! He had divine life in Him but His physical body had hindered it from being displayed to its fullest extent. The glory that the apostles saw on the Mount of Transfiguration, that is the glory that He will receive and display when He is crowned King of heaven and earth. We will participate in this. God the Father will glorify us in order for us to glorify His Son Jesus Christ (go back to Romans chapter 8, quoted above). The eternal life that we enjoy today is masked by the current vile bodies we have. We do not yet have bodies like Jesus Christ’s resurrected body. That will change, as Philippians 3:21 says: “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Jesus Christ will “subdue all things unto himself” in heaven when we are installed in the heavenly places (go back to our previous comments about Ephesians chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 2, and Colossians chapter 1).

First Corinthians chapter 15 provides additional information about this, our resurrection unto eternal life in heaven: “[49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” We “shall” (will) bear the image of the heavenly. This is future tense. We have the physical image of Adam now, physical bodies that cannot adequately express the divine life inside of us Christians. That will change when we are glorified at the event we call the Rapture. The Bible calls it “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). You can also read 1 Corinthians 15:49-58 in full, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 in full.

We will one day have bodies like unto Jesus Christ’s resurrected body (remember Philippians 3:20-21). Then, that (resurrection) life will no longer be hid in God. It will be shown for all of creation (angels included) to see. We will no longer see it through the eyes of faith, but physically as well. Our physical bodies will be redeemed one day, Romans chapter 8 says, and they will be enhanced to resemble Jesus Christ’s post-resurrection body. He could travel through walls, He could disappear and reappear, travel to the Father in heaven and back to earth in a short period of time, and so on. (For more information, see our study linked below.)

Also see:
» Could you describe Jesus’ resurrected body?
» When will the Old Testament saints be resurrected?
» What does “at the last trump” mean in 1 Corinthians 15:52?