Hidden With Christ?- Colossians 3:3-4

Colossians 3:3 tells us that our “life is now hidden with Christ in God”. This rather mysterious verse seems at first very difficult to ascertain the meaning of, what could it be telling us by stating that our life is “hidden”? This post will examine this verse in some detail, and will demonstrate its connection to verse four, in order to get at what we believe Paul really intends to communicate here. We will begin at the beginning of verse three, which reads as follows: “for you have died”. The Greek translated have died here is the aorist active indicative form of apethnesko- to “die or decay”. The aorist indicative is the simple past tense in the Greek, and the indicative makes this a statement of fact, so Paul is telling us here that 1) we have died in the past 2) our death is a settled fact. So what death does Paul have in mind? The indicative fact of our death is followed soon (in verses 9-10) by another factual statement, that we have “taken off the old man and put on the new”, so we may safely conclude that the one who has died here in verse three is our “old man”, and our life here is that of the “new man”. Having established this fact, Paul then relates another fact to us, that our “life is hidden”. In order to comprehend this phrase, we must examine its component parts. The first is the word “life”, which in Greek here is te zoe. When we see the word life, our first instinct is to conclude that Paul here refers to our biological life, life as defined by a biologist. This is not the case here, for the Greek has a specific word for this “life”, which is bios (from which the English word biology is derived). The word for life here is zoe, which in the NT has a very specific meaning, and refers to eternal life. Life in the Bible is defined by God, and those who are “alive” are those who have been united to God through faith in Christ. Those who are dead are those who remain separated from God due to their sin. For our purposes here, we will propose the definition of eternal life as “life as God intends it to be lived, united to Him and carrying out His purpose and plan for us”, just as Christ did. As we now examine the word “hidden”, the meaning here will begin to become more apparent. The Greek translated “hidden” here is the perfect passive indicative of krypto- to hide or conceal or bury. The use of the perfect tense refers to an action performed once in the past whose results continue on into the future, a once and done type of activity. The indicative again is a statement of fact, and what we ascertain here is that the life God intends each of us to live is hidden or concealed from us, and is uncovered “with Christ in God”. To complete the thought process which Paul has begun here, we must continue on to verse 4, which tells us that “when Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”. The Greek when here is hotan, which may also be properly translated as “whenever”, so that whenever Christ (who is our life) “appears”, we will also appear with Him in glory”. The Greek appears here is the aorist passive subjunctive of phaneroo- to manifest, display, show. The aorist tense with the subjunctive has no specific time frame in Greek, it simply tells us that any time Christ is made manifest through us, the life which God intends for us to live is revealed to us, as we grow to know Christ and become conformed to His image, the purpose and plan of God for each of us will be uncovered before our eyes. This interpretation is further supported by the conclusion of verse 4, which tells us that “then we will also appear with Him in glory”. Now this appearing in glory here does not refer to our future dwelling with Christ in heaven, for glory here is not a place but a state of existence. The Greek glory is doxa, which literally refers to someone’s reputation. To bring glory to God is to enhance His reputation, and as created beings, we bring God glory by doing what He created us to do, for any creation brings glory to its creator by doing what the creator created it to do. This includes the believer as well, and so what Paul is essentially telling us in these two verses, is that God has a “life” He has created us to live, a purpose and plan for each of us. This purpose is revealed to us as we grow to know Christ and live out our own, unique created purpose. Doing so will cause Christ to be revealed through us, and for God to be glorified by us and through us.

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