Sunday, April 2, 2017

Colossians 3:4

Paul is continuing on in his discussion about our life in Christ. He is recalling the image of a believer’s baptism following their acceptance of Christ. The image of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is so vividly portrayed in the symbolic act of baptism. In verse 3 we see the imagery of death and burial, and now Paul takes us to the resurrected Christ.

Paul is making it clear that we can have in this earliest form of the eschatological hope, an assurance of the future. He does not give a manner or timeframe, but still, he moves from the past to the future. Paul moves from the concept of something being hidden to the design that it will be revealed.

The Christ-filled life is here very succinctly asserted as being a life that is completely focused upon Christ, dying, risen, alive, glorified, and coming.[1] This comes from the same writer who declared, “For to me to live is Christ” in Philippians 1:21 (UASV).[2] Paul wants the readers to understand that Jesus is not only eternal life or the giver of life, He is the very essence of life. We see that Jesus Himself made this assertion in John 14:6.

The Apostle John made a similar assertion in his letter of 1 John 3:2. In this verse, he states, “Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.” The important point in both of these statements is that we will attain the likeness (image) of Christ in the fullness of God’s timing.[3] So, when will this fullness of sanctification to take place? It has started at the moment of a believer’s acceptance of Christ. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer that is increasingly reproducing the likeness of Christ in the believer.[4] However, the fullness of this sanctification of the believer will not come until the day of Christ.[5] As we are assured in other passages, the presence of the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that which is reserved for us.[6]

The Greek word translated revealed in this passage is phaneroo, and means more than just appear. A person may appear in a false manner and not be what he truly is, however, to be revealed in the sense of the word translated means that the person’s true character and being shows forth.[7] So, Paul is telling us that this revelation of Christ (and ultimately of ourselves) will take place in the parousia of Christ at the last day. This is totally assured because those whom God foreknew, “he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom.8:29-30 ASV).

The day of glory may be in the future, but its arrival is as sure as if it had already occurred. Paul gives us this understanding by the use of the past tense form of the word “glorified” in his Roman letter. When one has placed their faith and trust upon Jesus, He is already their glory, their hope, and is shown forth in the life they are presently living.

And with these words, the Apostle concludes the more strictly theological teachings of this letter. We now move into the more practical section to conclude this epistle.

Prayer: Precious Holy Spirit, I thank You for the earnest that You have provided, the assurance and great hope of the fulfillment of God's purpose and plan for me. I look forward to being transformed into the very image of my Savior. May His name be praised, Amen.

[1] Allen (1971) 
[2] See the CPH Commentary on Philippians for further insight. See also, Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 4:10f.; and 1 John 5:12. 
[3] See also Phil. 3:20-21. 
[4] 2 Cor. 3:18 
[5] 1 Thess. 5:23 
[6] Ephesians 1:14, “which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory.” 
[7] Vine, (1996)

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