What does Colossians 3:3 mean – “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God”?
To understand the meaning, we must draw upon what is written elsewhere in the epistle and the rest of the New Testament. There is a contrast between “death” and “life” in this verse, as well as in 2:13 (“dead in your sins,” “quickened together with Him”). In 2:12, we read of being “buried with Him,” an action appropriate to a dead person, as well as “risen with Him,” an action requiring life. In 2:20, he speaks of believers being “dead with Christ.” All of these statements remind us of our identiﬁcation with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, as pictured in believer’s baptism, and set forth in Romans 6:3-8 and elsewhere. In verse 4 we read that Christ “is our life.” The testimony of Scripture is that we, by nature, are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5). We can do nothing to earn life, and can only have life in Christ “by grace, through faith” (Eph 2:5, 8). In the context of the Colossian epistle, “life” cannot be obtained by observance of ordinances nor by attaining to superior “knowledge.” God alone can give this life, and He has done so for every believer by linking him with Christ in His resurrection (v1). By nature, in spite of any efforts or attainments, we are dead. In Christ, we are alive. Twice in Colossians, besides the present verse, we have reference to things being “hidden.” In 1:26 we read of “the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations.” In 2:3 we read of “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” being “hid” in Christ. The thought of hiding may be intended to convey the idea of the safety and/or security of the thing hidden, as much as simply concealment. This verse assures us that our “life” is “hid” (kept in safety and not evident by outward observation) with Christ, and the risen and ascended Christ is “in God.” The unity of the Father and the Son is emphasized in John. The words of John 14:11 are one example. “Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.” “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18), would teach us that this unity is eternal and unchangeable. Colossians 3:3 is a wonderful testimony to the security of every believer. Our spiritual life is “hid with Christ in God,” beyond the reach of any power. While our life is hidden now, verse 4 assures us that, when Christ, our life, appears (is manifested), we shall appear (be manifested) with Him. What is now hidden will be evident as we appear with Him in glory (see 1John 3:2).
– Kent Hendrickson