A study of Colossians 3:1-4 covers the desire for Godliness, making an intentional decision, and anticipating a future life with Christ.

A study of Colossians 3:1-4. The desire for Godliness

If then you have been raised with Christ…

Paul uses baptism in Colossians 2:12 as a picture of how followers identify with Christ. “Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith.” And he explains the symbolism behind it. “In Christ you died” (Colossians 2:20) is symbolized when a new believer is submerged in water. And is “raised with Christ” when raised back to the surface, Paul then asks a question: “If you died with Christ, why do you return to your old ways?” He answers that question in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where he calls them new creations. Rather than turning back they should move forward in their new life.

Seek the things that are above…

And moving forward in that new life in Christ considers what’s ahead and above. The Greek word for “seek” is zētĕō, which means to seek, to worship, to desire. In other words, your new life in Christ seeks a life OF godliness. And that begins with a desire FOR godliness. It doesn’t passively wait for God to shower down his blessings. But rather, willfully and actively seeks to please God.

A study of Colossians 3:1-4. Making an intentional decision

Set your minds on things that are above…

Following Jesus begins with an intentional decision and a step of faith. But it doesn’t stop there. It requires many intentional steps of faith. And your mind is pivotal in the direction you take because it’s a primary target of Satan’s attacks. So you must take charge as the captain of it.

“Set your minds” comes from the Greek word phrŏnĕō, which means to exercise the mind, to interest oneself in. It moves beyond desire of the heart to intentionally controlling your thought life. In short, what thoughts do you let into your mind? Which ones do you entertain and which ones do you discard? And how do you manage them to shape your decisions? But most importantly…what is the starting point for your thought life? Paul has a clear answer: Start with an intentional focus on the things of God. He offers practical suggestions in Philippians 4:8 and 3:12.

Not on things that are on earth.

The Greek word for “earth” is gē, which means soil, ground, world, the solid part or the whole terrestrial globe. Of course, as earth residents, we must attend to matters of this life. Earn a living. Navigate the relationships among family, friends, and career. Take out the trash.

They all demand mind space and time from our schedule. But they shouldn’t preoccupy or replace our thoughts for God.

Anticipating a future life with Christ

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Paul explains the reason we should set our minds on things above. Because in dying with Christ, we died to our old self and the things of this world. We still live in and engage with the things of this world. But we don’t let them dominate our thinking. Because our true life and final home is with Christ. Although what that actually looks like is hidden from us for now.

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Christ will “appear” and we will “appear” translates the same Greek word, phanĕrŏō. It means to manifest, show, render apparent, and declare. In other words, when Jesus returns to earth what was hidden will become apparent. Because Jesus will visibly manifest in his glory and his followers will share in it. And it’s this eternal perspective that fills us with enduring hope.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview.