Resurrection and the Life of Glory depicts the Christians life with Christ in what the Bible calls the “age to come.” Today we would describe it as the age that came. That age which was future to Paul and his readers became a present reality in A.D. 70.
For many the resurrection is an after life or out of body experience. We do not deny that resurrection extends beyond the physical realm. Jesus said, He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, (John 11:25). However, we must accept the second part of the verse with as equal weight. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never Die. Do you believe this?
So what is Christ speaking about? He is speaking about living in the resurrection while yet in the physical body. Why, because that life is experienced in the age that came. (Luke 11:35-36).
It is readily apparent that those who become Christians die, long before they experience biological death. What is important is knowing that to which they died. Reading from Colossians 3:1, it is clear that a resurrection of some sort is in view. “If then you were raised with Christ.” This phrase is set over against verse 20, which says the Colossians had “died with with Christ.”
That to which they had died was the “basic elements of the world” i.e. to the world dominated by sin and death in the Jewish age. It is that to which Paul refers when writing in Romans he says, “death reigned from Adam to Moses.” (Rom. 5:14). Through the power of the Law, the strength of sin and death increased, (Rom. 5:19). However, grace reigns over law. Thus, sin and death no longer had dominion over those who died to it. (Rom. 6:1; 14; 8:3-4).
The Hidden Life
As a result, Paul encourages the church to set their minds on things above, not on the earth. Earth is used in a covenantal not in a geo-physical sense. It likewise equates with the “basic elements” of chapter 2:20. Since the Colossians died to that world and since the coming new world (new heavens and earth) had yet to fully arrive, (2 Pet. 3:13), they were living in expectation or hope for its arrival (Gal. 5:5). The new heavens and new earth is the world of righteousness.
Christ is the Life
Their life, is not to be seen in physical resuscitation from death. The Colossians were not physically dead when Paul wrote to them. Therefore, his statement that “you died” is not to be taken in a biological sense. Rather, it is death to the Old Covenant world. Their new life was hidden in Christ, who had ascended to heaven awaiting the time of His return.
Since Christ had returned to His former glory with the Father, he could only be manifested through some physical or tangible means. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is the event which God chose to manifest His glory, (Matt. 26:63-64; 24:3-34)
Note also that the concept of being hidden does not refer to absence from natural eyesight. These were not invisible people. How are they hidden? It is with a view to their true status as sons of God.
The Jews thought Jewish Christians were defectors from the faith and apostates deserving of death. They were ignorant of the fact that Christians were now the beloved covenant people of God. This is the meaning of John’s statement. The world knows us (Christians) not because it did not know Him –Christ, (1 John 3:1).
Their hidden state would likewise be revealed in the same event which would manifest Christ, the complete destruction of the old system of Judaism, marked by the fall of the city and nation to the Romans. At that time, their true identity would no longer be hidden.
Resurrection and the Life of Glory
In view of this new life, they were to put to death their “earthly” members, fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Col. 3:5). These are characterized as “works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19-21) and were not characteristic of the life of glory. Those deeds belonged to the world of sin, not to the world of righteousness. They had put off the old man and his deeds and had put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Christ. (Col. 3:8-10).