Author: Ron Graham
The Beginning, the End, and Between
In Colossians 3:1-4, Paul reminds us of how our Christian lives on earth began, and how they will end. But his main concern is the middle. Between the beginning and the end, we must continue in Christ.
¶“1Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. 2Set your minds on things above, not on things here on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, you too will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4).
1 The Beginning
Paul says, “You have been raised with Christ” (verse 1) and, “You have died” (verse 3). This death and resurrection refers to the beginning of the Christian life.
Paul mentions this beginning earlier in Colossians: “You were buried with him in baptism in which also you were raised through faith in the working of God who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12, cf Romans 6).
That's how the Christian life begins. In baptism, through faith, we die with Christ and we are raised with him. His death and resurrection are applied to us to give us new life.
2 The End
Now going back to Colossians 3:1-4, Paul speaks of the proper end to the Christian life. There should be no other end. “When Christ who is our life appears, you too will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4).
Paul also mentioned this end in the opening part of his letter. He spoke of “...the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you heard of before in the word of truth, the gospel...” (Colossians 1:5).
Sad to say, some who begin the Christian life bring it to an end different from the end intended —ascending to glory with Jesus.
Paul said to Timothy, “Some have made shipwreck of their faith” (1Timothy 1:19). A ship wrecked on a reef spells the end of a voyage, but not the end or destination intended. So let's now consider the intended journey between the beginning and end.
3 And Between
Going back to our text (Colossians 3:1-4), we now look at what Paul says about living the Christian life in the meantime.
“Since you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is seated at God’s right hand. Set your minds on things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3).
There are three main points in that statement about the present time...
- “Christ is seated at God’s right hand.”
- “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
- “Seek and set your minds on the things above,”
Paul is speaking here of continuing faithfully in Christ who reigns in heaven and who holds our eternal inheritance in his hands to keep it reserved for us until the end comes.
Paul has already mentioned this continuance in the faith. “...Continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and don't be moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard...” (Colossians 1:23).
This idea is repeated many times in scripture. Here is a selection...
Continue and Persevere
¶“Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work. Increasing in the knowledge of God, be fully strengthened by his glorious power, for patience and longsuffering in everything with joy” (Colossians 1:10-11).
¶“I rejoice to see your order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him, established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:5-7).
¶“Consider the goodness and severity of God — severity to those who fell, but goodness toward you if you continue in his goodness. Otherwise you too will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
¶“God gives eternal life to those who, by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality. But to those who... obey unrighteousness there will be God’s indignation and wrath” (Romans 2:7-8).
¶“Take heed to yourself and to the teaching. Continue in them, for in doing so you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1Timothy 4:16).
¶“The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you from the evil one. And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing, and will continue doing, the things we command you” (2Thessalonians 3:3-4).
¶“We have become sharers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:14).
Finally, Jesus said,
¶“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
“The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us... In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:18,38).