By Rony Kozman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies, Samford University
Live the Message
Colossians 3:1–3, 12–17
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul makes known the mystery that was hidden in past ages and that God has now revealed — Christ (1:26–27).
God commissioned Paul to serve the church by proclaiming Christ (1:25). Paul proclaims Christ so that all may be instructed in the Messiah’s wisdom and become mature (1:28).
The goal of Paul’s gospel preaching is not simply to rescue people from judgment. It is this and more. Paul proclaims Christ so that those who are instructed in the mystery of Christ grow in wisdom and
It is crucial that we get this. The gospel is not simply a ticket that gets you into heaven. This way of thinking about the gospel misses that the gospel is also very much about maturing us — making us complete in Christ.
It is about conforming us to the Messiah. It is about making us wise in the ways and the character of Christ. The gospel not only raises us to heaven, the gospel also demands we live our lives worthy of heaven.
Seek the things of Christ, not the things of the world. (1–3)
The death and resurrection of Christ are not events outside of which believers stand. Rather, we join Christ in His death and resurrection.
Paul reminds us of this reality. We are not passive observers of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have died with Him, and we have risen with Him (2:12, 20; 3:1).
Even though Paul speaks of us as having already died and risen with Christ, Paul also presses us to live now in light of that reality.
When Christ was raised, He ascended into the heavenly places. And since we were raised with Christ, we need to set our attention — our hearts and our minds — on this heavenly reality.
We need to live in this reality, which means that we put behind that which is earthly in us (v. 5).
Heaven is our new home. So we should no longer live as though we are still at home on earth where the flesh, sin and evil powers reigned (2:13–15).
Put on and wear the character of Christ. (12–15)
Even though we have been raised with Christ, we still need to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to [our] earthly nature.” We must put away the vices that characterized our earthly nature (vv. 5–8).
Another way to put this is that we are to take off the old humanity. Sinful behavior characterizes the old humanity as a garment that we must now take off (v. 9).
Instead, we must put on the clothing of the new humanity which we do by knowing Christ who is the image of God (v. 10).
As we are instructed in the mystery of Christ, in the gospel, we must conform our whole lives to Christ and so put on the new humanity.
This looks like clothing ourselves with specific pieces of clothing (i.e., virtues) including “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” and forgiveness. And above all these we must put on love, which ties all the other virtues together.
Let everything in your life point to Christ with gratitude and thanks. (16–17)
If the gospel lives with us, then we must live virtuous lives.
The gospel reorients our existence. It raises us to heaven and gives us the clothes of the new humanity, the clothes of Christ, which are Christ’s virtues.
Paul proclaims Christ to present every person wise and mature in Christ (1:28), and we also must preach the gospel to each other which means that we teach each other with all wisdom so that we all become mature in Christ, embodying the Messiah’s wisdom in the way that we live.