1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
1. Ergo si consurrexistis cum Christo, quae sursum sunt quaerite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens:
2. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
2. Quae sursum sunt cogitate, non quae super terram.
3. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
3. Mortui enim estis, et vita nostra abscondita est cum Christo in Deo.
4. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
4. Ubi autem Christus apparuerit, vita vestra, tunc etiam vos cum ipso apparebitis in gloria.
To those fruitless exercises which the false apostles urged, as though perfection consisted in them, he opposes those true exercises in which it becomes Christians to employ themselves; and this has no slight bearing upon the point in hand; for when we see what God would have us do, we afterwards easily despise the inventions of men. When we perceive, too, that what God recommends to us is much more lofty and excellent than what men inculcate, our alacrity of mind increases for following God, so as to disregard men. Paul here exhorts the Colossians to meditation upon the heavenly life. And what as to his opponents? They were desirous to retain their childish rudiments. This doctrine, therefore, makes the ceremonies be the more lightly esteemed. Hence it is manifest that Paul, in this passage, exhorts in such a manner as to confirm the foregoing doctrine; for, in describing solid piety and holiness of life, his aim is, that those vain shows of human traditions may vanish. At the same time, he anticipates an objection with which the false apostles might assail him. What then? |Wouldst thou rather have men be idle than addict themselves to such exercises, of whatever sort they may be?| When, therefore, he bids Christians apply themselves to exercises of a greatly superior kind, he cuts off the handle for this calumny; nay more, he loads them with no small odium, on the ground that they impede the right course of the pious by worthless amusements.
1. If ye are risen with Christ. Ascension follows resurrection: hence, if we are the members of Christ we must ascend into heaven, because he, on being raised up from the dead, was received up into heaven, (Mark 16:19,) that he might draw us up with him. Now, we seek those things which are above, when in our minds we are truly sojourners in this world, and are not bound to it. The word rendered think upon expresses rather assiduity and intensity of aim: |Let your whole meditation be as to this: to this apply your intellect -- to this your mind.| But if we ought to think of nothing but of what is heavenly, because Christ is in heaven, how much less becoming were it to seek Christ upon the earth. Let us therefore bear in mind that that is a true and holy thinking as to Christ, which forthwith bears us up into heaven, that we may there adore him, and that our minds may dwell with him.
As to the right hand of God, it is not confined to heaven, but fills the whole world. Paul has made mention of it here to intimate that Christ encompasses us by his power, that we may not think that distance of place is a cause of separation between us and him, and that at the same time his majesty may excite us wholly to reverence him.
2. Not the things that are on earth. He does not mean, as he does a little afterwards, depraved appetites, which reign in earthly men, nor even riches, or fields, or houses, nor any other things of the present life, which we must
use, as though we did not use them, (1 Corinthians 7:30, 31)
but is still following out his discussion as to ceremonies, which he represents as resembling entanglements which constrain us to creep upon the ground. |Christ,| says he, |calls us upwards to himself, while these draw us downwards.| For this is the winding-up and exposition of what he had lately touched upon as to the abolition of ceremonies through the death of Christ. |The ceremonies are dead to you through the death of Christ, and you to them, in order that, being raised up to heaven with Christ, you may think only of those things that are above. Leave off therefore earthly things.| I shall not contend against others who are of a different mind; but certainly the Apostle appears to me to go on step by step, so that, in the first instance, he places traditions as to trivial matters in contrast with meditation on the heavenly life, and afterwards, as we shall see, goes a step farther.
3. For ye are dead. No one can rise again with Christ, if he has not first died with him. Hence he draws an argument from rising again to dying, as from a consequent to an antecedent, meaning that we must be dead to the world that we may live to Christ. Why has he taught, that we must seek those things that are above? It is because the life of the pious is above. Why does he now teach, that the things which are on earth are to be left off? Because they are dead to the world. |Death goes before that resurrection, of which I have spoken. Hence both of them must be seen in you.|
It is worthy of observation, that our life is said to be hid, that we may not murmur or complain if our life, being buried under the ignominy of the cross, and under various distresses, differs nothing from death, but may patiently wait for the day of revelation. And in order that our waiting may not be painful, let us observe those expressions, in God, and with Christ, which intimate that our life is out of danger, although it does not appear. For, in the first place, God is faithful, and therefore will not deny what has been committed to him, (2 Timothy 1:12,) nor deceive in the guardianship which he has undertaken; and, secondly, the fellowship of Christ brings still greater security. For what is to be more desired by us than this -- that our life remain with the very fountain of life. Hence there is no reason why we should be alarmed if, on looking around on every side, we nowhere see life. For we are
saved by hope. But those things which are already seen with our eyes are not hoped for. (Romans 8:24.)
Nor does he teach that our life is hid merely in the opinion of the world, but even as to our own view, because this is the true and necessary trial of our hope, that being encompassed, as it were, with death, we may seek life somewhere else than in the world.
4. But when Christ, our life, shall appear. Here we have a choice consolation -- that the coming of Christ will be the manifestation of our life. And, at the same time, he admonishes us how unreasonable were the disposition of the man, who should refuse to bear up until that day. For if our life is shut up in Christ, it must be hid, until he shall appear