If you have been raised ...
The second if is found in Paul’s writings, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). For me, this is one of the most challenging verses in the New Testament. At the heart of this query is the question, “Do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead?” The natural question to follow is, “If so, do you think that same power is available to us today so that we can live a victorious life?
The resurrection if is set up by the challenge, “If you have died with Christ” (Colossians 2:20). Paul is repeating a Christian tenet that he also gave to the Romans (6:1-23), the Galatians (2:20), and Timothy (2 Timothy 2:11). In three instances, Paul uses the phrase “died with.” Twice he specifies Christ (Romans and Colossians) and once the pronoun him that references back to verse 10 and Jesus. Unique to Romans and Timothy is the tie of the death to our resurrection. Of course, the inference is that Jesus has risen since both places qualify risen by the phrase “with him.” I stated above that the natural inference from these conversations is the validity of the resurrection. But, what is the effect of the resurrection? Is the resurrection power available to the believer? Paul would say “yes.” He prays for knowledge of Jesus and the power (dynamis; the same word as in Romans 1:16 in reference to the Gospel) of his resurrection. He states the reason. It is very practical. He wants to resurrect from the dead (Philippians 3:11). If the power is available for our resurrection, do you think Jesus would withhold it for our daily living? May it never be!
In the Colossians passage, Paul’s death with Christ moves him from “the elementary principles of the world” (Colossians 2:20). It is here that we find the explicit reference to an effective result of “the if” of our association with both the death (2:20) and the resurrection (3:1). The connection is obvious in that our death is required for the resurrection to have an effective expression in our lives. Additionally, Paul, almost tongue in cheek, connects the burial by stating, “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). This may be a pun that the old self (verses 5-7) is buried in God, and could easily be idiomatic for the burial.
* This page is an excerpt from is my book Non-Negotiable: Focusing on the Essentials of the Faith. The book goes into more detail on many of these issues.
Last update: 6 September 2015