We have a new purpose, because we have been given new life.
Published September 29th, 2016; Updated September 29th, 2016
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Main point summary
Seek the glory that is with Christ at the right hand of God, and which you will receive at his return, because you have died to the glory of the world.
Εἰ οὖν συνηγέρθητε τῷ Χριστῷ,
b If then you have been raised with Christ, seek c the things that are above, where Christ is, d seated at the right hand of God. e Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For f you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ g who is your 1 life h appears, then you also will appear with him i in glory.
τὰ ἄνω ζητεῖτε,
οὗ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενος·
τὰ ἄνω φρονεῖτε,
μὴ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς,
καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐν τῷ θεῷ·
ὅταν ὁ Χριστὸς φανερωθῇ, ἡ ζωὴ ⸀ ὑμῶν,
τότε καὶ ὑμεῖς σὺν αὐτῷ φανερωθήσεσθε ἐν δόξῃ.
MY TRANSLATION: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth." A FEW OBSERVATIONS: 1. Verse one is a First Class conditional statement (indicated by the indicative verb), which means that the protasis is assumed to be true within the argument. One way we could reformulate the statement then would be to make the first clause the ground for the second clause, i.e. " since then you have been raised with Christ, therefore seek the things that are above…". There is a rhetorical force behind this imperative statement. Paul is rooting his command in the obvious, eternal, immovable reality of our new life in Christ. 2. The final part of verse one specifies what Paul means by "that which is above." Our reward, our glory, our joy are with Christ in the royal presence of God. This is why it makes sense for Paul to say at the end of this passage, "when Christ who is your life appears, you also will appear with him in glory." (ESV, emphasis mine). 3. Paul further clarifies what he is saying by paraphrasing his command in v. 2. Seeking the things that are above requires intentionality and consideration. We must bring every faculty we have at our disposal to the task of seeking the things that are above. Paul strongly echoes here what he says in Romans 8:5-8. He also gives us the negative side of the command: "not on the things that are on earth." While its tempting here to think of a kind of platonic distinction between the spiritual and the material, I think its clear from the rest of the passage and the parallel in Romans 8 that Paul is talking about seeking the joy found in glorifying God, and seeking the sinful pleasure of glorifying ourselves. I'll have to leave it at that, though I think there's a lot more to be said here (read Things of Earth, by Joe Rigney). CONCLUSION: Paul has given us a powerful tool in the daily struggle with sin. For me personally, this little passage has been endlessly strengthening when I am facing sin in all its forms. In the moment when we hear the siren call of Satan to satisfy our hearts with what has been forbidden, we can find strength and comfort knowing that there is unimaginable glory and joy awaiting those who have found new life in Christ and who stand patiently and faithfully in anticipation of his glorious return.