“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)
To what precisely does “Therefore” look back? Given what follows in the rest of the verse, it appears that the truths of 2:12 and 13 provide the most obvious connection. There Paul speaks of the believers being “raised up with [Christ] through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” and that “[The Father] made you alive together with [Christ].” This is a real union with Christ that is entered through faith and is witnessed to in the believer’s baptism (v.12). The surety of these facts and experiences is in Paul’s mind here as he says, “if you have been raised up with Christ.” The condition is of the first class, meaning that the matter is not in question, but considered assured in its fulfillment (thus the niv: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ”). The precise verb that Paul employs makes this connection clear in that it is used only three times in the New Testament, once in 2:12 (see comments there; cf. also Eph. 2:6). It is a compound comprised of “with” and “raise.” The aorist tense looks to this as a definite act. The passive voice views God as the active agent in raising the believer from death with Christ. The word then depicts God the Father as raising the believer (through faith, 2:12) in union with Christ in His resurrection. This is a fact for the believer. It is not an experience to be scrambled after through zealous effort or the fulfillment of religious rites. It is a settled fact accomplished by God through Christ. It is a work accomplished by God and actualized through the vehicle of the believer’s resting faith, reposed upon the finished work of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is not an experience to seek, but a fact to be rested in.
This being the fact, the Apostle commands “keep seeking the things above.” The command “keep seeking” is a present tense imperative, underscoring that the action must be taken repeatedly, continuously, and as a matter of habit. The word carries the idea of aiming for and striving after. It may have here the notion of “try to obtain” or “desire to possess.” That which is to be thus sought are “the things above.” Paul will use the precise expression again in the next verse. But to what does it point? Surely it refers to the heavenly realms and its realities. It looks to the place of God’s abode. The adverb was used by Jesus to say, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (John 8:23). Paul employs to speak of “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26) and of the believer’s “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Paul told those same believers “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). To the Colossians he has already spoken of “the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1:5).
Paul further qualifies just where he is referencing by saying it is “where Christ is.” True to form, Paul makes our pursuit a Christocentric one. Our quest is not simply a “place,” but a person. We seek Him, rather than ascribe to ascetic rules, because it is He “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). There Christ “is”—a present tense, on-going existence in real-time. Indeed, we seek that place where Christ is “seated at the right hand of God.” This marks it as a place of both authority and intimacy. It is a place of authority in that there Christ is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (Eph. 2:21; cf. Col. 1:16; 2:15). There God the Father has “put all things in subjection under His feet” and it is there that He “gave Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph. 2:22; cf. Col. 1:18). Yes, Peter tells us that Jesus “is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22). This is the very place Christ took His seat after “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb. 10:12). It is also a place of intimacy for there Christ takes up the care and concern of His own, presenting those needs to the father in ongoing intercession (Rom. 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1-2).
This, then, becomes the great quest of the believer – to realize that which God has give to him in Christ.