For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)
Paul now states the grounds (“For”) for seeking “the things above” and setting our hearts upon them (vv.1-2). The Apostle gives a two-fold reason for these exhortations. First, Paul asserts simply that “you have died.” This echoes Paul’s earlier statement in Colossians 2:20, employing the same verb. Here he speaks of this death as an accomplished fact for the believer (aorist tense). It is not an experience to seek, but a fact to be reckoned on by faith. As he stated in Colossians 2:20, so he asserts again that this death took place in union “with Christ.” Previously this death was said to be pictured in one’s burial “with Him in baptism” (Col. 2:12). We should compare this “with Christ” declaration with verses 12 and 13 where the preposition (su.n) is found repeatedly both in compound and standing independently. Paul says elsewhere that the believer has died to sin (Rom. 6:2-8, 11), the Law (Rom. 7:4-6; Gal. 2:19) and “to the elementary principles of the world” (Col. 2:20).
The second reason for Paul’s previous exhortations is now added (“and”). Alternatively, the conjunction may denote the result of their death with Christ. That reason is that “your life is hidden.” The expression “your life” surely refers not to our earthly, human, physical life on this earth, but to the eternal life we have in Christ. Indeed, the precise phrase (“your life”) appears again in verse four where we are told that Christ “is our life.” Thus Paul says both that our life is hidden with Christ and is Christ. The perfect tense of the verb underscores the completed nature of the action with a resulting state of being. The passive voice makes clear that this standing was not self-produced, but is brought about by God’s gracious hand. The aorist tense of “have died” makes that a singular event. The perfect tense of “is hidden” emphasizes the ongoing state of believers in the present.
Our life is thus hidden “with Christ” and “in God.” The preposition (“with”) signals a symbiotic relationship between Christ’s risen, heavenly life and the spiritual life of the believer. God the Father has in fact “raised us up with [Christ], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). We are thus in union with Christ and our essence, our very life is tucked away secretly and securely “in God”—beyond the prying eyes of voyeurs and the accusing threats of opponents.