Colossians 3:1-2 and Union With Christ

Since, therefore you have been raised with Christ, set your desires on things above, where Christ in glory is seated with God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.

I have started to really look into the topic of Union with Christ. It has been something on the periphery of my theology as a whole, but as I have been reading over the past year and a bit I have felt the need to bring it into the center. According to Con Campbell in his work Paul and Union With Christ, for Paul too this concept of the believer being united with Christ in a mysterious and powerful way lies at the center.

Now that I have chosen to delve into the topic in a deeper way this is the first verse that has come to mind as significant. I have provided my own translation above. There are a few comments that I would like to make on this out of the Greek.

συνηγερθητε which I have translated as raised with  is a Pauline construction that I’m lead to believe is part of a host of similar συμ- words created to deal with these new concepts. This particular one dealing with the resurrection, if you are partaking in the Christian life then you are enjoying the benefits of resurrection life. That we partake in the resurrection life of Christ also points us to the fact dwelt on elsewhere and raised us with him, and seated us with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:6) the two συμ- words (raised with, and seated with) here in Eph 2:6 confirm for us our relationship both to Jesus’ resurrection and his glorification, we have as a now-not-yet reality that we partake in the resurrection life, so too do we have foretastes of our being glorified.

Our being with/in union with Christ in his resurrection is not just a happy coincidence, or a factoid to think “Oh that’s nice” and to store away as a piece of trivia, no, Paul says “Since, therefore…” there is an action to take if this is a reality that we taste and see. We are to set our desires, set our thoughts upon the things above in contrast to where we find ourselves. Life is fundamentally messy and if we’re always focused on ourselves then we often get bogged down in the details. Paul’s antidote to this is to look up, to fix our attention on the things which are in many ways more real, more concrete. For the Christian it is a far more primordial reality that we are united with Christ in his death, resurrection and glorification than any problem, or drudgery of “ordinary” life. A true living and vibrant union with Christ gives us courage to live out the ordinary, the suffering, and know that the life we live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.