IDENTIFIED WITH CHRIST TO BE THE NEW MAN
The next main point in Colossians is our identification with Christ. We are identified with Christ in four things—in His death, in His burial, in His resurrection, and in His ascension (2:11-12; 3:1, 3). We died with Christ, we were buried with Him, we were raised with Him, and we ascended with Him. Therefore, we are no longer the old man but the new man (vv. 9-10). In our daily walk we must always reject the old man and everything of the old man as that which is dead and buried and has nothing to do with us any more. We are now resurrected and ascended with Christ in the heavens, and we are the members of the new man. Within this new man there is nothing old. There cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free man (v. 11). All these are the old things. In the new man everything is Christ. Christ is all and in all.
We are now in the new man, so we must put on the new man in our experience. We realize that we have been united and identified with Christ; we are dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended in Him and with Him. Therefore, all the things of the old man have nothing to do with us; we put them off and reckon them as buried. Then we live in the new man and walk as the new man. In this way we enjoy Christ not only by ourselves but by and in the corporate Body, which is the church, the new man.
CHRIST IN US, THE HOPE OF GLORY
The twelfth main point in Colossians is found in 1:27. Christ in us is the hope of glory. He is not only our life but also our hope, which is the hope of glory. Hope of glory indicates that when Christ comes, He will bring us into glory, that is, He will glorify us. Today this glory is concealed by our physical body, but one day when He comes, our physical body will be changed in nature by being transfigured. The glory which is Christ Himself as life will shine out through our body to bring our entire body and our entire person into glory. We should not think that glory is something objective that will come upon us some day. Rather, this glory is subjectively within us today, and one day it will spread out through our body. The divine life will swallow up the death within us, and we will be in glory.
Through transfiguration our body will become transparent, like the shade of an electric lamp. One day the Lord will come to transfigure the “lampshade” and make it transparent. Then the glory within will shine out, and the “lampshade” will be in glory. This will transpire on the day of our glorification, but today the glory is already within us. Christ in us is the hope of glory.
THE WAY TO APPLY CHRIST
Another main point in Colossians is the way to apply Christ. The main goal of this book is to tell us how to apply Christ and appropriate Him. This entire book is a book of application, telling us how to appropriate Christ in our daily life in order to meet our every need. Colossians 1:12 tells us that Christ is the portion of the saints, but we must know how to enjoy and apply Him. In the early days of the church some of the Christians in Colossae had a Jewish background. They regarded special foods and drinks and observed the Old Testament feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbath. The apostle Paul told them that these items were only a shadow and that they must give them up. Christ is the very body of the shadow (2:16-17). They needed to apply Christ as the real food, drink, days of feast, new moons, and Sabbath. By this passage alone we can realize that the intention of this book is to show us our need to appropriate Christ in a practical way, even in our eating and drinking.
THE INCREASE OF GOD FOR THE GROWTH AND BUILDING UP OF THE BODY
The last main point is found in 2:19, which is an important verse. This verse says, “Holding the Head, out from whom all the Body, being richly supplied and knit together by means of the joints and sinews, grows with the growth of God.” Joints are for supplying the nourishment needed by the Body, and sinews are for knitting the members of the Body together. Among the believers, some are joints that nourish and supply, while others are sinews that join, unite, and knit the members together. By this nourishment and knitting the Body receives the supply from the Head, and it grows with the growth of God. This means that God increases within us, because what we receive from Christ the Head is something of God, even the fullness of the Godhead. On the one hand, the growth of the Body is the increase of the element of Christ within us, while on the other hand, it is the increase of God Himself. In this way the Body grows.
We may compare this to the growth of a tree. A tree grows by the fertilizer. As we put fertilizer into the soil, the tree absorbs more riches from the soil. Because the tree has more elements and more nourishment, it grows by this element and nourishment. As members of the Body, what we receive from Christ the Head is the very fullness and essence of God. The more we receive Christ, the more we have the increase of God, and it is by this increase that the Body grows and is built up.
These fourteen main points cover the entire book of Colossians. By such a book we can know Christ in a full way, and we can know who Christ is. We can know the Head of the universal man, and we can know how to appropriate Him in our daily lives. We can know how to receive, enjoy, and experience Christ so that the essence of God will constantly increase and we will have more and more of God. In this way the Body will grow and be built up. We need to “chew” and digest all the important points of this book. Then they will become our experience.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)