Colossians 3:3 "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God". ESV.

The truth that the Christian's life is hidden with Christ appears matched with the other side of the coin, that the Christian's life is also revealed as they let their light shine before men.

Matthew 5:14-16 "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden"..."In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven".

How does the life of the Christian, when they are walking with Christ, remain hidden and shine out at the same time?

Is it relevant that Col 3:3 hidden is "kekryptai" compared with Col 2:3 where hidden is "apokryphoi"?

7 Answers 7


ἀπεθάνετε γὰρ καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ὑμῶν κέκρυπται σὺν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐν τῷ θεῷ· (Col. 3:3, NA28)

What is significant is Paul used ἡ ζωὴ, the term used for eternal life, not ψυχή as in:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life [τὴν ψυχὴν] for his friends. (John 15:13, ESV)

ἀπεθάνετε - "you died" aorist meaning said and done.

This means your new life in Christ is secured by/with Christ in/by God, so that no thief can get to it. It means hidden like in a safe, not our testimony hidden.

Quotes from Commentaries

For ye died (ἀπεθανετε γαρ [apethanete gar]). Definite event, aorist active indicative, died to sin (Rom. 6:2). Is hid (κεκρυπται [kekruptai]). Perfect passive indicative of κρυπτω [kruptō], old verb, to hide, remains concealed, locked “together with” (συν [sun]) Christ, “in” (ἐν [en]) God. No hellish burglar can break that combination. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Col 3:3). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

3:3–4. At the moment of his salvation, a Christian died to the evil of the “flesh,” the sin nature (Rom. 6:3–8; Col. 2:11), and his life is now hidden with Christ in God. “Hidden” implies both concealment and safety; both invisibility and security. He is not yet glorified, but he is secure and safe in Christ. In fact, Christ is his very life. Christ said He was going where “the world will not see Me anymore” (John 14:19). -- Geisler, N. L. (1985). Colossians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 680). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

your life has been hidden with, Christ in God: The use of the Gk aorist in the vb. “died” implies a definitive decision (of separation from material practices); the use of the pf. tense in “has been hidden” expresses effective continuity until the present. There may be a play on the contrast between a body being “hidden in the earth” at death and being hidden in Christ through a real contract of death or separation from material things.4. when Christ our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory: Here the writer makes a definite reference to the future resurrection, although his main emphasis throughout has been on the present resurrection with Christ. -- Brown, R. E., Fitzmyer, J. A., & Murphy, R. E. (1996). The Jerome Biblical commentary (Vol. 2, p. 339). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

It is worthy of observation, that our life is said to be hid, that we may not murmur or complain if our life, being buried under the ignominy of the cross, and under various distresses, differs nothing from death, but may patiently wait for the day of revelation. And in order that our waiting may not be painful, let us observe those expressions, in God, and with Christ, which intimate that our life is out of danger, although it does not appear. For, in the first place, God is faithful, and therefore will not deny what has been committed to him, (2 Tim. 1:12,) nor deceive in the guardianship which he has undertaken; and, secondly, the fellowship of Christ brings still greater security. For what is to be more desired by us than this—that our life remain with the very fountain of life? Hence there is no reason why we should be alarmed if, on looking around on every side, we nowhere see life. For we are saved by hope. But those things which are already seen with our eyes are not hoped for. (Rom. 8:24.) Nor does he teach that our life is hid merely in the opinion of the world, but even as to our own view, because this is the true and necessary trial of our hope, that being encompassed, as it were, with death, we may seek life somewhere else than in the world. -- Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (p. 207). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

  1. The Greek aorist tense implies, “For ye have died once for all” (Col 2:12; Ro 6:4–7). It is not said, Ye must die practically to the world in order to become dead with Christ; but the latter is assumed as once for all having taken place. in the regeneration; what believers are told is, Develop this spiritual life in practice. “No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life” [AUGUSTINE].

and your life … hid—(Ps 83:3); like a seed buried in the earth; compare “planted,” Ro 6:5. Compare Mt 13:31, 33, “like … leaven … hid.” As the glory of Christ now is hid from the world, so also the glory of believers’ inner life, proceeding from communion with Him, is still hidden with Christ in God; but (Col 3:4) when Christ, the Source of this life, shall manifest Himself in glory, then shall their hidden glory be manifest, and correspond in appearance to its original [NEANDER]. The Christian’s secret communion with God will now at times make itself seen without his intending it (Mt 5:14, 16); but his full manifestation is at Christ’s manifestation (Mt 13:43; Ro 8:19–23). “It doth not yet appear (Greek, ‘is not yet manifested’) what we shall be” (1 Jn 3:2; 1 Pe 1:7). As yet Christians do not always recognize the “life” of one another, so hidden is it, and even at times doubt as to their own life, so weak is it, and so harassed with temptations (Ps 51:1–19; Ro 7:1–25).

in God—to whom Christ has ascended. Our “life” is “laid up for” us in God (Col 1:5), and is secured by the decree of Him who is invisible to the world (2 Ti 4:8). -- Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 379). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

  • Good, simple and direct answer. many thanks. +1.
    – Dottard
    Aug 28, 2021 at 22:54

Berean Literal Bible Colossians 2:

20 If you have died with Christ, away from the principles of the world, why as if living in the world do you submit to decrees

G2198 ζάω to live

This physical life in the world contrasts the spiritual eternal life in Christ 5 verses later in Colossians 3:

3 For you have died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.

G2222 ζωὴ both of physical and of spiritual existence

The worldly life is showy but the spiritual life is hidden with Christ. It is the spiritual life from Christ, covered with Christ. After this hidden life, we have the next verse shining out:

4 When Christ your life may be revealed, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

At this point, this glorious life is consistent with Matthew 5:14-16

"A city set on a hill cannot be hidden"..."In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven".

The source of this light is the hidden life in Christ.

What does “hidden” mean in Colossians 3:3?

It contrasts the showy worldly life and points to the source of true life from Christ.

  • I am not sure where you get "woridly life" from. John 8:12 the "light of life" is not worldly though it be light to guide us through this world. Is that what you are saying?
    – C. Stroud
    Aug 28, 2021 at 20:23
  • from Colossians 2:20.
    – user35953
    Aug 28, 2021 at 20:59
  • Col 2:20 has "life in the world", but my question contrasts hidden with Christ with shining out with Christ.
    – C. Stroud
    Aug 28, 2021 at 21:30
  • The shinning-out comes in Col 3:4. I added to my posted answer to clarify. Ask me again if you have a follow-up question.
    – user35953
    Aug 28, 2021 at 21:47
  • The good works of Matthew 5:16 may be seen but they are not done to be seen. Therefore I query your "showy".
    – C. Stroud
    Aug 28, 2021 at 22:00

"Hidden" in this verse is "secure". The context shows the cause which in 3:1 is, "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ". Paul is explaining how life in Christ is secure. The depth of this word is clearly the point. You are so secure that you are completely buried or "HIDDEN". There is no possible way that your security can be stolen because you are completely "hidden". This is not hidden from sight but from danger of losing your place in Christ. The word "hidden" denotes safety and security. Not even accessable to losing your place in Christ because you are buried and "hidden" by God. This is not at all in reference to letting your light shine as that is speaking of witness. Col. 3:3 speaks of security, not witness. Context is everything.

  • Rick, Great points you made. Like you said context is everything. I added your quote to an answer that I just posted.
    – Sherrie
    Aug 29, 2021 at 20:36

What does “hidden” mean in Colossians 3:3?

The word hidden means what you think it means: Concealed... Not able to be seen.
This is the primary definition of the word and is contextually contrasted in the following verse. In verse three, your life is hidden with Christ. In verse four, Christ who is your life appears and so do you also appear... the you that you are destined to be.

How does the life of the Christian, when they are walking with Christ, remain hidden and shine out at the same time?

Well, we're talking about two different types of life.

  1. One regards the life you are to live in this present world revealing God to all through your conduct - this is what is referenced in Matthew 5:14-16
  2. The other, as referenced in Colossians 3:3, is the full resurrection life that is secured by God for us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus's resurrected life is the life that is promised to us when he returns - but is now hidden. We cannot see it now, but we will see it then in all its glory. We shall see it. And we will be it.

20 ...our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. -Philippians 3:20-21

2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. -1 John 3:2

3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. -Colossians 3:3-4

Is it relevant that Col 3:3 hidden is "kekryptai" compared with Col 2:3 where hidden is "apokryphoi"?

The words are certainly related as @PerryWebb has indicated below: "kekryptai" is perfect tense of κρύπτω... "apokryphoi" is an adjective with the same root but apo makes it emphatic. In verse 3:3, what is hidden is our eternal life being preserved for us in the body of Christ to be revealed at the last day. In Col 2:3 what is emphatically hidden is all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge of God's mystery now revealed in the person, ministry, and gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is therefore no use in trying to seek out some special hidden knowledge from anyone else. Jesus has the exclusive.

Mysteries and secrets and things hidden only later to be revealed present as reoccurring themes in the letter to the Colossians. The emphasis on these in this letter may have been in response to those taking pride in claiming hidden knowledge of God independent from Christ similar to the doctrine of the Gnostics who also claimed to have such secret knowledge.

Either way, as Proverbs explain:

It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out.

-Proverbs 25:2

  • "kekryptai" is perfect tense of κρύπτω.. "apokryphoi" is an adjective with the same root but apo makes it emphatic. You point is good.
    – Perry Webb
    Aug 29, 2021 at 1:47
  • Thank you, @PerryWebb, for the insightful word and the kind word ;-)
    – Austin
    Aug 29, 2021 at 1:55

"Hidden" here means that it is the most precious 'thing' that human being carries in his essence. It resonates with the Gospel image that the Kingdom of Heaven is like the most precious pearl that man finds, and then sells everything to buy that portion of the land in which this pearl was found (Matthew 13:45).

Thus, "hidden"/"buried"/"secrecy" is not in opposition to the manifestation of this hiddenness. Moreover, on the contrary, unless one has the Lord's presence hidden in himself, that is to say, unless this presence is the most important and central 'thing' in his life, then any revelation of goodness in actions will not ultimately be a real and truthful revelation but a surrogate and seemingness, for such a Christian does deeds outwardly complying to the commandments of the Lord, but in inner motivation not complying to them, but to some worldly interest and gain. Like young Marx derided some Christian pastors, who chose this profession due to failure in business and after they gain some profit at expense of the parish, immediately turn again into businessmen to make money even more efficiently than through preaching. Such pastors do not have their lives buried in Christ, even if they give eloquent sermons every Sunday. However, when a Christian man sees that the only way to extract an information from a terrorist (as to where in a stadium full of innocent people an explosive is hidden) is to submit the bastard to torture, and he overcomes his deeply entrenched humanistic habits and tortures the terrorist in a cruel way, then he acts by impulse of Christ in whom he has buried his life, even if the entire world will regard him as a callous sadist. In short, "dilige et quod vis - fac".

A handy example is a finished drug-addict: whatever he does, either works and makes money, or gains new friends etc. is governed and lead by his aim of getting to his central point, to his sinful ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό of getting drug and be drugged. Unless we become similar addicts of the Lord and His Kingdom, we are not worthy of it, even if we do many many outwardly Christian things. But if we have this blissful addiction in us, then, even if we do not try to reveal it, even if we, on the contrary, try our best to hide it, it still shines from us, for it is impossible for a city built on the mountain to be hidden (Matthew 5:14).


Rick made a great point about this scripture.

"This is not at all in reference to letting your light shine as that is speaking of witness. Col. 3:3 speaks of security, not witness. Context is everything."

Here are some things that are said about those who are hidden in Christ leading up to the scripture in Colossians 3:3

First of all, remember who is the one that started all this.

The Father is the the One

  1. Who qualified you to share of the inheritance of the saints in light,

  2. He is the one that delivered us from the dominion of darkness.

  3. He transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son,

  4. in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

  5. He has reconciled in His body of flesh through death,

  6. to present you holy

  7. unblemished

  8. blameless

  9. Christ in you

  10. the hope of glory

  11. having been rooted

  12. and being built up in Him,

  13. you are complete in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority

  14. you were circumcised with the circumcision made without hands
    in the removal of the body of the flesh,
    in the circumcision of Christ,

  15. buried with Him in baptism,

  16. you were raised with Him
    through the faith of the working of God, the One having raised Him out from the dead.

  17. He made alive together with Him,

  18. having forgiven us all our trespasses,

  19. blotted out the handwriting in the decrees against us,

  20. He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

  21. He disarmed the rulers and the authorities, (no more condemnation)

  22. you have been raised with Christ sitting at the right hand of God.

  23. you have died, and your life has been hidden with Christ in God.

  24. When Christ your life may be revealed, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

All of these things listed above are true if one is in Christ.

Our lives are hidden because we don't see it. God calls things that are not as though they were.

When Christ is revealed then we will appear with Him In Glory.

We will no longer be hidden in him. All creation is waiting for the revealing at the sons of God.


"your life is hidden" may I think be seen in two ways:

  1. Hidden in. The Christian's security in Christ.

  2. Hidden from. The world cannot see what is.

Answers so far have mentioned these. Here I want to put a bit more weight on 2.

The world cannot see that which is heavenly when they measure by worldly considerations.

Colossians 3:11 has a list of "worldly considerations": "Here there is not Greek and Jew...".

Since the difference between Greek and Jew is no longer; since the difference between circumcised and uncircumcised is no more; since it no longer matters whether someone is a Barbarian or a particularly wild one from Scythia; slave or free; these differences no longer work.

These worldly considerations of who a person is cannot identify the true status of the inner life of the person risen with Christ.

Worldly considerations fail because Christ, and those in Him, have risen and no longer belong to this world, but are seated in heavenly places. "and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus". Ephesians 2:6.

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