"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God". Colossians 3:1. ESV

Possible avenues:

A. Does "raised" here refer not just to Christians rising to life but also ascending with Christ to "heavenly places"? Ephesians 2:5-6: "..made us alive together with Christ...and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places".

B. How does "you have been raised [synegerthete] with him" relate to "I will raise [anasteso] him up on the last day"? John 6:44.

C. Ephesians 4:8 "he led a host of captives". Are the "captives" those Jesus captured from Satan. i.e. the church, and that is when the church was raised?

Barnes Notes on the Bible says: "Man was held by Satan as a prisoner. His chains were around him. Christ rescued the captive prisoner, and designed to make him a part of his triumphal procession into heaven, that thus the victory might be complete". Do we agree with Barnes?

D. It seems to me that sometimes Scripture reveals God's point of view. So it can say something has happened, as it has happened in God's experience, not as we experience it. Is "we have been raised with Christ" an instance of this?

5 Answers 5


The word "raised" in this text can mean precisely that, i.e. to be lifted up or to be elevated. It is not limited in scope to being either raised from the dead or raised up to heaven.

The same Greek word appears in two other verses. Just the chapter before, Paul says:

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12, KJV)

Note that the word "raised" in Colossians 2:12 is not the same Greek word, so the focus here is on those who are "risen." Paul is writing to living people who have yet to either be raised from the dead or ascend to heaven, so his usage here cannot be properly tied to only one of those options.

Now consider the other text.

For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6, KJV)

Here again Paul is addressing living people who have yet to ascend from their physical graves to Heaven. This verse clearly invokes a figurative interpretation. In order to grasp the figure, we must understand the terms "raised", "the dead", and "heavenly realms."

I would submit that these may refer to being elevated to a higher plane, to a spiritual experience in knowing Christ that is not found nor known in the Christless world, and that the "death" that Paul speaks of is a spiritual death, the kind Jesus alluded to in addressing the Pharisees as "whited sepulchres...full of dead men's bones" (Matthew 23:27, KJV). To be raised from this spiritual death is to be given a new life in Christ--a life which every Christian is privileged to have.


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God". Colossians 3:1

A - "heavenly places"? No, no man has ascended to heaven John 3:13 We are only raised figuratively through faith and redemption - being cleansed of sin and given a heavenly heritage in Christ as co-heirs with him. Rom 8:17

B - you have been raised with him ... "I will raise him up on the last day"? Yes these are related. Just as we are given the holy spirit deposit at baptism and will receive the spirit in full at Jesus' return.

C - Jesus led 'captivity' captive. The same sense as defeating death with death. What is captivity? The state of man without God. Subject to the ruler of this world until God says otherwise. In Jesus, He has made a path to put all men on that eventually leads out of captivity.

D - We ARE raised from the dead - the death sin has caused and given the seeds of a new life. We are no longer dead in sin. At Jesus' return, those 'alive/raised' will be given eternal life. There is no need for judgement of these totally saved folk. God does not judge the righteous HE has granted immortality to after this gift of life. Their judgement is in this life and age.

It is the seeking of the 'things above', the seek first the Kingdom' life that God expects of His new children who are raised from the 'dead'. This is the reality of His spirit dwelling that enables this new heart and mind and godly actions. We see the contrast of living v/s death - the literal dead, who are really alive (raised up) in Christ, will live again as He does with everlasting life.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die, he will live. John 11:25

What is the meaning of all died?

  • I am not sure that "figuratively" is strong enough to describe "heavenly places". When one talks to God as in "Abba, Father" are they having a real conversation or a figuative one? So, "heavenly place" a bit of heaven on this earth?
    – C. Stroud
    Sep 2, 2021 at 11:41
  • Is John the Baptist being 'sent from God' figurative or literal? Are the disciples not of this world John 17:16 literally or fig. not of the world? God doesn't have a 'place', He is spirit and omnipresent. They are terms used to express a change of focus, importance, and place in the grand scheme - like the robber on the cross and being in paradise.
    – Steve
    Sep 2, 2021 at 12:00

What does “You have been raised” mean in Colossians 3:1

Prior to announcing to the believers that they have been raised with Christ, he is telling the believers who are mostly Gentiles how they have been circumcised by the cutting off of the flesh. It signifies death. Baptism is a picture of the burial and resurrection. The believer does not need to be circumcised, because Christ, descended into death itself. In Christ’s burial, he has been baptized and in His resurrection, he has been raised from the dead.

If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Col.3.1<

Paul is educating the believers why they do not have to follow Jewish customs because everything has been done for them in Christ. He is also telling them that they have already been raised above.

The scripture at hand is first spoken in Ephesians and twice no less.

These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Eph. 1:20-21<

God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:5-7<

The definition of raised here is: to raise together, to cause to rise together;

Definition: to raise together Usage: I raise along with. Word Origin from sun and egeiró Definition to raise togetherNASB Translation raised (3).

From sun and egeiro; to rouse (from death) in company with, i.e. (figuratively) to revivify (spiritually) in resemblance to -- raise up together, rise with. see GREEK sun 4862 sýn (a primitive proposition, having no known etymology) – properly, identified with, joined close-together in tight identification; with (= closely identified together) see GREEK egeiro egeiró: to waken, to raise up

What does this mean?

I would submit that being raised and seated with Chris is in accord with the revelation of the secret that is revealed in Ephesians. Paul prays that the eyes of your heart being enlightened, in order for you to know the hope of His calling. Eph. 1:8

It has to do with the administration of the mystery that has been hidden from the ages in God, the one having created all things. Eph. 3.9


What does "you have been raised" mean in Colossians 3:1?

Answer: We are DEAD TO GOD outside of Christ.

Colossians 3:1-4: "Therefore if you have been raised up [from spiritual death] with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3For you have [spiritually] died [to the world] and your life is [now] hidden with Christ in God" (emphasis added).

Here, we might compare this to roughly the same words in the previous chapter of the Letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 2:20: "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world"

Why are we dead?

Because we are ALL sinners, and outside the cleansing blood of Christ we have no hope. This is why, when we submit to the steps for salvation, we become alive exactly as we are told elsewhere:

Revelation 20:6: "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection [from DEATH to LIFE through baptism]; over these [Christians], the second death [spiritual death] has no power" (emphasis added).

How can we not understand that we are dead outside the blood of Christ? How can we not recognize that we are raised in NEWNESS OF LIFE through His Sacrifice? (Rom. 6:4). This seems almost trivial, yet it is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to convey in the Bible to those who refuse to see it! How does this all work?:

Romans 6:3-4: "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life" (emphasis added).

Simple, right? NO! It seems that very few are willing to accept this.

Paul is making the point that, through baptism [spiritual cleansing], the Christian dies and rises again. As we are submerged in the waters, it is as if we are buried in death. As we emerge from the water it is like being resurrected to a new life.

There is no mystery about this! All the early Christians regarded baptism as a death, burial, and resurrection — yes, to a "newness of life." Many Greeks understood that when a man was buried, they routinely considered him hidden in the earth. Similarly, when the saints had died a spiritual death through baptism, they were not hidden in the earth, but hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3).

It should clearly be observed in this connection that one's having died to sin in Christ is a direct reference to the imperatives of belief, repentance, and confession that Christ is Lord at baptism, thereafter living a life of godliness. It is a monumental tragedy that so few will simply remove the veil blinding them to this obvious, biblical reality.


"Rising from dead" can mean both i) actual resurrection of a dead body, i.e. reunion of man's immortal soul (immortal not per se like in Plato, but by grace of God) with his body, and ii) abandoning dead deeds of sin and starting to live in Christ, according to His commandments, like in the expression “Wake up, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14); the same being called "repentance from the dead deeds" (Heb. 6:1).

Thus, if one dies for sin and starts to live for Christ, or rather lets Christ to live in himself freely co-acting with His powerful power working in him (Col. 1:29), so as to be able to say as Paul that "not longer I am alive, but lives in me Christ" (Galatians 2:20), then he can freely say that already in this earthly, historical life he is fixed in heaven with Christ, at the right hand of the Father and feeds on the heavenly, divine, uncreated things, i.e. divine graceful and life-giving bestowals.

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