The word of the day is “appear.” In today’s reading of Colossians 3:4-11, St. Paul promises that when Christ returns, He will bring the faithful with Him to share His glory. The Apostle proclaims, “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (vs. 4).
The root of the Greek original term for “appear” is “to make apparent.” Therefore, Christ’s appearance means more than that He “shows up.” Rather, the term refers to the revelation of what is hidden. More than that, it is the manifestation of the fundamental character of what is now unseen (Strong’s #5319, 1-20).
Our Hidden Life
At present, the wickedness of this present age conceals the true nature of Christ. Paul says here that He “is our life” (vs. 4). He is our life because, by baptism, we were joined to Christ in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:4). Therefore, the Apostle says that we “have died” (vs. 3). But we also have been “raised with Christ” (Colossians 3:1). Yet the everlasting life that is ours by baptism is not visible in this world. Paul teaches that it is “hidden with Christ in God” (vs. 3).
Our life “in Christ” is concealed, just as the glory of Christ Himself is hidden. Paul declares that “Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). From heaven, Christ the God-Man who has conquered death, reigns as victorious Lord of all (Acts 10:36). Yet the wickedness of this world obscures His Lordship. We know it only by faith.
Christ’s Return in Splendor
But the day will come when Christ will return in the splendor of His kingly power. The Book of Revelation proclaims that “every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7). The tribes of the world will lament in grief and loss (Strong’s #2875, 143) when they see Him return to judge the world and to purge His Kingdom of all evil and unrighteousness.
Furthermore, Paul teaches that when Christ reveals His sovereignty over all the peoples of the earth, those whom He has chosen will appear with Him. These are the “elect of God, holy and beloved” (vs. 12). In His mercy, God selected them (Strong’s #1588, 81) to be His own and to share in His glory (Ephesians 1:11) (1 Peter 2:9). Once hidden, their life in Him will be revealed when Christ is revealed.
We Will Be Like Him
At the present time, the chosen believers are aptly called “the children of God.” But when he [Christ] is revealed, they will be even more blessed. They “will be like Him,” for they “shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:3). This likeness, the resemblance to the Son of God (Strong’s #3664), is the fulfillment of our purpose on earth. The Orthodox Study Bible notes, “Made in God’s image and likeness, we are fulfilled by becoming like him, a process of sanctification or deification” (OSB fn. on 1 John 3:2). The Apostle Peter put this goal of human life this way: by grace, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). In summary, when Christ returns to reveal Himself as the Lord of All, we will have what is now hidden in His divine foreknowledge. The glorified Christ will share with us the everlasting life that He attained for us through his crucifixion and resurrection.
On this “Sunday of the Forefathers,” we remember the ancestors of Christ who received and preserved the divine promise of the advent of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Saturday Vespers, we read teachings from the Deuterocanonical book, “The Wisdom of Solomon.”
The Emerging Hope of Immortality
In this reading, we hear the emerging hope that the righteous will live after death. Thus, the Wisdom of Solomon proclaims, “But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God… their hope is full of immortality” (Wisdom 3: 1 & 4). Further, Wisdom teaches, “But the righteous live forever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them. Therefore, they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord” (Wisdom 5:15-16).
In 2 Timothy, the Apostle speaks of the fulfillment of this hope, “Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Several New Testament writers use the image of the “crown” as the apostle does in 2 Timothy (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 1, Peter 5:4, James 1:12). This sign of royalty describes the glory that will be ours when Christ returns to share the reign of His everlasting Kingdom with us.
Our Example of Hope: the Ancestors of Christ
Today the ancestors of Christ are our example. Beginning with Abraham, they firmly believed in the promise of divine blessings to come. They persisted in their hope though it was not fulfilled for centuries. As the predecessors of Christ patiently waited for Him to appear on earth, so may we wait with the same fortitude for Christ to reappear. Then He will manifest His glory and reveal the glorious eternal life that is now hidden with Him in heaven.