by Mike Ratliff
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Colossians 2:11-15 ESV)
The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slid right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”
The two passages where we find this word in the New Testament are Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13, which I placed in context at the top of this post.
Here is Colossians 2:13 from the ESV, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…”
Here is Colossians 2:13 from the NA27 text, “καὶ ὑμᾶς νεκροὺς ὄντας [ἐν] τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, συνεζωοποίησεν ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ, χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν πάντα τὰ παραπτώματα.”
Here is my personal translation of v13, “And you being dead in trespasses and the uncicumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses;”
Paul made sure in the structure of this passage to make it clear that we understood that all who are in Christ were once spiritually dead because of the uncirucmcison of their flesh, but because He has forgiven those in Christ, they have been made alive together with Him. One commentator says it like this when referring to being dead in trespasses, “These are unbelievers who are bound in the sphere of sin, the world (Eph 2:12), the flesh (Rom. 8:8), and the devil (1 John 5:19) so they are unable to respond to spiritual stimuli, totally devoid of spiritual life.” This same commentator then says, when referring to God making these saved people alive together with Him, “Only through union with Jesus Christ (vv. 10-12) can those hopelessly dead in their sins receive eternal life. Note that God takes the initiative and exerts the life-giving power to awaken and unite sinners with His Son; the spiritually dead have no ability to make themselves alive (cf. Rom. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:9).”
Notice also that before this “quickening together with Christ” happens that all believers are first forgiven all their trespasses (Colossians 1:14). God’s free (Romans 3:24) and complete (Romans 5:20); Ephesians 1:7) forgiveness of guilty sinners who put their faith in Jesus Christ is the mot important reality in sacred Scripture (cf. Psalm 32:1; Psalm 130:3, 4; Isaiah 1:18; Isaiah 55:7; Micah 7:18; Matthew 26:28; Acts 10”43; Acts 13:38; Titus 3:4-7; Hebrews 8:12).
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
Above is the passage where we find the second occurrence of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω in v5.
Here is Ephesians 2:5 from the ESV, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— ”
Here is Ephesians 2:5 from the NA27 text, “καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, – χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι –”
Here is my personal translation, “Even when we were dead in the trespasses, He made us alive with Christ, – by grace you have been saved –“
Once again, it is important to look at this in the context of the passage. Paul is actually emphasizing what he stated in v1 that all in Christ were once dead in trespasses and sins in which they once walked. Notice that this is the condition of everyone in the world, but God being rich in mercy, because of the great love which he loved us… then he goes into v5. Who is loved? It is those who were just as dead in their sin as the rest of the world, but those whom he has made alive together with Christ are the ones who have been saved by Grace and they are now alive together with their Saviour. In vv8,9 we have it made very clear that this salvation was not of our own doing, but was a gift from God and was all His doing.
Those who are quickened together with Christ are those chosen by God. Yes, many are called because the Gospel goes out to all the world, but few are chosen and these few are the ones we read of here whom God loves and makes alive in Christ. They are not immediately taken home to be with their Saviour, but are left here for their sanctification, to obey Him in learning to put sin to death in their members to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow their Saviour. Through this they become usable servants in this life to draw others to hear the Gospel and some of those who hear will also be chosen, will believe and will do likewise.
On the other hand, there are multitudes of what I call “religious christians.” We have talked about this in our discussions about the Invisible Church and the visible church. There are many who profess to be Christians who are only religious or who once were, but who were never quickened together with Christ. They are still in their sins. They are still controlled by their flesh and we see that all around us in an increasingly worldly visible church. When I deal with professing Christians who use the methods of the world, full of bitterness and vengeful anger in their attempts to either silence this ministry or get it to change course or whatever with absolutely no trace of the graciousness of Christ in any of it then it can be quite discouraging. That is, until I get my eyes back on my Saviour and know that He is on His throne and God is Sovereign and as long as I obey Him then those people can make all the noise they want.
Soli Deo Gloria!