Walsh and Keesmaat, in their Colossians Remixed, want to know “what kind of ethic” we find in Colossians 3:1-17. Good discussion follows.
Is the ethic life-denying and otherworldly? W-K contend Paul’s theology and this letter in particular is the exact opposite of an otherworldly ethic. Paul denies an otherworldly ethic in Colossians — and such denies connection with the head in Col 2:19. Christ forms a “body politic,” the Church (1:18) and the statement that the fullness of God dwelling in Christ bodily is the exact opposite of a world-denying otherworldly ethic (2:9-10).
But isn’t it about a “heavenly” ethic? They are to seek, according to 3:1, “the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” W-K demonstrate very well that Paul has not an escapist but a “both/and” or a “now but not yet” eschatology. That is, they are to live by faith in the already-exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God. Often they use the term “imagine” when we might expect “believe” and their use of “imagine” I think is helpful. Let this exalted status of Christ let you live by faith in a world in which Christ rules.
And isn’t the empire a this-worldly ethic that Paul is denying? Yes, indeed.
Thus, Paul advocates:
A resurrection ethic
An ascension ethic
A liberation ethic
An eschatological ethic
Isn’t this “hegemonic”? Isn’t this totalizing? Tomorrow.