Question: "What does it mean that Christ in us is the hope of glory?"
Answer: Colossians 1:27 is a powerful verse: “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Let’s start by clarifying that the apostle Paul is writing to believers in Jesus Christ—the “you” whom he addresses. He calls them “the Lord’s people” in the previous verse (Colossians 1:26). The “Gentiles” are non-Jewish people. A “mystery” in the New Testament is simply something that was hidden in times past but has now been revealed by God. The former mystery, now understood, is that Christ in us is the hope of our future glory.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit came upon certain people to empower them for service, but then He would leave again. New Testament believers have a different experience, as the Spirit indwells us permanently. The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit given to New Testament believers was a “mystery” to the Old Testament saints. After Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within us, never to leave (John 14:16–17; 16:7). Jesus told His disciples, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father . . . and I am in you” (John 14:20).
The Holy Spirit seals us for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). In other words, the Spirit’s presence in our hearts guarantees our ultimate salvation. Though we are in this world, we are not of it (John 17:16). God will continue to work in us until He is finished perfecting us (see Philippians 1:6). This forward-looking guarantee of perfection is what is meant by “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The J. B. Phillips translation of Colossians 1:27 puts it this way: “The secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come.”
The hope of glory is the fulfillment of God’s promise to restore us and all creation (see Romans 8:19–21 and 1 Peter 5:10). This hope is not a wishful thought, but the confident, expectant, joyful knowledge that we are being changed by God and will one day see Christ face to face, having been conformed to His image (Romans 8:29; 1 John 3:2).
The hope of glory includes our resurrection: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11). It includes a heavenly inheritance: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3–4). The Spirit of Christ within us is the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14).
Christ’s presence in us is the hope of glory, and this truth is full of “glorious riches.” Our once dead, darkened spirits are made alive. Christ is in our hearts, and we know that there is life beyond this earthly existence—a life that will be glorious beyond all imagination.