Lesson 18

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:9 For in him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, 2:10 and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power; 2:11 in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Today's Lesson 

Paul had begun to address the specific situation at Colossae by telling them to let no man deceive them with philosophies that are based on the elements of this world and on the traditions of men. He encouraged them to continue to walk in the gospel that they had been given that they first heard from Epaphras. He is eager to instruct them that their new life must be centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. In Today's Scripture, he uses the concepts of circumcision and baptism to instruct them of their intimate relationship with the Son of God.


We have repeated verses 9 and 10 today for the sake of context. Paul had told the Colossians that their faith should be based on Christ and not the philosophies of men. He reminds them that in Christ all the fullness of God was present. We have need of nothing else for salvation, redemption and reconciliation. He goes on to instruct them that in Christ "you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ."


In the covenant that God had made with Abraham and Israel, circumcision of males was an outward sign of obedience to God. Every male child was usually circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. In Luke Chapter 2 we are told the story of the circumcision of Jesus as an infant. But circumcision was always a ritual (what we might call a sacrament) that pointed to a deeper reality. Circumcision was suppose to represent the putting off of the flesh with its obligations to this world and becoming sanctified to God. The outward sign was a symbol of the inward reality.


Paul instructs the Colossians that at the Cross of Christ there was a circumcision accomplished. The sins of the world were placed on Jesus and, in one act, God circumcised the sins of the whole world. Through the bodily sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God cut out the sin of man that had been at the heart of the rebellion of the creation toward its Creator. The work of Christ was complete in that it dealt with the full body of sins for all of mankind.


At the Cross of Christ, God dealt with sin. We are allowed to participate in this great work through our baptism. Baptism is another sacrament that represents our death with Christ. We are buried with Him in baptism and express our faith that our sins died when He died. We were also "raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead." Baptism is then the symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our participation in that event.


Believers must decide for themselves how literally we are to apply these rituals today. I have worshipped with those that baptize strictly by immersion and with those who do not baptize physically at all but believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I find the faith of honest adherents to both beliefs to be very similar although their practices are at odds with one another. I myself was baptized by immersion as a young man and although it was a significant event in my life, I must say that there was a deeper spiritual awakening in me many years after that I reckon as my true spiritual rebirth. Each of us must decide in our own hearts how much the outward ritual affects the deeper inward reality that Paul is expressing.


It is unfortunate that something as beautiful as baptism can be a divisive issue. Churches have split apart over the forms and procedures of baptism. Baptism is meant to be a symbol and an expression of our complete faith in the work of Jesus Christ. It expresses our unity with Him. Baptism, if set in context, should be a powerful lifelong reminder that we have been buried with Christ and raised to a new life. The old life is dead. In Christ, we are a new creation.


Do you know the circumcision of Christ, the complete putting off of your sins? Have you participated in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ through baptism?


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