In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of 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.
Paul reminds us that in Christ we have entered into this relationship with God by the circumcision of Christ. Circumcision was an OT sign that one has entered into a covenant relationship with God. We have entered into this relationship by stripping off our body of flesh by the work of Christ. This is perhaps another area where Paul is combatting the teaching of the false teachers:
Against the false teachers’ advocacy of rules and ascetic practices as the means of subduing the flesh (2:16, 18, 20-21), Paul asserts that Christians have already experienced “the stripping off of the body of flesh” in their union with Christ. No other practice or obedience to a rule is needed.¹
This ‘circumcision of Christ’ happens when we are buried with Christ in baptism (v. 12). Baptism is a sign, much like circumcision of the OT, which occurs at the beginning of our relationship with the Lord.
It is “through faith” that we are raised with Christ by his powerful work. The same powerful work that raised Christ from the dead also raises us from the dead…both physically and spiritually. Faith is the critical response to God’s grace. Hebrews 11:6- “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
- Does your life show the fruit of having put off the body of flesh? Do you walk after the flesh or after the Spirit?
- How does Baptism provide an illustration of the gospel?
- What is the role of faith in salvation? Can a person conjure up faith to believe or is it a gift from God?
¹ The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, Douglas Moo.