Greek: En ho kai perietmêthête (2PAPI) peritome acheiropoieto en te apekdusei tou somatos tes sarkos, en te peritome tou Christou,
Amplified: In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: In him you have been circumcised with a circumcision not made by man’s hands, a circumcision which consists in putting off the whole of that part of you which is dominated by sinful human nature, which you were able to do by the circumcision which belongs to Christ. (Westminster Press)
Lightfoot: In him too you have the true circumcision—the circumcision which is not made with hands but wrought by the Spirit—the circumcision which divests not of a part only but of the whole carnal body—the circumcision which is not of Moses but of Christ.
Phillips: In Christ, you were circumcised, not by any physical act, but by being set free from the sins of the flesh by virtue of Christ's circumcision. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: in Whom you were circumcised by a circumcision not effected by hand, in the putting off and away from yourselves the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: in whom also ye were 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 the Christ,
AND IN HIM YOU WERE ALSO CIRCUMCISED WITH A CIRCUMCISION MADE WITHOUT HANDS: En ho kai perietmêthête (2PAPI) peritome acheiropoieto: (Ezek 44:7,9) (Acts 7:48;17:24; Eph 2:11; Heb 9:24)
In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ (Amp)
In union with Christ you were circumcised, not with the circumcision that is made by human beings, but with the circumcision made by Christ, which consists of being freed from the power of this sinful self. (GNB)
It was a spiritual procedure—the cutting away of your sinful nature (NLT)
in Him you have been circumcised with no material circumcision that cuts flesh from the body (Moffatt)
In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision (NRSV)
in the putting off of the sinful nature (NIV)
In Colossians 2:9-15 Paul explains that a believer has been made complete in Christ through identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Col 2:11, 12), out of which arise some significant benefits (Col 2:13, 14, 15). When confronted with false teaching, most of us attack it and try to point out what is wrong with it. Paul's approach is to "accentuate the positive" and thus he reviews what the saints already possess in Christ. You will never possess any more of Christ than you do the moment of salvation, so the question is what more does a saint need to "succeed" in this life? For most of us the answer is that we need to discover more of what it means to be "in Christ" and to have Christ in us "the hope of glory", which is a lifelong process. The concept of the believer's indissoluble union with Christ, made real in personal experience, takes lifeless theory out of refrigeration and sets it in the full blaze of the warmth of intimate fellowship with the Son.
In Him in union with Christ or identified with Christ, we too were "circumcised". Thus the Jewish NT has
"Also it was in union with Him that you were circumcised"
Were circumcised (4059) (peritemno from perí = around + témno = cut off - see study of peritome) means literally to cut something off or away ("to cut off around"), signifying a removal of that which has been cut away.
In Col 2:11 Paul is using the well known procedure of circumcision not to describe the physical act but to describe spiritual circumcision ("without hands") that results in spiritual rebirth. Paul used the concept of circumcision similarly in Romans 2:24-29, addressing the Jews who had the Law and physical circumcision and yet transgressed the Law, because they were not spiritually circumcised.
TDNT - Non-biblical Use. Attested from the days of Homer, peritémnō means “to cut around,” “to make incisions,” “to encircle with a view to robbing” (e.g., cattle or lands), and then, as a ritual technical term, “to circumcise.”
Thayer - to circumcise, cut off one's prepuce (used of that well-known rite by which not only the male children of the Israelites, on the eighth day after birth, but subsequently also `proselytes of righteousness' were consecrated to Jehovah and introduced into the number of his people.
Peritemno - 17x in 15v - circumcise(4), circumcised(10), circumcision(1), receive circumcision(1), receives circumcision(1).
Note the predominance of uses in Galatians - correct teaching on circumcision was a crucial issue in that epistle to counter the false teaching that one could only be saved by "Christ plus" something, in this case circumcision (see Acts 15:1, 5).
Luke 1:59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father.
Luke 2:21 ¶ And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
John 7:22 "For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man.
Acts 7:8 "And He gave him the covenant of circumcision (Ge 17:11 says it is the sign of the covenant); and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
Acts 15:1 Some men came down from Judea (to the church at Antioch) and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Ed: These "Judiazers" came down because they got wind of the Gentile conversions from the First Missionary Journey - and they demanded they added "circumcision" to salvation by faith alone! This spurred the pivotal Jerusalem Council to address this heresy.)
Acts 15:5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." (Read Peter's strong refutation of this deadly, heretical teaching - Acts 15:7-11)
Acts 16:3 Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
Acts 21:21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
1 Corinthians 7:18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised.
Galatians 2:3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Galatians 5:2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.
3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. (Ed: Something that no one can do, except Jesus!)
Galatians 6:12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.
Colossians 2:11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Peritemno - 41x in 37v in the non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 17:10-14, 23-27; 21:4; 34:15, 17, 22, 24; Ex 4:25; 12:44, 48; Lev 12:3; Deut 10:16; Josh 5:2-4, 7, 8; 21:42; 24:30; Esther 8:17; Jer 4:4; 9:25
Of these Jews, Paul declares
"he is not a Jew who is one outwardly (or just because one is born of Jewish parents and is a descendant of Abraham, has gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision and externally conforms to the Law like the Pharisees); neither is circumcision that which is outward (external, a physical thing, something visible, that which may be seen) in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (not by the written code, a spiritual and not a literal matter, real circumcision is heart- circumcision); and his praise is not from men, but from God." (Ro 2:28-29-note)
The NLT paraphrases it
"No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people."
In Philippians Paul wrote that true believers (Jew and Gentile)
"are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Php 3:3-note)
Again Paul reminds the Galatians that
neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation ("the result of a new birth and a new nature in Christ Jesus, the Messiah" Amplified) (Gal 6:15)
The NLT paraphrase says
"It doesn't make any difference now whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we really have been changed into new and different people."
Paul's instruction regarding spiritual circumcision was not new, but was taught repeatedly in the Old Testament.
Although circumcision was required by the Mosaic law, the rite was neglected during the days when the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness. Perhaps this was a sign that the nation had broken their covenant with God through their disobedience. The rite was resumed when they entered the land of Canaan, with Joshua performing the ritual on the generation born in the wilderness (Joshua 5). The Hebrew people came to take great pride in circumcision; in fact, it became a badge of their spiritual and national superiority. This practice fostered an exclusivist mentality instead of a missionary zeal to reach the Gentiles which was God's original intent for His "chosen" people.
A daily prayer of a strict Jewish male was to thank God that he was neither a woman, a Samaritan, nor a Gentile. Gentiles came to be regarded by the Jews as the “uncircumcision,” a term of disrespect implying that non-Jewish peoples were outside the circle of God’s love. As discussed below, God applied the very same term ("uncircumcised") to describe His "chosen" people. The terms “circumcised” and “uncircumcised” became emotionally charged symbols to Israel and their Gentile neighbors. This issue later brought discord into the fellowship of the New Testament church and especially caused confusion about how one obtained genuine salvation.
The Jews should have known the true meaning of circumcision for Moses and the prophets used the term “circumcised” as a symbol for purity of heart and readiness to hear and obey. For example, through Moses the Lord challenged the Israelites to submit to
Circumcise then your heart (clearly speaking of a inward, spiritual work not an external fleshly work), and stiffen your neck no more. (Dt 10:16).
An uncircumcised heart reflected a will that was hardened toward God’s commands.
Circumcision as first prescribed in (Ge 17:10, 11, 12, 13, 14) meant to cut away the fleshly part of the male sexual organ, that part which might hold disease in its folds and so potentially might pass the disease on to the wives. Thus physical circumcision had an important role in the preservation of God’s people physically.
Nelson's Study Bible has an interesting thought on physical circumcision noting that
Since the Canaanite worship system involved sexual excess, the distinctive sign on the body of the male Hebrew would be a significant reminder not to participate in the rituals of the Canaanites. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. The Nelson Study Bible: NKJV. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
In any event, the more significant meaning of circumcision was as a symbol of the need for the heart to be cleansed from sin’s deadly disease. This "cutting" needed to happen internally, for God was calling for the removal of the "body of flesh", which was the predisposition to sin (inherited from Adam) and which kept man from being spiritually devoted to God. It seems that God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners. In any event, physical circumcision was a sign of being under God’s covenant with Abraham, a covenant that was entered into by faith, not by works. We find Abraham entering that unconditional covenant with Jehovah in (Gen 15:6) where Moses records that Abraham "believed (he "leaned his whole weight upon", he said in essence "Amen, Lord" or "so be it Lord") in the LORD and He reckoned [God imputed Christ's righteousness or placed it on Abraham's account] it to him as righteousness."
In the midst of a series of warnings to Israel regarding punishment for disobedience to the LORD, Moses records a ray of hope in God's gracious promise that
If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled (conveys the basic sense of being lowly, meek) so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land (this is the same covenant Abraham entered into by faith not works). (Lev 26:40, 41, 4242)
The cause of Israel’s rebellion was an “uncircumcised heart,” a heart that had never been changed by the Lord and one which refused to bow (to be humbled) before Him.
In Deuteronomy Moses commands Israel
"Circumcise then your heart (clearly speaking of a inward, spiritual work not an external fleshly work), and stiffen your neck no more." (Dt 10:16)
Without circumcision of heart, true fear of God and true love of God are both impossible. Again in Deuteronomy Moses gives a prophesy that the day will come when
the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. (Dt 30:6)
What God's law demanded, God's grace would enable. This verse primarily refers to the future salvation of Jews alive at the return of Christ, when by faith they will have their hearts circumcised. In the intervening centuries, God has partially fulfilled this promise, as there have always been physical Jews who by faith received God's promise of new life in Christ.
In the OT, they were looking forward to the Cross, whereas in the NT they (and all believers today) look back to the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Thus circumcision of heart defines an internal work by God and is another description of true salvation, a salvation that imparts to that individual a new will that now desires to to obey God instead of to rebel against Him. This promise of a new heart would allows the Israelites to love the Lord with all their heart and soul, and receives it fullest expression in the New Covenant (see Jer 31:31, 32, 33, 34, Ezek 11:19, 36:26 discussed in the topic New Covenant in the Old Testament).
This internal circumcision is what Jesus was referring to when He declared
"You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." (Mt 23:26)
Jeremiah addressing faithless, unbelieving Judah and Jerusalem declared
"Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My wrath go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it." (Jer 4:4)
As Biblical history records they refused to heed the warning and were utterly defeated by Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah characterized rebellious Israel as having “uncircumcised” ears declaring
"To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed (Hebrew literally = uncircumcised) and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them." (Jer 6:10)
Through Jeremiah the LORD later says
"Behold, the days are coming, that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised (i.e., physically circumcised but not spiritually circumcised - then he mentions even some Gentile lands which practiced physical circumcision and puts "Judah" in the midst of these nations they loathe!)-- Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the sons of Ammon, and Moab, and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised (referring to the fact that most of the Gentiles were physically uncircumcised), and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart. (referring to spiritual circumcision)" (Jer 9:25-26)
The Jews boasted in the covenant sign of circumcision, but it was only in their flesh. The true spiritual circumcision God desired had never reached their hearts. In a similar way, people today who depend on baptism and some other church sacrament (ordinance), and yet who have never repented and trusted Christ, are in the same situation as the Jews in Jeremiah’s day - they think they’re a part of the divine covenant, but their confidence is false and they stand deceived and in imminent danger of entering into a Christ-less eternity.
Due to the passing down of teaching from one rabbi to another over the centuries ("traditions of men" = paradosis) the true meaning and requirement of circumcision specified in Ge 17:11 had been lost. And so by the first century we find rabbinical "traditions" (which were considered on a plane with the inspired Word) teaching such fallacies as:
“No circumcised Jewish man will see hell”
“Circumcision saves us from hell.”
The Midrash (non-inspired Jewish writings after return from Babylon with the purpose being to "fill in the gaps" of the Torah - and here is an example of their gross misinterpretation of the Word of Truth) says “God swore to Abraham that no one who was circumcised would be sent to hell. Abraham sits before the gate of hell and never allows any circumcised Israelite to enter.”
In Acts Stephen infuriated his Jewish audience with the indictment that
"You men who are stiff-necked (literally "hard necked" and thus obstinate, stubborn, rebellious) and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did." (Acts 7:51)
Comment: Their uncircumcision in heart and ears marks the Jews as just like the unsaved Gentiles (who were often referred to as the "uncircumcision"). Their sin had never been forgiven. They were as unclean before God as the uncircumcised Gentiles they detested and they therefore stood themselves condemned before God.
A crisis erupted in the church at Antioch when Paul and Barnabas returned from the First Missionary Journey (Acts 13:4, Second = Acts 15:35, Third = Acts 18:23), and gave a report of numerous Gentile conversions (men who were physically uncircumcised - and this was the point of contention)...
“some men (Judaizers) came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." (Acts 15:1)
(At the Jerusalem council that followed the events of Acts 15:1 we read) But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)
Comment: Circumcision and keeping the Law was the supposed means of obtaining perfect righteousness before God were the two great errors of first century Judaism
The Judaizers insisted that a believer from a non-Jewish background (Gentile) must first become a Jew ceremonially (by being circumcised) before he could be admitted to the Christian brotherhood. A council of apostles and elders was convened in Jerusalem to resolve the issue (Acts 15:6-29). Among those attending were Paul, Barnabas, Simon Peter, and James, a leader of the Jerusalem church. To insist on circumcision for the Gentiles, Peter argued, would amount to a burdensome yoke (Acts 15:10,19). This was the decision handed down by the council, and the church broke away from the binding legalism of Judaism which demanded physical circumcision and obedience to the Law.
In Romans 2 Paul discussed (and refuted) the false belief that obedience to the Law saves (Ro 2:12-24) and the false belief that physical circumcision saves (Ro 2:25-29). In Romans 2:28, 29 discussed earlier, Paul teaches that there is a difference between being Abraham’s physical descendants and Abraham’s spiritual children. Jesus had said the same thing to the Pharisees,
“I know that you are Abraham's (physical) offspring” (Jn 8:37).
But then He went on to say,
"If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham (believe like Abraham did and become his spiritual children also).” (Jn 8:39).
MacArthur has an interesting comment that
God selected the reproductive organ as the location of the symbol for man’s need of cleansing for sin, because it is the instrument most indicative of his depravity, since by it he reproduces generations of sinners. (MacArthur, J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word Pub)
Paul's use of the metaphor of circumcision implies that the "persuasive arguments" in Colossians had an element of Jewish traditions of men (Col 2:16, 17-notes) Paul leaves no doubt that the Colossians were freed from this physical rite which only removed a portion of the body. In contrast the "circumcision by Christ" has resulted in removal of the (entire) body of the flesh.
Due to the passing down of teaching from one rabbi to another over the centuries ("traditions of men") the true meaning and requirement of circumcision had been lost. And so by the first century we find rabbinical "traditions" teaching such fallacies as:
“No circumcised Jewish man will see hell” and “Circumcision saves us from hell.”
The Midrash (Midrash from Hebrew meaning to “search out” = implication of discovering truth not seen on the surface. Refers to a group of Jewish OT commentaries between AD400-1200) says
“God swore to Abraham that no one who was circumcised would be sent to hell. Abraham sits before the gate of hell and never allows any circumcised Israelite to enter.”
Charles Hodge gives an excellent principle writing that
“Whenever true religion declines, the disposition to lay undo stress on external rites is stressed. The Jews when they lost their spirituality supposed that circumcision had the power to save them.” Apostasy always moves the religious focus from the inward to the outward, from humble obedience to empty formality.
Be aware that many so called "scholars" equate circumcision with baptism, reasoning that baptism has taken the place of the OT rite of circumcision. But Paul teaches that if we are Christians, we have been both circumcised and baptized, using both of these primarily with their spiritual meaning as discussed in these notes.
Eadie comments that
the blessing described in the verse had been already enjoyed, for they were and had been believers in Him in Whom they are complete. Through their living union with Christ, they had enjoyed the privilege, and were enjoying the results of a spiritual circumcision. Why then should they suffer the incision of a sharp flint or a glittering knife—in itself, at best, but a sign—when they had already experienced the blessing of a circumcision that drew no blood, and gave no pain—a circumcision “not made with hands”?...The circumcision made without hands is plainly opposed to that which is made with hands (Ep 2:11-note) This idea of a spiritual circumcision was no novel one, for it occurs in the Old Testament in different forms. When Israel was yet in the wilderness, the Divine command was given—“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart,” and at the same period the Divine promise was made—“And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” The prophet Jeremiah repeats the injunction—“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.” He also describes a part of the population thus—“Behold, their ear is uncircumcised;” nay, he declares that the whole house of Israel are “uncircumcised in the heart.” Ezekiel speaks of men “uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh.” Stephen, in his address, used this ancient phraseology, and calls his audience “uncircumcised in hearts and ears.” (Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians)
Ray Stedmann writes:
I will never forget an incident that occurred a number of years ago here at the church. A young man came to my office carrying a thick Bible under his arm, which he had been reading. Looking at me very earnestly, he said to me, "Would you circumcise me?" After I had picked myself up from the floor, I explained to him why, one, he did not need physical circumcision, and, two, what circumcision meant. I pointed out that it was an eloquent symbol when it was properly understood. (Read the full sermon Beware!))
Circumcision (4061) (peritome fperí = around + témno = cut off) refers literally to cutting and removal of the foreskin. As discussed below both the Old and New Testament also use the concept of circumcision in a figurative or metaphorical sense. (See also exposition of Scriptures on Circumcisionn)
Peritome - 36x in 32v - Jn. 7:22f; Acts 7:8; 10:45; 11:2; Ro 2:25ff; 3:1, 30; 4:9ff; 15:8; 1 Co. 7:19; Gal. 2:7ff, 12; 5:6, 11; 6:15; Eph. 2:11; Phil. 3:3, 5; Col. 2:11; 3:11; 4:11; Tit. 1:10
Made without hands (886[FONT ) (acheiropoietos from a = without + cheír = hand, + poiéo = to make) means literally not hand crafted and thus refutes the persuasive argumentss of those who demanded a literal circumcision by human hands. Clearly this word indicates an internal, supernatural, divine transaction.
This same phrase (made without hands) is used in Mk 14:58 in reference to the "temple", in 2Cor 5:1 in reference to the "house" and in Heb 9:11 to the "tent".
Eadie comments that the saints at Colossae
"had everything which it was alleged they wanted, and everything already in Christ. The heretical preceptors had enjoined upon them the rite of circumcision, but the apostle shows that it would be really a superfluous ceremony, since they had already experienced a nobler circumcision than that of the knife—for it was executed by no material hand. They were, in short, the “true circumcision”
John Gill comments that
"This circumcision "is that of the heart, in the spirit; every man, though he may be circumcised in the flesh, is uncircumcised in heart, until he is circumcised by Christ and his Spirit; which is done, when he is pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin, and the exceeding sinfulness of it; when the callousness and hardness of his heart is taken off and removed, and the iniquity of it is, laid open, the plague and corruption in it discerned, and all made naked and bare to the sinner's view; and when he is in pain on account of it, is broken and groans under a sense of it, and is filled with shame for it, and loathing and abhorrence of it: now this is effected not "by the hand of man", this is not done by any creature whatever; not by angels, who rejoice at the repentance of sinners, but cannot produce it; nor by ministers of the Gospel, who at most are but instruments of regeneration and conversion; nor by men themselves; this is not by might or power of man, by the strength of his free will, but by the Spirit of God: for though men are sometimes exhorted to circumcise themselves, as in (Dt 10:16 Jer 4:4) in order to convince them of the corruption of their nature, and the need they stand in of spiritual circumcision; yet whereas there is an utter disability in them to effect it, and they need the power and grace of God for that purpose, the Lord has graciously promised his people to do it himself for them, (Dt 30:6); so that this circumcision is in the name sense made without hands, as the human nature of Christ is said to be a tabernacle not made with hands, that, is of men, but of God, being what God has pitched, and not man; and it stands opposed to circumcision in the flesh, which was made with hands, (Ep 2:11-note); and by some instrument, as a sharp knife or stone."
In summary, the physical circumcision God had called for was always meant to be an external sign of an internal change of heart resulting in a love for God. In this verse Paul explains the figurative meaning of circumcision as the "cutting off" of Christ from the living via Crucifixion. Paul shows that physical circumcision is not what counts (Ro 2:28, 29-notes). There must be faith in the living God (Ro 4:3-note). Those of the circumcision (physical Jews) who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are the true Israel of God (Gal 6:16) (Click analysis of the phrase Israel of God)
S Lewis Johnson explains The figure of circumcision (Col 2:11)....
The introduction of the figure of circumcision is somewhat surprising. It may, however, be the result of some stress by the Gnostic-Judaizers upon the necessity of undergoing circumcision (cf. Col 2:16,17). The apostle’s answer leaves no doubt that he regarded the Colossians as freed from this rite. They have experienced a deeper circumcision—one not made with hands, spiritual (cf. Ep 2:11). The use of circumcision in other than a crassly literal sense is not strange for the Biblical writers. Inward circumcision of the heart is an Old Testament concept (cf. Deut 10:16; 30:6 ; Jer 4:4; 6:10 ; 9:26 ; Ezek 44:7, 9). The use of the aorist tense in the verb perietmēthēte (AV, “were circumcised”) points most likely to the conversion of the Colossians. At that time they were circumcised spiritually.
Just what does this mean? The Old Testament rite signifies separation from sin and the flesh and consecration to God. The rite was performed once, but that which it signified was to be maintained daily. This emphasis finds its illustration in the experiences of Israel in the land, as recorded in Joshua. Circumcised at Gilgal, the nation often returned in its campaigns to this spot and renewed its consecration to God (cf. Josh 5:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). According to the New Testament it signified:
(1) the righteousness of faith (Ro 4:9, 10, 11, 12);
(2) the putting off of the body of flesh, the seat of sin (Col 2:11). In fact, the phrase en tē apekdusei tou sōmatos tēs sarkos is the best interpretation of circumcision’s meaning here. It means the putting off of the fleshly nature of man, or the crucifixion of the old man, as Paul puts it elsewhere (cf. Ro 6:5, 6). Sarx has its ethical meaning here, referring to man’s human nature in its creaturely state, the seat of sin. Its equivalence to the term palaios anthropos (AV, “old man”) is suggested by the use of the root apekduo (apekduomai - word studyi AV, “put off”) in this verse and in Col 3:9 (cf. Col 2:15 ) in Col 2:15 comes from the same root as the noun apekdusei. It refers to the divestiture of evil powers from our Lord, but, while they have been defeated through the work of the cross, they still abide. The Christian has been delivered from the power of the flesh, but it still abides with us..
When did this circumcision, this putting off of the old man, occur? The apostle says it took place in him, that is, en tē peritomē tou Cristou (AV, “in the circumcision of Christ”). This last phrase can hardly be anything other than his death, as the following words show.
What, then, has Paul said in the verse? That, comparable to the Old Testament rite of circumcision in which the flesh was cut away from the bodies of the Israelites in token of possession by the God of Israel, so believers in union with Christ in His death have died with Him to the old man and its relationship with Adam and sin. This has freed them from the thraldom of Sinn. The flesh, while still with us, has been spoiled and stripped of its legal power over us, and we may enjoy deliverance as we believe the liberating message. The glory of the work of Christ is that it not only deals with our sins, it deals with our natures. Our sins find their forgiveness in the blood; our persons find their freedom in the cross. (Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians — Part VII The Complete Sufficiency of Union with Christ -- By S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.)
IN THE REMOVAL OF THE BODY OF THE FLESH BY THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST: en te apekdusei tou somatos tes sarkos en te peritome tou Christou: (Col 3:8,9; Ro 6:6; Eph 4:22) (Lk 2:21; 2Cor 5:17; Gal 2:20; 4:4,5; Eph 2:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 See Torrey's Topic: Union w/ Christ)
but in a [spiritual] circumcision [performed by] Christ by stripping off the body of the flesh (the whole corrupt, carnal nature with its passions and lusts). (Amp)
a circumcision which consists in putting off the whole of that part of you which is dominated by sinful human nature which you were able to do by the circumcision which belongs to Christ (Barclay)
but by the complete stripping of your natural self. This is circumcision according to Christ. (NJB)
which consists of being freed from the power of this sinful self (GNB)
when you threw off your sinful nature in true Christian circumcision (Weymouth)
It was through Christ’s circumcision, that is, his death, that you were made free from the power of your sinful self (NCV)
by stripping off the corrupt nature in the circumcision performed by Christ (ISV)
KJV adds body of the sins of the flesh The addition of the sins is an interpolation and is absent from all the most authentic MSS.
Removal (555) (apekdusis, noun form of verb apekduomai [word study] = put off from oneself in turn from apo = away from + ekduo = to come out of something, e.g., clothing or armor) (Only use in Scripture) means a getting out of or stripping off of for example an old garment with the preposition "apoo" adding the idea of casting the garments away from. The imagery is that of discarding or being divested of a piece of filthy clothing which is not a bad metaphor of our corrupt flesh nature inherited from Adam.
Vincent adds that apekdusis
"is a strong expression for wholly putting away from one's self."
Paul is saying then that in this "spiritual circumcision", the body of the flesh is taken off like an old garment and cast away, setting oneself free from it's dominion and power over us. Paul uses the verb form (apekduomai) in the next chapter when he instructs saints
Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices" (see note Colossians 3:9)
In other words, since in the circumcision of Christ, you have been divested of the domination and power of the fallen flesh ("old self"), you now have the inherent power to obey (in grace and empowered by the Spirit) the otherwise impossible command to stop lying!
Body (4983) (soma) can mean a literal living human body (or animal), and here is used of the human body looked upon in its material constitution.
The body of the flesh or "the body which consists of the flesh" where flesh (sarx) does not mean literal physical flesh but is used in the moral or ethical sense to describe that aspect of men which is the seat of sin with its evil, corrupt desires and passions. Flesh is that "force in men that makes for evil."
For example writing to the Galatians Paul exhorts them to "walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (see note Galatians 5:16) indicating that the flesh has strong desires that are hostile to God and opposed to the Spirit.
John MacArthur explains that
The body of the flesh refers to the sinful, fallen human nature totally dominating believers before salvation. Christians have been cleansed of that sinful dominance and been given a new nature created in righteousness, having been circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, that is, not physical but spiritual. At salvation, “our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Ro 6:6). As a result, “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2Co 5:17). Nowhere is it expressed any better than in the words of Paul when he wrote, “We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Php 3:3). Believers have been freed from sin’s dominance and judgment, though not yet from its presence. (MacArthur, J. Colossians. Chicago: Moody Press or Logos)
The Jew boasts that he is a circumcised man, but you have spiritually all that circumcision meant literally. Even though you have not the wounded your flesh, you have more than that, for you have the death of the flesh and your very flesh has been buried with Christ. All that circumcision can possibly mean you have in Christ. (Exposition of Colossians)
John Piper explains that in Colossians 2:11...
Paul compares the saving work of God in us with the practice of circumcision. He says it’s like that, only this is a circumcision made “without hands” : it’s a spiritual thing he is talking about, not a physical one. And he says that what is being cut away is not the male foreskin, but the “body of the flesh.” In Paul’s language that’s probably a reference to sin-dominated, ego-dominated use of the body. What is cut away in this spiritual circumcision “without hands” is the old unbelieving, blind, rebellious self and its use of the body for sin. And that way, Paul is saying, God makes a person his very own. (Buried and Raised in Baptism Through Faith)
Kenneth Wuest rightly states that...
The expression, “the body of the sins of the flesh,” needs careful study. The words “of the sins,” are not in the best texts, so that the expression is “the body of the flesh.” Lightfoot, Expositors, Alford, and Vincent concur in the teaching that the body here is the physical body, and the flesh is indwelling sin. The body that was put off when the Colossian saints were saved was the physical body as dominated by the totally depraved nature. This body, while still the possession of the believer, was put off in the sense that it was rendered inoperative so far as the constant control of the evil nature was concerned. Paul states the same truth in Romans 6:6 when he says: “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body possessed by sin might be rendered inoperative, so that henceforth we are not yielding an habitual slave’s obedience to sin.” The power of the sinful nature was broken, and it was deprived of its control over the body
Jewish circumcision removed but a small part of the flesh, but the Holy Spirit has put off the whole “body of the sins of the flesh” and made us new creatures in Christ (Col. 2:11). (Be Equipped)
When we trusted Christ to save us, the Spirit of God performed “spiritual surgery” that enables us to have victory over the desires of the old nature and the old life. Circumcision removes only a part of the body, but the true “spiritual circumcision” puts off “the body of the sins of the flesh” (Col. 2:11) and deals radically with the sin nature. (Be Obedient)
The Christian’s circumcision is in contrast to that of the Jews. They had external physical surgery, while believers have internal “spiritual surgery” on their hearts. The Jews’ surgery involved only a part of the body; while for the believer, the whole “body of the sins of the flesh” (Col. 2:11) was removed. When you accept this fact and reckon on it, you have victory over sins of the flesh that would enslave you. Faith “in the working of God” (Col. 2:12, NKJV) can give you overcoming power. (Be Strong).
The heart needs “spiritual surgery” if it is to love the Lord and obey Him (Dt 30:6; 10:16; Jer. 4:4; Ro 2:25, 26, 27, 28, 29). Every child of God has experienced this (Col 2:11) and, by faith, can live victoriously. When we receive the Word in our hearts (Dt 30:11, 12, 13, 14), we have both the desire and the dynamic to obey God and glorify Him. The heart of victory is the heart! (With the Word Bible Commentary)
This body of the flesh has been put off in the sense that it has been rendered inoperative. Thus in Romans Paul writes that
our old (unrenewed self, old man, our sinful, corrupt nature with evil passions and propensities) self was crucified with Him, that our body (which is the "instrument") of sin (body of sin is regarded as an organized power, acting through the members of the body) might be done away with (made ineffective and inactive for evil, deprived of its former power over us), that we should no longer be slaves to sin. (see note Romans 6:6)
The flesh (old self, old man, "corrupted humanity") can no longer reign like a dictatorial king over us as it once did when we were unregenerate ("spiritually uncircumcised"), for its power has been broken by the circumcision in Christ.
Eadie explains how the peculiar phrase the body of flesh contrast with true physical circumcision...
in the manual circumcision only a portion of one member of the material body was cut off, but in the spiritual circumcision, the whole flesh which is the seat and habitation of sin is cast away and laid aside. The entire slough which encircles the spirit and enslaves it is rolled off, newness of life is felt, and the believer walks no longer after the flesh, is no longer carnal, or does its deeds...It is plain that the spiritual circumcision is not different from regeneration, or the putting off the old man and putting on the new man. (Ibid)
In a parallel teaching Paul writes that
those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (see note Galatians 5:24)
The corrupt passions of the flesh have been put to death (circumcised, taken off, cast away) and now they are as though they were dead and have no power over us. Note that the evil nature is not totally eradicated, and we still commit sins, and will do so until we are glorified. The difference is that now that we are circumcised in Christ, we may still sin but we have a choice to not sin and we have the power to resist the impulse to commit sins.
The flesh has no more power over the believer than he allows it to have and this is why Paul says
Put on (aorist imperative - Do this now! Don't delay! Clothe yourself with) the Lord Jesus Christ (we are complete in Him and He is all the garment we need), and make no provision (stop thinking about sinning beforehand, stop anticipating the pleasure it will give, don't premeditate on how you will satisfy your corrupt desires, put a stop to planning for or thinking about gratifying the evil cravings of your old fallen nature) for (indulging) the flesh in regard to its lusts. (see note Romans 13:14) (Beloved are you "putting off" putting on Christ because you are making provision to commit sin? Sin will kill your fellowship with God and with your spouse and with other believers! Don't do it! Repent! Turn around now! Put on the presence and power and provision of your Redeemer Who will guide you back to green pastures of sweet fellowship.)
Fleshly circumcision removed only a portion of the physical body (Lk 2:21). In contrast spiritual circumcision thru Christ results in the "body" or the whole corrupt, carnal nature being put away like a garment which is taken off and laid aside. Some feel this could just as easily refer to Christ's physical death.
Circumcision of Christ (5547) - in this context the reference is to the "cutting off" of Christ which occurred on the Cross.
Newton has an interesting parallel between the OT shadow of circumcision and the NT reality...
The Old Testament practice of circumcision was a shadow. The "circumcision made without hands" is the substance. Let's see how this moves from the old to the new in Christ. By comparison...
The old is external, while the new is internal.
The old is nationalistic in covenant with the nation, while the new is individual in union with Christ.
The old affects the body as a cutting away of the foreskin, while the new affects the heart in the removal of the body of flesh.
The old requires an officiator in a priest, the new is done without hands as a divine act.
The old is limited to males, the new is limited only to those who believe, male and female.
The old is a human act, the new is a divine act.
The old has temporal results that cannot change the heart, the new is the regenerative work of the Spirit making a person alive in Christ.
The old is a ritual that cannot impart life, while the new applies the death and resurrection in all its power to give a new standing with God.
The old secures nothing eternal, while the new secures forgiveness of sins and eternity with Christ.
The old was applied due to family heritage, while the new is applied only through faith in Christ. (Sermons from the Epistle to the Colossians)
Barnhouse explains that...
On the eighth day of His life on earth our Lord Jesus Christ was taken to the temple and circumcised. The eternal Son, sent from the Father, placed Himself under the law that He might redeem them that were under the law (Gal. 4:4, 5). His heart was all holiness and needed no circumcising, since it was impossible for our Lord Jesus to sin. His circumcision was His first suffering for us. It was not, of course, redemptive suffering for sin, which was accomplished only on the cross. But read again Colossians 2:11, a parallel to our text in Romans and a key to Biblical teaching on holiness: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11).
The baptism of the Holy Spirit places us in the circumcision of Christ, and the circumcision of Christ puts off the body of the sins of the flesh. (Barnhouse, D. G. God's Freedom : Romans 6:1-7:25. Grand Rapids, MI.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
Eadie adds that circumcision of Christ is not that which He performs but that...
that circumcision which belongs to Him, in contradistinction to that which belonged to Moses or to the law. The spiritual circumcision is a blessing which specially belongs to Christ—is of His providing, and is to be enjoyed only in fellowship with Him. That of Moses was made with hands, and was a seal of the Abrahamic or national covenant—that of Christ is no chirurgical (archaic term which meant "surgical") process, but is spiritual and effectual in its nature. The mark in the foreskin was the token of being a Jew, but the off-thrown body of the flesh was the index of one's being a Christian. Though the scar of circumcision might attest a nationality, it was no certificate of personal character—“all are not Israel who are of Israel;” but, wherever “the flesh” was parted with, there was the guarantee of individual purity and progress. The charter of Canaan was limited to the manual circumcision, but the “true circumcision” are thereby infefted (invested with heritable property) in a heavenly inheritance. The Hebrew statute was for the man-child eight days old, but the Christian privilege has no distinction of age, or sex, or nation; for it belongs to every one in Christ. And it was, and is, a chief blessing—the death of sinful principle and the infusion of a higher life—the possession of a new nature, which has Christ for its source, ay, and Christ for its pattern.
Thus the flesh is thrown off, and the spirit assumes the predominance, with its quickened susceptibilities, its healthful activities, and its intense aspirations—thinking, feeling, and acting, in harmony with its sphere and destiny (Ed note: Beloved of the Father, you might read that last sentence again pondering the profundity therein and the practical application to our daily walk in Christ). And if such a collection of spiritual blessings has been received, why be subjected to a legal ceremony which could be at best but a faint type of them? Surely if they had received the thing signified, they need not now degrade themselves by submitting to a sign, which was in itself only a painful and bloody symbol of the Hebrew nationality and covenant. (Ibid)
|Jews||Believing Jew & Gentile|
|Only part of body||Whole “body of the flesh”|
|Performed by hands||Performed without hands|
Colossians 2:12 having been buried (AAP) with Him in (the) baptism in which you were also raised up (API) with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised (AAP) Him from the dead (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: [Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Wuest: having been entombed with Him in the placing into [Christ by the Holy Spirit], in which act of placing into [Christ] you were also raised with Him through your faith in the effectual working energy of the God who raised Him out from among the dead.
Young's Literal: being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with him through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead.
|HAVING BEEN BURIED WITH HIM IN BAPTISM: suntaphentes (AAPMPN) autôi en tôi baptismati : (Ro 6:4,5) (Ro 6:3; 1Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:5; Titus 3:5,6)
Having been buried with (4916) (sunthapto from sun/syn = with - speaks of intimate union + thapto = perform funeral rites, inter, bury) means to bury with someone or bury (together) with and in context refers to a believer's burial with Christ and thus our participation in His death by virtue of union (sun/syn ~ intimate union) with Him. Sunthapto is in the aorist tense which pictures our identification as a completed event in the past as was the circumcision in the previous verse.
With Him - With Christ. As He was laid in the tomb, so were we!
In baptism - No water mentioned here. This is the glorious (and mystical) spiritual baptism of every believer that occurred at the moment of our salvation/regeneration in Christ when we placed our faith personally (see James 2:14ff on what constitutes genuine, saving faith) in His fully atoning, substitutionary work for each of us, having fully and once for all (He 7:27-note, He 9:12-note, He 9:26-note, He 9:28-note, He 10:10-note), paid the price of redemption with His precious blood (1Pe 1:18, 19-note) shed on that old rugged Cross.
Baptism (908) (baptisma from bapto = to dip as one does a cloth into a dye changing the color - see study of related verb baptizo) is used primarily in the spiritual sense signifying our identification with Christ. And so when we were buried with Him in baptism a supernatural transaction took place. This transaction was placed on our account so to speak the moment we by faith believed (through faith) in Christ. It is as if one was transported back in time, nailed on the Cross with Christ, buried with Him in the tomb, and raised with Him to walk in newness of life. Thus Paul declares that
The above interpretation of baptism does not denigrate the significance of water baptism. In water baptism, immersion portrays burial with Christ, and coming out of the water depicts the resurrection by the power of God to “live a new life” and represents our public testimony of what took place spiritually when we initially believed. Neither the physical act of baptism nor the water saves anyone. Baptism in water was appointed by our Lord (Mt 28:19), and was to be a public confession of faith in Him on the part of those who responded to the gospel (cp Acts 2:41). The question then is have you been baptized as an act of obedience to your Lord? You are under grace, not law, but grace transforms and empowers you to live a new life of obedience and blessing. If you refuse water baptism, obviously it does not mean that you are not truly regenerate/born again, but it does mean you will miss the inner joy that comes from knowing you have been obedient to your Lord Who paid the price to allow you the privilege of undergoing water baptism as a symbol of your new life in Him.
Baptisma - 4x in the NT - Mk. 7:4; Col. 2:12; Heb. 6:2; 9:10
MacDonald has some interesting thoughts:
It is sad that many modern Bible versions translate this passage in such a way it that might mislead some to believe that this circumcision in Christ actually happened WHEN they were physically, literally baptized with water. NIV, NRSV, NASB, NKJV, KJV have an accurate rendering of the original Greek. Others such as NCV, NLT, ICB, TLB, TEV, GWT are less discriminating.
For example, both the New Century Version (NCV) and the International Children's Bible (ICB) translate this verse
This translation could be used by someone to say that physical baptism brought about the spiritual results.
The NLT has
Someone could say that when I was literally baptized, the physical act of baptism resulted in my being buried with Christ. This is incorrect and adds works to faith which alone saves.
Baptism into Christ occurs when we place our faith in Him and the Spirit accomplishes regeneration or rebirth
Baptism into water as an act to procure or assure salvation is a dead work emanating from the fallen flesh which can produce no good work (cf Ro 7:18-note).
IN WHICH YOU WERE ALSO RAISED UP WITH HIM THROUGH FAITH IN THE WORKING (energy) OF GOD WHO RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD: en o kai sunêgerthête (1API) dia tes pisteos tês energeias tou theou tou egeirantos (AAPMSG) auton ek nekron: (Col 3:1,2; Ro 6:8, 9, 10, 11; 7:4; 1Cor 15:20; Eph 1:20; 2:4, 5, 6; 5:14) (Ro 4:3, 5:1, 10:9, Lk 17:5;Jn 1:12,13; 3:3, 4, 5, 7; Acts 14:27; Eph 1:19; 2:8; Php 1:29; He 12:2) (dead Acts 2:24; Ro 4:24; Heb 13:20,21)
You were also raised up with Him - Our "mystical" but spiritually, and in God's eyes, very real resurrection with Christ (through faith) provides the framework for the believer's power and ability (cp the working of God) to live a new kind of life in Christ, a supernatural life that throws off the old "flesh" clothes (Col 3:8-note, Col 3:9-note, Ep 4:22-note, He 12:1--note, 1Pe 2:1-note) and puts on the new "Christ clothes" (Col 3:10-note, Col 3:12, 13, 14-note), and so Paul commands his readers based on this glorious truth...
Paul again emphasizes our new power to live a supernatural life of victory over the old tireless tyrant "Sin" in Romans 6 and 7...
Were...raised up with (4891) (sunegeiro from sún = together ~ intimate union + egeíro = to raise) means to be roused (from death) in company with and figuratively as used by Paul means to revivify spiritually. Plutarch has a writing which uses sunegeiro in a secular sense meaning "waking up together". Practically this truth means that we now can walk in His resurrection power. The aorist tense indicates that this co-resurrection is a past completed event.
J Vernon McGee comments that
Faith (4102) (pistis) (word study) that saves in Scripture is not just mental assent to truth but a firm conviction and a surrender to that truth productive of a conduct consistent with the surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. Paul is saying that faith is the means by which a believer experiences identification with Christ's resurrection.
Through faith - The preposition through (dia) is used as a marker of instrumentality and in context explains how your spiritual resurrection was accomplished. The ordinance of water baptism as commonly practiced in most evangelical churches is the outward symbol of this inward spiritual transaction, symbolizing the death of the old self in the death of Christ and the resurrection to life in participation in His risen life. Nothing less than this makes a true Christian. Paul does not say that the new life in Christ is caused or created by the act of water baptism.
The working of God - As discussed more below, this working describes the operative power or effectual working which in context is clearly the same divine, supernatural power which brought Christ back from the dead (cp Ep 1:19-note, Ep 1:20-note) and which now energizes each believer, making it possible to fulfill the commands (for example the commands beginning in Col 3:5 -see note)
Working (1753) (energeia from en = in + érgon = work) describes working, efficiency or active, effective power and is exclusively a Pauline word used only to describe superhuman power, whether of God or of the devil; of God. Energeia is found in the classic Greek writings first in Aristotle describing diabolic influences. And so in In Hellenism, as in Philo, the word group energeia/energeo (noun/verb) is used of cosmic or physical forces at work in man or the world around.
Energeia - 8x in NT - Ep 1:19; 3:7; 4:16; Php 3:21; Col. 1:29; 2:12; 2Th 2:9, 11 and is rendered by the NAS as activity(1), exertion(1), influence(1), working(4).
Energeia is found in the classic Greek writings first in Aristotle describing diabolic influences. And so in In Hellenism, as in Philo, the word group energeia/energeo (noun/verb) is used of cosmic or physical forces at work in man or the world around.
Believers are now enabled to obey the command to...
Vincent writes that
God had power to raise Christ from the dead and He has power (energy) to give us new life in Christ by faith.
McGee adds that
Wuest has this note
Raised Him from the dead - This great event means many things, but one of the most important is that it provides the Father's confirmation of his acceptance of the Son’s substitutionary death. As an aside, note that all three persons of the Trinity were active in Christ’s resurrection: the Father (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 34, 37; 17:31), the Spirit (Ro 8:11-note) and the Son (John 2:19, 20, 21, 22; 10:17,18)
Raised (1453) (egeiro) means to waken, rouse from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, from death, from inactivity, from ruins. It means to lift up, raise up, arise again, stand up. Metaphorically, egeiro is used in the NT to describe to awaken from sluggishness or lethargy (Ro 13:11-note). It also refers as in the present use to be awakened up from death and so to be raised from the dead. The Thessalonian's acceptance and belief in the resurrection as an act of God, gave them confidence in the certainty of Christ’s return in power.
Raised Him from the dead - This is the grand proof of Christ's divine Sonship which Paul also emphasized in the first lines of his grand epistle to the Romans declaring that Jesus
The Resurrection was the guarantee of God’s power to carry out the rescue of those who are His and to judge those who are not, for as Luke recorded in Acts...
And so the certainty (cf 500 witnesses did not lie in 1Co 15:6) of Christ's resurrection past carries the promise of His future return (cp Acts 1:11, Da 7:13, 14, Mt 24:30, 25:31, Mk 13:26, Jn 14:3, 1Th 1:10-note, 1Th 4:16-note, 2Th 1:7, 8, 9, 10, Re 1:7-note)! If the one promise was fulfilled literally, the other promise is just as certain (cp "blessed hope" Titus 2:13-note).
Calvin writes that Paul...
Warren Wiersbe reminds us that Paul's desire was for the church to keep Christ's return at the forefront of her thinking (for what you are looking for will certainly affect what you are living for) and so in his first letter to the Thessalonians we note that...
Dead (3498) (nekros from nékus = a corpse; English - necropsy, necrophobia, etc) describes literally one who has breathed their last and figuratively (the more common NT use) speaks of the spiritual condition of unsaved men, spiritually dead to God because of sin (Ep 2:1-note).
Nekros - 124x in NT - Matt. 8:22; 10:8; 11:5; 14:2; 17:9; 22:31f; 23:27; 27:64; 28:4, 7; Mk. 6:14; 9:9f, 26; 12:25ff; Lk. 7:15, 22; 9:7, 60; 15:24, 32; 16:30f; 20:35, 37f; 24:5, 46; Jn. 2:22; 5:21, 25; 12:1, 9, 17; 20:9; 21:14; Acts 3:15; 4:2, 10; 5:10; 10:41f; 13:30, 34; 17:3, 31f; 20:9; 23:6; 24:21; 26:8, 23; 28:6; Rom. 1:4; 4:17, 24; 6:4, 9, 11, 13; 7:4, 8; 8:10f; 10:7, 9; 11:15; 14:9; 1 Co. 15:12f, 15f, 20f, 29, 32, 35, 42, 52; 2 Co. 1:9; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:20; 2:1, 5; 5:14; Phil. 3:11; Col. 1:18; 2:12f; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:8; 4:1; Heb. 6:1f; 9:14, 17; 11:19, 35; 13:20; Jas. 2:17, 26; 1 Pet. 1:3, 21; 4:5f; Rev. 1:5, 17f; 2:8; 3:1; 11:18; 14:13; 16:3; 20:5, 12f and is rendered in NAS as corpse(1), dead(124), dead man(3), dead men(1), dead men's(1).
Colossians 2:13 When you were (PAP) dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together (AAI) with Him having forgiven (AMP) us all our transgressions (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: God made you alive with him, when you were dead in your sins and were still uncircumcised Gentiles. He forgave you all your sins, (Westminster Press)
Lightfoot: Yes, you—you Gentiles who before were dead, when you walked in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your unchastened carnal heathen heart—even you did God bring alive together with Christ, then and there freely forgiving all of us—Jews and Gentiles alike—all our transgressions
Wuest: And you being dead with reference to your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He gave life together with Him, having in grace forgiven you all your trespasses (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: And you -- being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh -- He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses,
|AND WHEN YOU WERE DEAD: kai humas nekrous ontas (PAPMPA): (Lk 9:60; 15:24;32, Ro 6:13; 2Cor 5:14,15; Ep 2:1;5,6 Eph 5:14; 1Ti 5:6; Heb 6:1; 9:14; Jas 2:17,20,26)
When you were dead - When? When you were without Christ, walking around, living your life as if God did not exist, ignoring God's plan of redemption and desire to make spiritually dead men alive in Christ by grace through faith. When? When you were constantly in grave danger of eternal separation from the glory of God (2Th 1:6, 7, 8, 9, 10) should God ordain that your next breathe be your last breath (Ge 2:7, Job 12:10, Ps 104:29-note, Ps 146:4-note, Is 42:5, Acts 17:25)!
Why were you dead? Paul goes on to explain, that it is because your transgressions and unregenerate nature.
Dead (3498) (nekros from nékus = a corpse; English - necropsy, necrophobia, etc) describes literally one who has breathed their last and figuratively (the more common NT use) speaks of the spiritual condition of unsaved men, spiritually dead to God because of sin (Ep 2:1-note).
In the garden God had warned Adam
Adam ate and Adam died (first spiritually and later physically - Ge 5:5) and
Paul explained that
To be a "spiritual corpse" means to be unable to respond to spiritual stimuli, just as one who is physically dead is unable to respond to physical stimuli.
Albert Barnes explains the corpse analogy noting that...
The Bible which is the source of spiritual truth makes no sense to a "spiritual corpse", a so called natural man (referring to one's physical birth in the line of Adam and contrasted with the spiritual man who is thus because he is in Christ by the new birth) cannot understand spiritual truth (1Cor 2:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16). The spiritually dead person who is still in Adam (cp 1Co 15:22 for the two "addresses" of every person ever born) is dominated by the world, the flesh, and the devil and most tragic of all
IN YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS AND THE UNCIRCUMCISION OF YOUR FLESH : tois paraptomasin kai te akrobustia tes sarkos humon :
Transgressions (3900) (paraptoma from para = aside + pipto = fall) is literally a falling aside or beside to stumble on something (so as to loose footing) and in its figurative ethical usage (all uses in the NT) it describes a "false step", a violation of moral standards or a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right way to live. Paraptoma is a false step out of the appointed way, a trespass on forbidden ground, a stepping out of line of true conduct, a deviation from truth and uprightness. Paraptoma describes what a person has done in transgressing the will and law of God by some false step or failure.
Paraptoma - 23x in 20v - Matt. 6:14, 15; 18:35; Mk. 11:25, 26; Rom. 4:25; 5:15, 16, 17, 20; 11:11, 12; 2 Co. 5:19; Gal. 6:1; Eph. 1:7; 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13; Jas. 5:16
Paraptoma is akin to parapipto, to fall beside a person or thing, to fall away, to deviate from the right path, or to turn aside (He 6:6-note). The basic idea of paraptoma is that of stumbling or falling so as to lose one's footing
The NAS translates paraptoma with 2 words, either as transgression or trespass (derived from Old French - tres =across [Latin - trans] + passer = to pass. Thus trespass means to make inroads upon the property, territory, or rights of another and implies an unwarranted, unlawful, or offensive intrusion).
Thayer writes that paraptoma means
Vine writes that paraptoma
Paraptoma conveys the idea of a false step and so is translated a transgression (transgress in English means to to go beyond or overstep a limit or boundary and is from Latin trans- across + gradi = to step).
There is a subtle distinction between sin and transgression -- The idea behind transgression is that we have crossed a line, challenging God's boundaries. The idea behind sin is that we have missed a mark, God's standard that calls for perfection, every time!
NIDNTT says that in Classical Greek...
ISBE says that transgression/trespass means...
And so in sum, the idea behind transgressions is that one has crossed a line, challenging God's boundaries. We were dead in them because we overstepped God's boundaries in our rebellion against Him.
Uncircumcision (203) (akrobustia from ákron = the extreme + búo = cover) refers literally to the male prepuce or foreskin. In this specific use Paul is referring to the "uncircumcised" Gentiles (most of the Colossian believers were Gentiles). Paul is using akrobustia figuratively, in a negative sense of lack of relationship with God and the perfect righteousness His law demands.
Akrobustia was also used as a term of scorn and derision by Jews, for they equated uncircumcision with being a pagans, non-Jewish peoples or Gentiles.
Akrobustia - 20x in 17v - Acts 11:3; Ro 2:25, 26, 27; 3:30; 4:9, 10, 11; 1 Co. 7:18, 19; Gal. 2:7; 5:6; 6:15; Eph. 2:11; Col. 2:13; 3:11
In the parallel passage in Ephesians, Paul explains that
HE MADE YOU ALIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM: humon sunezoopoiesen (3SAAI) humas sun auto: (Ps 71:20; 119:50; Jn 5:21; 6:63; Ro 4:17; 8:11; 1Cor 15:36,45; 2Cor 3:6; 1Ti 6:13)
Made alive together with Him (4806) (suzoopoieo from sun/syn = together with, speaking of close, intimate union + zoopoiéo = make alive in turn from zoós = alive + poiéo = to make) is in the aorist tense, indicating past completed action. The meaning is, that there is such a connection between Christ and those whom the Father hath given to him, that His resurrection from the grave involved their resurrection to spiritual life. It was like raising up the head and the members - the whole body together.
Notice Paul's repetitive use of sun/syn (sunezoopoiesen humas sun auto) - He wants to make certain his readers understand that they are in a new and intimate relationship with Christ. Christ is all they will ever need and He is theirs and they are His and this oneness or union should serve to stabilize them in the turbulent seas of false teachings. (See Related topic - in Christ and in Christ Jesus and in Christ)
Throughout the New Testament we find this intimate union of the believer with Christ affirmed -- We are crucified with Him (Gal 2:20-note). We die with Him (Ro 6:3-note, Ro 6:4-note). We rise with Him (Ro 6:4, 5-note, Ep 2:6-note). We live with Him (Ro 6:8-note, 2Ti 2:11-note, Col 3:4-note). We reign with Him (2Ti 2:12-note, Eph 2:6-note, Re 20:4-note). We are joint heirs with Him (Ro 8:17-note). We share His sufferings on earth (Acts 9:16, 1Pe 2:21-note, 2Co 1:5, 1Pe 4:13-note) and we share His glory with Him on His throne (Re 3:21-note). An understanding of "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3-note) in Christ is a sure protection against "persuasive arguments" (Col 2:4-note).
Remember that salvation is not the improvement of the old nature, but is the impartation of a new nature (cp divine nature in 2Pe 1:4-note).
McGee makes the comment that
HAVING FORGIVEN US ALL OUR TRANSGRESSIONS: charisamenos (AMPMSN) hemin panta ta paraptomata: (Ps 32:1; Isa 1:18; 55:7; Jer 31:34; Acts 13:38,39; 2Cor 5:19; Heb 8:10, 11, 12; 1Jn 1:7, 8, 9; 2:12)
Having forgiven (5483) (charizomai from charis = grace, undeserved merit or favor) has the basic meaning of to give. To grant as a favor. To give gratuitously, generously, graciously and in kindness. To have a favor freely, willingly and unconditionally bestowed. It means to bestow as a gift of grace or out of grace. To give out of grace. To give help to those who don't deserve it. To show grace by providing undeserved help to someone unworthy (see Ep 4:32-note)
Charizomai - 23x in 19v - Lk. 7:21, 42f; Acts 3:14; 25:11, 16; 27:24; Rom. 8:32; 1 Co. 2:12; 2 Co. 2:7, 10; 12:13; Gal. 3:18; Eph. 4:32; Phil. 1:29; 2:9; Col. 2:13; 3:13; Philemon 1:22
The NAS renders charizomai as bestowed(1), forgave(2), forgive(3), forgiven(4), forgiving(2), freely give(1), given(1),graciously forgave(1), granted(5), hand(2), things freely given(1).
Vine adds charizomai means
Simply put we are forgiven by grace (charis). The aorist tense speaks of a past completed action (the moment you believed you were completely forgiven). The middle voice pictures God not only initiating the action of forgiveness but participating in the carrying out of the forgiveness.
Charizomai is used of the act of pardoning which is done as a favor and in kindness. Note the change of pronoun from you to us, referring to believers in general, including himself. This change from the second to the first person, or vice versa, is common in Paul's writings. The act of forgiving is simultaneous with the quickening, though logically forgiveness precedes making us alive.
Webster adds that the idea inherent in forgiveness is
All our transgressions - All (pas) means the sum total, without exception. God in Christ has not just pardoned our "worst" sins or a percentage of our sins, but the sum total of them our transgressions against Him, for had He left even one that was not forgiven we would have remained guilty of them all (Jas 2:10)! This is good news indeed and a truth which should liberate all of us from past failures no matter how heinous or awful they might have been. Yes, our past may leave us with the sequelae of consequences, but not with a deficit of divine forgiveness. Our sin "debt account" has been paid in full by our Redeemer (Jn 19:30 = where "It is finished!" = tetelestai meaning "Paid in full!" and this verb is perfect tense which speaks of the permanence of Christ's full payment)! "Hallelujah!"
Transgressions (3900) (side slips, false steps, trespasses, lapses, deviations, unintentional errors, willful transgressions) (paraptoma from parapipto = fall aside, fall away in turn from para = aside + pipto = fall) fall) is literally a falling aside or beside or to stumble on something (so as to lose footing). In the figurative/ethical sense (all the NT uses) paraptoma describes an ethical "false step", a violation of moral standards or a deviation from living according to what has been revealed as the right (righteous) way to live. Paraptoma is a false step out of the appointed way, a trespass on forbidden ground, a stepping out of line of true (God honoring) conduct, a deviation from truth and uprightness as revealed in God's Word of Truth.
There is a subtle distinction between sin and transgression -- The idea behind transgression is that we have crossed a line, challenging God's boundaries. We were dead because we overstepped God's boundaries in our rebellion against Him. The idea behind sin is that we have missed a mark, God's holy standard that calls for perfection, every time (cp Jas 2:10, Gal 3:10, cp Eccl 7:20, 1Ki 8:46, Isa 53:6, Ps 130:3, Pr 20:9)!
Paul teaching on God's forgiveness is not only liberating truth but motivating truth, for as Paul exhorts his readers in chapter that
Wiersbe commenting on God's forgiveness as a motivator for believers to forgive writes that...
><> ><> ><>
Leave It Buried -A 10-year-old boy wanted to be a pastor when he grew up. One day, when the family's black cat died, he had an opportunity to do some "practice preaching" by conducting a funeral.
The boy found a shoebox and put the kitten inside it. When he placed the cover on the box, however, the tail wouldn't fit in. So he cut a hole in the lid so that the long furry tail could stick out. Then he rounded up his friends, preached a short sermon he had carefully prepared, and buried the cat in a shallow grave.
When the service was over, he noticed that the tip of the pet's tail was still sticking out of the ground. Every 2 or 3 days curiosity would get the better of him, and he would secretly pull up the cat by the tail and then rebury it. Eventually the tail came off, and the body finally remained buried!
How many of us do this with our forgiven sins? We confess our sins, but we continue to drag them up and weep over them, even though God considers the ugly things buried once and for all (Jeremiah 31:34; Colossians 2:13, 14; 1John 1:9). As a result, we are not joyful or productive in our Christian life and service. Please — leave the "cat" buried! —Henry G. Bosch (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
God has buried my sins where no mortal can see;