A Study of Colossians 2:8–15
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the Head of all principality and power: In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:8-15)
We left off the last time dwelling on the fact of our completeness in Christ and how the rudiments of the world and the traditions of men will lead you away and “spoil” you.
Now we will continue on this theme, but dwell more on the “what” of our completeness. We begin with the Apostle stating that “In [Christ] ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). So what is this circumcision of Christ that Paul is speaking of here? This could not be that circumcision that was recorded in Luke 2:21, where the Lord as an eight-day old infant was circumcised. That was so He would be numbered with the Covenant people, for He was to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). That was a circumcision made with hands. This is “putting off the body the sins of the flesh”, which takes us back to chapter 1, verses 21&22:
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight…(Colossians 1:21-22)
In the Old Testament Scriptures, Isaiah and Daniel both spoke of a “cutting off” of the coming Messiah:
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. (Isaiah 53:8)
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26)
The verse in Isaiah absolutely speaks of His death, for He is cut off from the land of the living. The verse in Daniel also seems to speak of His death, but could also possibly refer to the blessings promised through Messiah being cut off for a season from Israel because of the Nation’s rejection of Him.
In any case, here in Colossians, the context is not His physical circumcision, nor is it us giving up our sins and “circumcising our hearts”. This passage does not bring us to something that we need to accomplish, but speaks of what HE has done, and that we are COMPLETE IN HIM. If the Christian needed to put off the sins of the flesh before we could be considered complete, not one of us could ever say we were complete. But this scripture says that we are, so faith believes this Scripture.
The next two items mentioned are His burial and His resurrection. Since this Scripture is following His burial and resurrection, and from the truth of all that His death accomplished, it is Scriptural to say that this is speaking of His death. When else did He put off the body of the sins of the flesh, but at His death? It was at His death that “He was made to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). What is more, we find that this is a “once for all” act:
For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. (Romans 6:10)
This circumcision with Him as being identified with Him in His death is very consistent with the rest of the revelation that was given to Paul. In Romans, he speaks of believers being baptized into Christ’s death, and this is speaking of being identified by the Father in Christ’s death. We, as believers, saints, have died with Christ. Having died with Christ, we are dead to the law, and dead to sin:
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11)
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him Who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:4-6)
We are also buried with Christ. We see that as we have been identified with Him in His death, we are also identified with Him in His burial:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Now this should in no way be construed to mean that baptism, as a water ceremony, is what identifies the Christian with the death and burial of Christ. Our identification with the death and burial of Christ IS our baptism into Christ. Remember the entire thrust of this passage is not about following the proper religious ceremonies, but about being entirely complete in Christ, in Whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. It is reminding us that no religious works are to be added to the completeness that is found in Christ. That we would read a water ceremony into this only shows that we have been immersed in too much religion.
Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, Who hath raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)
God has finished the job of identifying us with Christ, for as we were buried with Him, God is faithful to raise us also with Him. It is the faith of the operation of God. It is not a minister’s faith in raising the believer out of the water that identifies the Christian as being risen with Christ, it is the faithfulness of God’s working that identifies the believer as risen with Christ.
The vital union between Christ and the believer, who is a member in particular of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), is a complete union. We are identified with Him in His death, in His burial, and in His resurrection. When He died, we died with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. WHEN HE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD, WE ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD WITH HIM. Our history in Adam has ended when God baptizes (identifies, names) us into Jesus Christ!
For in [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him…
In the next study, concluding this study of being complete in Christ, we will explore the completeness of our forgiveness, a complete drop of all charges against us, and a complete victory over the principalities and powers of darkness.
Until then, consider the greatness of all that is freely given to the believer in Christ. All that He provided by His death, burial, and resurrection is given freely by God to all that will in simple faith believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has done everything that it takes to save all of us, and HE WANTS TO SAVE YOU! All barriers are taken out of the way, because Jesus Christ made reconciliation by the blood of His cross. Do not wait to “clean up your act” before you will accept what God freely gives.
God loves you, Christ died for your sins and rose again from the dead, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved!