Colossians 2:12 MEANING

Colossians 2:12
(12) Buried with him in baptism . . .--It is very interesting to compare this passage with Romans 6:4, "Therefore we are buried with Him in baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." In the former clause both are identical. In the latter clause this Epistle is stronger. What in the earlier Epistle is the "likeness of His Resurrection" is here the participation of it, "Ye are risen with Him." Similarly, instead of the simple allusion to "Christ's being raised from the dead," we have here "through faith in the operation of God, who raised Him from the dead." Here, as in the more detailed passage of the Ephesian Epistle (Colossians 1:19-23; Colossians 2:5-7), the "operation," the energy of "the mighty power of God," is conceived as actually working both in the Head and in the Body, so that wo through it partake of the resurrection, the ascension, and the glorified majesty of Christ. The comparison shows an instructive development in this Epistle of the consequences of the unity with Christ.

This passage is also notable for the obvious contrast of baptism, as a spiritual reality, with circumcision as a symbolic form. Each is the entrance into a covenant with God; but the one into a covenant of "the letter," and the other into a covenant of "the spirit." (See the contrast between the covenants drawn out in 2 Corinthians 3:6-18; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:28.) In the earlier Epistles circumcision is contrasted with spiritual regeneration (Galatians 6:15), as shown by various signs, such as "faith working by love" (Romans 4:9-12; Galatians 5:6), or "keeping the commandments of God" (1 Corinthians 7:19). Here this contrast is still as strong as ever; but baptism being (as always) looked upon as the means of such spiritual regeneration, is brought out emphatically as "the circumcision of the Spirit." As baptised into Christ, "we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit" (Philippians 3:3).

Verse 12. - When ye were (literally, having been) buried with him in your baptism (ver. 20; Colossians 3:3; Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 3:26, 27; Ephesians 4:5; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). Βαπτισμός, the rarer form of the word, is preferred by Tregelles, Alford, Lightfoot (see his note), being found in Codex B, with other good authorities; it indicates the process ("in your baptizing"). Βάπτισμα, the usual form of the word, is retained by Revisers, after Tischendorf, Ellicott, Westcott and Herr. Baptism stands for the entire change of the man which it symbolizes and seals (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27). The double aspect of this change was indicated by the twofold movement taking place in immersion, the usual form of primitive baptism - first the κατάδυσις, the descent of the baptized person beneath the symbolic waters, figuring his death with Christ as a separation from sin and the evil past (ver. 20), - there for a moment he is buried, and burial is death made complete and final (Romans 6:2-4); then the ἀνάδυσις, the emerging from the baptismal wave, which gave baptism the positive side of its significance. In which (or, whom) also ye were raised with (him), through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 3:1; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 2:6, 8; Romans 6:4; Romans 4:24, 25; 1 Peter 1:21). We refer the relative pronoun to the immediately antecedent "baptism," although the previous ἐν ῷ refers to "Christ" (ver. 11: comp. Ephesians 2:6) and some good interpreters follow the rendering "in whom." For the Christian's being raised with Christ is not contrasted with his circumcision (ver. 11) - that figure has been dismissed - but with his burial in baptism (ver. 12 a); so Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Revisers. "Having been buried" is replaced in the antithesis by the more assertive "ye were raised" (comp. vers. 13, 14; Colossians 1:22, 26). "With" points to the "him" (Christ) of the previous clause (comp. Ephesians 2:6; Romans 6:6). Faith is the instrumental cause of that which baptism sets forth (comp. Galatians 3:26, 27), and has for its object (not its cause: so Bengel) "the working" (ἐνεργεία: see note, Colossians 1:29; also Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 3:20) "of God." And the special Divine work on which it rests is "the resurrection of Christ" (Romans 4:24, 25; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:13-17): comp. note on "Firstborn out of the dead," Colossians 1:19. Rising from the baptismal waters, the Christian convert declares the faith of his heart in that supreme act of God, which attests and makes sure all that he has bestowed upon us in his Son (Colossians 1:12-14: comp. Romans 1:4; also 1 Peter 1:21; Acts 2:36; Acts 13:33, 38, etc.). Baptism symbolizes all that circumcision did, and more. It expresses more fully than the older sacrament our parting with the life of sin; and also that of which circumcision knew nothing - the union of the man with the dying and risen Christ, which makes him "dead unto sin, and alive unto God." How needless, then, even if it were legitimate, for a Christian to return to this superseded rite! To heighten his readers' sense of the reality and completeness of the change which as baptized (i.e. believing) Christians they bad undergone, he describes it now more directly as matter of personal experience.

2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.Buried with him in baptism,.... The apostle goes on to observe how complete and perfect the saints are in Christ; that they are not only circumcised in him in a spiritual sense, and the body of the sins of their flesh is put off, and removed from them, in allusion to the cutting off and casting away of the foreskin in circumcision; but that they and all their sins were buried with Christ, of which their baptism in water was a lively representation: Christ having died for their sins, was laid in the grave, where he continued for a while, and then rose again; and as they were crucified with him, they were also buried with him, as their head and representative; and all their sins too, which he left behind him in the grave, signified by his grave clothes there; and baptism being performed by immersion, when the person baptized is covered with water, and as it were buried in it, is a very significant emblem of all this; it is a representation of the burial of Christ, and very fitly holds him forth to the view of faith in the state of the dead, in the grave, and points out the place where the Lord lay; and it is also a representation of our burial with him, as being dead to sin, to the law, and to the world, by him. This shows now, that baptism was performed by dipping, or covering the whole body in water, for no other form of administration of baptism, as sprinkling, or pouring water on the face, can represent a burial, or be called one; and this is what many learned interpreters own, and observe on this place:

wherein also ye are risen with him; Christ is risen from the dead as the head and representative of his people, and they are risen with him; and their baptism is also an emblem of his and their resurrection, being administered by immersion, in which way only this can be signified; for as the going down into the water, and being under it, represents Christ's descending into the state of the dead, and his continuance in it, so the emersion, or coming up out of the water, represents his rising from the dead, and that of his people in him, in order to walk in newness of life; for the apostle's meaning is, that in baptism saints are risen with Christ, as well as in it buried with him: and this

through the faith of the operation of God; that is, it is through faith that saints see themselves buried and risen with Christ, to which the ordinance of baptism is greatly assisting, where there is true faith; for otherwise, without faith, this ordinance will be of no use to any such end and purpose; and it is not any faith that will avail, but that which is of God's operation; faith is not naturally in men, all men have it not; and those that have it, have it not of themselves, it is the gift of God; it is what be works in them, and by his power performs:

who hath raised him from the dead; this is a periphrasis of God the Father, to whom the resurrection of Christ from the dead is generally ascribed; though not to the exclusion of Christ, and of the Spirit, who were also concerned; and is here added, partly to show in what respect faith, which is God's work, has him for its object, as having raised Christ from the dead, who was delivered for offences, but is risen again through the power of God for justification, and whoever with his heart believes this shall be saved; and partly to show, that the same power is exerted in working true faith in the heart, as was put forth in raising Christ from the dead.

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