“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:”

“In Whom also ye are circumcised”
Literally:  “In Whom also you were circumcised”–All that was designed by circumcision, literally performed, is accomplished in them that believe through the Spirit and power of Christ.  But by the circumcision of Christ, the operation of His grace and Spirit may be intended; the law required the circumcision of the flesh, the Gospel of Christ required the circumcision of the heart. 

In connection with Whom, or in virtue of whose religion, you are circumcised. You have received that which was designed to be represented by circumcision–the putting away of sin. We who are Christians have and hold the true Doctrine of Circumcision.   In this verse Paul is teaching that the ordinance of circumcision was not designed to be merely an outward ceremony, but was intended to be symbolic of the renunciation of the flesh, with its corrupt desires and to lead to the pure and spiritual worship of God.  In this he has undoubtedly stated its true design.

“with the circumcision made without hands,”
Literally:  “with a circumcision not made by hand”—Literal circumcision was made with hands, but the spiritual circumcision which they had experienced was wrought by the Holy Spirit, through the atonement, righteousness, and intercession of Christ.

The true circumcision, that which God requires and which is essential to salvation, is not anything merely outward, or wrought by men. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the fruit of faith in Christ. The Jewish teachers insisted on the necessity of the literal circumcision in order for salvation, and hence this subject is so often introduced into the writings of Paul, and he repeatedly takes so much pains to show that by believing in Christ, all was obtained which was required in order to salvation.

   CIRCUMCISED:  (Grk.–perietmēthēte)–This is not a cutting off of a part of the flesh, but a putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, through the circumcision of Christ.  They who now urged it as necessary to salvation, and who made salvation depend on its mere outward observance, had lost sight of the object and significance of the rite.

         Circumcision was an ordinance by which it was denoted that all sin was to be cut off or renounced, and that he who was circumcised was to be devoted to God and to a holy life.  Christ underwent and performed this, and all other rites necessary to qualify Him to be the  Mediator between God and man. Being made under the Law, He was subject to all its ordinances, and every act of His contributed to the salvation of men. 
         Paul is saying that all this was obtained by the gospel; and consequently, they had all that was denoted by the ancient rite of circumcision. What Christians had obtained, moreover, related to the heart; it was not a mere ordinance pertaining to the flesh.  You as a saved believer have experienced that spiritual renovation; that cutting off or renouncing of sin, the necessity that is taught by circumcision. 

       Paul is using circumcision here as a metaphor in a spiritual sense as in Rom. 2:29 “the circumcision of the heart,” to God.  .The design of circumcision was to be a sign of separation from the heathen world, and of consecration to the holy God. And this design implied the renunciation and forsaking of all sins; or the cutting off of everything that was offensive to God. This was a work peculiarly of the heart. This design was often stated and enforced in the writings of the Old Testament. “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10:16).

“in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh”
Literally:  “in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh”–That is, in renouncing the deeds of the flesh, or becoming holy.


       BODY:  (Grk.–perietmēthēte)–The word “body,” here, seems to be used with reference to circumcision. In that ordinance, the body of the flesh was subjected to the rite; with Christians, it is the body of Sin that is cut off. “the flesh” is meant corrupt nature, which is born of the flesh, and propagated in a carnal way, and is the source and spring of all sin.

Omit “of the sins.”  The “body of the flesh”  (compare 1:22) is the body which consists of the flesh, with flesh having its moral sense of that material part which is the seat and organ of sin, “the flesh with its passions and lusts” (Gal. 54; compare I John 2:16). 

“by the circumcision of Christ:”
Literally:  “by the circumcision of Christ”–This spiritual circumcision is realized in, or by, union with Christ, whose “circumcision,” whereby He became responsible for us to keep the whole law, is imputed to believers for justification; and union with whom, in all His vicarious obedience, including His  CIRCUMCISION, is the source of our sanctification.  The fleshly circumcision removed only a portion of the body; but in the spiritual circumcision, through Christ, the whole corrupt, carnal nature is put away like a garment which is taken off and laid aside.

Not by the fact that Christ was circumcised, but that we have that kind of circumcision which Christ established, to wit, the renouncing of sin. The idea of Paul’s here seems to be that since we have thus been enabled by Christ to renounce sin, and to devote ourselves to God, we should not, be induced by any plausible arguments to return to an ordinance pertaining to the flesh, as if that were needful for salvation.

“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.”

“Buried with Him in baptism wherein also ye are risen with Him”
Literally:  “having been buried with Him in baptism in Whom also you were raised”—By openly renouncing sin, and publicly professing to hate and forsake it; thus showing their deadness to its reigning power. Risen with Him; from their death in sin, by believing on Him, and thus experiencing in their own persons the same divine power which raised Christ from the dead.

       Paul 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; i.e., Advocate (I John 2:1) and also all their sins, which He left behind Him in the grave, signified by His grave clothes there.  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. 

         Baptism (immersion in water) is a representation of the burial of Christ, and 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 that baptism was performed by dipping, or covering the whole body in water (immersion), 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:

        BURIED WITH HIM:  (Grk.–suntaphentes autōi)–Literally:  “co-buried with Him.”  From the death of sin to the life of religion.  Meaning immersion in water,  wherein the person appeared to be buried under the Water, as Christ was buried in the heart of the earth. 

Thayer's Greek Lexicon says: “For all who in the rite of baptism are plunged under the water, thereby declare that they put faith in the expiatory death of Christ for the pardon of their past sins.”

         Yes, and for all future sins also. This word gives Paul's vivid picture of baptism as a symbolic burial with Christ and resurrection also to newness of life in Him.  Burial pre-supposes death:  Baptism is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the act of immersion symbolically corresponds. This act of immersion (Grk.–baptizō) shows that we have become dead to sin, as Christ was dead to the living world around Him when He was buried.  Unto death; i.e. with a solemn purpose to be dead to sin and to the world. 
         His rising again the third day, and the believer emerging from the water, which was an emblem of the resurrection of the body; and of a total change of life.  As Christ was raised up to life, so we should also rise to a new life.

“through the faith of the operation of God,”
Literally:  “through the faith of the working of God”—Not the faith which God works, but your faith in God’s
working and faith in God’s energy as displayed in Christ’s resurrection.  Hence the emphasis here is laid on faith in the resurrection.

        “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:8).
        “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”

        And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-4).

That is, it is through faith that saints see themselves buried and risen with Christ, to which the ordinance of baptism is greatly displaying, where there is true faith; for otherwise, without faith, this ordinance will be of no use to any such end and purpose.  Faith is not naturally in men, and those who do have it, do not have it of themselves.
1.      It is the gift of God;
2.      It is what works in them, and,
3.      It is what His power alone performs.

 Faith in God's mighty operation in raising again Jesus, is saving faith (Rom. 4:24; 10:9); and it is wrought in the soul by His same “mighty working” whereby He “raised Jesus from the dead” (Eph. 1:19, 20. As His literal resurrection is the ground of the power put forth in our spiritual resurrection now, so it is a pledge of our literal resurrection hereafter (Rom. 8:11).  We were quickened, changed, and saved, by means of faith in Christ Jesus; which faith was produced by the operation or energy of God.  Believing is the act of the soul; but the grace or power to believe comes from God Himself.

“Who hath raised Him from the dead.”
Literally:  “having raised Him from the dead”–This is the action of God the Father. to whom the resurrection of Christ from the dead is ascribed; though not to the exclusion of Christ, and of the Spirit.

Paul is emphasizing to these Colossian (and also to us) that baptism symbolically displays their from their death in sin, by believing on Christ, and by so doing, experiencing in their own persons the same divine power which raised Christ 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.”

“And you, being dead in your sins”
Literally:  “And you being dead in the deviations”—While they were in their unconverted (unsaved) state. 

Before they were converted they were “dead in sins.” There is not anywhere a more explicit proof of depravity than this, and no stronger language can be used. They were dead in relation to that to which they afterwards became alive—i. e., to holiness.  This does not mean that they had no human life, or that they did not breathe, and walk, and act.  Nor can it mean that they had no living intellect or mental powers.

       YOU:  (Grk.–humas)-That is, Gentiles, and giving unrestrained indulgence to the desires of the flesh.

They lived as those who had not by any religious rite or covenant brought themselves under obligations to lead holy lives.  This must refer to that part of the Colossian Church which was made up of converted heathens, for the heathens alone were uncircumcised.

        DEAD:  (Grk.–nekrous)–The Colossians (and all unbelievers) were “dead.”  They had no spiritual life; they were “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18).  They were alive physically, but dead spiritually.

These Colossians were dead in two realms:
1.      They were dead in sins

This Greek word is a compound word that denotes deliberate acts of sin in which a person chooses to deviate from the path of righteousness.
2.      They were dead in “the uncircumcision of their flesh.”  They were uncircumcised both racially and redemptively. 
         The sins and their race separated them from both God and God’s covenant people.

“and the uncircumcision of your flesh”
Literally:  “and the uncircumcision of your flesh”—our not having put off the old fleshly nature, the carnal foreskin, or original sin, which now by spiritual circumcision, that is, conversion and baptism, you have put off.

That inward uncleanness of soul which their outward state of uncircumcision well represented. A beautiful expression for original sin, the inbred corruption of your nature, your uncircumcised heart and affections. This could be referring to that part of the Colossian Church which was made up of converted heathens, for the heathens alone were uncircumcised

“hath He quickened together with Him,”
Literally:  “He made alive together with Him”—GOD “quickened together with Him (CHRIST). Just as Christ's resurrection proved that He was delivered from the sin laid on Him, so our spiritual quickening proves that we have been forgiven our sins (I Pet. 3:22; 4:1,2).

       HATH HE QUICKENED TOGETHER:  (Grk.–sunezōopoiēse)–Literally:  “He made alive.”  Used only here and Eph. 2:5.  Endowed with a new spiritual life.

That is, with Christ; this may be understood either of the quickening of them in conversion and sanctification; for as they were dead in sin in a moral sense, in conversion a principle of life was implanted in them, or grace, as a living principle, was wrought in their souls by the Spirit of life from Christ; so that they could see their lost state, their need of Christ. And owing to His rich mercy and great love: and this may be said to be done “with Christ,” because this is in consequence of His being quickened, or raised from the dead.  

“having forgiven you all trespasses.”
Literally:  “Having remitted all of your deviations”–

This was a past act, being done Once and over with; not only at conversion, when a discovery of it was made, but at the death of Christ, whose blood was shed for the remission of sin.

“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”

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us,”
Literally:  “blotting out the handwriting in the ordinances against us”– By the hand-writing of ordinances Paul is probably referring to the
Ceremonial Law which this was against them, for they were bound to fulfill it; and it was contrary to them, as condemning them for their neglect and transgression of it.  This Law God Himself has blotted out.  

The word rendered handwriting means something written by the hand, a manuscript; and here, probably, the writings of the Mosaic law, or the law appointing many ordinances or observances in religion. The allusion is probably to a written contract, in which we bind ourselves to do any work, or to make a payment, and which remains in force against us until the bond is cancelled. This might be done either by blotting out the names, or by drawing lines through it, or, as appears to have been practiced in the east, by driving a nail through it.

         The Jewish Ceremonial Law is here represented as such a contract, binding those under it to its observance, until it was nailed to the cross. The meaning here is, that the burdensome requirements of the Mosaic Law are abolished, and that its necessity is superseded by the death of Christ. His death had the same effect, in reference to those ordinances, as if they had been blotted from the statute-book. This it did by fulfilling  (Grk.–plērōma) them, by introducing a more perfect system and by rendering their observance no longer necessary, since all that they were designed to typify had been now accomplished in a better way.   

        BLOTTING OUT:  (Grk.–exaleipsas)Literally: “Having wiped out;” coincident in time with “having forgiven you” (v. 13); hereby having cancelled the Law's indictment against you. In consequence of his gracious decrees, that Christ should come into the world to save sinners, and that whosoever believeth on him should have everlasting life.

         Paul may here be giving us an allusion to Num. 5:23, where the curses written in the book, in the case of the woman suspected of adultery, are directed to be blotted out with the bitter waters.  And there can be little doubt of a farther allusion  to the custom of discharging the writing from parchment by the application of such a fluid as the muriatic acid, which immediately dissolves those particles which constitute the blackening principle of most inks. 
         The Law (including especially the  Moral Law , wherein lay the chief difficulty in obeying) is abrogated to the believer, as far as it was a compulsory, accusing code, and as far as “righteousness” (justification) and “life” were sought for by it. It can only produce outward works, not inward obedience of the will, which in the believer flows from the Holy Spirit in Him (Rom. 3:21; 7:2, 4; Gal. 2:19).

“handwriting of ordinances against us”–Literally: “bond writings in ordinances against us” (see on Eph. 2:15)–“the law of commandments contained in ordinances.”  The “handwriting” (alluding to the Decalogue; i.e., the Torah.

Where a debt is contracted, it is usually testified by some handwriting; and when the debt is forgiven, the handwriting is destroyed, either by blotting it out, by taking it away, or by tearing it up.  Paul here expresses in all these three ways, God's destroying the handwriting which was contrary to us, or at enmity with us. This was not properly our sins themselves, (they were the debt,) but their guilt and cry before God.

        ORDINANCES:  (Grk.–dogmasin)–Prescribing the numerous rites and ceremonies of the Jewish religion.

“which was contrary to us,”
Literally:  “which was contrary to us”—Literally: adversary to us;” (see Heb. 10:27).  That is, operated as a
hindrance, or obstruction, in the matter of religion. 

       The ordinances of the Mosaic Law were necessary, in order to introduce the gospel; but they were always burdensome. They were meant to be confined to one people; and, if they were continued, they would operate to prevent the spread of the true religion around the world.  Therefore we have here the exulting language of the apostle in view of the fact that they were now taken away, and that the benefits of faith might be diffused all over the world.  The gospel contains nothing which is “against,” or “contrary to,” the true interest and happiness of any nation or any class of people.
        Christ having engaged as a surety for His people, to pay off all their debts; and this being done by Him, God has crossed out the debt Book of the Law; has blotted it out, so that this book is of no force; it does not stand against these persons, it cannot show or prove any standing debt, it cannot demand any, or inflict any penalty.

“Law is against us because it comes like a taskmaster, bidding us do, but neither putting the inclination into our hearts nor the power into our hands.  And law is against us because the revelation of unfulfilled duty is the accusation of the defaulter, and a revelation to him of his guilt.  And law is against us, because it comes with threatenings and foretastes of penalty and pain.  Thus, as standard, accuser and avenger, it is against us.”—(Maclaren).

“and took it out of the way,”
Literally:  “even {He} has taken it out of the midst”—That is, He
wholly removed it. He has removed the obstruction, so that it no longer prevents union and harmony between the Jews and the Gentiles.

It is not to be seen or looked into as a debt book; it is abolished and done away; it is no more as administered by Moses, as a covenant of works, or as to its rigorous exaction, curse, and condemnation; this is true of the whole law of Moses, as well as of the ceremonial, which is utterly abolished and disannulled in every sense, because of the weakness and unprofitableness of it:

“nailing it to His cross”
Literally:  “having nailed it to the cross”—Liiterally: upright pale or execution stakesee Vines’s Complete expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.)

        Stauros  denotes primarily, “an upright pale or stake.”  On such malefactors were nailed for execution.  Both the noun and the verb (starauoō) are originally to be distinguished from the ecclesiastical form of a two-beamed ‘cross.’ The shape of the latter had its origin in ancient Chaldea and was used as the symbol of the god Tammuz (being in the shape of the mystic ‘Tau,’ the initial for his name.  By the middle of the Third Century A.D. the churches had either departed from, or had travestied, certain doctrines of the Christian faith. 

        "In order to increase the prestige of the apostate ecclesiastical (Nicolaitain) system, pagans were received into the churches apart from regeneration by faith and were permitted to retain their pagan signs and symbols.  Hence the Tau or T, in its most frequent form, with the cross-piece lowered, was adopted for the “Cross” of Christ.—Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996), p. 138

        "He wiped away the bill of charges against us.  Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but He removed it by nailing it to the execution stake”–Jewish New Testament,  translation by Dr. David H. Stern.

        When Christ was nailed to the cross, our obligation to fulfill these ordinances was done away.  There may be another reference here to some ancient mode of annulling legal obligations, by nailing them to a post. Antiquated laws are said to have been thus abrogated.  As a sign of its abrogation; in other words, annulling it by his expiatory death on the cross.
        As if He had nailed it to His cross, so that it would be entirely removed out of our way. The death of Jesus had the same effect, in regard to the rites and institutions of the Mosaic religion, as if they had been affixed to his cross. It is said that there is an allusion here to the ancient method by which a bond or obligation was cancelled, by driving a nail through it, and affixing it to a post. This was practiced, says Grotius, in Asia. In a somewhat similar manner, in our banks now, a sharp instrument, like the blade of a knife, is driven through a check, making a hole through it, and furnishing to the teller of the bank a sign or evidence that it has been paid. If this be the meaning, then the expression here denotes that the obligation of the Jewish institutions ceased on the death of Jesus, as if he had taken them and nailed them to his own cross, in the manner in which a bond was cancelled.