Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | November 1, 2006

Colossians – Part 10.1

Have you been baptized?  If not, do you intend to? 

Colossians – Part 10:  Freedom and its Symbol 

1.  What are some common signs and symbols? (i.e. handicap, stop, etc)

2.  What do signs accomplish?

Freedom from Condemnation (Ch 2:9-12): For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 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; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 

The Apostle continues to expound upon the freedom that is found in knowing Christ the mystery that has been made known, which is the true knowledge that liberates believers.  Again the Apostle makes reference to the false dichotomy that is made by the false apostles between material and immaterial things.  He does this by making reference to the Incarnation, which is that God was not prevented from taking on flesh.  In fact, Christ from whom all true knowledge and wisdom dwell, the Word, entered into the world and completely revealed God.  Thus, Christ became our chief Apostle or Prophet par excellence and unlocked the mystery of the ages.  However, the Apostle adds to His office, which is not only limited to that of Apostle or Prophet He is also the King of King’s, Lord of Lord’s and our Great High Priest.  His Kingship was confirmed after His resurrection and Ascension when He was given all power and authority in heaven and earth.  Further, as our Great High Priest He circumcises us not in the flesh, but by circumcising our heart with His Spirit.  It is not explicitly mentioned that the Colossian heresy shared the element of circumcision that the nearby Galatians did.  However, the Apostle here makes clear that any conditions of salvation that were placed in the sign of the Old Covenant were unfounded.  Nonetheless, the Apostle does link the spiritual circumcision, which the Old Covenant sign shadowed, with the physical New Covenant sign of baptism.  This Sacrament, he adds, also signifies the believer being buried and raised with Christ.  Let us note here that nowhere in the New Testament does it state that a particular mode of baptism needs to be administered to meet the criteria of the sign.  Nor is the administration of the sign contingent on a certain cognitive state to meet the requirement of being raised by faith.  However, baptism is linked hear with the Old Covenant sign of circumcision and the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  The sign being administered does not initiate the realization of the benefits (i.e. baptismal regeneration).  Rather, the Apostle states that faith is the instrumental cause of realizing its benefits of newness of life.  

After solidifying his opposition to the teaching of the false apostle’s, the Apostle delivers the knockout blow to all Gnostic philosophies by stating the Achilles heal of that view, the Incarnation.  This doctrine refutes any view of Gnosticism, because it annihilates their view of material things.  If matter is inherently evil then “the fullness of the Deity” could not “dwell in bodily form”.  He reiterates the supremacy of Christ, which substantiates the positions He holds in creation.  As a result, He is able to sufficiently and efficiently save His people, of which is signified in one of the sacraments He has instituted.  Thus, in addition to and in unison with the freedoms already stated prior also extend to the freedom from condemnation, which is ratified by faith alone in Christ alone                  

 3.  What does the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in bodily form mean? 4.  Does this provide an even more clear case for the belief that Christ is God?

5.  What does this do to the Colossian false teachers understanding of God and Christ?

6.  What does this say about the sufficiency of the New Testament, which is about Christ (The Word of God)? 

For in him dwelleth:  “For Paul does not speak of an imaginary Christ, but of a Christ preached, who has revealed himself by express doctrine.  Further, when he says that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ, he means simply, that God is wholly found in him, so that he who is not contented with Christ alone, desires something better and more excellent than God.  The sum is this, that God has manifested himself to us fully and perfectly in Christ…For God has often manifested himself to men, but it has been only in part.  In Christ, on the other hand, he communicates himself to us wholly.  He has also manifested himself to us otherwise, but it is in figures, or by power and grace.  In Christ, on other hand, he has appeared to us essentially.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

7.  If Christ is the fullness, is there anything else that we need to know about God that is missing?

8.  Should we be satisfied with the Bible as God’s full and complete revelation?

9.  What type of revelation were the Colossian false teachers pursuing? 

And ye are complete in him:  “Those, therefore, who do not rest satisfied with Christ alone, do injury to God in two ways, for besides detracting from the glory of God, by desiring something above his perfection, they are also ungrateful, inasmuch as they seek elsewhere what they already have in Christ.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 10.  What is so significant about circumcision?

11.  Is this still the sign in the New Covenant Era?  Why? Or why not?

12.  Is there a difference between physical and spiritual circumcision?  Jeremiah 4:4 and Romans 2:29 

In whom ye were also are circumcised:  “What Paul contends for is this – that, inasmuch as what was shadowed forth by a circumcision made with hands, has been completed in Christ, there is now no fruit or advantage from it.  Hence he says, that the circumcision which is made in the heart is the circumcision of Christ, and that, on this account, that which is outward is not now required, because, where the reality exists, that shadowy emblem vanishes, inasmuch as it has no place except in the absence of reality.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians

By the putting off of the body:  “He says that we obtain this through Christ, so that unquestionably an entire regeneration is his benefit.  It is he that circumcises the foreskin of our heart, or in other words, mortifies all the lust of the flesh, not with the hand, but by his Spirit.  Hence there is in him the reality of the figure.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

13.  Who performs our spiritual circumcision?  Hebrews 5:9-10

14.  What is the initiatory sign in the New Covenant Era that now signifies this?

15.  Why was this important for the Colossians to hear?

16.  So is baptism important for the Christian? 

Buried with him, in baptism:  “Christ says he, accomplishes in us spiritual circumcision, not through means of that ancient sign, which was in force under Moses, but by baptism.  Baptism, therefore, is a sign of the thing that is presented to us, which while absent was prefigured by circumcision…When he says that we are buried with Christ, this means more than that we are crucified with him; for burial expresses a continued process of mortification.  When he says, that this is done through means of baptism, as he says also in Romans 6:4, he speaks in his usual manner, ascribing efficacy to the sacrament, that it may not fruitlessly signify what does not exist.  By baptism, therefore, we are buried with Christ, because Christ does at the same time accomplish efficaciously that mortification, which he there represents, that the reality may be conjoined with the sign.  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

17.  What does baptism identify us with?  Romans 6:3-4

18.  Is baptism commanded for all Christians?  Matt 28:19-20


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