“buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
This verse explains when the circumcision of verse 11 occurred. At that time, a believer is buried and raised with Christ. This verse is a statement of what Jesus achieved by his death on the cross. It boils down to our incorporation into his status before God. God puts off our old life at the moment of salvation. This burial is our positional union with Christ in God’s eyes.
The third result of the work of Christ on the cross is our burial with him.
“buried with Him in baptism”
The words “buried with” mean to bury together, join in burying, or to be buried with. The term “with” indicates a “co” relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a co-burial. We must bury anything dead. When Jesus was buried, we were buried. God buried us along with Jesus Christ! This burial obviously does not mean that God put us into the same tomb as Jesus and laid us down beside him!
Colossians describes our burial “with Him” as having already taken place. We were identified with Christ in his burial. “Buried with” here is only in the figurative sense (Romans 6:4). We are identified with Christ in his burial as set forth in his baptism.
“Baptism” here is not water baptism. It is Spirit baptism. Spirit baptism is an action of the Holy Spirit, whereby he puts the believer into the body of Christ (i.e., our salvation). Water baptism is a physical demonstration of what the Holy Spirit did. We should not emphasize the physical object; the importance is what the Holy Spirit did at our salvation. Water baptism is simply the illustration of Spirit baptism in physical movements.
The Christian is both buried and raised with Christ positionally.
Positional truth is like a prisoner who has been made legally free, but he remains in prison, not knowing that he is free to walk out the door. The Christian is legally free from the penalty and consequences of sin. God strips the flesh of its legal power over us. As God reckons, he identifies us with Christ. God cannot see us for Jesus.
That person that we were before Christ is dead in the sight of God. That individual is dead and buried. God wants us to reckon as he reckons us. Our position in Christ is eternal, infallible, and unalterable.
When we act like we did before we came to Christ, we act out of character. It is like putting on a Halloween mask. When we act like that, we fool those around us. We masquerade in make-believe. We play the hypocrite. No one else may know, but God does. God does not want us to pretend that we are not Christians. He will haul us off to the woodshed if we do it too often. He will not put up with trifling. God will allow us to go so far, and then he will pull us up short.
Thanks for the valuable information. Do you have any suggestions on how I can develop a biblically sound three-point alliterated outline of this Colossians 2:12 text?
I am not good at that Marl! 🙂
Thanks for your study of this verse. Could you explain the why the baptism is spiritual and not water with scriptural reference(s) and example(s)?
Charles, I am in Africa and will respond when I return.
Charles, this passage does not indicate water baptism. The entire context is dealing with positional truth rather than a physical action. There are eight different kinds of baptism in the Bible. The context determines which kind it is. For example, there is a baptism of fire which is a non-literal baptism.
Thank you for your response. Would you show how the context of the verse(s) leads you to Spirit baptism? I understand the baptism to be past tense because he is writing to Christians meaning they had already been baptized. I understand Paul to be encouraging the church in Colossians by letting them know what they have in Christ and what he has done for them.
Joshua, did you read the studies leading up to this verse? That context is crucial to understand that this passage is not water baptism. The entire chapter is dealing with positional truth, not experiential truth when it comes to our status with the Lord. This does not mean we are not to apply positional truth to experience. One example is the "circumcision made without hands" in the previous verse. As he is not dealing with physical circumcision in the previous verse so he is not dealing with physical baptism in this verse.
Fantastic explanation. After Cornelius family receoced spirit baptism acts 10:46,11:16 correct.
But why peter insisted on water baptism
Acts 10:47. Your valuable comments are welcome.
Samuel, Water baptism is a public testimony to the fact that a person received Spirit baptism at the point he expressed faith in the finished work of Christ.
Note this development of this passage:
Pure Gentiles were not admitted into the body of Christ until Acts 10, a decade after Pentecost. This is an issue of progressive revelation of the church. This is a peculiar doctrine for Acts because it is a history book. Until Acts 10 the church was uniquely Jew and Samaritan. This chapter marked the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles.
The order here is clear and distinct: First they “received the Holy Spirit,” and then they were “baptized with water.” In a subsequent passage, commenting on this event, Peter declares that they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, not later when they were baptized: “If God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” (Acts 11:17). Once more, baptism was not a condition, but a result of their salvation that came by faith alone.
The normal Gentile pattern for receiving the Spirit was established in the house of Cornelius, where the Spirit was given when the people believed, which was while Peter was preaching and before they were baptized in water (10:44, 47).
The pattern of experience for those who were born again after Pentecost is that they received the Spirit upon believing. This was evidently the case with the three thousand at Pentecost, the lame man of Acts 3, the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, and the thousands of others who were saved in the subsequent history of Acts. The fact of such immediate baptism is clearly stated in the case of Cornelius. In other cases, it is implied by the resultant manifestation of a full-orbed Christian experience. Although the baptism of the Spirit is not experimental, yet the filling of the Spirit with its experimental results would be evidence that the baptism had taken place. This was the basis of Peter’s conclusion that the Gentiles had received the Spirit (Acts 10:45–47). The classic passage on this doctrine, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13a), clearly teaches that the baptism of the Spirit takes place at the time of believing.
There was no reason to withhold water baptism from these Gentile converts; they could undergo baptism in water as a testimony to their faith immediately. They had believed in Jesus Christ and had experienced Spirit baptism. Baptism with the Spirit was Jesus’ sign of His acceptance of them, and baptism with water was their sign of their acceptance of Him. They had done everything they needed to do. They did not need to experience anything more such as circumcision, or admission into the Jewish community, or the adoption of traditional Jewish dietary laws, or anything else.
The events Luke recorded in 9:32—10:48 prepared Peter for the Lord’s further expansion of His church to include Gentiles. Peter had unlocked the door of the church to Jews on Pentecost (Matt. 16:19; cf. Eph. 2:14). What happened in Cornelius’ house was the Pentecost of the Gentile world. By pouring out His Spirit on these Gentiles, God showed that in His sight Jews and Gentiles were equal. The Jew had no essential advantage over the Gentile in entering the church. God observes no distinction in race when it comes to becoming a Christian (cf. Eph. 2:11—3:12).
Why was the conversion of Cornelius rather than the earlier conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch the opening of the church’s door to the Gentiles? The conversion of the Gentile eunuch was a case of individual private salvation. The conversion of Cornelius, on the other hand, involved several Gentiles, and it was public. God had saved individual Gentiles by faith throughout history (e.g., Ruth, Naaman, et al.). With the conversion of Cornelius, He now, for the first time, publicly brought Gentiles into the church, the new creation of God, by Spirit baptism. The eunuch became a Christian and a member of the church, but that was not evident to anyone at the time of his conversion. With Cornelius’ conversion, God made a public statement, as He had at Pentecost, that He was doing something new, namely forming a new body of believers in Jesus. In chapter 2 He showed that it would include Jews, and in chapter 10 He clarified that it would also include Gentiles. The sole prerequisite for entrance into this group (the church) was faith in Jesus Christ regardless of ethnicity, which had separated Jews from Gentiles in Judaism for centuries. The distinctive difference between becoming a Christian and becoming a Jew (religiously) was that God gave the Holy Spirit to every Christian. The sign of this, for the benefit of the Jews, was that He enabled those to whom He gave the Spirit to speak in tongues (foreign languages).
What do you mean by spirit baptism? Peter said ” the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning” there was manifestation of the Spirit in BOTH CASES OF SPIRIT BAPTISM, only two times, at the beginning and at Cornelius’ house. They spoke human languages non inspired men could understand in both cases. Acts 2:8; 10:46 There was NO OTHER CASE OF SUCH THEN nor ever since. The bible does NOT reveal any invisible or non perceivable Spirit baptism all true believers experience, THAT IS A BIG LIE! water baptism points to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, NOT TO ANY IMAGINATIVE other baptism. The sinner is raised with Christ in water baptism from spiritual death. Mark 16:16
Arcenio, evidently you have not studied the Bible enough. I explain the meaning of Spirit baptism and its occurrences in this study: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/doctrine/baptism-of-the-spirit/ Note my study in 1 Corinthians 12:13 here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/1-corinthians/1-corinthians-1213/
Mr. Grant, thank you for providing us with such excellent commentary. I greatly enjoyed reading your explanations.
Curt, thank you for your comments.