“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 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” (Colossians 2:11-12).
Judaizing teachers, for years, tried to bind physical circumcision on gentile converts to Christianity (cf. Acts 15:1, 5; Galatians 2:1-4; 5:1-4; 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:18-19; Colossians 2:11-12; 3:10-11). They were wrong in this (Acts 15:23-29). “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God is what matters” (1 Corinthians 7:19). Physical circumcision is not a part of the New Covenant.
However, there is a circumcision which is needed, spiritual circumcision. This circumcision is performed without hands; meaning – this is something that God does and not man (cf. Daniel 2:34, 45; 8:25; Colossians 2:11-12).
There is a similarity between physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision. The word “circumcision” literally means to “cut around.” It refers to an operation to remove something. The priests of old performed circumcision removing the foreskin of the male organ. God performs circumcision removing sin. He performs this operation when one is buried with Christ in baptism. The same power which raised Jesus from physical death, removes one’s sins and raises one from spiritual death to walk in newness of life (Colossians 2:11-12 cf. 3:1-2; Ephesians 1:20 cf. 2:5-6; Romans 6:4).
Some have appealed to this circumcision illustration to try to defend infant baptism. Therefore it is worth pointing out some dissimilarities between physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision. (1) Physical circumcision was performed on Israelite males eight days old (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). The New Testament teaches that baptism is for those who believe (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:35-39; Acts 18:8). (2) Physical circumcision was performed only on males (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:48). Baptism is for both men and women (Acts 8:12; Galatians 3:26-28). (3) Physical circumcision did not make one a Hebrew or an Israelite. One was born such (Leviticus 23:42 k.j.v.; Romans 11:1). Though, the uncircumcised were to be cut off (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 4:24-26). Baptism places one in the Kingdom (John 3:5) and makes one a child of God (Galatians 3:26-28). There are differences between physical circumcision and spiritual circumcision.
Additionally, let us point out that there is a circumcision we are to do. God instructed Israel to circumcise their heart (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4). One is not humble but stiff-necked and rebellious, if he is uncircumcised of heart and ears (cf. Leviticus 26:41; Jeremiah 6:10; Acts 7:51). God desires us to be circumcised in the heart (Romans 2:26). May we remove pride and rebellion and make our hearts and ears tender and receptive to His will. It takes a circumcised heart to receive circumcision from sin.
This is beautiful, Bryan.
Thanks for the kind words