Summary: As Christ had gone down into His baptism of death, so the communicant in the moment of baptism was “buried,” as Christ had been in the grave. Then he “rose” into “new life,” as Christ had risen on the first Easter Day.
IVB2: You are Made Alive in Christ (Col. 2:13-15)
• “Special Notes” and “Scripture” appear as endnotes.
• NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.
Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)
(13) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you [some manuscripts use “us”] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, (14) having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (15) And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross [Or them in Him.]
The author of this passage (Paul) makes an important point; recall what usually happened. We think baptism mostly symbolizes the washing away of our sins. The New Testament also thinks of it as a dying and a rising, for New Testament baptism was founded on Christ’s own blood-baptism for us. Recall what normally happened. As Christ had gone down into His baptism of death, so the communicant in the moment of baptism was “buried,” as Christ had been in the grave. Then he “rose” into “new life,” as Christ had risen on the first Easter Day. Through the Holy Spirit’s working, the convert really rose from his own bad past into a new life; and henceforth he was called to become what he now potentially was?a new man in Christ, united with his living Lord, and incorporated into His body; the Church. This is the experience Paul talks about in verse 13.
The theme of verses 14 and 15 is the Atonement and its effectiveness. What Paul says is that Christ by His death has destroyed the Law and has set us free from the tyranny of the evil powers that lie behind the Law.
Now Paul says, by the Cross of Christ God has not merely cancelled the Law with all its damning charges against us, but has triumphed over the angelic beings that stand behind the Law. “He disarmed the principalities and powers [the angelic beings] and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Him.
(2:13) When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you [some manuscripts use “us”] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins
In this verse Paul appeals to the Colossian believers, desiring that they realize their present possession (or position) in Christianity. The quickening and raising from spiritual deadness have already been experienced and can now be enjoyed. Life in Christ is not a blessing that can be enjoyed only beyond the grave, but here and now too. Paul does not say that believers will soon die?and when they are raised from the grave and given new bodies they will then enjoy eternal life and the blessings of spiritual life; he appeals to them to enjoy the spiritual birthright already conferred upon them through the divine power of God because they have accepted the Lord Jesus by faith. Before they accepted Jesus they were truly dead spiritually; but now they are just as truly alive unto God?not “going to be alive,” but a present possession, “Christ in you NOW. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Paul referred to this spiritual deadness as dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, and then explained that Christians have been quickened together with Jesus and all trespasses have been forgiven. Jesus does not forgive up to a point?and then supplement that forgiveness with works or law; He forgives all trespasses completely and forever. Some of the Colossians wanted their flesh to bear the seal of the Abrahamic covenant for circumcision of the flesh as taught by the Law. The teachers of error in Colosse were overbearing and arrogant when insisting on circumcision after the manner of the Law. Many believing Jews were very zealous of the Law during the days of transition and Paul had a difficult task in persuading these believers that salvation is by grace?and only grace.
When a person is saved, he is immediately baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-13) and identified with the head, Jesus Christ. This identification means that whatever happened to Christ also happened to us. When He died, we died with him. When He was buried we were buried. When He arose again, we arose with Him?and we left the grave clothes of the old life behind (Colossians 3:1-14). It was the power of God that changed us, not the power of water. The Spirit of God identified us with Jesus Christ, and we were buried with Him, raised with Him, and made alive with Him.