Circumcision Proves the Necessity of Baptism

by Kent Heaton


The apostle Paul appeals to the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” to discharge the philosophies of men and embrace Him who has the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1). The church at Colosse had been troubled by the teachings of men that distracted from the glory of the church and pure teaching of the Savior. Paul seeks to admonish the brethren to maintain their faith in Jesus Christ in writing, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).

Paul reminds them of their obedience to the gospel of Christ in the use of the remembrance of their being raised with Christ and the death experienced in that raising. He wants them to keep their focus on the one who sits on the right hand of God establishing the preeminence of Christ in their lives and removing the shackles of this earth from their minds. The apostle had earlier shown how this “raising” took place and when. “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: 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. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:11 -13).

Most religious people today deny the necessity of baptism. Modern preachers delude the masses into believing that baptism is only an outward sign of an inward grace that has no connection with salvation. Paul establishes firmly in the book of Colossians the necessity of baptism as clearly as the necessity of circumcision commanded by God in an earlier time. The covenant of circumcision was given to Abraham in Genesis 17. “And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between me and you” (Genesis 17:11 ). Circumcision was established in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12). This was a fleshly circumcision. Under the Law of Christ, circumcision would be a spiritual act – “without hands.”

Imagine someone in the days of Moses preaching that circumcision was not necessary for salvation. Paul told the church at Colosse that the “circumcision made without hands” was not the putting off of a fleshly foreskin but the “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” – being buried in baptism! The covenant of God is established through baptism and without this covenant there is no salvation.

Paul also reminded the brethren they had died for Christ. Where does this death take place? Did they die in the Lord when they accepted Christ as their personal Savior? No! Their death took place in the waters of baptism. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). Colossians 3:1-3 shows the necessity of baptism. Have you been raised with Christ?