Colossians 2:12
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Buried with him in baptism . . .—It is very interesting to compare this passage with Romans 6:4, “Therefore we are buried with Him in baptism unto death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” In the former clause both are identical. In the latter clause this Epistle is stronger. What in the earlier Epistle is the “likeness of His Resurrection” is here the participation of it, “Ye are risen with Him.” Similarly, instead of the simple allusion to “Christ’s being raised from the dead,” we have here “through faith in the operation of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Here, as in the more detailed passage of the Ephesian Epistle (Colossians 1:19-23; Colossians 2:5-7), the “operation,” the energy of “the mighty power of God,” is conceived as actually working both in the Head and in the Body, so that wo through it partake of the resurrection, the ascension, and the glorified majesty of Christ. The comparison shows an instructive development in this Epistle of the consequences of the unity with Christ.

This passage is also notable for the obvious contrast of baptism, as a spiritual reality, with circumcision as a symbolic form. Each is the entrance into a covenant with God; but the one into a covenant of “the letter,” and the other into a covenant of “the spirit.” (See the contrast between the covenants drawn out in 2Corinthians 3:6-18; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:28.) In the earlier Epistles circumcision is contrasted with spiritual regeneration (Galatians 6:15), as shown by various signs, such as “faith working by love” (Romans 4:9-12; Galatians 5:6), or “keeping the commandments of God” (1Corinthians 7:19). Here this contrast is still as strong as ever; but baptism being (as always) looked upon as the means of such spiritual regeneration, is brought out emphatically as “the circumcision of the Spirit.” As baptised into Christ, “we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit” (Philippians 3:3).

2:8-17 There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word complete, is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. In him, not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.Buried with him in baptism - See the notes at Romans 6:4.

Wherein also - In which ordinance, or by virtue of that which is signified by the ordinance.

Ye are risen with him - From the death of sin to the life of religion; Notes, Romans 6:4-5; compare the notes at Ephesians 2:5-6.

Through the faith of the operation of God - By a firm belief on the agency of God in raising him up; that is, a belief of the fact that God has raised him from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is often represented as the foundation of all our hopes; and, as he was raised from the grave to die no more, so, in virtue of that we are raised from the death of sin to eternal spiritual life. The belief of this is shown by our baptism, whatever be the mode in which that ordinance is performed, and as well shown in one mode as another.

12. Translate, "Having been buried with Him in your baptism." The past participle is here coincident in time with the preceding verb, "ye were (Greek) circumcised." Baptism is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the act of immersion symbolically corresponds; and in warm climates where immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the significance of the ordinance; but the spirit of the ordinance is kept by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient or dangerous; to insist on literal immersion in all cases would be mere legal ceremonialism (Ro 6:3, 4).

are risen—rather as Greek, "were raised with Him."

through the faith, &c.—by means of your faith in the operation of God; so "faith of," for "faith in" (Eph 3:12; Php 3:9). Faith in God's mighty operation in raising again Jesus, is saving faith (Ro 4:24; 10:9); and it is wrought in the soul by His same "mighty working" whereby He "raised Jesus from the dead" (Eph 1:19, 20). Bengel seems to me (not as Alford understands him) to express the latter sense, namely, "Through the faith which is a work of the operation of God who," &c. Eph 1:19, 20 accords with this; the same mighty power of God is exercised in raising one spiritually dead to the life of faith, as was "wrought in Christ when God raised Him literally from the dead." However, "faith of" usually is "faith in" (Ro 3:22); but there is no grammatical impropriety in understanding it "the faith which is the effect of the operation of God" (Eph 2:8; 1Th 2:13). As His literal resurrection is the ground of the power put forth in our spiritual resurrection now, so it is a pledge of our literal resurrection hereafter (Ro 8:11).

Buried with him in baptism: he shows that in Christ they who are found have not only the thing signified, but right to the outward sign and seal, viz. baptism, in the room of circumcision abolished; the death and burial of Christ is not only the exemplar, but the cause of the death of the old man, signed and sealed in baptism: or, by baptism into death, Romans 6:3,4, analogically, or symbolically, or sacramentally, when the Lord, together with the external sign, conferreth his grace signified by that sign; for even then the sins of such a one are buried with Christ so as they shall appear no more, either to his eternal condemnation, or in their former dominion, Romans 6:6,9,14.

Wherein also ye are risen with him; in or by which baptism becoming effectual, having mortified the body of sin, like as Christ was raised from the dead, ye are quickened and raised to newness of life, Romans 6:4 Galatians 3:27-29 Ephesians 4:23,24 5:14,26,27 Col 3:10,11. By virtue of Christ’s resurrection, a spiritual and mystical one is produced in you, which hath a resemblance and analogy to his.

Through the faith of the operation of God; not of yourselves, but through faith, Ephesians 2:8, and that wrought in you by the energy or efficacy of God, John 6:29 Philippians 1:29 2:13 Hebrews 12:2.

Who hath raised him from the dead; who did exert his power in raising up Christ from the dead: compare Romans 4:24, with Ephesians 1:19,20. This faith is not only wrought by God, as the circumcision without hands, but it doth respect that wonderful power of God put forth in the raising of Christ, as the subject, which he mentions by way of congruity, speaking of our resurrection, and of Christ’s. And he specifieth faith rather than love or other graces which are wrought also by God, because in this grace, which is the constitutive part of the new creature, God comes in with a greater irradiation upon the soul, being it hath not one fragment or point of nature to stand upon; carnal reason and mere moral righteousness being opposite to it, whereas other graces are but as the rectifying of the passions, and setting them upon right objects.

Buried with him in baptism,.... The apostle goes on to observe how complete and perfect the saints are in Christ; that they are not only circumcised in him in a spiritual sense, and the body of the sins of their flesh is put off, and removed from them, in allusion to the cutting off and casting away of the foreskin in circumcision; but that they and all their sins were buried with Christ, of which their baptism in water was a lively representation: Christ having died for their sins, was laid in the grave, where he continued for a while, and then rose again; and as they were crucified with him, they were also buried with him, as their head and representative; and all their sins too, which he left behind him in the grave, signified by his grave clothes there; and baptism being performed by immersion, when the person baptized is covered with water, and as it were buried in it, is a very significant emblem of all this; it is a representation of the burial of Christ, and very fitly holds him forth to the view of faith in the state of the dead, in the grave, and points out the place where the Lord lay; and it is also a representation of our burial with him, as being dead to sin, to the law, and to the world, by him. This shows now, that baptism was performed by dipping, or covering the whole body in water, for no other form of administration of baptism, as sprinkling, or pouring water on the face, can represent a burial, or be called one; and this is what many learned interpreters own, and observe on this place:

wherein also ye are risen with him; Christ is risen from the dead as the head and representative of his people, and they are risen with him; and their baptism is also an emblem of his and their resurrection, being administered by immersion, in which way only this can be signified; for as the going down into the water, and being under it, represents Christ's descending into the state of the dead, and his continuance in it, so the emersion, or coming up out of the water, represents his rising from the dead, and that of his people in him, in order to walk in newness of life; for the apostle's meaning is, that in baptism saints are risen with Christ, as well as in it buried with him: and this

through the faith of the operation of God; that is, it is through faith that saints see themselves buried and risen with Christ, to which the ordinance of baptism is greatly assisting, where there is true faith; for otherwise, without faith, this ordinance will be of no use to any such end and purpose; and it is not any faith that will avail, but that which is of God's operation; faith is not naturally in men, all men have it not; and those that have it, have it not of themselves, it is the gift of God; it is what be works in them, and by his power performs:

who hath raised him from the dead; this is a periphrasis of God the Father, to whom the resurrection of Christ from the dead is generally ascribed; though not to the exclusion of Christ, and of the Spirit, who were also concerned; and is here added, partly to show in what respect faith, which is God's work, has him for its object, as having raised Christ from the dead, who was delivered for offences, but is risen again through the power of God for justification, and whoever with his heart believes this shall be saved; and partly to show, that the same power is exerted in working true faith in the heart, as was put forth in raising Christ from the dead.

{10} {q} Buried with {r} him in baptism, {11} wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of {s} God, who hath raised him from the dead.

(10) The taking away of an objection: we do not need an external sign to the extent which our fathers had, seeing that our baptism is a most effectual pledge and witness, of that inward restoring and renewing.

(q) See Ro 6:4.

(r) So then all the force of the matter comes not from the very deed done, that is to say, it is not the dipping of us into the water by a minister that makes us to be buried with Christ, as the papists say, that even by the very act's sake we become very Christians, but it comes from the power of Christ, for the apostle adds the resurrection of Christ, and faith.

(11) One purpose of baptism is to symbolise the death and burial of the old man, and that by the mighty power of God alone, whose power we lay hold on by faith, in the death and resurrection of Christ.

(s) Through faith which comes from God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Colossians 2:12 supplies further information as to how the περιετμήθητε, so far as it has taken place by means of the circumcision of Christ, has been accomplished.

συνταφέντες κ.τ.λ.] synchronous with περιετμ. (comp. on Colossians 1:20, εἰρηνοποιήσας): in that ye became buried with Him in baptism. The immersion in baptism, in accordance with its similarity to burial, is—seeing that baptism translates into the fellowship of the death of Christ (see on Romans 6:3)—a burial along with Christ, Romans 6:4. Through that fellowship of death man dies as to his sinful nature, so that the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός (Colossians 2:11) ceases to live, and by means of the fellowship of burial is put off (Colossians 2:11). The subject who effects the joint burial is God, as in the whole context. In the burial of Christ this joint burial of all that confess Him as respects their sinful body was objectively completed; but it takes place, as respects each individually and in subjective appropriation, by their baptism, prior to which the realization of that fellowship of burial was, on the part of individuals, still wanting.

ἐν ᾧ καὶ συνηγέρθητε] A new benefit, which has accrued to the readers ἐν Χριστῷ, and which in their case must bring still more clearly to living consciousness their ἐν Χριστῷ πεπληρωμένον εἶναι; so that ἐν ᾧ here is parallel to the ἐν ᾧ in Colossians 2:11, and refers to Christ, as does also αὐτόν subsequently. It is rightly taken thus, following Chrysostom and his successors, by Luther and most others, including Flatt, Bähr, Huther, Ewald. Others have referred it to ἐν τῷ βαπτ. (Beza, Calixtus, Estius, Michaelis, Heinrichs, and others, including Steiger, Böhmer, de Wette, Baumgarten-Crusius, Hofmann, Dalmer, Bleek); but, in opposition to this may be urged, first, the very symmetry of the discourse (ὅςἐν ᾧ καίἐν ᾧ καί); secondly, and specially, the fact that, if ἐν ᾧ refers to baptism, ἐν could not be the proper preposition, since ἐν ᾧ βαπτ., in accordance with the meaning of the word and the figure of burial, refers to the dipping into (not overflowing, as Hofmann thinks), whilst the spiritual awakening to new life, in which sense these expositors take συνηγέρθ., would have taken place through the emerging again, so that we should expect ἐξ οὗ, or, at all events, the non-local διʼ οὗ; and, thirdly, the fact that just as συνταφέντες has its own more precise definition by ἐν τῷ βαπτ., so also has συνηγέρθ. through διὰ τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ., and therefore the text affords no occasion for taking up again for συνηγέρθ. the more precise definition of the previous point, viz. ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι. No, the first benefit received in Christ which Paul specifies, viz. the moral circumcision, accomplished by God through the joint burial in baptismal immersion, has been fully handled in Colossians 2:11 down to βαπτίσματι in Colossians 2:12, and there now follows a second blessing received by the readers in Christ (ἐν ᾧ καί): they have been raised up also with Christ, which has taken place through faith, etc. The previous joint burial was the necessary moral preliminary condition of this joint awakening, since through it the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός was put off. This συνηγέρθ. is to be understood in the sense of the fellowship of the bodily resurrection of Christ, into which fellowship man enters by faith in such a way that, in virtue of his union of life and destiny with Christ brought about by means of faith, he knows his own resurrection as having taken place in that of Christ—a benefit of joint resurrection, which is, indeed, prior to the Parousia, an ideal possession, but through the Parousia becomes real (whether its realization be attained by resurrection proper in the case of the dead, or by the change that shall take place in those who are still alive). Usually συνηγέρθ. is taken in the ethical sense, as referring to the spiritual awakening, viz. from moral death, so that Paul, after the negative aspect of the regeneration (Colossians 2:11; βαπτίσματι, Colossians 2:12), now describes its positive character; comp. also Huther, Ewald, Bleek, Hofmann. But in opposition to this view is the fact that the fresh commencement ἐν ᾧ καί, corresponding with the similar commencement of Colossians 2:11, and referring to Christ, makes us expect the mention of a new benefit, and not merely that of another aspect of the previous one, otherwise there would have been no necessity for repeating the ἐν ᾧ καί; as also, that the inference of participation in the proper resurrection of Christ from death lies at the basis of the following τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. Comp. on Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5-6. Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Oecumenius have already correctly explained it of the proper resurrection (καὶ γὰρ ἐγηγέρμεθα τῇ δυνάμει, εἰ καὶ μὴ τῇ ἐνεργείᾳ), but Theophylact makes it include the ethical awakening also: holding that it is to be explained κατὰ δύο τρόπους, of the actual resurrection in spe, and at the same time ὅτι πνευματικῶς τὴν νέκρωσιν τῶν ἔργων τῆς ἁμαρτίας ἀπεῤῥίψαμεν.

διὰ τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ.] The τῆς πίστεως is described by Holtzmann, p. 70, as syntactically clumsy and offensive; he regards it as an interpolation borrowed from Ephesians 1:19 f. Groundlessly; Paul is describing the subjective medium, without which the joint awakening, though objectively and historically accomplished in the resurrection of Christ, would not be appropriated individually, the ληπτικόν for this appropriation being wanting. The unbeliever has not the blessing of having risen with Christ, because he stands apart from the fellowship of life with Christ, just as also he has not the reconciliation, although the reconciliation of all has been accomplished objectively through Christ’s death. The genitive τῆς ἐνεργείας τ. Θ. is the object of faith; so Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Castalio, Beza, Calvin, Zeger, Grotius, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, and others, including Baumgarten-Crusius, Ewald, Bleek, and Hofmann, in the 2d ed. of the Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 174 f. But others, such as Luther (“through the faith which God works”), Bengel, Flatt, Bähr, Steiger, de Wette, Böhmer, Huther, et al., take τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. Θ. as genitivus causae, for which, however, Ephesians 1:19 is not to be adduced (see in loc.), and in opposition to which it is decisive that in all passages, where the genitive with πίστις is not the believing subject, it denotes the object (Mark 11:22; Acts 3:16; Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; Php 1:27; Php 3:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Jam 2:1; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 14:12), and that the description of God as the Being who has raised up Christ from the dead stands most naturally and directly in significant reference to the divine activity which procures, not the faith, but the συνεγείρεσθαι, and which is therefore set forth in a very appropriate manner as the special object[100] of faith (comp. 4:17, 24, 6:8, 10:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13-14; Ephesians 1:19 f.; 1 Peter 1:21). At the basis, namely, of the τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτ. ἐκ νεκρ. lies the certainty in the believer’s consciousness: since God has raised up Christ, His activity, which has produced this principale and majus, will have included therein the consequens and minus, my resurrection with Him. To the believer the two stand in such essential connection, that in the operation of God which raised up Christ he beholds, by virtue of his fellowship of life with Christ, the assurance of his own resurrection having taken place along with that act; in the former he has the pledge, the ἐνέχυρον (Theodoret) of the latter. Hofmann now again (as in the first ed. of the Schriftbeweis) explains τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. Θ. as in apposition to τῆς πίστεως, in such a way that Paul, “as if correcting himself,” makes the former take the place of the latter, in order to guard against the danger of his readers conceiving to themselves faith as a conduct on man’s part making possible the participation in the resurrection of Christ by God, while in reality it is nothing else than the product of the ἐνέργεια of God. A quite gratuitously invented self-correction, without precedent, and undiscoverable by the reader; although the thought, if it had entered the mind of Paul, might have been indicated with the utmost simplicity and ease (possibly by διὰ τῆς πίστεως, μᾶλλον δὲ διὰ τῆς ἐνεργ. τ. Θ.).

[100] The efficacy of the divine power shown in the resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of the certainty of salvation.

Colossians 2:12. συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτισμῷ. This refers to the personal experience of the Christian. The rite of baptism, in which the person baptised was first buried beneath the water and then raised from it, typified to Paul the burial and resurrection of the believer with Christ. Burial seems to imply a previous death, but Romans 6:3-4 perhaps shows that the metaphors must not be rigidly pressed. συνταφ. is to be joined closely with περιετμήθητε. If any distinction in meaning is to be made between βαπτισμός and βάπτισμα, it is that the former expresses the process, the latter the result.—ἐν ᾧ may refer either to Χρ. or to βαπ. The former view is taken by Chrysostom (followed by Luther, Meyer and many others). The latter is taken by Calvin and most recent commentators (De W., Hofm., Alf., Ell., Lightf., Kl[14], Sod., Haupt, Abb.). In favour of the former it is urged that the parallelism with ἐν ᾧ καὶ περιετμ. requires it. But the real parallel is with “buried with Him in baptism,” and this requires “raised with Him in baptism”. Since baptism is not the mere plunging into the water, but emersion from it too, ἐν is not against this interpretation, and διά or ἐξ is not necessary to express it.—συνηγέρθητε expresses the positive side of the experience. That death with Christ, which is the putting off of the body of flesh, has for its counterpart the putting on of Christ (Galatians 3:27), which is followed by a walk with Him in newness of life. It is true that our complete redemption is attained only in the resurrection of the body (Romans 8:23, 2 Corinthians 5:2-4). But there is clearly no reference here to the bodily resurrection at the last day, as some have thought; for that is altogether excluded by the whole tenor of the passage, which refers to an experience already complete. Nor can we, with Meyer, think of the bodily resurrection as already ideally accomplished in baptism. For the preceding context speaks only of a spiritual experience, and it is impossible to pass thus violently to one that is physical. Haupt agrees with this, but thinks the reference is not ethical, but religious, that is forensic. The rest of the passage, he argues, shows that it is not moral transformation, but justification, that Paul has in mind. But however true this may be of χαρισάμενοςσταυρῷ, it is at least questionable for the immediately succeeding context. And since the union covers both ethical renewal and justification, it is natural to find both mentioned in connexion with it, and to hold fast the former here as the more natural interpretation of the words.—διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας: “through faith in the working”. Klöpper (following Luth., Beng., De W. and others) makes τῆς ἐνερ. genitive of cause, “faith produced by the working”. He argues that it is strange that in the experience already referred to the faith which proves itself in baptism must be thought of as directed towards the Person of Christ, and so cannot now be spoken of as faith in the working of God; and further, that the whole context has referred to a passive experience, and so this is fitly continued by the assertion that even the faith, which appropriates the death and resurrection of Christ, is the creation of God. But these arguments are insufficient to overthrow the force of Pauline usage, according to which elsewhere the genitive after πίστις, unless it refers to the person who believes, expresses the object of faith. The view of Hofmann that τ. ἐνερ. is a genitive of apposition, and that what is meant is “faith, that is the working of God,” is quite out of the question. For faith directed towards the working of God who raised Christ from the dead, cf. Romans 4:24. God is so characterised, since the working by which He raised Christ will also be effective in our own spiritual experience. Our baptism is therefore not a sign of nothing, but of a real spiritual burial and resurrection with Christ.

[14] Klöpper.

12. buried with him] Cp. Romans 6:4; the only parallel.—Union with Christ is primarily union with Him as the Dead and Buried, because His Death (consummated as it were and sealed in His Burial) is the procuring cause of all our blessings in Him, as it is our Propitiation and Peace. The Christian, joined to Him, shares as it were the atoning Death and the covering, swallowing, Grave of his blessed Representative; he goes to the depths of that awful process with and in his Lord.

in baptism] The form of the Greek word (baptismos not baptisma in the best reading) perhaps emphasizes the action rather than the abstract institution; it recalls the decisive “Rubicon” which his sacramental Washing was to the convert. See Lightfoot here.

The immersion of the baptized (the primeval and ideal form of rite, but not invariable as a literal action; see Teaching of the Apostles (cent. 1), ch. 7) is undoubtedly here in view. The plunge beneath the water signified identification with the buried Lord, and sealed it to faith. Lightfoot quotes from the Apostolic Constitutions (a book heretical in doctrine but valuable as a witness to usages; cent. 3) the words (Colossians 3:17), “the plunge is our dying with Him, the coming up, our rising with Him.”

It must be said again (see above on Colossians 2:11) that, in the ultimate reality, not the Sacrament but faith in God’s promises joins us to the Lord in His death. But the Sacrament so seals the faith that the terms appropriate to faith attach to the Sacrament, naturally though secondarily. Cp. Galatians 3:26-27, in the significant connexion of the verses. And see Beveridge on Artt. xxv., xxvii.; and Lombard, quoted in Appendix K.

ye are risen with him] Better, ye rose with Him.—The state to which baptism was your sacramental admittance is a state of union with Christ as the Risen One; fellowship in His supreme Acceptance and in His possession of the full wealth of the Spirit as our Mediator and Surety. Baptism seals to faith all our possessions in the now glorified Redeemer.

through the faith of &c.] Better, through your faith in the working (energeia) of God. Observe the reference to faith in connexion with the Sacrament; and see next note.

who hath raised him] Better, who raised Him. Cp. 1 Peter 1:18-21 (especially 21) for a close and instructive parallel.—Faith rests upon God as He is viewed specially as the Raiser of the Lord from the dead, because in that character we see Him as reconciled and as actively gracious to us. See further Hebrews 13:20-21.

K. PETER LOMBARD ON BAPTISM. (Colossians 2:12.)

Peter Lombard (ob. a.d. 1160), known among medieval theologians as “the Master of the Sentences” (Magister Sententiarum), or simply, “the Master,” writes as follows in his Treatise on Theology called Sententiœ (Lib. iv., Distinctio iv., §§ 3–7):

It is asked, how is that text to be received, As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ.… In two manners are we said to put on Christ; by the taking of the Sacrament, or by the reception of the Thing (Res). So Augustine: ‘Men put on Christ sometimes so far as the reception of the Sacrament, sometimes so far as the sanctification of the life; and the first may be common to the good and the evil; the latter is peculiar to the good and pious.’ So all who are baptized in Christ’s name put on Christ either in the sense of (secundum) the reception of the Sacrament, or in that of sanctification of the life.

“Others there are … who receive the Thing and not the Sacrament … Not only does martyrdom (passio) do the work of baptism but also faith and contrition, where necessity excludes the Sacrament …

“Whether is greater, faith or water? Without doubt I answer, faith. Now if the lesser can sanctify, cannot the greater, even faith? of which Christ said, ‘He that believeth in me, even if he were dead, he shall live’ … [Augustine says,] ‘If any man having faith and love desires to be baptized, and cannot so be, because necessity intervenes, the kindness of the Almighty supplies what was lacking to the Sacrament … The duty which could not be done is not reckoned against him by God, who hath not tied (alligavit) His power to the Sacraments …’

“The question is often asked, regarding those who, already sanctified by the Spirit, come with faith and love to baptism, what benefit baptism confers upon them? For it seems to give them nothing, since through faith and contrition their sins are already forgiven and they are justified. To which it may be truly replied that they are indeed … justified, i.e. purged from the stain (macula) of sin, and absolved from the debt of the eternal punishment, but that they are still held by the bond of the temporal satisfaction by which penitents are bound in the Church. Now when they receive Baptism they are both cleansed of any sins they have contracted since conversion, and are absolved from the external satisfaction; and assisting grace and all virtues are increased in them; so that the man may then truly be called new … Baptism confers much benefit even on the man already justified by faith; for, coming to it, he is now carried, like the branch by the dove, into the ark. He was within the ark already in the judgment of God; he is now within it in that of the Church also …

“Marvel not that the Thing sometimes goes before the Sacrament, since sometimes it follows even long after; as in those who come insincerely (ficté). Baptism will begin to profit them (only) when they afterwards repent.”

These remarks of a great representative of Scholastic Theology are interesting in themselves, and are instructive also as a caution, from the history of doctrine, against overstrained inferences from the mere wording of, e.g. Colossians 2:12, as if it were unfaithful to history to interpret such language in the light of facts and experience. The great risk of such overstrained exposition is that it tends to exalt the Sacrament at the expense of adequate views of the Grace, and so to invert the scale and relation of Scripture.

Colossians 2:12. Βαπτίσματι, in baptism) As death is before the resurrection, so in this third or middle term of the comparison, baptism naturally precedes matured (full-grown) faith.—ἐν ᾧ, in which) An Anaphora [the frequent repetition of the same words in the beginnings], comp. Colossians 2:11.—διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ Θεοῦ) A remarkable expression: faith is of Divine operation, and Divine working is in believers; Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Verse 12. - When ye were (literally, having been) buried with him in your baptism (ver. 20; Colossians 3:3; Romans 6:1-11; Galatians 3:26, 27; Ephesians 4:5; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). Βαπτισμός, the rarer form of the word, is preferred by Tregelles, Alford, Lightfoot (see his note), being found in Codex B, with other good authorities; it indicates the process ("in your baptizing"). Βάπτισμα, the usual form of the word, is retained by Revisers, after Tischendorf, Ellicott, Westcott and Herr. Baptism stands for the entire change of the man which it symbolizes and seals (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27). The double aspect of this change was indicated by the twofold movement taking place in immersion, the usual form of primitive baptism - first the κατάδυσις, the descent of the baptized person beneath the symbolic waters, figuring his death with Christ as a separation from sin and the evil past (ver. 20), - there for a moment he is buried, and burial is death made complete and final (Romans 6:2-4); then the ἀνάδυσις, the emerging from the baptismal wave, which gave baptism the positive side of its significance. In which (or, whom) also ye were raised with (him), through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 3:1; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 2:6, 8; Romans 6:4; Romans 4:24, 25; 1 Peter 1:21). We refer the relative pronoun to the immediately antecedent "baptism," although the previous ἐν ῷ refers to "Christ" (ver. 11: comp. Ephesians 2:6) and some good interpreters follow the rendering "in whom." For the Christian's being raised with Christ is not contrasted with his circumcision (ver. 11) - that figure has been dismissed - but with his burial in baptism (ver. 12 a); so Alford, Ellicott, Lightfoot, Revisers. "Having been buried" is replaced in the antithesis by the more assertive "ye were raised" (comp. vers. 13, 14; Colossians 1:22, 26). "With" points to the "him" (Christ) of the previous clause (comp. Ephesians 2:6; Romans 6:6). Faith is the instrumental cause of that which baptism sets forth (comp. Galatians 3:26, 27), and has for its object (not its cause: so Bengel) "the working" (ἐνεργεία: see note, Colossians 1:29; also Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 3:20) "of God." And the special Divine work on which it rests is "the resurrection of Christ" (Romans 4:24, 25; Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:13-17): comp. note on "Firstborn out of the dead," Colossians 1:19. Rising from the baptismal waters, the Christian convert declares the faith of his heart in that supreme act of God, which attests and makes sure all that he has bestowed upon us in his Son (Colossians 1:12-14: comp. Romans 1:4; also 1 Peter 1:21; Acts 2:36; Acts 13:33, 38, etc.). Baptism symbolizes all that circumcision did, and more. It expresses more fully than the older sacrament our parting with the life of sin; and also that of which circumcision knew nothing - the union of the man with the dying and risen Christ, which makes him "dead unto sin, and alive unto God." How needless, then, even if it were legitimate, for a Christian to return to this superseded rite! To heighten his readers' sense of the reality and completeness of the change which as baptized (i.e. believing) Christians they bad undergone, he describes it now more directly as matter of personal experience. Colossians 2:12Buried (συνταφέντες)

See on Romans 6:4. The aorist tense puts the burial as contemporaneous with the circumcision. Ye were circumcised when ye were buried, etc.

In baptism (ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι or βαπτισμῷ)

The article, the baptism points to the familiar rite, or may have the force of your.

Wherein also (ἐν ᾧ καὶ)

Referring to baptism, not to Christ.

Ye were raised with Him (συνηγέρθητε)

The burial and the raising are both typified in baptism. The raising is not the resurrection to eternal life at Christ's second coming, but the moral resurrection to a new life. This corresponds with the drift of the entire passage, with the figurative sense of buried, and with Romans 6:4, which is decisive.

Through the faith of the operation of God

Not the faith which God works, but your faith in God's working: faith in God's energy as displayed in Christ's resurrection. Hence the emphasis which is laid on faith in the resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 15:3, 1 Corinthians 15:4 (note); Romans 10:9; Ephesians 1:19. Colossians 2:11, Colossians 2:12 should be compared with Romans 6:2-6.

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