Monday

“In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ.” (v. 11)

Colossians 2:8-15 Monday 20 August 2018

Psalm: Psalm 119:129-144

 

Background

The rich imagery in this passage makes the point that the resources found in all that God has already done in Christ and in the believer’s relationship with Christ, are more than enough to deal with the criticism and teaching of other philosophies – such as those being taught in the Jewish synagogues in Colossai. If we are one with Christ we are more than able to resist and challenge other ways of living and behaving.

The imagery of circumcision is strange and alien to us. We must resist the temptation to immediately translate the image, as the power in this passage is in the image Paul has chosen. We need to wrestle with that.

In verse 11 Paul speaks of the Colossians’ union with Christ in his circumcision, burial and resurrection. The use of the metaphor of circumcision for the death of Jesus is highly significant and a means of taking on and undermining the viewpoint of the “philosophy and empty deceit” Paul speaks of in verse 8.

Just as believers dying with Christ is a spiritual rather than a physical experience, so it is with circumcision. This is a circumcision which is the work of God and belongs to the new order brought in by Christ. What union with Christ in the circumcision means ethically for believers is spelled out in Colossians 3:9 where Paul talks about “having stripped off” the old way of being human and all the behaviours associated with that. For Paul incorporation into Christ is of prime importance.

Paul brings the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection to bear on the Colossians’ perception of their first century context. We need to take the same gospel and bring it to bear on the powers of evil and perceptions of those who pose a threat to faith in our time and context. The way we treat refugees and the homeless; unjust social and political structures; the abuse of power and oppressive ideologies like sexism, consumerism and materialism can all enshrine the “philosophy and empty deceit” Paul is warning the Colossians against.

To Ponder

  • How do you feel when you reflect on the image of circumcision as Paul is using it here? What impact do these feelings have on your understanding of what Paul is saying here?
  • Where in modern life do you experience the most challenge to being one in Christ?
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