Paul, Circumcision and the Mosaic Covenant

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Brian

Puritan Board Freshman
Why did Paul so often associate circumcision with Mosaic tablet legalists? Or perhaps better, why did Mosaic tablet legalists so often cling to circumcision?

Circumcision was instituted under the Abrahamic covenant. It was a sign and seal of the circumcision made without hands (correct me if I get off here). The New Covenant reflects and fulfills the promises made in the Abrahamic (among other) covenant, and abolishes the Mosaic covenant as being "old."

So why so much of a diatribe against circumcision? How can Paul assoicate circumcision with "works of the flesh?"

Links? Previous threads? Replies?

Thanks for the help,
BRIAN
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I think it's primarily the context in which he is talking about it.

Paul had a major theological battle with a Pharasaical sect within Christianity that wanted to claim that Gentiles were not true believers until they are circumcised. In such a context, his use of circumcision speaks of a misappropriation of the Covenant where those "of the circumcision" want to make the keeping of the Mosaic Law a part of Justification instead of understanding that it is faith in Christ keeping the Law which Justifies.

Gal 2:12
2 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision .
NKJV

Gal 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
NKJV

Gal 5:11-12
And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision , why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
NKJV

Gal 6:15
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
NKJV

But Paul didn't always view or use circumcision as a dirty word:

Phil 3:2-3
Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision , who worship God in the Spirit,
NKJV

Col 2:11-12

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, 12 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.
NKJV

Col 4:11
These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision ; they have proved to be a comfort to me.
NKJV

So sometimes Paul refers to those of the circumcision as those who are truly Christ's and in others he refers to a sect that doesn't understand the true nature of the Covenant (as it always was) and seek to undermine the Gospel by denying Christ as our righteousness.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
This seems to sum it up:

Rom 2:25-29

For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision ? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision , are a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
NKJV
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Originally posted by Brian

Circumcision was instituted under the Abrahamic covenant. It was a sign and seal of the circumcision made without hands (correct me if I get off here). BRIAN

Are you sure it was a sign and seal of circumcision made without hands?

I believe it was a seal of Abrahams righteousness by faith.

Rom 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:
 

Brian

Puritan Board Freshman
Hmmmm...

Good point, Randy, though could you tell me what the difference between the two are?

I guess I understand "the circumcision made without hands" to be a cutting away of sin from the heart. I.e., it is synonymous with a "circumcised heart" which I see as the same thing as righteousness.

Colossians 2:9 - 12
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Does that help clarify?

I appreciate your comments.

Semper -
good thoughts. Thanks. I agree. Perhaps I am more amazed that the Jewish sect (who at least in some manner appropriated Christ) could have screwed up so much. I'm still amazed that they incorporated circumcision into Mosaic law-keeping.

Thanks everyone,
BRIAN
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
I will respond more tomorrow, probably more like tomorrow night, but I believe that the circumcision made without hands is regeneration which isn't righteousness. Faith and righteousness follow regeneration.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I think one must determine two aspects of circumcision - 1) a sign of something and 2) a symbol of something.

1) It was a sign of the covenant.

Genesis 17:10-11 "This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.

Genesis 17:13 "He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.

Genesis 17:14 "And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant."

Colossians 3:11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

2) It was a symbol of regeneration.

Deuteronomy 10:16 "Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.

Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings."

Deuteronomy 30:6 "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Colossians 2:11 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,

[Edited on 11-6-2005 by webmaster]
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
:ditto: to Matt. The seal in the New Covenant seems to be that of the Holy Spirit though. Baptism is not mentioned to be a seal of righteousness. The only seal mentioned is that of us being sealed in the Holy Ghost and redemption, or for ministry, as far as I can tell.

Rom 15:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.


(Eph 1:13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

(Eph 1:14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

(Rev 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
The question of circumcision and its relationship to the New Covenant can only be understood in my opinion with reference to the two seeds of Abraham:-

Gal 4:22. 'For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.'

Gen 17:18-19. 'And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before You!" Then God said, "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you will call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him."'

Ishmael is a type of Israel after the flesh.

Gal 4:24. 'Which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mt Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar.' Now which covenant is this? Clearly the Old Covenant, which engenders bondage to the law.

Gen 17:20. 'And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.' These are earthly promises, reminiscent of the promises to Israel after the flesh (12 princes = 12 Patriarchs?).

So who are the descendants of Isaac, the child of promise?

Gal 3:28. 'Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.' Isaac represents the New Covenant. He is the father of the miracle children, those born of the Spirit, those who are in Christ Jesus, where, as it is written 'Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new birth' (Gal 6:15 ).

Of the children of the barren woman, the children of promise, it is written, 'All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children' (Isaiah 54:13 ). Israel after the flesh were not all taught by the Lord, only the children of promise.

John 6:45. 'It is written in the prophets, "And they shall all be taught by God," Therefore everyone who has heard and learned of the Father comes to Me.'

Therefore Paul was insistent that believers should not subject themselves to the ordinance of the Old Covenant. 'Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?' (Gal 3:3 ). The children of the bondwoman are changed outwardly, the children of promise are those, and only those, who are changed inwardly. 'For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God' (Rom 2:28-29 ).

Of those who have only the outward sign, be it circumcision or baptism, it is written, 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman' (Gal 4:30 cf. Gen 21:10 ).

Grace & Peace,

Martin
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
The question of circumcision and its relationship to the New Covenant can only be understood in my opinion with reference to the two seeds of Abraham:-
I must respectfully question if your exposition is the only way to understand circumcision wrt the New Covenant.

Your focus is upon Paul's denunciation of the Judaizing Heresy and, while useful as a way for us to understand the nature of the Gospel from the perspective of what it is and isn't wrt to how those "of the cirumcision" were distorting it, it is not the only discussion of the Gospel or of "circumcision".

Because Paul uses the same terms "circumcision", "Jew", or "Israel" in ways that sometimes refer to fleshly, external Judaism which denies the Gospel and sometiems uses all three to refer to true belief then you cannot limit the understanding of circumcision to the two seeds analogy that Paul draws in Galatians where he is primarily putting down the external sense.

In fact, the Romans 2:28-29 passage you cite makes the point I was trying to initally make. Paul jumps back and forth here. Somebody circumcised in the flesh is not truly circumcised while those who were uncircumcised have become circumcised.

True circumcision was something God always wanted from His people. The Judaizing heresy was always heretical as the "Gospel preached to Abraham" was never about the flesh ultimately and keeping the Law in it. Circumcision has a different relationship to the Old Covenant than the New but it is a formal difference and not a material difference.

I also believe that circumcision has a place for our understanding today and that those in Christ are of the true circumcision. Paul uses this idea in a positive fashion elsewhere when he is not chastising heretics. We are both Gentiles in one sense and Jews in another and uncircumcised in one sense but circumcised in another.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
To re-quote some passages that demonstrate that true circumcision has always been an issue of the heart:
Deut 10:16
Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.

Deut 30:6
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

Jer 4:4
Circumcise yourselves to the LORD,
And take away the foreskins of your hearts,
You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Lest My fury come forth like fire,
And burn so that no one can quench it,
Because of the evil of your doings."

[Edited on 11-7-2005 by SemperFideles]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
:ditto: to Matt. The seal in the New Covenant seems to be that of the Holy Spirit though. Baptism is not mentioned to be a seal of righteousness. The only seal mentioned is that of us being sealed in the Holy Ghost and redemption, or for ministry, as far as I can tell.

Rom 15:28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.


(Eph 1:13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

(Eph 1:14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

(Rev 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

But:

Rom 4:11
And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.
COL 2:11-12
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.
Was not Abraham sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption too? He was not sealed by his faith, rather it was a seal of His faith. The object of his faith being Christ.

Baptism is said to be the "circumcision made without hands".

After all:
MAT 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

MAT 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
It is the Holy Spirit that we are baptized with.

[Edited on 11-7-2005 by SemperFideles]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Originally posted by SemperFideles


Baptism is said to be the "circumcision made without hands".

Where does it say that at? It isn't Colossians 2:10,11.
No, its 11 & 12.

In Whom [that is: Christ, v. 8]
also you were circumcised
(with a circumcision that wasn't done by hand)
[so this is not physical but spiritual circumcision]
by the putting off of the body of flesh in Christ's circumcision [is this circumcision that happened to Christ, or is it a circumcision that he performs? The latter seems the more consonant, so it is Christ who has circumcised us--HOW DID HE DO THAT?]
being buried with Him in baptism,
in which you were raised together with Him
through faith
by the working of God Who raised him from the dead.


[Edited on 11-7-2005 by Contra_Mundum]
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by SemperFideles

Your focus is upon Paul's denunciation of the Judaizing Heresy and, while useful as a way for us to understand the nature of the Gospel from the perspective of what it is and isn't wrt to how those "of the cirumcision" were distorting it, it is not the only discussion of the Gospel or of "circumcision".

Actually, my aim was to set the relevant verses in Genesis alongside Paul's comments upon them. Galatians does not become irrelevant to us because we may think there are no Judaisers today. The verses I quoted stand in their own right. There are two seeds of Abraham, and they do symbolize the two covenants whether or not anyone is 'distorting' the Gospel.
Because Paul uses the same terms "circumcision", "Jew", or "Israel" in ways that sometimes refer to fleshly, external Judaism which denies the Gospel and sometiems uses all three to refer to true belief then you cannot limit the understanding of circumcision to the two seeds analogy that Paul draws in Galatians where he is primarily putting down the external sense.

The Spirit does not contradict Himself in Paul. There is fleshly circumcision and there is circumcision of the heart. There is a true Jew who is one inwardly and is the true seed of Abraham (Gal 3:7 ), and a false Jew who is only one outwardly and is the seed of the devil (John 8:44 ). There is the Israel of God (Gal 6:16 ) and there is Israel after the flesh upon whom wrath has come to the uttermost (1Thes 2:16 ). The two seeds analogy is absolutely foundational.
In fact, the Romans 2:28-29 passage you cite makes the point I was trying to initally make. Paul jumps back and forth here. Somebody circumcised in the flesh is not truly circumcised while those who were uncircumcised have become circumcised.

I see no jumping back and forth. What is it that you find difficult? A true Jew is one whose circumcision is of the heart. A fleshly circumcision counts for nothing (John 6:63; Phil 3:3 ).
True circumcision was something God always wanted from His people.
If you mean circumcision of the heart, then I agree. Fleshly circumcision was a temporary ordinance. It placed the descendants of Jacob in bondage under the Sinai covenant by which a middle wall of partition was placed between them and all other nations. It encouraged them to obedience by the promise of temporal prosperity and restrained them by fear of temporal judgements. But in every age there was among them a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom 11:4-5 ), whose hearts God had touched (eg. Mal 3:16 ), in whose hearts was His law (Isaiah 51:7 ). These, like Isaac, were the children of promise; the rest of the nation, like Ishmael, were born after the flesh. Both were for a time kept under bondage (Gal 4:3 ).

Isaiah 54 fortells a time when the barren woman should rejoice, and her children be more numerous than those of the married wife. In Paul's allegory, Sarah is the type of the New Covenant, of which all and only believers are the children (Heb 8:10-11; John 6:45 ). They are made free by the Son with whom they are spiritually united (1Cor 6:17 ) and are truly free (John 8:36 ).
The Judaizing heresy was always heretical as the "Gospel preached to Abraham" was never about the flesh ultimately and keeping the Law in it.
I agree.
Circumcision has a different relationship to the Old Covenant than the New but it is a formal difference and not a material difference.

Are you describing the Abrahamic covenant as the Old Covenant? If so, you are wrong to do so, since the Bible never does. If you are speaking of the Mosaic covenant, then I disagree strongly.
I also believe that circumcision has a place for our understanding today and that those in Christ are of the true circumcision.
I agree, but perhaps not in the sense that you mean.
Paul uses this idea in a positive fashion elsewhere when he is not chastising heretics.
You are thinking, I suppose, of Rom 3:1-2. The advantage that the circumcised Jew had was that he had the law, which if he had used it properly would have led him to Christ. But just a few verses later, Paul asks (v9 ), 'What then? Are [Jews] better than [Gentiles]? Not at all! For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.' The Jews had a great advantage but did not use it (Acts 7:51-53 ).

We are both Gentiles in one sense and Jews in another and uncircumcised in one sense but circumcised in another.

No sir! 'For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh' (Phil 3:3 ). We have the only circumcision that matters- that of the heart.

Praise the Lord!

Grace & Peace,

Martin
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Martin,

I'll be a bit lazy and not respond line by line to your reply to mine.

I think we are agreeing but until you clarified by disagreeing and not understanding what I was trying to say in my brevity I did not see where you were coming from. I saw in your post primarily a rejection of circumcision in the fleshly sense and did not see an affirmation of circumcision in the sense of being of the heart.

A few points to clarify further:

1. Yes, I mean circumcision of the heart when I say that God has always wanted that of His people. When I further say that circumcision has primarily changed forms and not materially I mean that in the OC, the fleshly sacrament, instituted by Abraham, was the formal act but pointed to a seal of righteousness accomplished by the Holy Spirit. In the same fashion, in the NC, we are circumcised of the heart without hands. In both cases, the true seed is circumcised of the heart and not of the flesh.

2. When I say we are Gentiles and Jews, and uncircumcised and circumcised I mean this: we are not Jews or circumcised in the stirct, external sense but Paul calls us Jews and circumcised in the Spiritual sense. So we agree violently on that too. :)
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
Originally posted by SemperFideles


Baptism is said to be the "circumcision made without hands".

Where does it say that at? It isn't Colossians 2:10,11.
No, its 11 & 12.

In Whom [that is: Christ, v. 8]
also you were circumcised
(with a circumcision that wasn't done by hand)
[so this is not physical but spiritual circumcision]
by the putting off of the body of flesh in Christ's circumcision [is this circumcision that happened to Christ, or is it a circumcision that he performs? The latter seems the more consonant, so it is Christ who has circumcised us--HOW DID HE DO THAT?]
being buried with Him in baptism,
in which you were raised together with Him
through faith
by the working of God Who raised him from the dead.


[Edited on 11-7-2005 by Contra_Mundum]

Yep,
You are correct Bruce. I meant vs. 11,12.

Let's look at this.

First of all we acknowledge that circumcision here is the circumcision that Christ does. As I stated earlier I believe this is regeneration.

Let's look at the text.

(Col 2:10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

(Col 2:11) 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:

(Col 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.


The purpose of the text is to proclaim our completeness in Christ. We don't need anything but to be regenerate and be found in Christ.

In the verses that Matt mentioned above we could see that this circumcision is regeneration of the heart. There is no faith required for that. Faith is not even mentioned in connection with it. It is something that is monergistic.

The subjective part of this is that we are now also Baptized in Him (or placed in Christ) and raised with Christ through faith. Regeneration is not by faith. Regeneration causes us to have faith through the operation of God. Our faith justifies us and places us in union with Christ which is what baptism is about.

Thus circumcision and baptism are two different things. They are not one.

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The circumcision and the baptism in these verses are both the spiritual variety. What do either of these spiritual acts do?

We have to relate the words of the sentence, grammar, the phrases and the clauses, to one another. It's Paul, not me, who says Christ circumcises us, and then describes that circumcision in baptismal language.

The "him" of verse 10 starts one of Paul's typical catenas, as he takes the initial phrase and elaborates on it. "Him" Paul expands to: "which is the head...," and then: "In whom also ye are...." Are "circumcised," which leads to: "with the circumcision made without hands...," which is followed by a phrase that describes the spiritual act of circumcision by using the language of the physical act of circumcision--we would call that symbolic/sacramental language--which action is attributed to "Christ" himself.

Which leads to (v. 12): beginning with the passive participle, "buried with him in baptism...." Normal usage associates the participle with the controlling verb, which is "are/were circumcised" (!). So, the exegete's task is to describe the specific relationship between the two. The most obvious connection is adverbial (or circumstantial). The questions "when" or "why" do not appear relevant, leaving "how" (means/manner). "Manner" being primarily emotional or attitudinal, we are left with "by means of".


Exegetically this shows, at the very least, that grammatically a very strong case is made that Paul is saying: Christ circumcises us baptismally.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Originally posted by Contra_Mundum
The circumcision and the baptism in these verses are both the spiritual variety.

I agree with you on this.
What do either of these spiritual acts do?

Just what I said above. One has to do with regeneration and the other has to do with our union with Christ. Two different things.

We have to relate the words of the sentence, grammar, the phrases and the clauses, to one another.

We also have to relate them theologically.

It's Paul, not me, who says Christ circumcises us, and then describes that circumcision in baptismal language.

I disagree with you on this. He is relating these two things to us being made complete in Christ. We are complete in Christ by being made alive first of all. Then we exercise faith and are placed in union with Christ. That is why faith is mentioned in corralation to baptism.
Faith is not something that preceeds regeneration. It is something that preceeds our union or being in Christ. i.e. spiritual baptism.

Will communicate more with you Bruce.

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by puritancovenanter

It's Paul, not me, who says Christ circumcises us, and then describes that circumcision in baptismal language.

I disagree with you on this. He is relating these two things to us being made complete in Christ. We are complete in Christ by being made alive first of all. Then we exercise faith and are placed in union with Christ. That is why faith is mentioned in corralation to baptism.
Faith is not something that preceeds regeneration. It is something that preceeds our union or being in Christ. i.e. spiritual baptism.

Will communicate more with you Bruce.
Our faith being a gift of God through regeneration and our union with Christ and adoption resulting in turn, it seems rather wooden to separate God's initiating work of regeneration from the sign of inclusion into the Covenant. You recognize that Abraham's circumcision was a seal of the righteousness that was pointing to a spiritual reality. Did it not also point to His union with Christ?

Why can't baptism represent our union with Christ, a seal of righteousness through faith, and be the circumcision made without hands?

It seems to divorce those ideas from each other in baptism would demand you divorce them from the Abrahamic seal so the circumcision made without hands on Abraham's heart would not be a seal but only the physical circumcision itself or vice versa.

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by SemperFideles]
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Originally posted by SemperFideles

Our faith being a gift of God through regeneration and our union with Christ and adoption resulting in turn, it seems rather wooden to separate God's initiating work of regeneration from the sign of inclusion into the Covenant. You recognize that Abraham's circumcision was a seal of the righteousness that was pointing to a spiritual reality. Did it not also point to His union with Christ?

I understand it to be a sign and seal to Abraham. It didn't apply the same way to everyone who partook of the Covenant of Circumcision. It was given to Ishmeal but was not accounted as a sign and seal of righteouness of his faith. In fact he was rejected by God even when Abraham petitioned God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you."

Why can't baptism represent our union with Christ, a seal of righteousness through faith, and be the circumcision made without hands?

Spiritual Baptism is our union with Christ. It is not a seal though. The Holy Spirit is our seal as I mentioned above. Circumcision made without hands is accepted to be regeneration which preceeds any faith that places us in Christ.

It seems to divorce those ideas from each other in baptism would demand you divorce them from the Abrahamic seal so the circumcision made without hands on Abraham's heart would not be a seal but only the physical circumcision itself or vice versa.

Physical circumcision was done away with by the reality of true circumcision of the heart in regeneration. Paul in Galatians was very emphatic about this. Physical circumcision is gone. I don't think there is a divorce in this situation. Just a plain and simple order of salvation proving we are complete in Christ. That is what the text (Colossians 2:11,12) is about. It isn't about physical baptism either. So to pull that into the equation is incorrect also.

This text does not say that Physical circumcision is equal with Physical Baptism. Many read this into the text. Nor does it say that spiritual circumcision is spiritual baptism.

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
It seems to divorce those ideas from each other in baptism would demand you divorce them from the Abrahamic seal so the circumcision made without hands on Abraham's heart would not be a seal but only the physical circumcision itself or vice versa.

Physical circumcision was done away with by the reality of true circumcision of the heart in regeneration. Paul in Galatians was very emphatic about this. Physical circumcision is gone. I don't think there is a divorce in this situation. Just a plain and simple order of salvation proving we are complete in Christ. That is what the text (Colossians 2:11,12) is about. It isn't about physical baptism either. So to pull that into the equation is incorrect also.

This text does not say that Physical circumcision is equal with Physical Baptism. Many read this into the text. Nor does it say that spiritual circumcision is spiritual baptism.
I disagree with you obviously as the natural flow of the text reads "...being baptized..." directly in the thought of circumcision with Christ.

Nevertheless, my main point is that one cannot escape the fact that Paul talks about Abraham's circumcision being a seal of righteousness. Was Abraham sealed by the Holy Spirit in that seal? I believe he must have been. Is this merely speaking of the circumcision made without hands (regeneration as we both agree) or did the physical act also represent that seal? I believe it did. What I'm saying is that your insistence on saying that the seal is only the regenerative aspect divorces it from the visible sense in which we participate in it. Abraham's circumcision was both a sign and a seal. I believe it is clear that baptism is as well.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rom 4:11. 'And [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith that he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised.'

Physical circumcision is a sign, but it was a seal only to Abraham. It certified to him the genuineness of his faith and its acceptance by God. Did it do that for Ishmael or, say, King Ahaz? I don't think so!

Of what was circumcision a sign? It was a sign of the promise of God, a sign of the promise of the Seed that should come in whom all the promises would be redeemed (2Cor 1:20 ). Circumcision was a sign to all Abraham's descendants of the promises of God to him and the coming Seed that should be born of his line. But it was not the seal of anything to them. Most of them did not believe. Instead it placed them under the bondage of the law and the fear of temporal punishment (Gal 5:3 ).

'These all (Abel, Noah, Enoch, Abraham etc) died in faith, not having received the promises....' (Heb 11:13 ). The promised Seed never appeared in their lifetimes, but circumcision kept the promise alive to Abraham's descendants, if only they had the faith to embrase it.

With the coming of Christ, all this has changed. All the copious genealogies of the OT are now a dead letter (1Tim 1:4 ) because the promise has become reality. Circumcision is now also irrelevant (Gal 6:15 ) because the Seed is come. Baptism is now 'the answer of a good conscience to God' (1Peter 3:21 ); a sign of trusting in the fulfilledpromises of God and an identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

But baptism is not the seal of anything. It does not certify the genuineness of our faith. The Holy Spirit does that (Eph 1:14 etc). 'For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba Father!" The Sprit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.'

I'll try and post again on the subject of Col 2:11-12.

Grace & Peace,

Martin

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by Martin Marprelate]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Rom 4:11. 'And [Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith that he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised.'

Physical circumcision is a sign, but it was a seal only to Abraham. It certified to him the genuineness of his faith and its acceptance by God. Did it do that for Ishmael or, say, King Ahaz? I don't think so!
You miss my point here.


(Gal 3:8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed."

Rom 4:11 calls Abraham's circumcision a seal of righteousness while the above demonstrates that Abraham heard the Gospel. Was Abraham circumcised by the Holy Spirit in the hearing of the Gospel? Yes, for his regeneration was a circumcision of the heart.

You may distinguish between the physical act of circumcision and the seal that attended it (by the Holy Spirit) but you cannot separate the two as you seem to be implying. The fact that some were not of the true seed (Ishmael) and received physical circumcision but were never truly regenerate does not divorce the two in the way you desire them. Where does it say the seal was only to Abraham? That is eisegesis and the text does not demand that.

Of what was circumcision a sign? It was a sign of the promise of God, a sign of the promise of the Seed that should come in whom all the promises would be redeemed (2Cor 1:20 ). Circumcision was a sign to all Abraham's descendants of the promises of God to him and the coming Seed that should be born of his line. But it was not the seal of anything to them. Most of them did not believe. Instead it placed them under the bondage of the law and the fear of temporal punishment (Gal 5:3 ).
I don't disagree that it was a sign of what would come but you limit the seal again to Abraham and the Scriptures do not. Just because most did not believe did not make God's sign some sort of bare sign. You act as if Abraham was the last to have faith wrough of the Holy Spirit which can only come by the circumcision of the heart. You also nullify the OT scriptures that repeatedly enjoin true belief that comes through a circumcision of the heart with a mere physical sign of something to come. Was not Isaac's faith and salvation a result of regeneration. Was Abraham the last to believe the Gospel "preached beforehand"?

'These all (Abel, Noah, Enoch, Abraham etc) died in faith, not having received the promises....' (Heb 11:13 ). The promised Seed never appeared in their lifetimes, but circumcision kept the promise alive to Abraham's descendants, if only they had the faith to embrase it.
Faith? By whose power? Their own?

With the coming of Christ, all this has changed. All the copious genealogies of the OT are now a dead letter (1Tim 1:4 ) because the promise has become reality.
Quite honestly that is a terrible handling of that verse. So Matthew and Luke who report Christ's genealogy after His death and resurrection are reporting a dead letter?! God's promises are to "...you and your children..." (Acts 2:39) 1 Tim 1:4 has absolutely nothing to do with doing away with inheritance or succession or anything of the sort and is dealing with "myths and endless genealogies". God repeatedly promises to bless according to Abraham's seed. We are said to be Abraham's true seed.

Circumcision is now also irrelevant (Gal 6:15 ) because the Seed is come. Baptism is now 'the answer of a good conscience to God' (1Peter 3:21 ); a sign of trusting in the fulfilledpromises of God and an identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

But baptism is not the seal of anything. It does not certify the genuineness of our faith. The Holy Spirit does that (Eph 1:14 etc). 'For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba Father!" The Sprit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.'
Again you divorce the sign from the seal and you go to great pains to get around the plain reading of Collosians 2:12. You may distinguish the visible sign from the seal but the "baptism of Christ" is not visible either and we are said to be baptized with the baptism of Christ. I never said baptism certifies our faith but it is the sacrament commanded by Christ, applied in time and space by the binding authority of the Church, and signifies all the spiritual realities that attend to it.
 

Steve Owen

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello Rich,
It will be a day or two before I have time to reply fully to your post.
Just two points quickly. You ask
Where does it say the seal was only to Abraham?

I am just amazed that you have to ask this question!

'And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised.'

'He' can only mean Abraham, surely? You are not going to argue that, are you? He received a sign from God. And this sign was a seal to him.

Now what's a seal? It's something affixed to a document to show that it's genuine. What's genuine? His faith. By giving him the sign of circumcision, God certified to Abraham that his faith was genuine in the eyes of God, and that it was counted to him for righteousness (v3 ).

When was this faith counted to Abraham for righteousness? When he was still uncircumcised (v10 ). Now part of Abraham's instructions concerning circumcision was that he should circumcise all the infants in his household on the eighth day.

Now we agree, I take it that children are born sinners. Yes? So tell me this; how can circumcision be to an eight day old baby the seal of the righteousness of the faith that he had while still uncircumcised?

There is no other text that I can think of that says that circumcision is the seal of anything. If you can find one, post it and we'll talk about that. But as far as this text is concerned, it is talking about Abraham's faith and no one else's. I am far from saying that no one else in the OT had faith. Of course they did. But circumcision wasn't the seal of it.

You have missed the point about genealogies spectacularly, but I don't have time to explain fully. Two quick questions; whose is the last birth narrative in the Bible? Whose is the last genealogy in the Bible?

With the coming of Christ, these things become an soteriological irrelevance. We don't know who Peter's grandfather was, or what tribe he belonged to. We don't need to. The relevance of these things has passed away. Paul calls them 'rubbish' in Phil 3:8. Actually, the word is stronger than that; read the KJV.

You wrote
We are said to be Abraham's true seed.

And we are, brother. But do you have a genealogy to prove it? Do you need one?

'There is neither Jew nor Greek.....slave nor free....male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal 3:28 ).

Oh, one last thing; you wrote
Again you divorce the sign from the seal and you go to great pains to get around the plain reading of Colossians 2:12.
I never mentioned Col 2:12 except to say that I would try to post on it later. You actually have no idea what I'm going to say about that verse.

Grace & Peace,

Martin

[Edited on 11-8-2005 by Martin Marprelate]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Originally posted by Martin Marprelate
Hello Rich,
It will be a day or two before I have time to reply fully to your post.
Just two points quickly. You ask
Where does it say the seal was only to Abraham?

I am just amazed that you have to ask this question!

'And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised.'

'He' can only mean Abraham, surely? You are not going to argue that, are you? He received a sign from God. And this sign was a seal to him.

Now what's a seal? It's something affixed to a document to show that it's genuine. What's genuine? His faith. By giving him the sign of circumcision, God certified to Abraham that his faith was genuine in the eyes of God, and that it was counted to him for righteousness (v3 ).

When was this faith counted to Abraham for righteousness? When he was still uncircumcised (v10 ). Now part of Abraham's instructions concerning circumcision was that he should circumcise all the infants in his household on the eighth day.

Now we agree, I take it that children are born sinners. Yes? So tell me this; how can circumcision be to an eight day old baby the seal of the righteousness of the faith that he had while still uncircumcised?

There is no other text that I can think of that says that circumcision is the seal of anything. If you can find one, post it and we'll talk about that. But as far as this text is concerned, it is talking about Abraham's faith and no one else's. I am far from saying that no one else in the OT had faith. Of course they did. But circumcision wasn't the seal of it.

Except that Paul says that Abraham:

"...received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness..."

What is said to be a seal of the righteousness?

The sign of circumcision!

You can restrict it all you want to just Abraham but the sign is said to be a seal. Just because Abraham is mentioned does not mean that after him, the sign of circumcision instituted in Abraham, said to be a seal of righteousness of Abraham's faith, ceased to be a seal. Nowhere does the text warrant such a statement. You force that upon it.

You have missed the point about genealogies spectacularly, but I don't have time to explain fully. Two quick questions; whose is the last birth narrative in the Bible? Whose is the last genealogy in the Bible?

With the coming of Christ, these things become an soteriological irrelevance. We don't know who Peter's grandfather was, or what tribe he belonged to. We don't need to. The relevance of these things has passed away. Paul calls them 'rubbish' in Phil 3:8. Actually, the word is stronger than that; read the KJV.

I have not missed anything here. I merely stated that to refer to 1 Tim 1:4 in the way you did is a spectacular abuse of the text. There is nothing "dead letter" about spiritual genealogies. God is the God of the living and not the dead. My point about descendancy is that I am of spiritual descent from Abraham in Christ. I worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and a God of Covenant Presence who acted in redemptive history in those genealogies that descend to Christ. None of what He has done has passed away with the coming of Christ but been culminated. There is nothing soteriologically insignificant about the way God saved His people in history just because Christ has come. God repeatedly, in His Word, reminds His people of what He did for their fathers as a testimony that He saves. God's salvific character is so intextricably related to what He has done and who He has saved and identifies Himself with. To stretch the meaning of 1 Tim 1:4 and call that all dead baffles me.

Your quote of Phil 3:8 is another example of misapplying Paul's words for your argument. I have no idea how you can call Paul's turning aside from a former self-righteous misappropriation of being a Jew while a Pharisee and counting all the former things he took pride in as being rubbish as saying that he counts God's Covenant Presence as rubbish. That is a huge leap of inference that your theological system is causing you to make and not the text itself. Paul calls confidence in the flesh rubbish and it was always so. Do you think that all the geneaologies, including Christ's, were about confidence in the flesh?

[Edited on 11-9-2005 by SemperFideles]
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Here is a section of an article that Rich Barcellos wrote in the Reformed Baptist Theological Review II.1. I asked him if I could post it. He doesn't have time to help right now so he gave me permission.

I am not one who usually will cut and paste but I am not a Greek scholar and I do trust Rich.

Syntactical Structure and Exegesis of Colossians 2:11-12

Having set the verses in context, we are now prepared to uncover the relationship and meaning of their parts. As we move through the text, the completeness Christians have in Christ will become clearer.
The first question is the meaning and function of the first three words in the Greek text, evn w-| kai. , translated "œand in Him" (NASB), "œIn Him "¦also" (NKJV), and literally "œin [or "œby"] whom also" (KJV). The "œwhom" ( w-| ) refers back to Christ in v. 10. Some commentators take this to mean union with Christ. For instance, John Eadie says:

"¦the formula evn w-| has its usual significance"“union with Him"“union created by the Spirit, and effected by faith; and, secondly, the blessing described in the verse had been already enjoyed, for they were and had been believers in Him in whom they are complete. Through their living union with Christ, they had enjoyed the privilege, and were enjoying the results of a spiritual circumcision.

On the face of it, Eadie´s comments seem appropriate. Upon further examination, however, problems arise. Notice that he is arguing that the union under discussion is vital, experiential union with Christ "œcreated by the Spirit, and effected by faith." Commenting further, Eadie adds, "œIt is plain that the spiritual circumcision is not different from regeneration." Assuming a causal order in Col. 2:11 (which will become clearer below), Eadie´s position would imply that the Spirit creates and faith effects union with Christ, thus, evn w-| kai, . which is then followed by spiritual circumcision or regeneration. Eadie understands union with Christ here in terms of a vital union (i.e., communion) "œcreated by the Spirit, and effected by faith." If this is so, then causally, faith precedes circumcision of the heart or regeneration. Communion with Christ through faith precedes regeneration by the Spirit. As we will see below, in this passage faith comes as a result of spiritual circumcision or regeneration (Col. 2:13; cf., Jn. 3:3-8) and is the means through which believers are personally united to Christ (i.e., vital union and communion).
Can Paul be alluding to union with Christ by evn w-| kai, ? The answer is yes, but not without crucial qualification. To understand union with Christ here as commonly understood in the realm of the application of redemption effected by faith is unnecessary for several reasons. First, the idea of faith is not found in the text until the end of v. 12. Second, faith itself is a result of the "œcircumcision made without hands" (see the discussion below). Third, the concept of union with Christ is not limited to the application of redemption effected by faith elsewhere in Paul. John Murray says, "œIt is quite apparent that the Scripture applies the expression "˜in Christ´ to much more than the application of redemption." Eph. 1:4, for instance, indicates that Christians were chosen "œin Him before the foundation of the world." This indicates a pre-temporal union with Christ apart from faith and void of communion with Christ. Vital union (i.e., communion with Christ), the type of union experienced in space and time, unites us to Christ in such a way that we experience personally the spiritual benefits of being saved (i.e., justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification). Fourth, assuming a causal sequence in the text and assuming evn w-| kai, refers to vital union, we would have an ordo salutis as follows: union with Christ by faith then spiritual circumcision (i.e., regeneration). Again, as we shall see, faith that unites one vitally to Christ is a product of the "œcircumcision made without hands" and proceeds from it, not the other way around. It may be better to paraphrase evn w-| kai, as "œthrough your relation to Him" understanding union with Christ here in a non-vital manner. This would allow for a union apart from faith that corresponds with the broader meaning of union with Christ in many other places in Paul. Richard Gaffin argues for a "œbroader, more basic notion of union" in his Resurrection and Redemption. He lists three types of union: predestinarian, redemptive-historical, and existential.
There are at least two other ways to understand evn w-| kai, . It could be understood like the evn auvtw/| ("œin Him") of Col. 1:17. The evn ("œin") would function like a dative of sphere. It would be paraphrased as "œin the sphere of Christ´s activity you were circumcised." Or it could be translated "œby whom also." The evn ("œby") would function like a dative of means or agency. Paul uses evn w-| 26 times in the Greek text. The NASB translates it "œby which" in Rom. 7:6; 8:15 ["œby whom" NKJV]; 14:21; and Eph. 4:30. He uses evn w-| kai, seven times in the Greek text. Though the NASB does not translate it "œby whom also," the NKJV does in 1 Pt. 3:19a and Clarence B. Hale suggests this translation for Eph. 2:22 (i.e., "œ"¦by whom you also are being built together"¦"). It would be translated as "œby whom also you were circumcised."
The union with Christ in Col. 2:11 may be understood best either as a union based on election "œin Him" (Eph. 1:4) and true of all the elect prior to the personal application of redemption in space and time or in one of the last two ways suggested above. Either of these views fits the context of Col. 2:11ff. and is syntactically and theologically consistent with Paul´s usage elsewhere. And either view will allow for the causal relationship between circumcision and union with Christ effected through faith, which is clear in the passage (see the discussion below).
The evn w-| kai, refers back to Christ and our being complete in Him (v. 10). Verses 11 and 12 go on to describe just how Christians are complete in Him. The verb perietmh,qhte ("œyou were circumcised") indicates a past action in which the Colossians were passive. They were acted upon by an outsider. They did not circumcise themselves. Someone else was the subject, the circumciser, and they were the objects, the recipients of circumcision. The rest of vv. 11 and 12 are subordinate to this verb and explanatory of it.
The first thing Paul tells us about this circumcision is its character or nature. It was peritomh/| avceiropoih,tw| ("œa circumcision made without hands"). It was performed without human hands, unlike the circumcision of the OT and the type being promoted by Judaizers in the first century. John Eadie says, "œThe circumcision made without hands is plainly opposed to that which is made with hands." It is a spiritual circumcision, a circumcision of the heart (cf., Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Ezek. 44:7; Rom. 2:28-29; Phil. 3:3). Harris says, "œIt is spiritual surgery performed on Christ´s followers at the time of their regeneration." The Colossians are complete in Christ due to being circumcised without hands.
The second thing Paul tells us about this "œcircumcision made without hands" is its effect. This spiritual circumcision was evn th/| avpekdu,sei tou/ sw,matoj th/j sarko,j ("œin the removal of the body of the flesh"). "œ[T]he body of the flesh" (tou/ sw,matoj th/j sarko,j) is also spiritual. Since the circumcision under discussion is spiritual, then its effect must be spiritual. The preposition evn ("œin") is best understood epexegetically (NASB). It could be stated as "œconsisting of the removal of the body of the flesh." It exegetes or explains the "œcircumcision made without hands." The effect of the spiritual circumcision was a spiritual "œremoval of the body of the flesh." But what does Paul mean by "œthe body of the flesh"? The noun avpekdu,sei ("œremoval") has a double prepositional prefix (avpo and e`k) which intensify the noun so that it can be translated "œcompletely off from." The "œremoval of the body of the flesh" was a radical and spiritual act effected by the "œcircumcision made without hands." The "œbody of the flesh" is what is stripped off or radically affected. As noted above, "œthe flesh" (th/j sarko,j) is best taken as spiritual. In this case, sarko,j (flesh") is used in an ethical sense. It refers to the sinful natures of the Colossians (cf., Col. 2:18; Rom. 8:5-7; 13:14; and Eph. 2:3 for similar uses). Eadie says, "œFlesh is corrupted humanity." The fleshly body (i.e., the entirety of their sinful natures) was radically altered by this spiritual circumcision. Abbott adds, "œThe connexion requires it to be understood passively, not "˜ye have put off,´ but "˜was put off from you.´" The sinful souls of the Colossians were radically changed. The body of the flesh was put off from them. This is a description of the radical effects of heart circumcision upon the soul within the complex of the grace of regeneration (cf. Tit. 3:5). Discussing regeneration, Murray says:

There is a change that God effects in man, radical and reconstructive in its nature, called new birth, new creation, regeneration, renewal"“a change that cannot be accounted for by anything that is in lower terms than the interposition of the almighty power of God. . . . The governing disposition, the character, the mind and will are renewed and so the person is now able to respond to the call of the gospel and enter into privileges and blessings of the divine vocation.

Regeneration involves both cleansing from sin (Tit. 3:5) and new life (Jn. 3:3-8). Paul is saying that the Colossians have experienced regeneration. They were complete in Christ because of the radical alteration of soul effected by the "œcircumcision made without hands."
The third thing Paul tells us about this "œcircumcision made without hands" is its author or owner. This is indicated by the words evn th/| peritomh/| tou/ Cristou/ ("œby the circumcision of Christ"). This phrase has three possible meanings. The primary issue revolves around the function of the genitive tou/ Cristou/ ("œof Christ"). One option takes it as an objective genitive and translates as "œthe circumcision performed on Christ" or "œexperienced by Christ." This would refer either to Christ´s physical circumcision or "œto his death when he stripped off his physical body." This is strained. Paul has been talking about what has happened in and to the Colossians not for them. Paul discusses what Christ did for the Colossians in vv. 13b and 14. Verses 11 and 12 discuss what happens in the Colossians and to them. Callow says:

Ingenious though this view is, it seems rather far-fetched to take circumcision as figuratively referring to Christ´s death. There is no suggestion of this in such passages as Rom. 2:28f. or Phil. 3:3. And in the nearer context of Col. 2:15, it is not said that Christ put off his body of flesh, but the powers and authorities. Further, in the ethical application of the teaching here which is given in chapter 3, Paul says (3:9) that the Colossians have "œput off" the old man with his (evil) deeds, a statement which is very similar to the one used here.

Another option takes the genitive as subjective and translates as "œa circumcision effected by Christ." The NIV reads "œdone by Christ." This makes Christ the circumciser of the Colossians´ hearts.
The last option sees the genitive as possessive. It is "œChrist´s circumcision" or "œChristian circumcision." It is a circumcision that belongs to Christ. Either of the last two options fits the context better than the first option. The genitive of possession view, of course, does not preclude Christ from performing the circumcision, especially if we translate evn w-| kai. (2:11a) as "œby whom also."
In Tit. 3:5-6, God is said to have "œsaved us"¦by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Lord." Regeneration is by the Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ and all is connected to God´s act in saving us. The Holy Spirit is the effective agent of regeneration; however, He is, nonetheless, the Spirit of Christ and God. In the economy of redemption, He convicts of sin and glorifies Christ by bringing the fruits of His redemption to the souls of elect sinners. And He does this as Christ´s emissary. The application of redemption is God´s act through Christ by the Spirit. Therefore, the genitive of possession option can be viewed in a way that encompasses the subjective genitive contention. It is Christ´s circumcision, as opposed to Moses´, the fathers´, or anyone else´s. It is Christian or New Covenant circumcision because it is under the authority and administration of Christ. He commissions the Holy Spirit to perform it, yet can be viewed as the author. As God uses means to save us, so Christ uses means to circumcise us.
An important observation to make at this point is that Christian circumcision, the circumcision of the heart, is the counterpart to physical circumcision. Harris says:

. . . v. 11 presents spiritual circumcision, not baptism, as the Christian counterpart to physical circumcision. A contrast is implied between circumcision as an external, physical act performed by human hands on a portion of the flesh eight days after birth and circumcision as an inward, spiritual act carried out by divine agency on the whole fleshly nature at the time of regeneration.

Just as everyone who was physically circumcised under the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants became covenant members, so all who are spiritually circumcised become members of the New Covenant. Physical circumcision is replaced by spiritual circumcision under the New Covenant.
The fourth thing Paul tells us about this "œcircumcision made without hands" is its subsequent, spiritual concomitant or attendant. We are introduced to v. 12 by an aorist, passive participial clause, suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| baptismw/| ("œhaving been buried with Him in baptism"). The participle, suntafe,ntej ("œhaving been buried"), finds as its antecedent verb perietmh,qhte ("œyou were circumcised") of v. 11. It indicates a further and subordinate explanation of the "œcircumcision made without hands." Wallace calls this a dependent, adverbial, temporal participle. Wallace defines this type of participle as follows:

In relation to its controlling verb, the temporal participle answers the question, When? Three kinds of time are in view: antecedent, contemporaneous, and subsequent. The antecedent participle should be translated after doing, after he did, etc. The contemporaneous participle should normally be translated while doing. And the subsequent participle should be translated before doing, before he does, etc. This usage is common.

The antecedent option would translate Col. 2:12a as "œyou were circumcised after being buried with Him in baptism." This would make the "œcircumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" causally dependent upon baptism and, therefore, a result of it. This would argue for post-baptismal (whether water or spiritual baptism) regeneration in the case of the Colossian believers. This seems far-fetched in light of our discussion thus far.
The contemporaneous option would translate Col. 2:12a as "œyou were circumcised while being buried with Him in baptism." This would argue either for baptismal regeneration or that burial with Christ in baptism is synonymous with and epexegetical of the circumcision made without hands. This should be discarded for the reasons mentioned in connection with the antecedent option above. As we shall see, aorist participles subordinate to aorist main verbs are not always contemporaneous. And equating circumcision and baptism is not warranted from this text as we have noted and will become more evident as our discussion proceeds.
The subsequent option would translate Col. 2:12a as "œyou were circumcised before being buried with Him in baptism." This view is best for the following reasons. First, according to Dana and Mantey, aorist participles subordinate to aorist verbs can express subsequent action. Second, the burial referred to in this verse is subsequent to the death of the old man in v. 11, effected by circumcision. Eadie says, "œIt is plain that the spiritual circumcision is not different from regeneration, or the putting off of the old man and putting on the new." Though Paul does not use the same terminology as Eadie in this text, "œthe removal of the body of the flesh" effected by the "œcircumcision made without hands" does transform the old man into a new man, and thus implies the death of the old man (Col. 2:20; Rom. 6:6-7; Tit. 3:5). Third, this view maintains the death, burial, and resurrection motif of other Pauline texts (Col. 2:12, 20; 3:1, 3; Rom. 6:3-8). Fourth, this view comports with the rest of the verse, which sees faith as the means through which resurrection with Christ is effected (see the discussion below). Fifth, this view does not get one into the difficulties mentioned above in the other views. This argues for a causal relationship between circumcision and burial with Christ in baptism. The burial with Him in baptism was brought about causally subsequent to the circumcision. The subsequent, spiritual concomitant or attendant to spiritual circumcision, therefore, is burial with Christ in baptism. Burial with Christ in baptism came to the Colossians after being "œcircumcised with a circumcision made without hands."
The application of redemption is a complex of interrelated and interdependent divine redemptive acts. Our text has shown this to be the case thus far with the relationship between heart circumcision and burial with Christ. This leads us, however, to another question. What does Paul mean by burial with Him in baptism? Lightfoot takes the position that Paul is referring to physical, water baptism.

Baptism is the grave of the old man, and the birth of the new. As he sinks beneath the baptismal waters, the believer buries there all his corrupt affections and past sins; as he emerges thence, he rises regenerate, quickened to new hopes and a new life.

Commenting on suntafe,ntej auvtw/| evn tw/| baptismw/| ("œhaving been buried with Him in baptism"), A.S. Peake says:

This refers to the personal experience of the Christian. The rite of baptism, in which the person baptized was first buried beneath the water and then raised from it, typified to Paul the burial and resurrection of the believer with Christ.

Peake makes a crucial distinction that is necessitated by the flow of our discussion thus far. He does not equate burial with Him in baptism with water baptism, as did Lightfoot. He says, "œThe rite of baptism [i.e., water baptism], in which the person baptized was first buried beneath the water and then raised from it, typified to Paul the burial and resurrection of the believer with Christ (emphases added)." Lightfoot links regeneration with emerging from baptismal waters. Peake says that water baptism typifies burial and resurrection with Christ. We have seen that the "œcircumcision made without hands" is the presupposition of and causal prerequisite to burial with Christ in baptism. On this ground we must reject Lightfoot´s view. The baptism in view here, though typified by water baptism, is not to be equated with it.
Another important and related question also arises at this point. Since the circumcision the Colossians underwent was "œwithout hands," was the burial in baptism they underwent and their being "œraised up with Him" also without hands? In other words, is the baptism Paul refers to here water baptism or that which water baptism signifies "“ burial and resurrection with Christ or union with Christ in His burial and resurrection? From our discussion thus far, it seems obvious that it must be the latter. Paul is not teaching that burial with Christ in water baptism was immediately preceded by their "œcircumcision made without hands." How could he know that? How could he know that they were water baptized immediately upon their regeneration? He could not. However, he could know that all who are circumcised of heart are buried with Christ in spiritual baptism and raised with Him spiritually, typified by their water baptism, effected through faith (see the discussion below). We must agree with Ross, when he says:

It is important to say at this point that in both verse 11 and verse 12 Paul is not speaking of any physical rite or ceremony. The baptism in view in verse 12 is just as spiritual as the circumcision in verse 11. The physical rite of baptism signifies and seals that believers are raised up with Christ by faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead, but water baptism in and of itself does not accomplish this.

Paul could know that the Colossians were buried with Christ causally subsequent to their "œcircumcision made without hands" because he knew that all regenerate persons immediately express faith and are vitally united to Christ in His burial and resurrection. Murray gives eloquent comment to this:

"¦there is an invariable concomitance or co-ordination of regeneration and other fruits of grace. "¦As we shall see later, this is a very significant emphasis and warns us against any view of regeneration which abstracts it from the other elements of the application of redemption.

We must not think of regeneration as something which can be abstracted from the saving exercises which are its effects. "¦The regenerate person cannot live in sin and be unconverted.

There are numerous other considerations derived from the Scripture which confirm this great truth that regeneration is such a radical, pervasive, and efficacious transformation that it immediately registers itself in the conscious activity of the person concerned in the exercise of faith and repentance and new obedience [emphasis added].

Paul knew that regeneration was logically and causally prior to faith and is its immediate precondition. He knew that those circumcised of heart immediately expressed faith in the Son of God. This is why he tells the Colossians that upon being spiritually circumcised they expressed faith that united them vitally to Christ. This view is further substantiated when we understand the function of the next clause in the text.
The next issue is what to make of the evn w-| kai. clause, translated "œin which you"¦also "¦ (NASB)" of v. 12. Is it to be viewed as a second, parallel clause with the one in v. 11? If so, the Colossians´ completeness in Christ is argued first from their "œcircumcision made without hands" and second from their being "œraised up with Him." This view seems strained for several reasons. First, a general rule of the Greek language is that clauses and phrases modify the nearest antecedent, unless there is good reason in the text to go further afield. There is no compelling reason to go further than the immediate antecedent evn tw/| baptismw/| ("œin baptism"). While some argue that the evn w-| kai. clause of v. 12 is grammatically parallel with the evn w-| kai. clause of v. 11 (that´s the only apparently substantial argument for this view), grammatical (formal) parallels are not necessarily syntactical (functional) parallels. A second reason why this view is strained is because the evn w-| kai. clause of v. 12 continues with language normally connected to what precedes it. Paul continues, evn w-| kai. sunhge,rqhte ("œin which you were also raised up with Him"). Paul is completing his thought begun in the beginning of the verse. The fact that Paul often speaks of burial, baptism, and resurrection with Christ together leans us in the direction that this clause is subordinate to evn tw/| baptismw/| ("œin baptism"). Just as the Colossians were buried with Christ in baptism, so they were raised with Him in baptism.
The rest of v. 12, then, is subordinate to tw/| baptismw/| ("œbaptism"). Paul says that in spiritual baptism sunhge,rqhte dia. th/j pi,stewj ("œyou were also raised up with Him through faith"). The prepositional phrase dia. th/j pi,stewj ("œthrough faith") indicates the means through which the Colossians were raised with Christ. Meyer says:

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 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.

Clearly, the faith here is that expressed by the Colossians. This is the first mention of human response in the text and this response comes as a result of being circumcised "œwithout hands." Those who already possess the circumcision "œmade without hands" experience this complex of spiritual events, being buried and raised with Christ in baptism through faith. This is another reason why Paul cannot be speaking of water baptism in the text. For many who are water baptized do not have faith. But the ones described here exercised faith as a means or instrument through which they were united to Christ in His burial and resurrection. Commenting on Eph. 2:5ff and Col. 2:12, Gaffin says, "œbeing raised with Christ is an experience with which faith is associated in an instrumental fashion." Being raised with Christ, as with being buried with Him, is causally dependent upon being "œcircumcised with a circumcision made without hands." As the Colossians´ circumcision was without hands, so was their burial and rising with Christ.
The final words of v. 12 are subordinate to dia. th/j pi,stewj ("œthrough faith"). There are two ways to understand the words th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ ("œin the working of God"). The question concerns the function of the genitive tou/ qeou/ ("œof God"). Either it is subjective or objective. If subjective, then Paul is saying that their faith is the effect of God´s working in them. God gave them faith. God worked faith in them. If objective, then their faith was in the power exercised by God in the resurrection of Christ. The working of God´s power in the resurrection of Christ, according to this view, is the object of their faith. The final participial clause of v. 12, tou/ evgei,rantoj auvto.n evk nekrw/n ("œwho raised Him from the dead"), is subordinate to tou/ qeou/ ("œof God"). God is the one who raised Christ from the dead by His power. Though it is certainly true that faith is the effect of God´s working in the soul, it is best to understand th/j evnergei,aj tou/ qeou/ ("œin the working of God") here as objective, as the thing believed or the content of their faith. One reason for this view is that "œthe genitive after pi,stij ["œfaith"], when not that of the person, is always that of the object." Also, elsewhere Paul makes the resurrection of Christ effected by God the object of saving faith (cf., Rom. 10:9).
Christians are complete in Christ because they have received a circumcision made without hands "“ regeneration. Regeneration produces faith that vitally unites souls to Christ in the efficacy of His burial and resurrection. This vital union with Christ in burial and resurrection is a spiritual baptism. Vital union brings believing sinners into the orbit of redemptive privilege and power. Every sinner circumcised in heart immediately expresses saving faith in God´s power in raising Christ from the dead. Burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism cannot be abstracted from its causal prerequisite "“ regeneration. If one has been buried and raised with Christ in baptism, it is only because one has been circumcised "œwithout hands." The result of regeneration, faith, is the instrumental cause of union with Christ. And the union with Christ of Col. 2:12 ushers the believer experientially into the complex of redemptive privileges purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ for the elect. In other words, this is the experience of all believers, though not of all those water baptized. All of this may be typified by water baptism, though it is not effected by it. Christians are complete in Christ because of regeneration and its effects in the soul.



[Edited on 11-10-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Good article:

I have a problem with this part:
. . . v. 11 presents spiritual circumcision, not baptism, as the Christian counterpart to physical circumcision. A contrast is implied between circumcision as an external, physical act performed by human hands on a portion of the flesh eight days after birth and circumcision as an inward, spiritual act carried out by divine agency on the whole fleshly nature at the time of regeneration.

Just as everyone who was physically circumcised under the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants became covenant members, so all who are spiritually circumcised become members of the New Covenant. Physical circumcision is replaced by spiritual circumcision under the New Covenant.

Did not true faith always require a circumcision made without hands? I believe the OT's repeated statements to the nature of true believe and commands to "...circumcise your hearts..." say the answer must be yes.

If not then either:
1. In the OC, it was possible in an unregenerate state, to have faith in God and not be His enemy.
2. Nobody in the OC ever had any true faith.
3. God didn't care about regenerate true faith until Christ came.

I don't think Paul is introducing something novel here in saying we were circumcised without hands. The theme is replete in the OT.

So, I agree with much of what the author above is saying (because frankly I would be foolish based on my very, very limited knowledge of Greek to argue) and agree with his explanation and exposition concerning circumcision of the heart and baptism and all the other stuff occurring spiritually (with us as passive participants). I would only add this then:

1. In the OC, true believers also received Grace to believe and had their hearts circumcised. Abraham received a physical mark as a sign of that reality. The sign of circumcision was associated with the seal. Just because not all who received the sign were "truly circumcised" (of the heart) does not nullify the meaning of the sign and its association with the seal.

2. True believers in the NC are regenerated or circumcised of the heart if you will as well. The question is: Is there any visible sign associated with it? I believe baptism is said to be that sign.

It is all fine and good to say that circumcision of the heart (and the spiritual baptism) is the circumcision of the NC but it's kind of hard to see in the visible Church. Paul is not afraid to say that the sign of circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of faith. Certainly the inward, invisible circumcision was always the seal but God also gives us outward acts as testimonies of His grace and what He's doing.

Our baptism can be said to be a sign of true circumcision but also a seal that we can turn to for assurance. Baptism is said to be something we can look to for assurance that we will be raised with Christ. Certainly the idea of a seal runs deeper but on one level it serves to give us assurance. To woodenly say that the seal is only an invisible act misses the function of assurance in a tangible sense.

Forgive me for some imprecision or confusion on this. It's just that God is a God who condescends to help us understand things. He does so repeatedly in the OC and everything did not become so hyper-spiritualized in the NC so as to remove all visible sacraments. The Lord's Supper and Baptism certainly mean much more than we can sense but they do function on a tangible sense to unite us and give assurance to our souls in the witnessing and participation of the sacraments.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Although I find certain things to agree with in the article, especially the good men he references, my problems with the article begin pretty quickly. Mr. Barcellos quotes Mr. Eadie, but soon takes issue with this (baptist, wasn't he?) master in Israel. It is not at all clear that Eadie's observations on the text have any connection to the objections that Barcellos begins to raise. Certainly there is no indication from the words quoted that Eadie even suspects that a fair reading of his words could be taken to mean that union with Christ and faith precedes regeneration.

Look at what Barcellos says: "Assuming a causal order in Col. 2:11 ... Eadie´s position would imply...." In other words, "Eadie doesn't share my causal understanding of the text (which I intend to defend below) but assuming he did, look at the trouble he would get in." This strikes me as a clear misappropriation and misrepresentation of Eadie. Eadie isn't allowed to speak for himself, nor is any of his exegetical work placed under scrutiny. This is really a bad beginning.

This is especially unjust if Eadie would himself understand the "in whom also" phrase in essentially the same way as Barcellos takes it. Which is exactly what he does do, as the quote itself states: "secondly, the blessing described in the verse had been already enjoyed." In other words, Eadie expressly states that the blessing of regeneration had already been effected, thus, union with Christ was a reality. Eadie evidently doesn't share Barcellos' strictly causal-temporal-sequential reading of following textual segments, therefore he has no reason to restrict his descriptions of that union to an "existential" and "eschatological" sense, eschewing the "redemptive-historical."

I agree for the most part with Barcellos regarding the exegesis of verse 11

At verse 12, however, Mr Barcellos immediately begins dealing with the participle as if temporality is a matter of major signification here. He references (and quotes) Wallace's Grammar (which I also referenced). Wallace nicely outlines his grammar, making many points and sub-points. The principal heading from which we both quote is Dependent Verbal Participles, beginning p. 622 (headings in bold). We both seem to agree that the participle is Adverbial. The next subsection defines the issue: "Like an ordinary adverb, the participle modifies the verb, answering the question, When? (temporal), How? (means/manner), Why? (purpose/cause), etc." Under Specific Nuances then, we are given 8 separate adverbial nuances. Temporal is only one of them.

It appears to me that what has not been given in the extended exegesis offered is sufficient explanation for understanding that the temporality of the adverbial application defines the principal relation between the participle ad the controlloing verb. Let me quote from Wallace on the following page (from Mr. Barcellos' quote), p. 624:
The aorist participle is normally, though by no means always, antecedent in time to the action of the main verb. But when the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb, the participle will often be contemporaneous (or simultaneous) to the action of the main verb. [Emphasis in the original]
This is exactly what we have here: both the verbal components are aorist.

Mr. Barcellos makes the following argument: "This [contemporaneous option] would argue either for baptismal regeneration or that burial with Christ in baptism is synonymous with and epexegetical of the circumcision made without hands. This should be discarded for the reasons mentioned in connection with the antecedent option above," which were: "This would make the "œcircumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" causally dependent upon baptism and, therefore, a result of it. This would argue for post-baptismal (whether water or spiritual baptism) regeneration." How this follows is a total mystery.

I agree that an antecedent notion is untenable. But I cannot for the life of me figure out what the objection to contemporaneous/simultaneous action is, particularly as these are being effected by the same Spirit! It certainly doesn't support post-baptismal regeneration. Let's be unambiguously clear here: we are, in fact, baptismally regenerated, not with WATER baptism, but by the SPIRIT'S baptism. Its called the washing of regeneration, for crying out loud! (Tit. 3:5; cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). There are no real theological objectoins here (?), so Dr. Wallace's point regarding frequent aorist main-participle usage should not be so cavalierly dismissed.

But back to my main contention: Is temporality the chief relationship between the two verbals? The temporality (if it is primary) is supposed to answer the question WHEN does the action of the main verb take place. Let's run down the 8 typical categories again: Temporal, Manner, Means, Cause, Condition, Concession, Purpose, and Result. Which one of these relationships expresses Paul's primary thrust as he moves from discussing circumcision to baptism? It was my argument above that: greater than a temporal relation between the two (however useful the aorist tense is for my argument) that the primary relation being expressed is that of means. Baptism fits with great difficulty (you might even say only with great strain or impossibility) being the Manner, Cause, Condition, Concession, Purpose, or Result of the circumcision mentioned.

From what follows, it appears that Mr. Barcellos is arguing that the participle-verb relation is not Adverbial at all. Rather he seems to indicate that he thinks the subcategory is actually attendant circumstance. He says:
This argues for a causal relationship between circumcision and burial with Christ in baptism. The burial with Him in baptism was brought about causally subsequent to the circumcision. The subsequent, spiritual concomitant or attendant to spiritual circumcision, therefore, is burial with Christ in baptism.
Now, at first it sounds as though he is describing the relation as "causal". However, he has turned the standard category around, and says "causally subsequent," i.e. actually is "result" (which fits with the "temporal" argument he made earlier). But he does not think the one actually produced the other, as the following sentence shows. Rather baptism "comes along with it" seems to be the idea thought to be conveyed. This is born out by his own translation of the verse: "Col. 2:12a as "œyou were circumcised before being buried with Him in baptism." "

So, perhaps the key word in Mr. Barcellos' conclusion is "attendant"? Quoting Wallace again, p. 640:
The attendant circumstance participle is used to communicate an action that, in some sense, is coordinate with the finite verb. In this respect it is not dependent, for it is translated like a verb. Yet, it is still dependent semantically, because it cannot exist without the main verb.
The last clause simply means that a participle requires some other main verb in the sentence.

Again, however, the numbers are against this interpretation.
all five of the following featuresoccur in at least 90% of the instances of attendant circumstance. The conclusion from this is that if these five features are not present (or if one or two of them are not present), to label a participle as attendant circumstance needs strong corroborative evidence.
participle tense--aorist MET
main verb--aorist MET
mood of main verb imperative or indicative MET
participle precedes main verb NOT MET
narrative literature NOT MET
Wallace, 641-42.

This really pushes us back to Result, assuming that Mr. Barcellos is correct (except for the identification). It can't be internal or logical (1st type) (Wallace, 638), because that is "actually simultaneous," a conclusion that Mr. Barcellos has already rejected. The 2nd type--external or temporal result--"the chronological outcome of the verb." EXCEPT (!) the "key to identification" of this participle is that it "will be a present tense participle." And we are dealing with an aorist. Another grammatical anomaly?

The 5 justifications for the "subsequent" (temporal) preference I found lacking weight. The first simply offers a grammatical "permission," courtesy of D&M, which given the amout of grammatical tension in the proposal, should really be supported with a much more robust defense. 2 and 3 are really a single support, because 2 relies on an inference from other texts (thus is a pure theological argument and not a textual one) and 3 is simply a cummulative argument based on all such (external) texts. 4 just says, "what I'm saying now agrees with what I've already said." And 5 just says "I don't see any problems with my interpretation"

Here is how the three main segments of the verses now appear in Barcellos' interpretation: effect (in him); cause of the ef. (circumcision); additional effect (baptism), which was facilely referred to as "causally subsequent." And it seems somewhat arbitrary to stop similarly treating these segments at verse 12, since Paul's thought clearly carries through to verse 15. So, continuing on through three more verses; each segment having some kind of "causal" relationship to the others; eventuating in the completness spoken of in verse 10.

It is certainly the case that verses 11-15 are descriptive of the completeness. But to insist on causal connections, and a chain of temporally and logically superior and subordinate relationships needlessly complicates the text. I am willing to offer, sight unseen, that Eadie is probably simpler, more direct, eloquent, and more effective in his presentation. Artificial terms such as "causally subsequent," "causally dependent," and "causal prerequisite" are simply inserted to provide an illusion of "consistency" that previous exegesis is supposedly lacking.

I think Eadie's comment leads well into my summary: "œIt is plain that the spiritual circumcision is not different from regeneration;" regeneration that is likewise typified by baptism; spiritual circumcision (O.T. sign of cleansing) that is effectuated by the Holy Spirit's baptism (N.T. sign of cleansing).
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Read the following next post before answering this one.
Let's be unambiguously clear here: we are, in fact, baptismally regenerated, not with WATER baptism, but by the SPIRIT'S baptism. Its called the washing of regeneration, for crying out loud! (Tit. 3:5; cf. 1 Pet. 3:21). There are no real theological objectoins here (?), so Dr. Wallace's point regarding frequent aorist main-participle usage should not be so cavalierly dismissed.

So what you are saying here is that baptism into His death and regeneration are simultaneously going on.
In spiritual baptism we are regenerated. And the faith we acquire after our baptism in His death raises us up with Christ.

spiritual baptism in His death = spiritual circumcision

Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

1Pe 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

So the scriptures teach spiritual baptismal regeneration.
I have never contemplated this.

[Edited on 11-9-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 
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