One of the simplest principles of Bible study is the “context” principle: that is, the study of a verse of Scripture in the light of the verses preceding or following in the same chapter.
The last reference to baptism in the Bible, if Colossians was written after Hebrews, is Colossians 2:12. One of the last references to circumcision is in Colossians 2:11. We quote Colossians 2:10 to 12
“FOR YE ARE COMPLETE IN HIM, WHICH IS THE HEAD OF ALL PRINCIPALITY AND POWER:
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.”
If the circumcision of the eleventh verse is “without hands”, the baptism of the twelfth verse must be “without hands”. We have no doubt as to the fact of the “handless” circumcision. And we have no doubt that there is in the Bible a baptism “without hands”, a Divine baptism. “Christ shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mark 1:8.
“Baptized by One Spirit into one Body.” I Corinthians 12:13. The Divine baptism for power, which took place on the day of Pentecost, is not identical with the Divine baptism into the death of Christ, mentioned in Romans 6:3. However, both were Divine baptisms. Moreover, no real student of the Word of God will contradict the assertion that the “baptism burial” of Colossians 2:12 is the same “baptism burial” mentioned in Romans 6:4. Neither will any student even question that there is in the Bible a circumcision “made with hands” and a baptism “made with hands”.
Israel had “divers baptisms” before Christ became the minister of the circumcision. Hebrews 9:10; Romans 15:8; Hebrews 6:1 and 2. Israel had circumcision many years before they received the law and the old covenant. (John 7:22). Abram was justified in uncircumcision 24 years before he was circumcised. Genesis 12:4. When he was circumcised Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. Genesis 17:6 to 16. Circumcision “made with hands” was instituted by God when Abraham was 99 years old. Abraham’s circumcision was the sign of the righteousness which he received in uncircumcision when he was 75 years old. Romans 4:11. Isaac, Abraham’s promised son, was circumcised when he was eight days old. Genesis 21:4.
The holy child Jesus was circumcised when He was eight days old. Luke 2:21. At the time of His circumcision His name was called “Jesus”. The Lord Jesus was not baptized with John’s baptism when He was an infant, but when He was thirty years of age. Luke 3:23. Then on the cross the Lord Jesus was baptized into death. Luke 12:50.
John the Baptist was a minister to Israel, the circumcision; not to the uncircumcision, Luke 1:16; Luke 1:80; Acts 13:24. The Lord Jesus on earth was a minister to the circumcision, sent only to the house of Israel. Romans 15:8; Matthew 15:24. The twelve apostles, both before and after the death of the Lord Jesus, were ministers to the circumcision. Matthew 10:5 to 8; Galatians 2:7 to 9; Acts 11:19. Their testimony, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, was that God raised Christ from the dead to be Israel’s Saviour. Acts 5:29 to 31 Even their message to Cornelius was the word sent to Israel. Acts 10:34 to 38.
John’s baptism, “made with hands”, was, that Christ might be manifest unto Israel, and was unto repentance for the remission of sins. John 1:31. Mark 1:4. The Twelve on the day of Pentecost declared to all the house of Israel that God made the crucified Jesus to be Christ; and they preached if Israel was willing to confess Him as Christ, they should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Acts 2:38. By carefully comparing the Baptist’s message with that of the Twelve on the day of Pentecost, it will be seen that in both cases the baptism “made with hands” was unto repentance for the remission of sins, and a prerequisite for Holy Spirit baptism. It was connected with faith as meritorious in salvation. Mark 16:14 to 18. Even Saul of Tarsus was told to arise and be baptized and, wash away his sins. Acts 22:16. Beginning with the baptism of “all Judea” by John the Baptist in Jordan, and in Aenon, and including the 3000 of Acts 2:41, the 5000 of Acts 4:4, the people of Samaria of Acts 8:12, and Saul of Tarsus of Acts 9:17, no man was baptized who had not first been circumcised, not even the “eunuch”. Acts 11:19. And for years after that, circumcision continued even among “Jews that believed”. Acts 16:3 and Acts 21:18 to 25. And the Twelve continued to preach the Gospel of the circumcision to the circumcision. Galatians 2:7 to 9. Historically the last record of water baptism is found in Acts 19:1 to 7. But circumcision was practiced after that among Christian Jews. Acts 21:18 to 25.
Thus we see by the “Acts” record that circumcision and water baptism went right along together. A careful study of Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:38 (eunuch); Acts 10:48 (Cornelius); Acts 16:15 (Lydia); Acts 16:33 (the jailer’s household); Acts 18:8 (many Corinthians), Acts 19:5 (twelve Israelites); will show that there is no record of any water baptism between the year 41 A.D. (Acts 10:48) and 51 A.D. (Acts 16:15); and that more than 95 per cent of the believers baptized were Israelites, the circumcision, so far as we have any record.
Is this not sufficient proof for any honest, sincere, intelligent student of the Word of God to disprove that the teaching that water baptism, including the sprinkling of infants, was instituted by the Lord as the New Testament seal to supplant circumcision, the Old Testament seal?
The ministers of the circumcision were instructed by the resurrected Christ that those who believed the gospel and were baptized would be saved. Mark 16:15 to 18. Aside from the household of Cornelius there is no record in Acts that Peter and the Eleven preached to any but the circumcision. What baptism instructions did Christ give to Paul with the gospel of the uncircumcision? “Christ sent me not to baptize”. I Corinthians 1:17. There is not the slightest hint in any teaching of Paul that water baptism was a witness to the world or a testimony that the believing Gentile had been crucified, buried, raised with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenlies. All such teaching must be supported by tradition and denominational creeds. The baptism of Romans 6:3 and 4 does identify a believer with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection; and it is the same baptism of Ephesians 4:5 which seats the believer as a member of the Body of Christ in the upper-heavenlies. How egotistical, proud and presumptuous is the man who believes that he can accomplish, or aid in accomplishing, such a transformation by his hands and by much or little water!
Whatever may have been the signification of the circumcision and baptism “made with hands”, before the days of Christ, or during the days of Christ, or Book of Acts, both physical circumcision and physical baptism ceased with the close of Acts. With abiding faith hope and love, the Divine circumcision and Divine baptism of Colossians 2:11 and 12 remain. Inasmuch as no physical baptism is required for entrance into the Body of Christ even into Christ Himself, no church organization that requires such a religious ceremony for admission should call itself the Body of Christ.
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