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What is circumcision of the flesh?

Submitted: 5/1/2009
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Question: When the Bible talks about 'circumcision of the flesh,' what is it really saying? For example Colossians 2:11. Can you please elaborate on it please.

Answer: Colossians 2:11-12 says, '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, buried with Him in baptism.' Circumcision of the flesh refers to the physical circumcision which is done to all male Jewish children on the eighth day as part of the covenant with Abraham (see Genesis 17). The verse you cited is speaking of a spiritual circumcision, not the circumcision of the flesh. In this verse, circumcision is described as being done by Christ Himself without the use of human hands. It is described as 'putting off the body of the sins of the flesh.' The term 'putting off' means to divest oneself of something. So how does a person divest himself of 'the body of the sins of the flesh'? By repentance and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. As Paul explains, 'buried with Him in baptism.' Compare this passage with Romans 6:1-6. Also, Acts 2:38 says that we are baptized 'for the remission of sins.' This means that the purpose of baptism is the removal or dismissal of a person's sins. Please read our article called 'Is Baptism Necessary For Salvation?' found on Shelf 1 of the Apostolic Free Library on this website.