Grace Bible Church

Preaching the Living Word through the Written Word












 (Col 2:11-13) 08/13/17

Grace Bible Church, Gillette, Wyoming

Pastor Daryl Hilbert


I.     COMPLETE IN HIM (Col 2:9-10)

A.    Being full deity, i.e. God, Christ is able to save and sanctify. Christ has accomplished everything necessary for salvation and sanctification so that the believer is complete in Christ.

B.    The phrase “in Him” or “in Christ” is employed 9 times in Colossians in regard to believers and is a major theme (Col 1:2, 4, 14, 28; 2:5, 6, 7, 10, 11). The phrase “with Him” (Col 2:12a, 12b, 13; 3:4) or “with Christ” (Col 2:20; 3:1, 3) is used a total of 7 times.

C.    Adolf Deissmann claimed that the phrase “in Christ” was used 164 times in Paul’s writings. The additional phrases “in Him” or “in Whom” add up to another 200. So in total, the phrase is written about 364 times in the NT and would suggest that the believer’s relationship “in Christ” was the overarching theme.

D.    In this section, Col 2:10-15, the believer’s salvation and sanctification are complete, both of which are “in Christ”. In fact, the phrase is saturated in this section.

1.     in Him you have been made complete” (10)

2.     in Him you were also circumcised” (11)

3.     “buried with Him in baptism” (12a)

4.     “raised up with Him” (12b)

5.     “made you alive together with Him” (13b)


A.    Background of Circumcision

1.     This section is still a part of Paul’s polemic against false teaching (Col 2:8-10 cf. Col 2:16-17ff). Physical circumcision was not a major component of Gnosticism. However, it was a major theme for the false teachers called “the Circumcision” (Gal 2:12; Col 4:11). Baptism was more prevalent in Gnosticism than with the Judaizers. The false teachers plaguing the Colossians was either multiple groups or perhaps groups that have merged or at least borrowed some of the beliefs from each other.

2.     Circumcision (peritomę - “cut around”), the religious rite of circumcising the foreskin of a male, was given to Israel by God. (eighth day, Lev 12:2-3).

3.     It was specifically to the nation of Israel as a covenant between them and God. If anyone was not circumcised, they were cut off from Israel and outside God’s covenant (Gen 17:10-14).

4.     For the most part, Israel believed that circumcision, since it granted membership into God’s covenant, was sufficient for salvation. Though also Jewish, Paul refuted such notions by teaching that there was no saving value in outward circumcision (Rom 2:25, 28) and that a Jew was saved by inwardly had faith in Christ (Rom 3:21-22; Rom 9:6).

5.     However, from the beginning, God instructed Israel that circumcision was only a outward symbol of what was to be inward circumcision of the heart (Deu 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4).

B.    Spiritual Circumcision

1.     One reason why the believer’s salvation is complete in Christ is because “in Him” the believer was spiritually circumcised.

2.     Paul was speaking of spiritual circumcision because he described it as a circumcision made without hands. In the NT, the Greek word acheiropoiętos carries the concept of not accomplished by human hands but rather done by God (Mar 14:58; 2Co 5:1).

3.     The essence of spiritual circumcision is the removal of the body of the flesh. The “body of the flesh” refers to the believer’s fallen sinful nature that totally dominated him before salvation.

4.     Spiritual circumcision is the “removal” of the domination of the sinful nature, but not a removal of its presence.

5.     This spiritual circumcision was accomplished by the circumcision of Christ. In other words, it was through Christ’s work on the cross by which the believer could be placed in Christ so that sin’s domination could be removed. Paul explained further (Col 2:12).


A.    Basis for Spiritual Baptism

1.     In further explanation (“having been”) the believer is complete in Christ because the believer was buried with Him in baptism. The believer’s spiritual circumcision coincides with his spiritual baptism.

2.     Paul explains that sin’s domination is removed from the believer who has been buried with Christ and has been also raised up with Christ. Note that in both phrases the key in the believer’s position “in or with Christ.”

3.     In Rom 6:3, Paul taught that the believer has been “baptized into Christ’s death.” This resulted in the removal of the sinful nature’s domination took place as the believer’s “old self was crucified with Him.” The purpose was so that the “body of sin might be done away with” (katargeō - rendered inoperative) meaning that “we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom 6:6). Though sin is still present, its domination was removed.

4.     In Rom 6:4-5, Paul taught that the believer has been raised with Christ. This resulted in the believer’s new nature and the capacity to live in “newness of life.”

B.    Argument for Spiritual Baptism

1.     When Paul states that we were “buried with Him in baptism,” how do we know that it is spiritual baptism and not physical baptism?

2.     First, the theme of Colossians is “Christ’s Supremacy” and that we are “complete in Him,” not complete in rituals or rites.

3.     Second, Paul has just argued that spiritual completeness in Christ is “made without human hands.” This applies to any sacraments, rituals, or deeds of man.

4.     Thirdly, Paul does state that it is through faith in the working of God, that is, faith and not the works of man. The working of God is the fact that Christ died for sin and was raised … from the dead.


A.    Dead to Christ

1.     In explaining further how the believer is complete in Christ, Paul communicates the truth that believers are alive with Christ.

2.     First, Paul emphasized that before coming to Christ, the Colossians (and all men) were dead in their transgressions.

3.     To be “dead in transgressions” means to be spiritually dead with reference to God. It depicts a person with no spiritual relationship with God and no interest in the things pertaining to God.

a.     To walk according to the course of this world (Eph 2:1a).

b.     To follow Satan and the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2).

c.     To live according to sinful lusts (Eph 2:3a).

d.     To be under the wrath of God (Eph 2:3b).

B.    Alive to Christ

1.     However, the believer is made alive together with Him. The believer is made alive by God based on the work of Christ.

2.     The underlying thesis is that because man is spiritually dead, it must be God who makes him spiritually alive. The Greek literally reads, “and you, being dead…He made you alive.”

3.     We were able to be circumcised in Him, buried with Him, raised with Him, and alive with Him because we were forgiven of all our transgressions. Our debt of sin was canceled through Christ’s atonement on the cross.

4.     Putting this all together, based on the person and work of Christ, the believer is saved by God’s grace (Eph 2:5 cf. Eph 2:8-9). Salvation is God’s work of grace and that is the reason why it is a complete salvation and a secure salvation (Eph 2:6). No other religion can offer this because all other religions are man-made and based on man’s works.


A.    Sacraments and rituals oppose the sufficiency in Christ. Either Christ alone is sufficient for salvation and sanctification or He is not. When religions incorporate sacraments, which supposedly infuse some degree of grace, they not only negate Christ’s sufficiency, they mock it.

B.    Being complete in Christ is both in regard to salvation and sanctification. Sin was atoned for through Christ’s death on the cross, we know this because Christ was raised from the dead. Also through being spiritually baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, the believer now lives in newness of life. “In Christ” is not just a phrase on the signature line of a letter, it refers to your sufficiency in Christ.

C.   Are you in Christ this morning? Come to Christ and you will be saved and placed in Christ. If you are in Christ, do you live like you are in Christ or out of Christ?





Grace Bible Church · 4000 E. Collins Rd ·  PO Box #3762 · Gillette, WY · (307) 686-1516