What does Colossians 2:12 mean?
ESV: 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.
NIV: having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
NASB: having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
CSB: when you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
NLT: For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
In prior verses, Paul discussed how circumcision, as a physical ritual, is no longer required. Knowing Christ is what matters, and we are identified—spiritually—with Jesus through our faith, not our physical actions. Here, Paul connects the purpose of Old Testament circumcision with the purpose of New Testament baptism. Both serve as an external, physical symbol of the relationship between God and mankind.

Just as Christ died and rose again, baptism serves as a symbol of dying to the old self and beginning a new life. These words pack a great deal of information into a short phrase. Baptism is noted as important for every Christian after conversion. Second, salvation is again emphasized as in Christ by faith. Third, faith comes from God's power, not our own. Fourth, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus did not merely pass out, but literally died and then physically rose again. All of these are crucial points for understanding the gospel message.
Verse Context:
Colossians 2:6–15 describes Christ's superiority in defeating sin. This is shown in stark contrast to the failure of the unbelieving world. Paul encourages the Colossians not to be tricked by deceptive arguments. This passage also explains the drastic nature of salvation. Those who put their faith in Christ are ''spiritually'' circumcised and are identified with God through their faith. This act of forgiveness by God frees us from the eternal penalty of sin, restores our relationship, and defeats the evil forces fighting against us.
Chapter Summary:
In this passage, Paul warns Christians not to be taken in by deceptive arguments. These claims are attractive, but are merely tricks: they sound true, but they are not. Arguing for self-denial, legalism, visions, and other practices only looks good to observers. None of these are the real source of spiritual growth. Paul emphasizes the way Christ accomplished everything we need to be justified before God. As a result, there is no reason for believers to pursue these false, shallow ''shadows.'' We have the real substance: Jesus, so we should follow Him.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 introduced Christ as supreme over all of creation. Chapter 2 refines this argument by showing how the salvation offered through Jesus is superior to false, alternative systems. Paul specifically refutes several ideas, such as legalism, asceticism (self-denial), and mysticism. These are not how God intends us to grow, spiritually. Later chapters will contrast these false, external attempts with the true, inner spiritual growth which comes only by faith in Christ.
Book Summary:
The book of Colossians describes Christ as superior to all other teachers, faiths, and philosophies. In this letter, written from prison, Paul once again tackles false teachings. Among these errors are claims that Christians need to give up all physical enjoyments, that they should worship angels, and that they need to rely on the wisdom of an elite few. These problems are consistent with an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism. In response, Paul explains that Christ is supreme, and sufficient for our salvation.
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