New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:11 without hands. Paul, writing to the Gentile Christians at Colosse, would certainly not here be referring to literal circumcision, which he rejected as a ritual requirement for Gentiles (e.g., Galatians 5:2,6). The “circumcision made without hands” refers to the spiritual significance of circumcision, which applies to Gentiles as well as Jews. The covenant that God had made with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14) was to be signified by the physical rite of circumcision (“cutting round”). It was a national and earthly covenant, applicable only to the chosen nation fathered by Abraham, and did not of itself assure personal salvation in heaven to those who submitted to it. However, it should have encouraged in them and symbolized to them a spiritual separation also, dedicating themselves to serve the Lord and to do His will. Similarly, God’s people in any nation and any age should so dedicate themselves, cutting themselves off from the natural sins of the flesh. In that sense, every true believer has submitted to spiritual circumcision.
2:12 baptism. Since the rite of male circumcision was specifically a sign of identity with the earthly people of God, so baptism has now become the symbolic initiatory rite of all God’s people, whether male or female, Jew or Gentile, into the heavenly family of God. It also, like circumcision, symbolizes separation from sin and unto God, but in a different and more meaningful way than circumcision can do. It identifies the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, as we are “buried with Him” in the baptismal waters, then “risen with Him” to a new life. See also notes on Romans 6:4-13.