Colossians 2:12-13 – Buried with Christ in Baptism and Raised with Him in Faith
SummaryChrist's death and resurrection is the reality into which the believer has been incorporated.
AnalysisThe center point of the Colossian letter is reached in this passage. These central verses are surrounded by two references to the cosmic powers of the universe. Christ is not only "the head of every ruler and authority" (2:10), but he is also the one who "disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it" (2:15), that is, in the cross and resurrection. The sign of weakness and powerlessness in the world is the cross, which has triumphed over all the cosmic powers and is the sign of Christ's lordship, as the one whom God raised from the dead.
All this takes place in the identity of the believer, who is with Christ. Christ's death and resurrection constitute the reality into which the believer has been incorporated, for "when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (2:12). The waters of baptism express the reality of being buried with Christ, just as the coming forth from the waters of baptism expresses the reality of being raised with Christ. Alienated from God, "when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses" (2:13).
This is the good news that is at the heart of the Colossian letter. Having been led into the center of the letter through the sections of the letter's first half, readers now move into the concluding sections. These sections complement those in the first half. Colossians is a literary and theological masterpiece, addressed to a community that must find its identity over and against various deities and mysteries of its time. The Colossian Christians' identity is centered in the death and resurrection of Christ alone.