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Colossians 2:12-13: Is Water Baptism required for salvation?

By Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Colossians 2:12–13 says, 

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. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

The context of this passage deals with the physical act of circumcision that took place during the Old Testament times. It is significant that the New Testament tends to depreciate the external act of circumcision. It argues that circumcision is to be replaced, not by another external act (e.g., baptism) but by an internal act of the heart.

As H.M. Carson points out that

the literal uncircumcision of these Gentiles was but a symbol of the fact that they were subject to their old sinful nature until God in mercy had raised them from spiritual death, and, through their union with Christ, had made them spiritually above. But this great act of spiritual renewal involves also the forgiveness of sins. the forgiveness springs from the free unmerited favor of God–the verb charizomai has the obvious link with charis and stresses that pardon is due to the grace of God. It covers not only past sins but all sins, for the atonement is the might act of reconciliation which has laid, once and for all, an abiding basis for continued pardon for the people of God (Colossians and Philemon: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 68-69).

Paul points out that Old Testament circumcision was an outward formality denoting the Judaic faith, but Romans 2:29 says the true Jew “is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” The New Covenant fulfilled the framework of circumcision and the Law.

See more on Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 3:21.

For other passages discussing common passages used by Latter-day Saints, click here.

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