Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Putting Off the Body of the Flesh

"...in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ..." (Colossians 2:11 ASV)

Col. 2:11 contains a notable instance of the apostle Paul strengthening his assertion of the completeness of the cleansing of the believer, by the invention of a noun found nowhere else in the whole range of Greek literature. The word is ἀπέκδυσις (apekdusis), "putting off the body of the flesh" (R.V.), not "of the sins" of the flesh, as in the K.J.V., which is a gloss teaching deliverance from sinning. The R.V. teaches the greater deliverance from the sin-principle or tendency called original sin. Let us scrutinize Paul's invented compound noun, made up of two prepositions, ἀπό (apo) and ἐκ (ek), and the verb δύο (duo), all signifying the putting off and laying aside, as a garment, an allusion to actual circumcision. Meyer's comment shows the strength of this word:

Whereas the spiritual circumcision divinely performed consisted in a complete parting and doing away with this body [of sin], in so far as God, by means of this ethical circumcision, has taken off and removed the sinful body from man [the two acts are expressed by the double compound], like a garment drawn off and laid aside.

The italics are Meyer's. If this does not mean the complete and eternal separation of depravity, like the perpetual effect of cutting off and casting away the foreskin then it is impossible to express the idea of entire cleansing in any human language. This radical change of nature from sinful to holy is effected "by or by means of, the circumcision of Christ," i.e., which is produced through Christ by the agency of the Holy Spirit, procured by him. We do not accept the suggestion of Meyer that this Christian transformation is represented in its ideal aspect. God does not tantalize his children with unattainable ideals. He does not command perfection where it cannot be realized through his grace. He is not a hard master, reaping perfection where he has sown only imperfection. "His commandments are not grievous."

— edited and adapted from Half-Hours With St. Paul, Chapter 16.