Body of Flesh
"He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." (Colossians 2:15)
At the cross Christ frees us not only from the guilt of sin but the power or hold sin can upon us. We are identified in Christ “by the putting off the body of the flesh.” The use of “body” in verse 11 refers to the wide range of weaknesses found in sinful flesh. How are we able to do strip off our flesh? Two possibilities: first, following the traditional translation of verse 15, at the cross, Christ’s death disabled the powers of rulers and evil spirits. While those powers used their authority to execute the Lord, they thought they had rid Jesus of his coming. Wrong! The cross played into their hands and their power defeated with the resurrection.
The second possibility, which has a significant following of commentators, and I think offers the believer greater appreciation of what it means to be “in Christ”, is to translate verse 15 “having stripped himself, he put the rulers and authorities to open shame …” In this case, what happen at the cross, Jesus removed from his body that part of humanness through which powers and evil spirits can lay hold of man and enslave him in his flesh. Meaning, in the act of dying Christ divested himself of that part of flesh, thus breaking the dominion of principalities and powers, “and carrying with himself in his victory all those who through faith had come to be in him and thus shared his experience” [G.H.C. MacGregor, New Testament Studies, i. p.23] And because of that “in Christ” we, too, can “strip off the body of flesh.”
-- E. C. Malone 04/05/15