For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The Law, having brought us to Christ, has served its purpose and so there is no further need of the external Mosaic Law, for God’s law is now written in our hearts.( II Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10) Up to the day of Pentecost many were justified, as Abraham was, by faith, but they were not born again, for the Spirit had not yet been poured forth. As this third chapter has taught us the blessing of Abraham was to come on to the Gentiles, namely the coming of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Here Paul moves to another thought: being baptised into Christ and being children of God. Before, when Paul spoke of those of faith he refers to them as children of Abraham (Gal.3:7) now when referring to being baptised into Christ they are referred to as children (or more correctly in the Greek: sons) of God.
We shall examine what this baptism is and then link it in to the theme that we have been following throughout this epistle.
B6.1 Jesus’ baptism
The word baptism occurs in the NT testament quite frequently. When we first meet it it is to do with John the Baptist when he was baptising in water in Jordan. But then Jesus comes along and we are introduced to another baptism.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!
The baptism that Jesus had come to give was not that of the external (carnal or Flesh) but an internal one, a spiritual baptism. And that was the baptism with the Holy Ghost. John bore record that it was Jesus, the one who was to take away the sins of the world, who was to do the baptising in the Holy Spirit.
The word baptism means to immerse. Its root idea comes from dyeing cloths. The cloth would be immersed into the dye and the dye would penetrate the cloth; the cloth was then to be said to be baptised into the dye. When a person is baptised in the Holy Spirit, they are penetrated by the blessed third person of the Trinity. But for what purpose?
Consider the following scriptures, one referring to the Lord and the others to those who are Christians.
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with? And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptised withal shall ye be baptised:
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Jesus said that He had a baptism to be baptised with and a cup to drink, and that His disciples were going to drink of it too. From the incident in Gethsemane where He asks for the cup, if it were possible, to be removed it is clear that He was taking of His own death. On the cross Jesus was immersed into the death of deaths, there for the whole human race He drunk deep the death that all of us should have had. He tasted death for every man ( Heb. 2:9-15) that He would destroy the devil and His is power. But just as the cloth when dyed, is immersed into the dye, it is brought up out of the solution, it doesn’t remain there for ever, so Jesus was brought from the dead, He was raised from the dead into resurrection life. This baptism of Jesus then was His death at Calvary and His resurrection three days later.
B6.2 Our baptism
But then Jesus goes on to say one more thing, after having identified the cup and baptism as His death He says that the disciples too were to drink of the same cup and be baptised with His baptism! What could all this mean? How could they, and we have Jesus’ baptism? The answer lies in these two scriptures.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
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.
Paul is talking of new birth and in the NT there are many pictures of it, but here baptism is in view. We are shown that on new birth we are baptised into Christ’s death, and then raised to newness of life. We become immersed into what Christ accomplished at Calvary. That is the old sinful nature is crucified with Him and we receive a new life – His life – so that we can live a life of in the Spirit. Being born again means we move from the fleshly life to the life of the Spirit.
But it is nothing we do, it is all of God, it is His work in us. It is through faith in Him and not works of the flesh. This theme of being baptised into Christ is an important truth that we need to understand.
And were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
I Cor. 10:1-2
For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
I Cor. 12:13
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
In the OT Paul tells us that Israel was baptised unto Moses at the crossing of the Red sea, and in the cloud. It is not possible to give a full exegesis in this article, but in summary we can say that at the crossing of the Red Sea, Israel was cut off fully and finally from the Egypt and Pharaoh. In typology this means on new birth we are cut off from the world and the devil and their authority over us, we are freed to live as God wants us to live. This is a type of our us being baptised into Christ by the Holy Spirit and His work in us that brings about new birth.
Paul calls new birth a baptism into Christ’s body, thus we are identified with Christ in all things, His death, resurrection, anointing, election and so forth. There is a unity, for all Christians, whatever their ethnic or cultural origin, are baptised into by ONE spirit into ONE body. There is a oneness. There is only one way into Christ, new birth, or baptism by the Spirit. Some people think there is more than one baptism ( a baptism in the Spirit, one into the body, a baptism of love, of fire etc… ) but this is to deny the truth of plain revelation. There is ONE and only ONE baptism; and that is the baptism into the body of Christ by the Spirit at new birth. The baptism in the Spirit is this one baptism and new birth is this baptism. This can not be water baptism, for Paul says in the I Cor. 12 passage that baptism into the body of Christ is by the Spirit, water is not mentioned at all.
B6.3 Flesh or Spirit?
On new birth then we are baptised in the Spirit, so that we are brought into the death of the old nature and then into the resurrected life of Christ, which is the Eternal life of God Himself – in other words: to be partakers of His Divine nature ( II Pet.1:3-5). The purpose is so that we can thereafter walk in the spirit and not after the flesh.
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Jn. 3: 5-8
From the above scriptures we see that flesh only give rise to flesh and Spirit to spirit. Now apply this to the theme of Galatians, the works of the law, of the flesh, can only give rise to fleshy things (later in the epistle we find a horrible list of the works of the flesh). So again we ask the question; how can we do spiritual things by going back to the works of the Law?
The only way to live the spiritual life is to be born of the Spirit and and then continue to walk in the Spirit. Spirit gives rise to spirit and flesh to flesh. The tree can only reproduce after its own kind. Apple trees only give apples, and never pears!
In the opening chapter of John’s gospel account the writer mentions that those who become sons of God do so by God’s will, and not by any of the following:
B6.3a Not of Bloods (plural in the original)
The Jews boasted of their forebears, because they were descendants of Abraham. Both John the Baptist and Jesus had to rebuke them for this Mtt. 3:8-9; Jn.8:37-41 & study 19 . Sonship, in the things of God, does not come through natural birth at all, it doesn’t depend on what we are in the natural. Some regard their physical descent as the key to salvation: ‘ I was born in a Christian nation, family ‘ or whatever, but that has no place in the New Covenant. Nor does it matter if one is born male or female. It has nothing to do with the flesh but it has everything to do with God placing His life into a person, whatever their pedigree and blood line.
B6.3b Not of The will of the flesh
Nor is it a choice of the flesh. That is: what work the flesh can accomplish, through its own powers and efforts. Whether it be a man made scheme or even the external Mosaic Law of the OT, that was given by God. The Jews thought that to be saved you had to be a Jew and that meant circumcision, a work of the flesh if ever there had been one. True one could not be in the OC without it, but that was part of the temporary arrangement until Christ came. Being a Jew or a Gentile in the flesh has no bearing on whether or not one is a son of God.
B6.3c Not of The will of man
In some quarters one’s social standing is seen as candidature for salvation. This is very much of man’s will. Paul makes it clear being a slave or free is of no consequence. Man made divisions, whether social or religious makes no difference in these realms. Salvation is open to all whatever one’s standing in life. As one hymn has it ‘this salvation’s free to all, glory, glory, glory!’
B6.4 No distinction in Christ
In Christ! That what this baptism brings about. On new birth one is immersed into the body and life of Jesus Christ. And this puts us all on the same plane, true in the flesh of every day living things there are differences, but in Christ there is no difference. It is interesting to note that Paul mentions that there is no Jew or Greek, in I Cor 12:2, Paul talks to the Corinthians as being Gentiles in the past! In other words in Christ there are no ethnic differences at all. In Christ we are not Jews nor Gentiles nor any other nationality at all come to that! Every child of God is equal in his/her standing, no one is more important than any other. By faith we are Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise; we share Abraham’s inheritance and that is Christ!
Being in Christ means we are in the Spirit and not the flesh; the flesh things are of blood, the will of the flesh or the will of man and these have no place in Christ at all, neither in the matter of ‘initial’ salvation nor in the day to day life of the Christian.