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Question

What does it mean to be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27)?

baptized into Christ
Answer


In Galatians 3:23—4:7, the apostle Paul discusses what it means to be a child of God: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (verses 26–29). When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are “baptized into Christ” through faith in Him.

What are the implications of being baptized into Christ?

We are clothed in Christ.

Paul explains, “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” In the original language, the phrase translated as “clothed yourselves with Christ” (NIV) or “put on Christ” (ESV) means to be “endowed with the quality of being wrapped in a covering” of Christ. “And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes,” says Galatians 3:27 in the New Living Translation. The same term appears in Romans 13:14: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

When we are baptized into Christ, we become wrapped up in Jesus Christ like a robe. Our filthy, old, sin-infested rags are cast off (Isaiah 64:6), and we put on the new righteous nature of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). Water baptism outwardly depicts this inner work of baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 10:44–48).

This idea of changing clothes carried an additional implication for the Galatians. In ancient Roman society, when a young person reached the legal age of adult citizenship, he would stop wearing his childhood apparel and begin to don a toga, the customary outfit of an adult. This change of attire indicated a rite of passage into the responsibilities of adulthood. As believers baptized into Christ, we receive full, mature sonship status before God (see Romans 8:17).

We are all one in Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit joins us to Christ and identifies us with Him. As children of God, we become members of God’s family, who are all “one in Christ Jesus.” Paul reiterates this truth in 1 Corinthians 12:12–14: “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12–13, NLT).

As believers baptized into Christ, we belong to God as His sons and daughters and to each other as brothers and sisters. God’s family consists of people from every nation, culture, skin color, and language (Matthew 28:19; cf. Revelation 5:9). In Christ, there is no distinction of rank (“slave nor free”), status (“Jew nor Gentile”), or gender (“nor is there male and female”). We are all on equal footing with God when it comes to salvation. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve it (Romans 3:10, 23; Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9–10; Titus 3:5). We all receive it as a gift from God through Jesus (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8). The equality of our union transforms into fellowship—a communion of brothers and sisters that can only exist in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:18–19; 2 Corinthians 5:18–19).

We are dead to sin, alive in Christ.

Being baptized into Christ means identifying with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. We died with Him and, through Him, received a new life in which we are set free from sin. Paul asks the Romans, “How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life” (Romans 6:2–4, HCSB).

As born-again Christians, we are set apart with Christ in righteousness and justification: “Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:6–7, NLT).



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What does it mean to be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27)?
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