We Are All Children Of God

Galatians 3:26-27

New Living Translation

26 For you are all children[a] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[b]

For you are all accepted as children of God by faith because of Christ jesus. you were all baptized into christ so you were all clothed with christ this shows that you are all children of god through faith in christ united by baptism

What Does Galatians 3:26 Mean? ►

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

There is a false teaching that all members of the human race are children of God and that all men are universal sons of the Almighty. This is not only dangerous but unscriptural, for only the regenerate are made children of God – only those that are saved by grace through faith in Christ are given the right to become sons of God: “Even to those who believe in His name – who were born not of human parentage but of the Spirit of God,” by grace, through faith.

Paul taught the Galatian believers: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” but Jesus also told us that those who do not believe in Him are “of your father.. the devil.” There are only two camps in this dispensation of grace. Saint or sinner – the former being saved by grace and eternally freed from condemnation – the latter being lost and under God’s righteous condemnation. The former made alive in Christ, citizens of heaven and at peace with God, and the latter remaining dead in their sins, prisoners of Satan and at enmity with their Creator.

To those that are born of the Spirit and washed in the blood of Christ, God is a gracious Heavenly Father, but to a Christ-rejecting sinful world, God is a righteous Judge. And when Scripture is twisted so that the love of God is divorced from the justice of God, we are left with a benevolent old man in the sky or an evil despot who dispenses fire and brimstone at His whimsical will. When a distorted gospel is preached and only certain of God’s characteristics are accentuated at the expense of the truth – the Church of God is destroyed for lack of knowledge.

When the whole counsel of God is not taught in our churches and a false gospel is the stimulus in doctrinally deficient, liberal seminaries, we feed on unwholesome manna and drink from dirty, dried-up cisterns, leaving our minds controlled by doctrines of demons and the unscriptural pronouncements of false prophets.

It is purely the mercy of God that has pronounced us children of God, through faith in Christ. And it is a miracle of mercy that has rendered us sons of God through believing on His name for salvation. Our privileged position in Christ has nothing to do with our worth or merit but is only and exclusively is founded on God’s grace that He extended towards us… in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us so that all who believe on His name may be given the right to become sons of God: “Even to those who believe in His name – who were born not of human parentage but of the Spirit of God – by grace, through faith in Him.”

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/galatians-3-26

Source: https://dailyverse.knowing-jesus.com/galatians-3-26

What does Galatians 3:26 mean? [ See verse text ]

Paul concludes a thought begun in the previous verses. He has been showing that the law of Moses served a vital role in the life of Israel, but only for a temporary season. It was similar to a kind of tutor, or guardian, to the nation of Israel, steering them through the minefield of sin and its consequences without ever being able to free them from their imprisonment to sin (Galatians 3:19–25).

When Christ came, however, the guardian of the law was no longer needed. No matter what the Judaizers said to the Galatian Christians, it was not necessary for any of them to continue to follow the works of the law. True freedom from sin is now available to those who “by faith” receive the gift of Christ’s death for their sin on the cross. In fact, being “in Christ” by faith causes believers to become children of God. Paul is making a huge statement here. He is writing to non-Jewish Christians and calling them children of God, another step up from his previous description of them as Abraham’s children “by faith.”

Paul’s teaching was the Gentiles no longer needed to think of themselves as lesser members in the family of God. All who trust in Christ for salvation are full sons and daughters of God Almighty with all the rights and privileges that come with that.

Context Summary

Galatians 3:23–29 summarizes the idea that God never intended the law to be the final solution for the problem of sin. Instead, it was meant to ”guard” mankind, until the arrival of Christ. This freedom from the captivity of the law also transcends all other barriers: race, gender, wealth, health, and culture are all irrelevant to our relationship with the Savior. Anyone who belongs to Christ, by faith, is promised to be an heir.

Chapter Summary

Paul indicates the Galatian Christians are foolish for believing they need to follow the law of Moses to be right with God. He offers three specific arguments to support this. First, they received God’s Spirit in a powerful way after believing in Jesus, but before doing any works of the law. Second, Scripture itself shows God’s blessing coming by faith, and His curse coming by the law. Christ paid the price of that curse on the cross. Third, God’s covenant with Abraham is like a legal document, and it cannot be revoked

Galatians 3:26 NKJV

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

How is verse 26 connected to what was said previously? It shows the transition between law and faith. So we have the law as our tutor, right? But when faith in Jesus has come, we are no longer under a tutor. We are under faith. And this faith makes us into sons of God, not slaves of sin.

What’s interesting is this guys… last week we understand that a tutor (verses 24-25) is basically a child guardian, right? But when verse 26 talks about sons of God, this is actually talking about adult sons. So it’s like a graduation in a way from law to faith. From childhood to being adults. So if a Christian in Galatia was wanting to get back to the law, it’s like someone who wants to be a child again.

One commentary says:

As I have told you last week, it’s silly if any Christian in Galatia wanted to be justified by the law after being saved through faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s like someone wanting to return to prison after being set free.

now that Christ had come, the Galatian believers were adult sons through faith and were no longer under a Jewish slave-guardian. Why should they seek to revert to their inferior status?

One commentary says

Campbell, D. K. (1985). Galatians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 600). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

As I have told you last week, it’s silly if any Christian in Galatia wanted to be justified by the law after being saved through faith in the Lord Jesus. It’s like someone wanting to return to prison after being set free.

Imagine if you’re a Christian in Galatia. The Judaizers told you that you needed the law as well as faith in Jesus in order to be justified. But Paul has been clear in this passage hasn’t he? You are a child of God because of your faith in Jesus. It has nothing to do with the law.

Galatians 3:

Galatians 3:27 NKJV

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

As Christians, the Galatians have been baptized into Christ. They were immersed into Christ. Their old selves were crucified with Christ. And because of this, they have put on Christ. To help you understand better what it is to put on Christ, I want to illustrate it by a sports example.

Before I got into the basketball team at college, I already played basketball. It’s an enjoyable sport and I got into it. But after I entered the basketball team at Howick College, I was given a uniform. When I put on that uniform, things changed. All of a sudden I’m not just a youth who likes to play basketball during my break times. I represent Howick College now with basketball. I get to go outside the school to play against other school teams. I have put on a uniform that changed me as a student.

One commentary states:

The Bible Knowledge Commentary 3:26–27

In the Roman society when a youth came of age he was given a special toga which admitted him to the full rights of the family and state and indicated he was a grown-up son.

So what does it mean to put on Christ? It means that you have a new identity as a Christian (derived from Kalisher). When you first have faith in the Lord Jesus, you have put Him on, like you have put on a brand new uniform. Things are not the same after you do. About putting Christ on, one commentary says:

When you first have faith in the Lord Jesus, you have put Him on. Things are not the same after you do. About putting Christ on, one commentary says:

“This is not a temporary condition for the sake of a certain occasion – it is a transfer of ownership, a new identity. Whatever was before I was saved has ceased to be… The same new identity is given to both Jew and Gentile who believe. That is why all believers in Jesus are called Christians – people who belong to Christ and resemble Him…” (Meno Kalisher)

Does Galatians 3:27 Teach Salvation By Water Baptism?

GEORGE IPPOLITO AUGUST 14, 2018

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

As you might have already gathered by the question presented in the title there are many who use Galatians 3:27 as a proof text to support their belief that water baptism is a necessary instrument of the salvation process, without which a person cannot be saved. While we want to hold up the importance of baptism as an ordinance instituted by the Lord Himself, we do not want to confuse its importance with saving faith. Not just because “we don’t want to” or because it doesn’t fit with a certain system of theology but because the Scripture does not teach such a doctrine. Galatians 3:27 is a great example of how people can do great injustice to the meaning of a text by avoiding a number of incredibly important hermeneutical principles.

Besides the response that will be set forth in the proceeding points, the methodology of the argument will also be very helpful. It can serve as a great framework to ensure that you do not make the serious mistake that people make when they take a text out of its context and teach false doctrine.

I. Let’s look at the immediate context.  In the verse immediately preceding Galatians 3:27, we are told, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus ” (vs. 26). So the verse in dispute (vs. 27) is immediately preceded by a verse that teaches that “faith in Christ Jesus” is the means through which people become sons and daughters of God. That’s important. That will help understand what Paul was (and was not) speaking about in verse 27; but first we ought to notice how verse twenty-six flows out from the extensive argument that he had been making in the latter portion of chapter two and just about the entirety of chapter three. Which brings us to our second point…

II. Let’s look at the context of Galatians. We will focus our examination to considering the verses leading up to Galatians 3:26-27, beginning at Galatians 2:16. Don’t forget what Paul has been arguing for – that a person is justified by faith and not by works. Watch the way in which Paul extensively argues this point leading up to the verse in question.

In Galatians 2:16 Paul wrote, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” In this one verse we see how the apostle Paul accented the importance of faith three times!

Then, if we continue reading on into chapter three we see him argue the importance of faith over and over again. Here’s a sampling:

• Galatians 3:2 – “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”

• Galatians 3:5-6 – “Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

• Galatians 3:7 – “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”

• Galatians 3:8 – “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’”

• Galatians 3:9 – “So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”

• Galatians 3:11 – “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith.”

• Galatians 3:14 – “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

• Galatians 3:22 – “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

• Galatians 3:24 – “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

So within the context of Galatians, and particularly the verses leading up to Galatians 3:27, Paul had been laboring extensively to show that a person was justified by faith. It would be strange (and incorrect) to think that after he made this point over and over and over again, he suddenly ‘threw in’, as a mere aside, an additional doctrine of salvation importance saying, ‘Oh yeah, and don’t forget, you’re actually saved by water baptism too.’ That doesn’t work. Both the immediate context and larger book context argue against it.

III. Larger Scriptural Context. With this step we are simply seeing if the larger context of Scripture argues for justification by faith or justification by baptism. The evidence overwhelmingly and indisputably supports the former – justification by faith. Rather than citing all the verses in their entirety here is a large sampling of the ‘addresses’ where those verses can be found: Jn. 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Rom. 3:21-26, 28-30; 4:3, 5, 11, 16; 5:1; 9:30, 33; 10:4, 9-10; Eph. 1:13; 2:8-9; Phil. 3:9; etc.

IV. What kind of baptism is in view here? Perhaps the biggest mistake made by those who teach that a verse like Galatians 3:27 teaches salvation-by-baptism is that they assume when the word “baptism” is used the text can only be speaking of water baptism. Remember the Scripture does not only speak about water baptism, it speaks about “baptisms” (Gr. baptisimon), one of which is the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby He (the Holy Spirit) immerses a believer into union with Christ. John the Baptist, for example, said that while he baptized with water one was coming after him who would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Lk. 3:16b). The apostle Paul wrote of this baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:12,13 saying:

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

That’s the baptism that is in view in Galatians 3:27. So besides the fact that there is no mention of water in Galatians 3:27 (an important fact to note), it’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit that works coterminously with justification by faith – that’s the connection between verse 26 and 27! To be a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus (vs. 26) is to have been baptized by the Spirit into Christ – spiritually speaking (vs. 27).

QUESTION

Does Galatians 3:27 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation?

ANSWER

Groups that believe that baptism is necessary for salvation often turn to Galatians 3:27 as one of their “proof texts” for the view that baptism is necessary for salvation. In doing so they are ignoring the context of the passage as well as the overall context of Scripture to try to force their pre-conceived theological view on this passage.

In order to determine if this passage really supports baptismal regeneration, one simply needs to read the immediate context to know that it does not. The overall context of Galatians is centered on Paul’s rebuke that some of the Galatians were turning from the one true gospel to another false gospel that could not save them (Galatians 1:6-10). The false gospel they were embracing was one that mixed God’s grace with works of the law, including circumcision, as a requirement for being saved, much like those who add baptism as a requirement for salvation. Paul’s message in Galatians is very, very clear—we are justified not “by the works of the law but by faith in Christ” (Galatians 2:16). This context of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is seen throughout the first three chapters of Galatians and is reinforced in Galatians 3:26, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse, along with all other passages of Scripture dealing with salvation, makes it clear that salvation is “through faith in Christ Jesus,” and since, for baptism to have any meaning at all, it must always be preceded by faith, we can know that it is faith in Christ that saves us not the baptism that follows faith. While baptism is important as a way of identifying us with Christ, it only has meaning if it comes from saving faith which always comes first.

Galatians 3:27 says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Is there any reason from the context of this passage to assume that this is speaking of water baptism? The obvious answer is no. There is no contextual evidence on which to draw that conclusion. We know from Scripture that there is more than one type of baptism taught in the New Testament (Hebrews 6:2), so why should it be assumed this is speaking of water baptism? The question we need to answer from Scripture is, “How do we get baptized into Christ?” Or another way of asking it is “what makes a person a Christian?” Or maybe, “What is the single most important difference between a Christian and a non-Christian?” The answer to these questions is found in Romans 8:9, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.”

Scripture is very clear that the determining factor for whether or not one is a Christian is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. With that truth in mind let’s look at another passage that speaks of being “baptized” into Christ. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all be made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). What is it that makes one a Christian? It is being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. What baptism is it that puts us into Christ or makes us a part of Christ’s body? It is the baptism “by one Spirit.” Clearly, the baptism that 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 and Galatians 3:27 are speaking of is not water baptism at all. It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit whereby we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13-14) and are made part of Christ’s body as we are indwelt by His Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples before He left them that He would send them “another helper,” the Holy Spirit who “dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-18).

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is what baptizes us into the body of Christ, as seen clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. John the Baptist prophesied that, while he was sent to “baptize with water,” Jesus was the One who would “baptize with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33-34). It is that baptism, the point that we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that “baptizes” us into the body of Christ. Galatians 3:27 is not referring to water baptism at all. Water baptism is symbolic of what is accomplished when we are baptized into one body by one Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is what matters. When we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as promised by Christ is when we become part of the body of Christ or are “baptized into Christ.” Those who try to force baptismal regeneration into Galatians 3:27 have no scriptural grounds for doing so.

Galatians 3:26-29 – WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO BE CALLED A CHILD OF GOD?

What a wonderful privilege it is to be a child of the living God! Thank God for His great love by which He allows us to be in His family. In the closing section of Galatians 3, we read about which people have the right to be called God’s children. Let’s call it “sonship in the Christ.” Note the text:

 (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Let us start by pointing out some matters that are not the basis of sonship. The words of our text come immediately after Paul explained the role of the Law of Moses. For the Jews, it had served as a tutor to bring them to the Christ. Paul makes it clear that now, though, that old law is no longer in force (3:24,25). Thus, the sonship about which Paul writes is not brought about by following the old law.

Sonship is not through physical birth. The Christ is mentioned in each of the four sentences that make up the last four verses of Galatians 3. One becomes a child of God through Jesus, and that involves a spiritual birth, not a physical one (John 3:3,5). When it comes to physical matters, the context of the entire epistle to the Galatians makes it plain that receiving physical circumcision is not a factor in whether or not one is a child of God (cf. “circumcised nor uncircumcised” in Colossians 3:11).

Sonship is not based on one’s ancestry. As our text shows, in the Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek” (3:28). That, of course, does not mean that no Jew or Greek can be a child of God; it simply means that in God’s Son, there is no distinction based on one’s biological background.

Sonship is not based on one’s social status. Both slave and free could be, and were, admitted into God’s family (3:28).

Sonship is not based on one’s gender. Again, in God’s Son “there is neither male nor female” (3:28). We obviously can detect the difference between females and males, but the point here is that sonship is neither denied nor granted due to one’s gender. Do not confuse the issue in this context. Paul is not discussing the roles that males and females play in the Christ. He is not declaring that they are equal in having the right to take leadership roles in the work and worship of God’s people. No, Paul is addressing the question of “Who has the right to be called a child of God?” In that matter, brothers and sisters are equal, having come into the Christ in the same manner and being entitled to equal spiritual blessings in Him (Ephesians 1:3).

Well, if being God’s child is not predicated on any of those matters listed above, then upon what is it based? Sonship is based on location and relationship. Those who are in God’s family “are all one in Christ Jesus” (3:28). Thus, all of God’s children are in the Christ (which is the same as being in His church, 1 Timothy 3:15). The in-the-Christ people are the same as those who are identified as “Christ’s” (3:29). Again, sonship and faithful service is about location and relationship. Now let us go back a bit in our text.

Sonship comes about through Jesus: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (3:26). There is no way to bypass Him and be a child of God. As we consider “faith” in this verse, there are two aspects to it. First, in the Greek text, “faith” is preceded by an article, making it “the faith” – that is the system of faith, or gospel (1:23). So, sonship comes about via the gospel (and not the old law; 3:24,25). Second, there is the personal element of faith – a person must respond to the message of “the faith” with his own personal faith in Jesus as the Christ (Acts 16:31).

When does one’s personal faith get him into the Christ, that is, make him a child of God? “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (3:27). Scriptural immersion is the transition – it takes one from being in the darkness that is outside of the Christ and puts him into God’s Son. Since all spiritual blessings, including redemption, are in the Christ (Ephesians 1:3,7), then no one outside of Him is in God’s spiritual family. Again, the only way door into Him is via baptism.

Those who “are Christ’s” (3:29) were bought with a price – the blood of the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18,19). Being in the Christ, they are Abraham’s spiritual seed and heirs to the promise, the promise that all families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham’s seed (3:16; Genesis 12:3; 22:18).

Let us never take for granted the privilege of being God’s children. God help us to appreciate all of the efforts made by the Godhead and humans, too, to bring about our redemption. And may we conduct ourselves in God’s family in such a way that others can see just how much that family means to us.

— Roger D. Campbell

Galatians 3:26-27: Water Baptism or Spirit Baptism

April 24, 2015 by Brian

The majority of commentators throughout history understand 3:27 to refer to water baptism. But this results in some serious difficulties. Calvin states the difficulty well: “”But the argument, that, because they have been baptized, they have put on Christ, appears weak; for how far is baptism from being efficacious in all? Is it reasonable that the grace of the Holy Spirit should be so closely linked to an external symbol? Does not the uniform doctrine of Scripture, as well as experience, appear to confute this statement?”[1] In other words, it is obvious under anyone’s theology, that not all who are water baptized are united to Christ. But this verse says, ”For as many of you as were,” or “All who were . . . .”

There are a number of ways of handling this difficulty. Peter Lombard notes a view ascribed to Augustine indicated that those who were baptized under a false confession had their sins forgiven “at the very moment of baptism.” But those sins “return immediately after baptism.” Lombard rejects this view, and he says that Augustine only reported the view. He did not hold it.[2] Lombard himself suggested two resolutions. First, it may be that only “those who are baptized in Christ” have their sins forgiven. Or, Lombard suggested, it may be that the passage refers not to those who receive the sacrament alone but also the thing which it symbolizes.[3]

This latter explanation has remained popular. It was the explanation Calvin offered: “It is customary with Paul to treat of the sacrament in two points of view. When he is dealing with hypocrites . . . he then proclaims loudly the emptiness and worthlessness of the outward symbol. . . . When, on the other hand, he addresses beleviers, who make a proper use of the symbols, he then views them in connexion with the truth—which they represent.”[4]

Another approach is to argue that baptism is one part of “the complex of initiation events describing conversion.”[5] Some make baptism an essential part of receiving the benefit. Beasley-Murray claims, “If Paul were pressed to define the relationship of the two statements in v. 26-27, I cannot see how he could preserve the force of both sentences apart from affirming that baptism is the moment of faith in which the adoption is realized . . . which is the same as saying that in baptism faith receives Christ in whom the adoption is effected.”[6] Everett Ferguson similarly states, “If a distinction is to be made between the relation of faith and baptism to the blessings described, one might say that baptism is the time at which and faith is the reason why.”[7] F. F. Bruce notes the problem with this approach: “The question arises here: if Paul makes baptism the gateway to ‘being-in-Christ’, is he not attaching soteriological efficacy to a rite which in itself is as external or ‘material’ as circumcision?”[8] For this reason commentators often make qualifying comments such as these by Moo:

It was not, in and of itself, a means of salvation or incorporation into Christ (contra, e.g., Schlier 1989: 172; cf. Betz 1979: 187-88). Faith, which Paul repeatedly highlights in this passage and in his other letters, is the only means of coming into relationship with Jesus Christ. However, baptism is more than simply a symbol of that new relationship; it is the capstone of the process by which one is converted and initiated into the church. As such, Paul can appeal to baptism as ‘shorthand’ for the entire conversion experience.[9]

The difficulty with all of these qualifications is that they seem to evade what the words of the verse actually say. The verse says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Moo says, “[Baptism] was not, in and of itself, a means of . . . incorporation into Christ (contra, e.g., Schlier . . .).” The verse says “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” But Lombard and Calvin say that is only true for those who receive the sacrament and the thing and not the sacrament alone. The qualifications are seeking to guard orthodox doctrine, but they seem to do so at the text’s expense.

But what if Paul is not referring to water baptism here? Bruce says, “It is difficult to suppose that readers would not have understood it as a statement about their initiatory baptism in water.” But is it so difficult? Both the Gospels and Acts anticipate and describe Spirit baptism.[10] The distinction between these two kinds of baptism is present in apostolic teaching. Distinction between the sacrament and the thing or the symbol and the reality, however, are later theological developments. It seems more likely for Paul’s original readers to have distinguished between water baptism and Spirit baptism than between the sacrament and the thing.

What is more, Spirit baptism makes good sense in this context. In this context baptism is the proof that “Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female” are one in Christ through faith. Water baptism cannot serve as such a proof because, as Hunn notes, “it proves only that the baptizer found [these distinctions] irrelevant.”[11] It does not provide a window into the mind of God. Spirit baptism, on the other hand, does provide such a proof. Indeed, this is Peter’s argument for accepting the Gentiles into the church. The Spirit baptized them just as he had baptized the Jews (Acts 11:15-17

). Hunn also observes that Galatians 3:23-29

and 4:3-7

follow parallel lines of argumentation. In 3:27-28 the proof of sonship is baptism into Christ. In 4:6 the proof of sonship is the reception of the Spirit. This parallel indicates that Spirit baptism is in view in 3:27.[12] Finally, 1 Corinthians 12:13

forms a close parallel to Galatians 3:27

. In both passages there is baptism into Christ. In both there is the indication that this the case whether the person is Jew or Gentile, slave or free. In 1 Corinthians 12:13

the baptism is clearly Spirit baptism: “For [in] one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” This confirms that the baptism in view in Galatians 3:27

is Spirit baptism.

To this position Schreiner objects, “Robert H. Stein shows that the attempt to separate water baptism from Spirit baptism fails to understand that water baptism is part of the complex of initiation events describing conversion.”[13] But in taking this view there is no denial that water baptism was part of “the complex of initiation events.” Nor does this view dispute that water baptism is the symbol of Spirit baptism.[14] This view simply recognizes that as many as are baptized in the Spirit are united to Christ but that not all who are baptized in water are so united.

[1] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians, trans. Willaim Pringle (1854; repr., Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 111.

[2] Peter Lombard, The Sentences, trans. Giulio Silano (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2010), 19-20 (bk. 4, dist. 4, ch. 2, n. 4-5).

[3] Ibid., 21 (bk. 4, dist. 4, ch. 3).

[4] Calvin, 111.

[5] Thomas Schreiner, Galatians, ZECNT, 257, n. 8; cf. Douglas Moo, Galatians, BECNT, 251.

[6] G. R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962), 151.

[7] Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 147.

[8] F. F. Bruce, Galatians, NIGTC, 185.

[9] Moo,  251.

[10] Debbie Hunn, “The Baptism of Galatians 3:27

: A Contextual Approach,” ExpTim 115 (2005): 373-74.

[11] Ibid, 373.

[12] Ibid., 374-75.

[13] Schreiner, 257, n. 8.

[14] I would dispute, however, that Spirit baptism happens at the time of water baptism. I would argue the reality precedes the symbol.

Author: J. Palmer

Living under the wings of God and the angels around me keeping me going and safe. Sharing the love of Christ.

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