Baptism and Gal. 3:27

by Matt Slick

Gal. 3:27 is often used by the baptismal regenerationists to support the idea that you must be baptized to be saved.  They maintain that baptism is the place where a person "puts on Christ"--where he is "clothed with Christ"--and that it means that baptism saves.  They teach that being immersed in the baptismal water is the place and time of deliverance from sins.  This is simply not true.

Gal. 3:27 cannot be understood alone.  It must be examined in context.

"Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise." (Gal. 3:24-29).

In Roman society, children were often committed to the care of trusted slaves.  This would often happen when the child was between six or seven, and it would last until puberty.  "These slaves were severe disciplinarians and were charged with guarding the children from the evils of society and giving them moral training.  This was like the Law’s function until Christ came and people could be justified by faith in Him."1 The Law was a harsh master to the Jews.  It was very difficult to keep.  This is why the Law points to Christ by showing us our inability to keep the Law and by showing us that we must rely on faith instead.  That is why justification is by faith (vv. 24-26) because we cannot attain justification by Law (Rom. 3:28-30; Phil. 3:9).

"For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." (Gal. 3:27).

In Roman society when a child who had been under the care of a tutor and reached a mature enough age, he was given a special robe, or toga.  It was symbolic of his full rights in the family.2 Therefore, being "clothed with Christ" is a phrase meaning that the Christian moved out from the Law and into the gospel of grace and can enjoy full acceptance before God the Father.  It is not saying that baptism is what saves us from our sins.

 

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  • 1. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985, on Gal. 3:24.
  • 2. Ibid., on Gal. 3:27

 

 

 

 
 
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