Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5
May 29, 2016
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 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.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have become united with [him] in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of his resurrection;
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
7 for he that hath died is justified from sin.
8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;
9 knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death no more hath dominion over him.
10 For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
- I. Ignorance Regarding the Impact of Our Baptism.
- A. The issues of "ignorance" in Romans are not insignificant (see previous study <008>).
- B. At issue: a most fundamental aspect of our baptism.
- 1. Interestingly, "baptism" is only mentioned in Romans in this context (6:3-4). And just as interesting, this "baptism" has almost nothing to do with the physical level foundations for the "relational" reality.
- a. Baptism in water is the physical level foundation of our grasp of the "relational" baptism of which Paul wrote (thus the inclusion of the "almost" in the sentence above).
- 1) It is beyond likely that the believers in Rome had been baptized with water.
- 2) It is inconceivable that those believers were not instructed regarding the Christian use of water baptism prior to their submission to it.
- 3) The problematical issue is clear: no one seems to know exactly what those believers had been told about the significance of being baptized with water.
- b. But that Paul can not possibly have meant that our "baptism in water" has resulted in the results to which he points is so obvious that it is a shock to see how many claim that he had our baptism in water in mind.
- 1) In the first place, he tells us pointedly that our "baptism" was a "baptism into Christ Jesus" and, consequently, a "baptism" into His death. Even those who argue that he had "water" baptism in mind are not so foolish as to argue that "water" is the same thing as "Christ Jesus" and, when pushed, have to fall back to the heresy that "water baptism" is the instrumentality of the actual "baptism into Christ". In other words, the heretics claim that when a person is "baptized in water" a "baptism into Christ" occurs simultaneously, thus admitting that baptism in water is not the same thing as baptism into Christ.
- 2) The sophistry of trying to make baptism into water the instrumentality of baptism into Christ is driven by the legalism of reducing the realities of relational truth to the realities of physical truth, ignoring both the heart and intent of divine relational truth.
- a) It is an easily demonstrated fact that "legalists" consistently press for "meaning" only at the physical level. The classic text is Jesus' repetitive "Ye have heard that it was said...but I say unto you" wherein He exposes the legalistic issue of "if you have not actually done the crime in physical reality, you bear no guilt" as if one who hates his brother is not actually guilty of murder, a truth that all genuine Christians inherently recognize (1 John 3:15).
- b) Also there is Jesus' condemnation of those legalists whose sophistry allowed them to supplant the intended end of divine revelation with the greedy intentions of men whose focus was only upon outward issues with no regard for motives (Mark 7:13).
- 2. Paul's reference to "baptism" at this point in his letter.
- a. Being the sole context in the entire letter plainly indicates a "common awareness" of the meaning of "baptize" by the recipients of the letter. This is significant in view of Paul's clear intention of making the "truth of the Gospel" as clear as possible to every "believer" without regard for the extent of that "believer's" knowledge of biblical realities.
- 1) Romans is the only letter Paul wrote to an audience that he had not previously guided into understanding.
- 2) Paul's "assume nothing" stance in writing Romans, therefore, has to mean that he could not possibly refer to a subject of which he could not be sure the Romans understood.
- 3) Thus, my claim of a "common awareness" in the culture regarding what it meant to "baptize" or to "be baptized".
- b. It is actually a one-word summary term for the entire doctrine of Romans 5 regarding our determinative relationships to Adam and to Christ. We once were "baptized" into Adam by natural generation and then we were "baptized" into Christ by faith in the grace of God.
- 1) The rationale for this claim is that the "common awareness" of the meaning of the words "baptism" and "baptize" is revealed in Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon (the comprehensive lexicon of Greek words) to be "full immersion into the essence of an "other" as in a sword that is "baptized" in its scabbard when it is fully sheathed in it: a full immersion of a sword into its scabbard making the two effectively combined into a new reality, neither only sword, nor only scabbard, but a scabbard/sword entity with its own identity.
- 2) This is precisely Paul's meaning in Romans 5: we were "in" Adam in a "baptism" unity that was created by physical generation and we become "in" Christ in a "baptism" unity by a "regeneration" that is "by grace through faith" (5:1).
- a) The wording of 6:3 clearly assumes an awareness of Paul's terms: believers are essentially understood to have a connection with Christ that dissolves their former connection with Adam.
- b) Paul's words in chapter five are the context that provides this essential understanding. Thus, chapter five becomes the content of the meaning of "baptized into Christ".
- c. At issue is the metaphor of baptism into Christ as it is rooted in baptism in water. Thus, we must understand what baptism in water actually meant to those who participated in it.
- 1) Our understanding begins with Matthew 3:7-8. In this text John, whose ministry was so identified with "baptism" that he began to be called "John the Baptizer", actually refused to "baptize in water" certain of the Pharisees and Sadducees until they brought forth "fruits meet for repentance". Because John's "baptism in water" was his method of reinforcing his doctrine of "forgiveness based upon repentance", he would not willingly baptize anyone whose beliefs and life rejected his doctrine. Those Pharisees and Sadducees who wished to gain something from being identified with John's wide popularity, but who did not wish to accept the truth that God forgives those who are repentant, came out to play the "visibility" game of going through the physical reality while rejecting the relational reality. This, John would not accept and he called their hand on their game playing. The bottom line here, for our understanding of "water baptism", is this: baptism in water was only a post-faith-in-the-doctrine activity. In other words, baptism in water was only for those who had embraced the doctrine of their forgiveness from God on the basis of repentance.
- 2) Our understanding moves further along with Matthew 3:11. In this text John the Baptizer actually declared that the "baptism" that His Successor would bring would be either/both a "baptism" regarding the Holy Spirit and a "baptism" of fire. This is as point-blank as it gets in terms of the fact that "baptism" not only does not always refer to "water" but, indeed often, involves "mediums" other than water. Paul's text/context in Romans 5-6 clearly addresses a different medium (Christ) other than water.
- 3) Then, our understanding can begin to absorb this very clear fact: John's activity was restricted to those who at least professed to accept his teaching, making his "baptism" a reference to "faith" in his doctrine. His doctrine was that God would freely forgive those who actually repent and that God would refuse to forgive those who simply play a "visibility game" of attempting to gain glory in this world by getting on to the coat tails of one who was being glorified by those around him as a prophet of God.
- 4) Thus, we can conclude that water baptism was being used by John as a kind of "seal" of the faith of those who embraced his doctrine (Romans 4:11). To be "baptized" by John meant to be one who, at least to the degree that the outward act was an accurate image of the invisible inward attitude, embraced "forgiveness through repentance". John freely admitted that his "baptism with water" was "weak" in that it could only "profess" to a commitment to his doctrine, but his claim was that Jesus' "baptism" would be of a far greater potency (Matthew 3:11).
- 3. Thus we must conclude that Paul's "baptism into Christ Jesus" was the result of a genuine "love/faith" that existed at the "heart" level (Romans 10:9-10).
- a. The text of 1 Corinthians 12:13 actually declares that a believer's "baptism into Christ" is accomplished by "one Spirit" (not a "human" instrument) so that we are not to confuse a human baptism in water by another human with the divine baptism into Christ by the Third Member of the Trinity.
- b. And to this Paul enthusiastically agreed when he told the same audience that God had not sent him "to baptize" in water (1 Corinthians 1:17). This does not mean that Paul never baptized in water those who professed to embrace his doctrine, but it does mean that that activity was so far beneath his actual commission as to be dismissed in terms of high visibility; an issue he could not possibly have established if being baptized in water is fundamental to redemption as many legalists insist.
- C. The significance: baptism "into Christ Jesus" directly means "baptism into His death".
- 1. Actually, "baptism into Christ Jesus" directly means "baptism into" everything that He said and did, along with the results of those sayings and doings.
- 2. But, Paul's current point is that we died to "The Sin" that so dominates the offspring of Adam that they are, by It, "constituted" sinners. Thus, our "death" has burst asunder the bonds that "constitute" us.
- a. As acknowledged in multiple places, this does not mean that we will automatically do what is "right", nor that we will not "sin" any more in this flesh.
- b. But it most assuredly does lay a foundation for both doing what is right and abstaining from what is sin.
- 3. The point is this: "baptism into Christ" is both a "reality" and a "subject to faith" methodology.
- a. We are actually "dead" to "The Sin" in that "The Sin" imposes a real separation of spirit from body and a real bondage of fear; both of which are completely destroyed by God's activity in separating us from those issues by the Gospel and the Spirit.
- b. But the effectiveness of the reality is only such "by faith". It does no good to have been delivered from "death" (by resurrection) and "Death" (by forgiveness) if, in fact, we do not "believe" in the deliverance. Nor does it do any good to be indwelt by the Spirit of God if there is no "faith" in that Spirit for living.