|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:26-29 Real Christians enjoy great privileges under the gospel; and are no longer accounted servants, but sons; not now kept at such a distance, and under such restraints as the Jews were. Having accepted Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, and relying on him alone for justification and salvation, they become the sons of God. But no outward forms or profession can secure these blessings; for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. In baptism we put on Christ; therein we profess to be his disciples. Being baptized into Christ, we are baptized into his death, that as he died and rose again, so we should die unto sin, and walk in newness and holiness of life. The putting on of Christ according to the gospel, consists not in outward imitation, but in a new birth, an entire change. He who makes believers to be heirs, will provide for them. Therefore our care must be to do the duties that belong to us, and all other cares we must cast upon God. And our special care must be for heaven; the things of this life are but trifles. The city of God in heaven, is the portion or child's part. Seek to be sure of that above all things.
Verse 27. - For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ (ὅσοι γὰρ εἰς Ξριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε); for all ye who were baptized into Christ. "For;" pointing back to the whole preceding verse, but especially to the words," in Christ Jesus." "All ye who were baptized;" more literally, "ye, as many as were," etc. The rendering in our Authorized Version, "as many of you as have been baptized," allows of, if it does not suggest, the surmise that the apostle was aware of there being those among the Christians he was writing to who had not been "baptized into Christ." But the context proves the fallacy of this surmise; for the baptism of a part of their body, whatever its consequences to those particular individuals, would have furnished no proof of the foregoing statement, that "all" of those whom he was addressing were "sons of God." The class marked out by the ὅσοι is clearly coextensive with the "ye all" of ver. 26. The fact is that this ὅσοι marks out a distinct class, not taken out from amongst Christians, but from amongst mankind at large. As compared with οἵτινες, which the apostle might have written instead, it may be regarded as affirming with greater positiveness than οἵτινες would have done, that what is predicated in the subsequent clause is predicated of every individual belonging to the class defined in this. It may be paraphrased thus: As surely as ever any one of you was baptized into Christ, so surely did he become clothed with Christ. Precisely the same considerations apply to the clause in Romans 6:3, "All we who were baptized (ὅσοι, ἐβαπτίσθημεν) into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death." A similar paraphrase may be given in ver. 10 of this chapter: So surely as any are of the works of the Law, so surely are they under a curse; and in Romans 8:14, So surely as any are led by the Spirit of God, so surely are these sons of God. Below, in Galatians 6:16, "As many as shall walk by this rule," the ὅσοι does mark out a class from among the general body of Christians, who were not all acting thus. So also Philippians 3:15, "As many as be perfect." Were baptized into Christ (εἰς Ξριστὸν ἐβαπτίσθητε). So Romans 6:3, "Baptized into Christ Jesus, baptized into his death." The question arises - What is the precise force of the preposition "into" as thus employed with relation to baptism? With the present passage we have to group the following: "Baptizing them into (εἰς) the Name of the Father. and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19); "Were all baptized into (εἰς) Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Corinthians 10:2); "In (ἐν) one Spirit were we all baptized into (εἰς) one body" (1 Corinthians 12:13), which statement, we must observe, is preceded by the apologue of a body with many members ending with "so also is Christ" (ver. 13). With reference to these passages we may observe that, since in 1 Corinthians 12:13 ("We were baptized into one body") the preposition retains its strict sense of "into," and since "Christ" is perpetually set forth as for Christians the sphere of their very existence, in whom they are that which distinctively they are, it is reasonable to conclude that, when the apostle here and in Romans 6:3 uses the expression, "baptized into Christ," he uses the preposition in its strict sense; that is, meaning that Christians are in their baptism brought into that union with, in-being in, Christ which constitutes their life. Nor does 1 Corinthians 10:2, "were baptized into Moses" (where both the Authorized an d the Revised Versions render, "unto," the latter adding in the margin, "Greek, into"), present any real objection to this view. For in comparing objects together, the apostle not unfrequently puts a very considerable strain upon a phrase when he wishes to bring the two several objects under one category, using it alike of that to which it is most strictly applicable, and of that to which it is not applicable strictly, but only in a very qualified sense. Compare, as a very noteworthy instance of this, his application of the words (κοινωνία κοινωνός), "communion," "having communion," in 1 Corinthians 10:16-20 (Revised Version); in which the expression, "having communion with devils (κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίγνεσθαι," is, surely with considerable violence, applied to the case of persons eating things sacrificed to idols; but is applied thus by the apostle because he wishes to present a parallel to that real "communion of the blood, of the body, of Christ," which Christians are privileged to have in the Lord's Supper. Similarly, in vers. 2-4 of the same chapter, for the purpose of exhibiting a parallelism, he strains the expressions," spiritual meat," "spiritual drink," justly and precisely applicable to the Lord's Supper, to apply them to the manna and water from the rock, the meat and drink of the Israelites in the wilderness, although the only justification of their being thus designated consists in their having been supernaturally supplied, and perhaps also that they had a typical meaning. We can thus, then, understand how, with reference to the other sacrament in ver. 2 of the same chapter, he strains the expression, "baptized into," justly descriptive of Christian baptism, by applying it to that quasi-immersion of the Israelites in passing "through the midst of the Red Sea and under the cloud," which he construes into a "baptism" which made them over to a sort of union with, in-being in, Moses, thenceforward their lawgiver and leader. The import of the expression, "baptized into Moses," is to be estimated in the light thrown upon it by the more certain import of the expression, "baptized into Christ;" not this latter to be explained down for the purpose of making it correspond with the other. This view of the clause before us helps us to understand the words in Matthew 28:19, "Baptizing them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" in the comprehension of which we are further assisted by the very remarkable, pregnant use sometimes made in the Old Testament of the word "Name," when it is employed to designate that presence of Divine power and grace which is the security of God's people and the confusion of their enemies (see Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 20:1, 7; Psalm 75:1; Isaiah 30:27, etc.). For the baptism which brings men "into Christ" brings them into the Name of the triune God as manifested to us in the gospel. Such an interpretation of these words approves itself fully with reference to their use in the supremely solemn hour of spirit-fraught utterance recorded in Matthew 28:19; notwithstanding that in other passages, of plain historical narrative, such as Acts 8:16 and Acts 19:5, it may be more natural to take the preposition in the phrase, "baptize into the Name of Christ," in a lower and less determinate sense - either as "unto," "with reference to," or, which seems more probable, as pointing to that professed connection with Christ as his people ("Ye are Christ's," 1 Corinthians 3:23), into which the sacrament brings men. But this lower interpretation, if admitted in those passages, has no claim to dominate our minds when endeavouring to apprehend the full import of the passage now before us, and of Romans 6:3. In these the apostle is evidently penetrating into the inmost significance and operation of the rite; and therefore beyond question means to indicate its function, as verily blessed by God for the translation of its faithful recipients into vital union with Christ. For the just comprehension of the apostle's meaning, it is of the utmost consequence to note that he introduces this reference to baptism for the purpose of justifying his affirmation in ver. 26, that in Christ Jesus those whom he is addressing were all sons of God through faith. This consideration makes it clear that he viewed their baptism as connected with faith. If there was any reality in their action in it at all, if they were not acting an unreal part, their coming to baptism was an outcome of faith on their part in Christ. By voluntarily offering themselves to be baptized into his Name, they were consciously obeying his own instructions: they were manifesting their desire and their resolve to attach themselves to his discipleship and service; to be thenceforth people of his, as by him redeemed, and as expecting at his hands spiritual life here and perfected salvation hereafter. Therefore it was thai they were in their baptism translated "into Christ;" their voluntary act of faith brought them under such operation of Divine grace as made the rite effectual for the transcendent change which the expression indicates; for it is abundantly apparent that a spiritual transition such as this cannot be wrought by a man's own volition or action, but only by the hand of God; as St. John testifies (John 1:13). Have put on Christ (Ξριστὸν ἐνεδύσασθε); did put on Christ. In Romans 13:14 we find the imperative used, "Put ye on (ἐνδύσασθε) the Lord Jesus Christ." There the phrase has an ethical application, denoting the adoption of that whole system of habits which characterized the Lord Jesus, and presents in a more definite form that "putting on" of "the new man" which is insisted upon in Ephesians 4:24. This can hardly be its meaning here; rather it is to be regarded as a more determinate form of the notion of" being justified." The penitent convert, by that decisive action of his faith which by seeking "baptism into Christ" put forth his hand to lay hold of the righteousness which is by faith, became invested with this particular form of "righteousness," namely, that very acceptableness, in the sight of God, which shone in Christ himself. In that hour God "made him acceptable in the Beloved" (cf. Ephesians 1:6, ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ); endued this poor guilty creature with the loving-kindness with which he regarded his own Son. The middle voice of the Greek verb, though it denotes in Romans 13:14 action of the Christian's own, is not to be so far pressed as to exclude the notion of our having in this case been subjected to the action of another. Comp. Luke 24:49, "Until ye be clothed (ἐνδύσησθε) with power from on high;" 1 Corinthians 15:53, "This mortal must put on (ἐνδύσασθαι) immortality;" so 2 Corinthians 5:3. It is the exclusive prerogative of God to justify the sinner; and therefore it must have been by him that the believer became clothed with Christ, not by himself, though it was by his own voluntary act that he came under this operation of the Divine grace. It is, perhaps, impossible more strongly to express the intense character (so to speak) which belongs to the righteousness which comes to us through faith in Christ, than by the form in which it is here exhibited. The apostle, however, in 2 Corinthians 5:21, uses an expression which may be put by the side of it: "That we might become the righteousness of God in him." It is now clear how completely this verse makes good the affirmation in the preceding one. We have indeed been made sons of God in Christ Jesus if we have become clothed with Christ. For what other in this relation does the phrase, "sons of God," denote as applied to ourselves, than the intense love into the bosom of which God has received us? No higher degree of adoption to be sons is conceivable; though the complete manifestation of this adoption still remains in the future (Romans 8:19).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ,.... Not that it is to be imagined that these churches of Galatia, or any of the primitive churches, consisted of baptized and unbaptized persons; for this would be acting contrary to the commission of Christ and the order of the Gospel: but this way of speaking supposes that there might be some of them, who though baptized in water, yet not into Christ; and that those who are truly and rightly baptized, who are proper subjects of it, and to whom it is administered in a proper manner, are baptized into Christ: not that by baptism they are brought into union with Christ, but into communion with him; for they are not merely baptized in his name, and by his authority, and according to his command, and into his doctrine, and a profession of him; but into a participation of the blessings of grace which are in him, and come through his sufferings and death; for they that are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death and resurrection from the dead; they are led by faith to behold the cleansing of their souls, and the remission of their sins by his blood, and their justification by his righteousness; how he was delivered for their offences, died for their sins, was buried in the grave, and their iniquities with him, and rose again for their justification; of all which, baptism, performed by immersion, is a lively emblem; and this is to be baptized into Christ, namely, being baptized believing in him, and calling on his name: and such
have put on Christ; both before and at baptism: before it they put him on as the Lord their righteousness; his righteousness is compared to a garment, is called the best robe, the wedding garment, fine linen, clean and white, the robe of righteousness, a garment down to the feet; this is imputed to the elect of God by the Father, through a gracious act of his, and what they are clothed and covered with by the Son, and is put upon them and applied unto them by the Spirit; and which faith receiving puts off its own rags of righteousness, and makes use of this as its proper dress to appear in before the most High; and such through divine grace are enabled to put off the old man and put on the new; that is, walk in their outward lives and conversation, not according to the dictates of corrupt nature, but according to the principles of grace, of the new man formed in the soul, for righteousness and holiness, and in imitation of Christ; having him for an example, and desiring to walk as he walked; which is another sense of putting on Christ, namely, a following of him in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; see
Romans 13:14 and such persons, as they are the proper subjects of baptism, who have believed in Christ for righteousness, and walk worthy of him; so in baptism they may also be said to put him on as they thereby and therein make a public profession of him, by deeds as well as words, declaring him to be their Lord and King; and afresh exercise faith upon him, as their Saviour and Redeemer, and imitate and follow him in it, as their pattern; who himself submitted to it, leaving them an example that they should tread in his steps; which when they do, they may be said to put him on. The allusion is either to the putting off and putting on of clothes at baptism, which being performed by immersion, required such actions, which no other mode does; or, to the priests putting off their common clothes, and then bathing or dipping themselves in water, and, putting on the garments of the priesthood before they entered on their service; concerning which take the following rules prescribed by the Misnic doctors (q);
"no man may enter the court for service, though clean,
, "until he dips himself" five times, and washes his hands and feet ten times;''
for every time he immersed himself, he washed his hands and feet before and after: again,
"there is a vail of fine linen between him (the high priest) and the people; he puts off his clothes,
, "he goes down and dips himself, he comes up", and wipes himself; then they bring him the golden garments, and "he puts them on", and washes his hands and his feet; then they bring him the daily sacrifice, &c.''
and a little after,
"they bring him (the high priest on the day of atonement) to the house of Paryah, and in the holy place there was a vail of fine linen between him and the people; he washes his hands and his feet, and puts off his garments: R. Meir says, he puts off his garments, and then washes his hands and his feet; "he goes down and dips himself, he comes up again", and wipes himself; then they bring him the white garments, and he puts them on, and washes his hands and his feet:''
all which may serve to illustrate this passage, and point out to us what the apostle alludes unto, as well as to observe to us the distinction the Jews made between the immersion of the whole body, and a washing of a part of it.
(q) Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 3, 4, 6. Vid. Misn. Tamid, c. 1. sect. 1, 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
27. baptized into Christ—(Ro 6:3).
have put on Christ—Ye did, in that very act of being baptized into Christ, put on, or clothe yourselves with, Christ: so the Greek expresses. Christ is to you the toga virilis (the Roman garment of the full-grown man, assumed when ceasing to be a child) [Bengel]. Gataker defines a Christian, "One who has put on Christ." The argument is, By baptism ye have put on Christ; and therefore, He being the Son of God, ye become sons by adoption, by virtue of His Sonship by generation. This proves that baptism, where it answers to its ideal, is not a mere empty sign, but a means of spiritual transference from the state of legal condemnation to that of living union with Christ, and of sonship through Him in relation to God (Ro 13:14). Christ alone can, by baptizing with His Spirit, make the inward grace correspond to the outward sign. But as He promises the blessing in the faithful use of the means, the Church has rightly presumed, in charity, that such is the case, nothing appearing to the contrary.
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