Study Notes

Galatians 3:27-29


Galatians chapter three has focused on the fact that it is by faith, not by works, that a person is made righteous before God.

3:27 Baptized

Baptism has been a huge issue in the Christian church throughout the world and throughout the ages. Baptism is performed by every Christian church that I am aware of (except the Quakers), but it seems to mean something different in every one of those churches as well. Instead of spending hours talking about what each different church and denomination believes about baptism, it is better to spend the time looking at what the Bible has to say about it.


The word "baptism" means to be submerged for the purpose of change. You can baptize a dirty dish in water to make it clean, you can baptize a white shirt in dye to make it blue, or you can baptize a cucumber into vinegar to make it a pickle.

So the first thing we learn about baptism is that it is not a sprinkling, but a dunking.


The first time baptism shows up in the Bible is during the ministry of John the Baptist. He was preaching a message of repentance, telling people to turn away from their sins.

Matt. 3:5-6 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

Being baptized was making a public statement that you had turned away from your sins, that you were repenting.

The Great Commission

Jesus said at the end of the gospel of Matthew,

Matt. 28:18-20 ..."All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Jesus commanded that the church make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey His Word. The disciples were to baptize in water those that became disciples.

Jesus' Other Baptism

But Jesus underwent a second baptism, one that was not in water. You recall the story,

Mark 10:35-40 And James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Him, saying to Him, "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You." And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?" And they said to Him, "Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on {Your} left." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" And they said to Him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. But to sit on My right or on {My} left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

Although Jesus had been baptized in water, there was another submersion that was going to take place in His life. That baptism was to be His submersion into death. He said of this,

Luke 12:50 "...I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!

So, when we are baptized as Christians, we are making a public proclamation of our repentance of sins, but we are also identifying with the baptism of Jesus' death.

Baptized Into Christ

You see, although you may have been baptized BY me, or BY some other minister, Galatians 3:27 says that you were baptized INTO Christ. Submerged into Jesus - and you've been changed. What change has taken place in your life? Romans 6 says,

Rom. 6:3-7 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with {Him} in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also {in the likeness} of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with {Him,} that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

When you were baptized, you were baptized into the death of Jesus. Just as Jesus was buried in the tomb, you were buried in the waters of baptism. And just as Jesus raised from the dead, you too raise up out of the waters of baptism, walking into a new life. Your old self is dead, and your new self is righteous.

That's why Colossians 2 says,

Col. 2:12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Baptism For Salvation?

The hottest issue surrounding baptism is whether or not a person must be baptized to be saved. If a person prays to receive Christ, but is never baptized, do they go to heaven?

Many people say no. They read Mark 16, which says,

Mark 16:15-16 ..."Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."

Jesus does not say, "If you aren't baptized, you will be condemned." It is the lack of belief, not baptism, that condemns a person.

Another Scripture used to defend baptism as necessary for salvation is found in John 3, when Jesus says,

John 3:5 "...unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

Many have interpreted Jesus as saying you must be baptized and born of the Spirit to enter into the kingdom. However, that is completely out of context with what Jesus is saying.

First of all, Jesus is telling Nicodemus in verse 3 that a man must be born again - born a second time. We've all been born a first time - it is the second time that determines our entrance into the kingdom.

In verse four, Nicodemus shows that he understands that Jesus is talking about a second birth, because he says, "A man He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?"

Jesus explains in verse five, saying, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The first birth is the birth of water, the water of the womb. The second birth, being born again, is of the Spirit. Now, just so we don't misunderstand that, in verse six Jesus says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." Our first birth is of flesh, of water. The second birth of the Spirit. He is not talking about baptism here.

Thirdly, the verse that always seems to come up is 1Peter 3:21, which says,

1Pet. 3:21 ...baptism now saves you...

But to quote that verse in this way is to completely neglect Peter's context and reason for making this statement. The context is that Peter is writing to Christians that are suffering under the cruel hand of Nero. He is telling them to keep a good conscience, to make sure that they are suffering for doing good, not evil - just like Jesus did.

He illustrates the point by reminding them of the story of Noah's ark. The disobedient were imprisioned by death under the water, but the righteous were saved above the water. Baptism is the same for us, in that we are brought forth into a new life out of the water, our old disobedient selves left behind. Peter makes sure to point out that it is not the physical act of being submerged in water that saves us, but the heart crying out to God in repentance and faith - appealing for a good conscience.

The Link

But even as we study these things, there is no denying that baptism and salvation are closely linked throughout Scripture. For example, when Paul and Silas were arrested in Philippi, their jailer asked a vital question:

Acts 16:30 ...he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

They didn't say, "be baptized," but they said,

Acts 16:31-33 ..."Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that {very} hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

This is the key to understanding the Bible's close linking of baptism and salvation: The first thing a new Christian would do in the early church was be baptized.

This is the pattern throughout Scripture: people hear the gospel, they believe the gospel, and their response is that they are baptized. Jesus Himself said, "...make disciples, baptizing them..."

And so baptism is not what makes you righteous before God, it is hearing with faith. Paul plainly said,

1Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel...

The gospel does not include baptism. Baptism is something you do in response to believing the gospel. However, baptism is also not optional for the Christian. Although it is not necessary for salvation, to not be baptized is a violation of a direct command of Jesus. If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, you are commanded to be baptized.

But some are stubborn - they refuse to be baptized. And in a circumstance like that, I have to ask, "Why wouldn't you be baptized if you've truly given your heart to Christ?"

You see, if you choose not to be baptized, you're rejecting God's influence in your life, you're making a statement that you don't want to follow God's plan for your life. Luke made mention that...

Luke 7:30 ...the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

If you haven't been baptized, your stubbornness is causing you to reject God's purpose for you. That's not a good place to be. I would encourage you to pray about this issue, and ask honestly as the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip,

Acts 8:36 ..."Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?"

What is preventing you from being baptized? Even Jesus Himself was baptized, even though He had no sin to repent of. Of course, John the Baptist protested, saying,

Matt. 3:14-15 ..."I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit {it} at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

Being baptized is an act of righteousness. Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." So, if God has made you righteous by faith, then why wouldn't you perform this righteous act?

3:28 All Are One In Christ

Because of this righteousness that God has given to each of us by faith, the playing field is completely level among believers. We are all children of God, we are all equally righteous before God, we are all equally forgiven by God. It doesn't matter if you're a Jew or a Gentile. It doesn't matter if your rich or poor, smart or dumb, woman or man, We're all forgiven the same in God's eyes.

Do you look down on people who are not as talented as you? Not as high ranking as you? Not as intelligent as you? Not as wealthy as you? Not as good looking as you? God isn't doing that. We are all one in Christ - there is no difference to Him. Everyone who has been born again has been justified equally in His eyes.

3:29 Abraham's Offspring

And because we belong to Christ, the promise given to Abraham is ours as well. In chapter four, Paul will talk about our inheritance of that promise.

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