Baptism in Paul's Letters

Baptism is the entrance way “into Christ” (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27) or “into [the] body” of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). This is how we cash in on the New Covenant and become “saved.” We enter the Church, the “Body” of Christ, which happens “by the Spirit,” so we are connected to the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13). Entering Christ, who is the “seed” of Abraham, makes us “Abraham’s offspring” as well (Gal. 3:29). Such a ritual is like we cover ourselves with a cloth, we “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Now, the only way to be “saved” is through the atoning death of Jesus, and that death was not a substitutionary death, but one in which we die as well. The popular slogan, “He died so I did not have to die” is not what is portrayed in Paul. When baptized, we are “crucified with him” (Rom. 6:6), we enter into Christ’s death (Rom. 6:3), and after being buried in a tomb spiritually, we are “raised with him through faith in the power of God” (Col. 2:12).

When united to Christ’s death, we have “died to sin,” and if dead to sin, then how can we “still live in it?” (Rom. 6:2). We were baptized so that we could no longer be “enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). Being “dead in transgressions,” our “bond…with its legal claims” was nailed “to the cross” (Col. 2:13-14). Christians deserve death due to their sins, and if Jesus’s death cancelled that out, then they should not live in sin. Jesus triumphed over the “principalities and powers,” the Devil has zero authority over us (Col. 2:15). We can avoid sin as we “drink of [the] one Spirit,” which empowers us to avoid sin (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Rom. 8:13).

If we have been baptized, united with Christ “in a death like his,” and Christ was raised after His death, then we “shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5). Christians will resurrect from the dead on the Last Day.

The sacrament of Baptism is the fulfillment of circumcision, which was the entrance into the Old Covenant. Paul calls Baptism the “circumcision of Christ,” because, instead of removing the physical flesh, Christians strip off the “carnal body,” that is, our sinful past life (Col. 2:11). God has forgiven us “all our transgressions,” and an invisible circumcision of the heart - promised by the prophets - has occurred (Col. 2:13; cf. Rom. 2:29, Jer. 4:4). Circumcision separated the people of Israel from the other nations, and Baptism does the same for the New Covenant people of God, who are “aliens and exiles” in this world (1 Pet. 2:11).