The eschatological thrust of baptism is also evident in Gal 3:27. Paul argues in Gal 3:15-4:7 that with the coming of Christ the covenant with Abraham has been fulfilled, and thus the covenant with Moses is no longer in force. Jesus is the seed promised to Abraham (Gal 3:16), and in him the pledges made to Abraham are realized. The age of childhood and infancy under the Mosaic law has ended (Gal 3:22-25), and now "you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:26).[Paragraph divisions and emphasis are mine.]
What Paul meant by "sons" is that all believers are now "adults" through faith in Christ; that is, they are no longer in the period of infancy under the Mosaic law. They are mature and grown up because the promises made in the Old Testament have come to fruition. Believers are the seed of Abraham because they "belong to Christ" (Gal 3:29). Since Christ is the only seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16), then belonging to Christ is the only means by which one can become part of the family of Abraham and receive the promises.
How does one know that one belongs to Christ? Verse 26 says we know we are Christ's if we have faith. And v. 27 says that those who are baptized have clothed themselves with Christ. In other words, baptism signifies that one is united to Christ. And since Christ is the only seed of Abraham, then baptism signifies not only that we belong to Christ, but also that by belonging to Christ we become part of Abraham's family. The unity in Abraham's family is what Paul has in mind in Gal 3:28 when he says that we "are all one in Christ Jesus." In baptism we become part of Christ and become heirs to the eschatological promises made to Abraham.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I've found Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright's Believer's Baptism to be helpful reading on many counts, including some that reach far beyond the nuts and bolts of baptism. Here's one example from Schreiner's chapter, "Baptism in the Epistles" (88-89):
Posted by Ben at 4/20/2011