Clothed with Christ

clothed with Christ (2)

4) Gal 3:26–27: The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians to counter the arguments of Christian missionaries from a Jewish background.

They sought to have gentile “half-converts” become “full converts” by obeying the law of Moses, specifically through circumcision (Gal 6:12–16).

By writing, “For all sons of God you are through your faith in Christ Jesus,” Paul emphasized “all” by placing it first in his sentence.[1]

This message infuriated those insisting on circumcision (Gal 2:12; Gal 5:11–12).[2]

Jewish people of that era recognized the term “sons of God” as a distinguishing mark exclusive to faithful members of Israel. However, God welcomes and includes gentiles into the covenant community (Eph 1:5–6; Rom 10:8–13).[3]

Paul contrasted the status of freedom believers enjoy with the slavery and fear of those under the Mosaic law (Gal 3:23).[4]

While Greco-Roman women could become heirs, they faced restrictions regarding how they could use an inheritance.[5]

This is probably why Paul designated believers of both genders “sons” (Gal 3:28–29).

Those “in Christ Jesus” experience unity with each other and a new relationship with God as his children,[6] a status achieved by means of faith.[7]

Being “in Christ” facilitates communion with Jesus in the most intimate connection imaginable.[8]

Indeed, the presence of the Holy Spirit within us sets us apart as the people of God (Gal 4:6–7).[9] Yet, this neither minimizes nor destroys the Christian’s and Jesus’s distinct personalities; it enhances them.[10]

Most likely, Paul derived Gal 3:27–28 from an early Christian baptismal confession.[11]

In the early church, baptism served as the first and necessary response of faith,[12] resulting in the practice becoming identified as a rite of initiation into a new humanity with Christ as its head.[13]

Nevertheless, faith and baptism remain distinct so that faith does not negate the need for baptism and baptism fails to make faith unnecessary (1 Cor 12:13).[14]

Paul wrote, “All of you who into Christ have been baptized, [with] Christ have clothed yourselves.”

Enveloping ourselves with Jesus as our garment symbolizes a new spiritual existence (Job 29:14). By stripping off sin and putting on the virtues of Christ (Eph 4:20–24; Rom 13:12–14),[15] we have died to our old evil ways, stepping into new life (Rom 6:1–14; Rev 3:5–6).[16]

In the early church, converts disrobed just prior to baptism and put on white clothing after receiving the rite.[17]

According to Hippolytus (ca. 170–235 AD):

Let the candidates stand in the water, naked, a deacon going with them…He who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say thus, “Dost thou believe in God, the Father Almighty?”

And he who is being baptized shall say, “I believe.” Then holding his hand placed on his head, he shall baptize him once.

And then he shall say, “Dost thou believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick (living) and the dead?”

And when he says, “I believe,” he is baptized again.

And again he shall say, “Dost thou believe in [the] Holy Ghost, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh?”

He who is being baptized shall say accordingly, “I believe,” and so he is baptized a third time… And so each one…is immediately clothed, and then is brought into the church.[18]

This explains why baptism took place away from the congregation.[19]

A third century AD document describes female deacons administering baptism to women converts to prevent men from seeing their nudity.[20]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gal 3:26–27. What is the significance of being a son of God? How does the ancient form of Christian baptism reflect the transformation we experience through our identification with Jesus? Specifically, how does clothing yourself with Christ affect the way you live?

 

 

 

 

Go to Introduction to Chapter 10

 

[Related posts include Clothed by God (Gen 3:21); Satan Addresses the Heavenly Council (Zech 3:1–5); Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); and Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); and Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6)]

 

[Click here to go to Chapter 9: Painful Toil (Genesis 3:17–21)]

 

[1]Matthew S. DeMoss, Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 100. In Koine Greek, the word “for” can never occur first in a sentence or clause. Authors placed their points of emphasis first in a sentence or clause.

[2]Scott McKnight, Galatians (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 197.

[3]Witherington III, Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, 269–70.

[4]Brendan Byrne, “Sons of God,” ABD 6:156–9, 158.

[5] Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians, 43.

[6]Longenecker, Galatians, 152.

[7]Ronald Y. K. Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 171–2.

[8] Longenecker, Galatians, 154.

[9] Witherington, Grace in Galatia: A Commentary on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, 270.

[10] Longenecker, Galatians, 154.

[11]Longenecker, Galatians,, 155.

[12] McKnight, Galatians, 198.

[13] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 172.

[14] Longenecker, Galatians, 155–6.

[15] McKnight, Galatians, 198–9.

[16]Alan F. Johnson and Robert E. Webber, What Christians Believe: A Biblical and Historical Summary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 380.

[17] Longenecker, Galatians, 156. See http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310120.htm.

[18]Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (trans. Burton Scott Easton; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1934), 46–7, Http://www.rore-sanctifica.org/bibilotheque_rore_sanctifica/12-pretendue_tradition_apostolique_d_hippolyte/1934-burton_scott_easton-tradition_apostolique_d_hippolyte/Burton_Scott_Easton_-_The_Apostolic_Tradition_of_Hippolytus_(1934).pdf.

[19] Geoffrey Wainwright, “Baptism, Baptismal Rites,” DLNT, 112–25, 121.

[20]Margaret Dunlop Gibson, trans., The Didascalia Apostolorum in English (HSem; London; Cambridge: Clay; Cambridge University Press, 1903), 16, 79–80, https://archive.org/stream/didascaliaaposto00gibsuoft#page/78/mode/2up.