Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into union with Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? Therefore, through baptism we were buried with him into his death so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too may live an entirely new life.Romans 6:3-4
What connection is there between baptism and death? Listen to how Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message Version:
Or didn’t you realise we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace–a new life in a new land! That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.Romans 6:3-4
The term used for baptise / baptism is baptizō. You can see at a glance it is a transliteration; not a translation. The word has not been translated into English or any language but has been brought over as a package still in the form of the original Greek. baptizō is simply equivalent to baptō which means “dip,” “immerse,” just as rhantizó, like rhainō, means simply “sprinkle.”
Baptism is a symbol of many things. Baptism, as taught in the New Testament, is the picture of death and burial to sin and resurrection to new life, a picture of what has already taken place in the heart, not the means by which spiritual change is brought about. There was an understanding in non-Christian circles of baptism. Converts in the early centuries, whether Jews or Gentiles were familiar with the concept. Water is the element naturally used for cleansing the body and its symbolical use entered into almost every cult; and into none more completely than the Jewish, whose ceremonial washings were prolific. Also there were cults in which to be baptised in the name of a god meant to be come the possession of that god whose name you bore.
Some have held that baptismos invariably means ceremonial purification, and that baptisma is reserved for the Christian rite; but that distinction can’t be maintained. There are others who insist that the word baptise in invariably means “to dip” or immerse, and that therefore Christian baptism must have been performed originally by immersion only, and that the two other forms of sprinkling are invalid – that there can be no real baptism unless the method of immersion be used. But the word which invariably means “to dip” is not baptizein but bapteiň. Baptizein has a wider signification; and its use to denote the Jewish ceremonial of pouring water on the hands. [For a full treatment of the theological viewpoint see the entries in the ISBE under E-Sword.]
Type “baptism” in the search slot and chose
- The Baptist Interpretation or
- The Non-Immersionist View or
- Lutheran Doctrine.
Paul is arguing in this section of Romans 6 that we are buried with Christ in his death burial and resurrection. We died with Him, were buried with Him and raise with Him. Baptism is an outward ceremony that symbolises the inner spiritual reality of being joined to Christ. I think Eugene Peterson captures the idea well in his translation in the message. Reread that above.
Some commentators get hung up on Paul’s comment “we were buried with him through baptism into death”. Some suggested this concept is backwards. They say no one is buried into death (buried to die) but rather buried because he died. When something is buried it is removed permanently. Hence Paul stresses burial in the case of sin. He is saying you have not only died to sin but you have been buried with it. To go back to sin is like digging up a dead body!
Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.Mark Twain
The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. (Continuing series before the punchline . . . )Anon