To Which Baptism Was Paul Referring?


In our discussion group, a question about Galatians 3:26-27 came up. The question was “to what baptism is this making reference? Some say it is referring to water baptism, some thought it could be a spiritual baptism equivalent to “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Thanks for your thoughts on this.


Here’s what Galatians 3:26-27 says. “You are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

The phrase translated “baptized into Christ” signifies the remission or washing away of sins. There is disagreement among scholars as to whether an actual immersion in water is necessary to be “baptized into Christ.” The clearest scriptures on this matter tell us believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose again is all that’s necessary to be included in Christ (John 5:24, John 6:28-29, Romans 10:9 Ephesians 1:13-14, etc.). After all, our sins are not “washed away” by the water. We are cleansed of all our sins by the shed blood of Jesus the moment we believe He died for us personally. Water baptism is a public ritual that demonstrates a private decision to be born again. Without that decision the public ritual is meaningless.

Paul said, ‘For Christ did not send me to baptize people but to preach the Gospel (1 Cor. 1:17). But if he was referring to an actual baptism in Galatians 3:26-27 it would have to be the water baptism because he never spoke of any other kind.