Barry Newman's Blog

February 13, 2012

Baptising in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (part XII)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 9:59 pm

                    Immersed “eis” the name (contiunued)

At this point mention should be made of the text of 1 Corinthians 10: 2 where reference is made to “all were “baptised”, “immersed” into (eis)  Moses in (en) the cloud and in (en) the sea.  Although it is not an example of being baptised into a name, a name is mentioned – Moses.  “Immersed” into Moses has some parallel with being “immersed” into Paul, though in the case of Moses, a metaphorical usage, at least in part, is clearly the situation.  The sense here seems to be that the Israelites are caught up into Moses. As their leader they follow him.  Where he goes, they go, at least on the occasion being referred to.  The medium into which they are “immersed” is not foremost the sea or the cloud, however.  It is the person of Moses. None the less presumably the imagery of “immersion” conjures up such as a cloud and sea, into which one could be immersed.  In actual fact the Israelites had the sea on either side with the cloud behind – perhaps suggestive of a type of immersion for which Paul thinks the appropriate preposition is “en” (in).

Similarly, mention should be made of Romans 6: 3 and Galatians 3: 27.  In Romans the reference is to all who have been “baptised”, “immersed” into (“eis”) Christ Jesus having been “baptised”, “immersed” into (“eis”) his death.  In Galatians, the reference is to those Galatians “baptised”, “immersed” into (“eis”) Christ having put on Christ.  It is commonly understood that the first reference to “baptised” in Romans and the single reference to “baptised” in Galatians are references to the water ceremony undergone by the believers.  Would this imply that a believer who had not undergone the water ceremony had not been immersed into Christ’s death and had not put on Christ or additionally that the person was not even really a believer?  Surely not!

However, to the rescue, a metaphorical understanding of “baptizo” is quite possible in both instances.  Just as in 1 Corinthians 10: 2 the Israelites can be understood as being caught up, “immersed” in Moses, so too in these two texts, the sense could be that believers are caught up, “immersed” in Christ.  In Romans 6: 3 the sense would then seem to be that a person “immersed” in Christ is obviously also “immersed” in his death with Romans 6: 4 pointing out that upon the death comes newness of life, given that Christ upon his death was raised from the dead.  Similarly, in Galatians the sense would then be that a person “immersed” in Christ can be understood as having put him on, as with clothing, with Galatians 3: 28 pointing out that consequently no distinction can be made between Jew or Greek etc. for those who are “in Christ”.   It should be noted that in both instances part of the context is clearly metaphorical in character.  In Romans the believer is “immersed” into the death of Christ and in Galatians, the believer has “put on” Christ. In my view the word “baptizo” used twice in the Romans text and once in the Galatians text is best understood as being metaphorical in character.  At the same time, it could be that the water ceremony is part of the backdrop against which the text has been written.

As an aside, the phrase, “baptised”, “immersed” into one body (1 Corinthians 12: 15) could well be a reference to being “immersed” into that one body of believers but without that implying that a water ceremony was necessarily involved.  Paul follows the reference with “whether Jews or Greeks … all were made to drink of one Spirit.”  This strikes a chord with the Galatians text and again part of the context is clearly metaphorical in character – “to drink of one Spirit”.

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By way of a conclusion, the Acts 8 and 19 and 1 Corinthian 1 texts on which we have focussed would seem to be relevant for our understanding of Matthew 28: 19, at least because they indicate that “eis to onoma” in association with “baptizo” is not exceptional. Though they do not refer to “’baptising’, ‘immersing’ in the name of …”.  The 1 Corinthian 10, Romans 6 and Galatians 3 texts are important because they illustrate the plausibility of “baptizo eis” being understood metaphorically in some instances where a person is named.

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