For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
What does it mean to be “baptized into Christ”? Paul uses this terminology both here and in Romans 6:3, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” The context in Romans sheds light on what it means to be “baptized into his death,” namely that one should not think that God’s grace gives a license to unrepentantly continue in sin (vs. 1-2). After all, when one obeys the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Mark 16:15-16) through faith and baptism, one has “died” to one’s sins through repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30) just as Christ died on the cross, is “buried” by being plunged under water in baptism (Acts 8:36-38; 10:47-48) just as Christ was buried in Joseph’s tomb, and then is spiritually “raised from the dead” to a new life as a Christian just as Christ was physically on the third day (Romans 6:4-5).
Yet the term “baptized into Christ” still requires explanation. Since the entirety of God’s Word is truth and one must therefore take all of what the Bible says on a particular matter into account in order to discover the truth about it (Psalm 119:160), let us examine the rest of Scripture to shed light on being “baptized into Christ.”
Ephesians 1:22-23 says that the church is Christ’s body…right before saying something thought-provoking. Paul calls the church, Christ’s body, “the fullness of him who fills all in all.” He told the Colossians that Christ “is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11), but notice that he says that it is Christ’s church, his body, which is “the fullness of him.” In other words, Christ fills everything but it is the church, the body of Christ, which fills up him.
Thus, to be “baptized into Christ’ (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3) would mean that one is baptized into what fills him up, which would be his body which is his church. That’s exactly why Paul told the Corinthian Christians, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13). They had all been baptized into the body of Christ, which is his church. In other words, they had all been “baptized into Christ.”
Notice that the Corinthian passage says, “…we were all baptized into ONE body…” The singularity of Christ’s body which is His church is important to note. In the same letter in which he equated Christ’s church with his body, Paul went on to say, “There is one body” (Ephesians 4:4) before also declaring that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).
If there is “one body,” and the body in question contextually is talking about Christ’s church, then there must be only one church. Yet there are many different kinds of churches in the religious world today. If there is only “one faith” in the sight of God, and that faith is based on the Word of God (Romans 10:17), then what does that say about the numerous different faiths which come from the numerous man-made doctrines and tenets dispersed throughout all the different churches in the religious world? See 2 Timothy 4:1-4, Matthew 7:21-27, and Matthew 15:1-9.
Later in Ephesians, Paul declares that Christ “is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior” (Ephesians 5:23). While salvation is offered to everyone (Titus 2:11), in the end Christ will be the Savior of only those who are a part of his body. His body is his church. There is only one body, and thus only one church. One must be baptized into that body – “baptized into Christ” – in order to be a part of it and thus have Christ as one’s Savior (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).