Thursday, March 17, 2016

Baptized into His Death

This Sunday we have multiple baptisms.  In view of that event, I am offering some patristic commentary referencing baptismal texts.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (Rom 6:3-4)

What does being “baptized into His Death” mean?  That it is with a view to our dying as He did. For Baptism is the Cross.  What the Cross then, and Burial, is to Christ, that Baptism hath been to us, even if not in the same respects.  For He died Himself and was buried in the Flesh, but we have done both to sin.  Therefore he does not say, planted together in His Death, but in the likeness of His Death.  For both the one and the other is a death, but not of the same subject—since the one is of the Flesh, that of Christ; the other of sin, which is our own.  As then that is real, so is this.  But if it be real, then what is of our part again must be contributed.  Here he hints, along with the duty of a careful walk, at the subject of the resurrection.  In what way?  Do you believe, he means, that Christ died, and that He was raised again?  Believe then the same of yourself.  For this is like to the other, since both Cross and Burial is yours.  For if you have shared in Death and Burial, much more will you in Resurrection and Life.  For now the greater is done away with (the sin I mean), it is not right to doubt any longer about the lesser (the doing away of death).

John Chrysostom, Homily on Romans, X

O strange and inconceivable thing!  We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again; but our imitation was in a figure, and our salvation in reality.  Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things He has freely bestowed upon us, that we, sharing His sufferings by imitation, might gain salvation in reality.  O surpassing loving-kindness!  Christ received nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and suffered anguish; while on me without pain or toil by the fellowship of His suffering He freely bestows salvation.

Cyril of Jerusalem, On the Mysteries: Of Baptism, 5

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