Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Baptism of the Spirit Fulfills All Righteousness—Not Jesus’ Law-keeping

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 7, 2015

PPT HandleThen Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

However you want to slice or dice justification (dikaiosynē), it is plainly stated by Jesus that His baptism by John “fulfill[ed] all righteousness (also dikaiosynē).” In what way? I think it is safe to say that the baptism of the Holy Spirit fulfills all righteousness. In other words, it’s the baptism of the Spirit that makes us righteous new creatures and not an imputed righteousness based on perfect law-keeping. The baptism of the Spirit also includes following Christ in death as well; ie, the death of the old self.

The word baptism (baptizō) means “to immerse,” so what actually happened can be paraphrased in this way:

“John immersed Jesus momentarily under the water; when He came up, behold,  the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Right then, the Father proclaimed that He was pleased with Christ which kind of shoots down the idea that a perfect obedience to the law was required by Jesus for purposes of making us righteous via imputation. The only imputation that the Bible speaks of is our sin imputed to Christ, not Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, though that mantra is widely accepted as gospel truth.

In contrast, the righteousness of God made us just through the new birth which makes us God’s literal children. We are righteous because we are literally born of God in His likeness. The new birth, or baptism of the Spirit, creates a new state of being, not a mere imputation of perfect law-keeping by Jesus.

I believe this event connects righteousness to the new birth apart from the law as stated in Romans 6:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We know that the promise of the Spirit was made to Abraham and Christ (Galatians 3:16, Psalms 16:10, Acts 2:27, 13:35), and that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead also raises us to new life as well (Ephesians 1:19,20, Romans 8:11, 2Corinthians 4:14).

I believe John’s baptism of Jesus and what followed took place to establish this truth: it is the new birth that establishes justification apart from the law.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s