4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Therefore we are buried ... - It is altogether probable that the apostle in this place had allusion to the custom of baptizing by immersion. This cannot, indeed, be proved, so as to be liable to no objection; but I presume that this is the idea which would strike the great mass of unprejudiced readers. But while this is admitted, it is also certain that his main scope and intention was not to describe the mode of baptism; nor to affirm that that mode was to be universal. The design was very different. It was to show that by the solemn profession made at our baptism, we had become dead to sin, as Christ was dead to the living world around him when he was buried; and that as he was raised up to life, so we should also rise to a new life. A similar expression occurs in Colossians 2:12, "Buried with him in baptism," etc. See the Editors' Notes at Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:16.
Into death - εἰς eis. Unto death; that is, with a solemn purpose to be dead to sin and to the world. Grotius and Doddridge, however, understand this as referring to the death of Christ - in order to represent the death of Christ - or to bring us into a kind of fellowship with his death.
That like as - In a similar manner. Christ rose from death in the sepulchre; and so we are bound by our vows at baptism to rise to a holy life.
By the glory of the Father - Perhaps this means, amidst the glory, the majesty and wonders evinced by the Father when he raised him up; Matthew 28:2-3. Or possibly the word "glory" is used here to denote simply his power, as the resurrection was a signal and glorious display of his omnipotence.
Even so - As he rose to new life, so should we. As he rose from death, so we, being made dead to sin and the world by that religion whose profession is expressed by baptism, should rise to a new life, a life of holiness.
Should walk - Should live, or conduct. The word "walk" is often used to express the course of a man's life, or the tenor of his conduct; Romans 4:12; Romans 8:1 notes; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 10:3 notes; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:1 notes, etc.
In newness of life - This is a Hebraism to denote new life. We should rise with Christ to a new life; and having been made dead to sin, as he was dead in the grave, so should we rise to a holy life, as he rose from the grave. The argument in this verse is, therefore, drawn from the nature of the Christian profession. By our very baptism, by our very profession, we have become dead to sin, as Christ became dead; and being devoted to him by that baptism, we are bound to rise, as he did, to a new life.
While it is admitted that the allusion here was probably to the custom of immersion in baptism, yet the passage cannot be adduced as an argument that that is the only mode, or that it is binding on all Christians in all places and ages, for the following reasons:
(1) The scope or design of the apostle is not to discuss the mode of baptism, Or to state any doctrine on the subject. It is an incidental allusion in the course of an argument, without stating or implying that this was the universal mode even then, still less that it was the only possible mode. His main design was to state the obligation of Christians to be holy, from the nature of their profession at baptism - an obligation just as impressive, and as forcible, from the application of water in any other mode as by immersion. It arises from the fact of baptism, not from the mode. It is just as true that they who are baptized by affusion, or by sprinkling, are baptised into his death; become professedly dead to sin and the world, and under obligations to live to God, as those who are immersed. It results from the nature of the ordinance, not from the mode.
(2) if this was the mode commonly, it does not follow that it was the only mode, nor that it was to be universally observed; There is no command that this should be the only mode. And the simple fact that it was usually practiced in a warm climate, where ablutions were common, does not prove that it is to be observed amidst polar snows and ice, and in infancy, and age, and feebleness, and sickness; see the note at Acts 8:38-39.
(3) if this is to be pressed literally as a matter of obligation, why should not also the following expression, "If we have been planted together," etc., be pressed literally, and it be demanded that Christians should somehow be "planted" as well as "buried?" Such an interpretation only shows the absurdity of insisting on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures in cases of simple allusion, or where the main scope is illustration by figurative language.