The elementary doctrine of hell? That is not a description that I’ve personally assigned to it as though it were my own opinion; it is, however, the way in which the inspired writer of the epistle to the Hebrews categorized it. So as to create a little bit of context, in the fifth chapter the inspired writer told those to whom he was writing,
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
As you might have already gathered by the question presented in the title there are many who use Galatians 3:27 as a proof text to support their belief that water baptism is a necessary instrument of the salvation process, without which a person cannot be saved. While we want to hold up the importance of baptism as an ordinance instituted by the Lord Himself, we do not want to confuse its importance with saving faith. Not just because “we don’t want to” or because it doesn’t fit with a certain system of theology but because the Scripture does not teach such a doctrine. Galatians 3:27 is a great example of how people can do great injustice to the meaning of a text by avoiding a number of incredibly important hermeneutical principles.
1. The Eternality of God. “In the beginning God created…” (Gen. 1:1). The very first words of the Bible point us back to the very beginning of creation but not the beginning of God. So while we see the creation of light, day, night, the heavens, the earth, vegetation, sea creatures, animals, and man in the opening chapter of Genesis, we are aware that the God who created all these things was Himself uncreated. While understood here, such revelation would become clearer as God continued to reveal Himself to man. In Exodus 3:14 God revealed Himself to Moses as, “I AM WHO I AM”, signifying His eternal self-existence – He is who He has always been. At a later point in time, perhaps while reflecting upon the very subject we’re considering, Moses would write these words in a song: