As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. An explanation by Saint Gregory Palamas

As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27

An explanation by Saint Gregory Palamas


Water is a means of cleaning, but not for souls. It can remove dirt from those being baptized, but not the grime which comes from sin.


For that reason, the Healer of souls, the Father of Spirits (Heb 12:9), Christ, Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), enters into the water before us to be baptized, as we celebrate today in advance.


He draws the grace of the All-Holy Spirit from above to dwell in the water with Him, so that later when those being baptized as He was enter the water, He is there, clothing them ineffably with His Spirit, attaching Himself to them, and filling them with the grace that purifies and illumines reasonable [1] spirits.


And this is what the divine Paul is referring to: “As many have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) (“On Baptism and Repentance”,  Homily Fifty Nine in “St Gregory Palamas, the Homilies”, Mount Thabor  Publishing, page 487)


Newly unearthed baptismal font at Hagia Sophia to open in spring Is it too undignified to say “WOW!”?


This passage from St Gregory’s incredible sermon explains the reason why Christ was baptized and provides a marvelous word picture. We go into the font and are immersed in Christ, and when we emerge, we have Him on as a garment, just as we are wearing a sheet of water.


This homily is full of this kind of inspired teaching, and also serves as a detailed catechesis of the baptism ceremony. It is still VERY close to what St Gregory describes.


We just exited the Theophany period, although we are still blessing homes, and my parishioners have basically hear what St Gregory says, many times, although without the beauty and elegance that only a holy one can provide.


I have a good friend to thank for this quote, since I was recently gifted the book of St Gregory’s homilies. There will likely be more quotes, as soon as my stubby little fingers can type them.


Get this book.


The photos is a newly unearthed baptismal font at Hagia Sophia



Priest Seraphim Holland 2011.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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[1] “Reasonable spirits” – i.e., spirits who can reason, who have intelligence – us.


  1. Father, Bless,

    So let me put this together with what we covered in our Bible study last Sunday and see if I am beginning to sort of understand:

    It seems that in baptism the entire life of Christ is experienced–He enters into us (his incarnation), we are baptized with Him, we lay down our life and are buried (in the water) with Him and rise up with Him in newness of life.  In much the same way, we enter into the moment of His death and resurrection each time we approach the Holy Mysteries. And by receiving His Body and Blood, He is continually incarnated in us.  We are with Christ again at His baptism when we receive the blessing of the waters of Theophany and in receiving His absolution when we repent and confess.
    In other words, we are continually putting on Christ and taking in Christ, dwelling in Him and He, in us (John 6:56), through this incomprehensible process of renewal through a continual reliving, putting on and taking in, His very life. 
    If I have even come close to getting this straight, dignified or not–-Wow.

  2. Clothing us with His Spirit.
    Attaching Himself to us.
    Filling us with Grace that purifies and illumines.  
    Too undignified to say WOW?  Not at all!!!
    wow:  "Used in expressing wonder and amazement"  (Houghton Mifflin, American Heritage Dictionary)
    Thanks for sharing this homily, Fr. Seraphim!!!
    And I love the photo of the baptismal font from Hagia Sophia.

  3. I have lots of WOW! moments in the services, especially Matins. I am having many right now in the books I am reading. I am not sensible, and read sbout ten books at once. Right now I am reading several in the Starets Siluan line, and St Gregory’ssermons. I think that we must have “WOW! moments in our reading and prayer, or else something is wrong.

  4. I think your way of putting it is great. We cannot know Christ unless we follow Him, and “putting on Christ” is another way of saying that, and much more besides.

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