Baptism, meaning of
Baptism in faith is our meeting point with the saving death of
Jesus Christ without which there is no forgiveness of sins and therefore no
The importance of baptism --
- is our open confession of our need for God's
- is the token that we are
crucified with Christ.
- is the means of cleansing
from past sins.
- is a sign of rebirth as a
- is an echo of the greater
rebirth in spirit nature.
- makes us heirs of God's
- inscribes our names in the book of
- is NOT
Why was Jesus BAPTIZED (since he was
- Only one way: John 14:6;
- A command of Jesus: Mat
- Required even when the Holy Spirit
already given: Acts 10:47,48.
- The answer of a
good conscience: 1Pe 3:20,21.
- Assumed by Paul as
inevitable: Col 2:12; Rom 6:2.
- Immediate: Acts
8:12,36; 9:18; 10:48; 16:33.
Jesus accepted baptism because his Father desired it of him.
His baptism was an example for others (note Acts 2:38). He pointed the way for
the rest of humanity, linking himself, in his sinlessness, with the sins of
those, of like nature, whom he came to redeem. "All flesh is grass", including
the flesh of the Son of God.
Why must one be immersed and not sprinkled with
Immersion, pouring or sprinkling? -- Sprinkling as a baptismal
method arose because of the baptism of infants. The baptism of infants arose
because of the adoption of a false doctrine of sin: that infants possess guilt
for sin because they are born "in Adam", and need baptism to remove this guilt.
But the issues to be confronted and mastered before baptism are for mature
decision; baptism is for adults.
- The method of baptism -- Down into the water, up
out of the water: Mark 1:10; Acts 8:38,39.
baptized in Aenon, because there was much water there: John
- Likened to burial: Col
- In the cloud and in the sea: 1Co
Sprinkling? Note Acts 8:36; it is inconceivable that a man
crossing a desert would not have a few drops of water in his
While sprinkling fits the "washing" imagery of baptism in the
NT, it hardly fits the burial and resurrection pictures which are just as
John the Baptist is often pictured pouring water over the
heads of his followers; this fits only slightly better!
How much knowledge is sufficient to be considered for
BAPTISM? Prerequisites for baptism --
What must be believed?
- Hearing: Mat 28:19; Acts 11:14;
- Belief: Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12,37;
- Confession/Repentance: Mark 1:5; Acts
- A right attitude: 1Pe 3:21; Rom
"But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of
God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts
Things concerning the kingdom of God --
Things concerning the name of Jesus Christ --
- promises to Abraham: Gen 11; 12;
- the faith of Abraham: Gen
- established a nation in God's land:
- the throne of the Lord in
- the promises to David: 2Sa
- the faithlessness of Israel: 2Ch
- the kingdom overthrown: Eze
- salvation is of the Jews: John
- strangers from the covenants of promise:
- yet children of Abraham by faith: Gal
- and heirs according to the promises: Gal
- ...by BAPTISM into Christ: Gal
Who should be the one to administer a valid
- realization that all men are sinners: Rom
- sin leads to death: Rom
- death is final: Psa
- no help from man; only God can help: Psa
- only one way to reconcile men to God:
- because Jesus overcame sin, the root of
separation: Heb 4:15.
- destroyed the devil through
death: Heb 2:14.
- Jesus, not having sinned, could
not be held in the grave: Acts 2:24.
- we are
linked to this through BAPTISM: Rom 6:3,4.
Baptism is effectively the entrance into the household of
faith, so to be baptized by a member of that household is appropriate. Baptism
also follows a public confession of belief -- and one would surely want to
confess this belief to fellow-believers. But the validity of your baptism
depends on what is in the heart of the person being baptized, not the status of
the person who hears one's testimony and helps ensure that one is
Themes involved with baptism:
Baptism is a command. We can submit to it or refuse. Baptism
is not however a normal career choice; something which just happens naturally.
It is a revolution, a complete change in the course of someone's life: when he
embraces new goals, a new family, a new life. A natural child of Adam, born
under the shadow of death and bound by the dominion of sin, reaches a point
where they voluntarily choose what is good and holy, and reject all that is
related to the kingdom of sin. They don't do this because it is expected of
them, or from desire for reward, or from fear of the consequences of doing
otherwise, but out of a pure, transforming, love for the Father.
Confession: Rom 10:9,10; 1Ti 6:12,13, 1Pe 3:21.
No other resources: Gen 47:18, Luke 7:42; 8:43;
Sincerity and motive are important: Rom 6:17; Eph 2:8-9; 1Pe
Identification with Christ --
Burial -- Rom 6:4; Col 2:12.
- No one can come to the Father except by him:
- Baptism is into his name, into him,
closely associating with all aspects of his sacrifice: Rom
- In "equivalent" pagan ceremonies, the identity
of the initiator was paramount. Not so here; baptism is into Christ and the
baptizer can be anyone: John 4:2; 1Co
- Compare Passover: it is not enough to
see the lamb killed; blood had to be sprinkled on the door: Exo
Part of a bigger symbol:
Death and Life --
- plunged into water = dying with
- held (briefly!) underwater = buried with
- emerging from the water = raised with
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever
will lose his life for my sake shall find it (Mat 16:25), if we keep it for
ourselves we cannot keep it for ever. To willingly lose our life is to surrender
it to God's service, and to exchange our so-called freedom for discipleship. Or,
to "voluntarily choose what is good and holy, and reject all that is related to
the kingdom of sin." This is because we recognize that our life has as its
object the satisfaction of selfish desires, so we decide to deny it any
opportunity of mastery, to crucify it, to bury it. As Jesus was condemned to
death at the judgment seat of Pilate, so we condemn ourselves to death at the
judgment seat of our own conscience.
Death: Rom 6:6,7; Gal 5:24.
Yet life: Rom 6:8,11; Gal 2:20; Eph 2:1,5; Col
- Noah's flood (1Pe 3:21): Gen
- At the Red Sea (Egypt died, Israel lived):
- At Gilgal: Josh
- Cleansing the leper: Lev
- Under the law it was a token of covenant status:
- Like baptism, it was symbolic of
disowning the flesh.
- The uncircumcised were
unable to eat the passover (like the unbaptized at the breaking of bread): Exo
- Baptism paralleled with circumcision:
Rom 2:29; Phi 3:3; Col 2:11.
- Note Gilgal: Joshua
4:1-8,9; 5:2-9; 10:15,43; 1Sa 11:14,15;
- Site of John the Baptist's work: John
1:28; Mat 3:9.
Change of clothes --
- Baptism cleanses: Acts 22:16; 1Co 6:11; Tit 3:5;
Heb 10:22; Rev 1:5; 7:14.
- "He that is bathed
needs not save to wash his feet but is clean every whit" (John
- Under the Law of Moses, priests were
ritually washed before putting on holy garments (we are, in a sense, priests
continuously after baptism): Exo 40:12-15, Lev 8:6-9. Aaron washed particularly
before changing garments on the Day of Atonement: Lev
- Gr "baptizo" occurs twice in LXX; one is
2Ki 5:14 (Naaman washed 7 times in Jordan and was healed from
Pervasive theme in OT; note washing and changing garments
- Putting off the old: Rom 13:12; Eph 4:22; Col
- Putting on the new: Rom 13:14; Gal
3:27; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10,12,14.
In Christ's parables:
- Adam and Eve exchanged their own provision (fig
leaves) for skins of God's giving: Gen
- Joseph and Jehoiachin re-clothed on
release from prison: Gen 41:14; 2Ki
- Elisha rent his own clothes and took up
Elijah's mantle: 2Ki 2:12,13.
- Joshua son of
Josedech exchanged filthy garments for new ones: Zec
In his miracles:
- The wedding feast: Mat 22:11,12 (cp Isa
- The old garment and the new piece: Mark
- The good Samaritan: Luke
- The prodigal son: Luke
Canceling sins --
- Bartimaeus cast away his garment: Mark
- Legion clothed: Luke
- Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col
- Of John's baptism also: Luke 1:77; Mark
Change of allegiance --
- A new creature: Rom 6:4; 2Co 5:17; Gal
- Born again: John 1:13; 3:3,5; 1Pe 1:3,23;
- Renewal of the mind: Rom 12:2; 2Co 4:16; Eph
5:26; Col 3:10; Tit 3:5.
- Note: after "baptizing"
himself (LXX) in Jordan, Naaman's flesh was as a newborn child's: 2Ki
Baptism is typically "into the name" of the Lord. The Greek is
'eis to onoma', a term used in Greek banking when a sum of money was placed "in
the credit of" another person. This would imply that when baptized we are "made
over" to Christ. Also, as truly as a bride takes on the name of her husband, so
we take on the name of Christ.
Enrolling in a new family or community --
Through baptism, we become sons and servants of God, join the
one body of Christ, become heirs of the promises to Abraham, are lifted into
heavenly places: John 1:12; Rom 6:17-22; 1Co 12:13; 15:22; Gal 3:26-29; Eph
2:6,13,19; 3:6; Col 1:13.
Both Old and New Testaments occasionally use the idiomatic
expression "upon whom the name of God is called". When this idea is used with
other names it refers to adoption of a new family name, for example: Est 2:14;
Gen 21:12; 48:16, Isa 4:1.
With God's own name it is used of:
This is the background to the NT usage, closely linked with
the idea of baptism: James 2:7; Acts 15:17 (= Amos 9:12, and note Acts 15:14);
Acts 22:16. Note too the name in the forehead of the High Priest: Exo 28:36 (cp
Eze 9:4; Rev 14:1).
- the people: Deu 28:10; 2Ch 7:14; Isa 43:7;
63:19; Jer 14:9;
- Jeremiah himself: Jer
- Jerusalem and its people: Jer 25:29; Dan
- the ark: 2Sa 6:2; 1Ch
- the temple: Jer 7:10,11,14,30; 32:34;
34:15; 1Ki 8:43; 2Ch 6:33; and
- certain Gentiles: