Five Things The Bible Actually Says About Baptism
The bible talks about baptism fair amount. From John the Baptist to Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch, to Paul arguing with the Corinthians, the New Testament is sprinkled liberally with references. But what does the scripture actually tell us about baptism? Here are five things
- Baptism is important; very important.
This is shown by the fact that Jesus was baptised and even had to insist that this event happened. In Matthew 3, Jesus visits His cousin John the Baptist in order to be baptised (vs 13). John protests and states that Jesus should rather be the one baptising him. Jesus insists by saying “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”So John consents and they go into the water and Jesus is baptised. In what follows we see all three members of the Trinity in action. The Holy Spirit comes onto the Son in the form of a Dove and we hear the voice of the Fathersaying that Jesus was His son and that He was well pleased with Him.Now if it was important for Jesus to be baptised to fulfil all righteousness, how much more for us, especially because
- Baptism is commanded
After finishing His work, dying and being resurrected Jesus spent 40 days appearing to His disciples, and after that time He ascended to Heaven. One of the last things He said to His disciples before He went was this:
Mat 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”These verses, commonly known as the great commission contains a number of commands, commissions if you will that Jesus expects His disciples to do. The second of which was “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That’s pretty clear, not much room for wiggle room. Are you a disciple of Jesus? Then this verse expects you to be baptised. And to be baptizing.*And they took this command seriously:
- It was completely normal for every believer to be baptised.
This began happening even before Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (John 4:1-2). However, starting at the birth of the church in Acts 2. At Pentecost when Peter is preaching the gospel and those listening were cut to the heart (verse 37) Peter’s response: “Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“ (Acts 2:38) And verse 41 tells us about 3000 people received his word “and were baptized.”We have many other references to baptism in the New Testament. We have the Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:36), Saul/Paul gets baptized after getting his sight back (Acts 9:18), Gentiles at Peter’s preaching (Acts 10:44-48) and so on (Acts 16::15; Acts 16:33; Acts 18:8 etc.) Also the various Epistles refer to baptism and controversies around baptism. Paul talks about it in Romans 6:3-4; in 1Corrinthinas 1:13-17; in Galatians 3:27 and so on. There are many more examples I could cite. My point here is that baptism was always a part of a normal Christian existence. You got saved, you got baptized, end of story.
- They got baptized immediately
In every example we have in the bible, when a person got saved, they got baptised. We have numerous examples: Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:36); Saul (Acts 9:18); Lydia (Acts 16:14-5); The prison guard (Acts 16:33), and so on.It is important to note that good hermeneutics tells us the difference between prescriptive and descriptive texts. The above are all descriptive, that is, the describe what was going on. It is therefore, not commanded a person should be baptised immediately but we can say that, in the very least, A newly converted Christian should be told that they should be baptised as part of a gospel presentation (Acts2:38) and that if a person repents, then baptism should be offered to be done and if possible immediately. A new Christian should say with the Ethiopian Eunuch : ‘”See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”’ (Acts 8:36)
- Baptism was always reserved for those who believed.
This point is going to take a post all to itself so I’m going to save it for next time. But for now, the headline stands as stated.
*OK, I know there is much debate about whether only pastors can do this, I’ll deal with it later, but for now, this verse makes it clear, disciples should be baptising.
Disagree? please let me know, the comments floor is open, I would be honoured if you could point out from scripture where I am wrong. I always want to be biblically accurate. Any other comments are also appreciated; What are your thoughts? Have you been baptised? What is your understanding of baptism
The Doctrine Of Baptism Series
Part 2: The 3 Different Views Of Baptism
Part 5: How Should A Person Be Baptised?