WATER BAPTISM

By

Shelby G. Floyd

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved…”—Jesus

FIRST MENTION OF BAPTISM IN THE ENGLISH BIBLE

In the English Bible the word baptism occurs the first time in Matthew chapter three. It is used in connection with the preaching of John the Baptist. The people from Jerusalem, Judaea, and the entire region round about Jordan, were baptized of John in the Jordan River, confessing their sins (Matthew 3: 6). The baptism of John was for the remission of sins (Mark 1: 4). It was a baptism founded upon repentance, and unto a life of repentance (Mark 1: 4; Matthew 3:11). Many of the Sadducees and Pharisees, who came to be baptized, were told by John to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Some of them rejected the baptism of John, and in so doing, they rejected the counsel of God against themselves (Luke 7: 29-30).

JESUS CHRIST WAS BAPTIZED

In this same chapter we read of Jesus, the Son of God, leaving his home in Galilee, and coming down to Jordan to be baptized of John. When Jesus asked for baptism, John at first refused, and told him that he needed to be baptized of him. Jesus told him to make an exception for it was becoming unto them to fulfill the righteousness of God. Whereupon, John baptized Jesus; and after his baptism he “went up straightway out of the water” (Matthew 3: 13-16). John baptized “for the remission of sins,” but this was an exception to that general rule. Jesus was without sin; but still he wanted to be baptized to fulfill the righteousness of God.

THREE DIFFERENT ACTIONS

Some persons have tried to see in this account of the baptism of Jesus evidence of sprinkling or pouring, but they are greatly mistaken. When Jesus was baptized, he went up straightway out of the water. This within itself is evidence that Jesus was immersed or buried in his baptism. There is no way that he could have come up straightway out of the water until he had first gone down into the water. The word baptism always means immersion, and never pouring or sprinkling. There are three different words in the Hebrew, Greek and English languages for the three different acts of pouring, sprinkling and dipping. Moses in connection with the work of the priest under the Old Testament used these three words, and made a distinction between each one. “And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand: and the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord” (Leviticus 14:15-16). Approximately 280 years before Christ, the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into the Greek language in Alexandria, Egypt. When the words in Leviticus 14:15-16, were translated, pour was represented by the word keo, dip by the word baptidzo and sprinkle by the word rantidzo. When baptism is mentioned in the New Testament the word baptidzo is used, and never the words that mean to sprinkle or pour. Therefore, the Holy Spirit had in mind the action of dipping, when he commanded baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.

BAPTISM DOES ALSO NOW SAVE US

In the later part of his life, the apostle Peter mentioned the days of Noah, and the preparation of the ark; and then he declared that only eight souls were saved in the ark, but it was “by water.” The water that brought about the cleansing of the earth, and the destruction of the unbelieving world, was the same water that saved Noah and his family. They believed God’s word and did what he said, and were saved by the water. The salvation of Noah and his family by water was an apt figure of how baptism saves us. Peter said, “The like figure (antitupon—antitype—sgf) whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3: 21). Baptism saves us: and when baptism saves us, then we have an answer of a good conscience before God, realizing that our sins have been forgiven.

CLINICAL BAPTISM IS NOT VALID

There is no mention in the New Testament of baptism being used in connection with sprinkling or pouring. The first mention of pouring for baptism is found in an uninspired work of the second century called, The Didache. The author is unknown; and since it is uninspired, it does not carry the authority of God with it. About 251 to 253 A.D, a man by the name of Novatian had water poured all over him in his bed. This was not accepted as genuine baptism during that time. Novatian was not allowed to be an officer in the church, because his baptism was questionable. This is definite proof that as late as the middle of the third century, immersion was still the only accepted act for baptism. But according to the teaching of the New Testament, baptism is by immersion.

BAPTISM IS LIKE A DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION

The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans and said,

“3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6: 3-4).

Baptism then is a burial; and is a likeness of the death, burial and. resurrection of Jesus Christ. If a person has not been buried with Christ, he has not been baptized according to the teaching of the Bible.

Copyright © 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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