An objective bible study on baptism
Jane and John, challenged by someone’s stance on baptism decided to check it out. These are the references that we found. At the end are some inferences that can be drawn. We have tried to be as objective as we can bearing in mind our background, including that we were both baptised in our teens in a Baptist Church!
Mt 3:6,7/Mt 3:11 – John’s Baptism, repentance, in water “But He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Mt 3:13,14,16 – Baptism of Jesus by John in water, without repentance.
Mt 21:25 – inference of John’s baptism being from Heaven.
Mt 28:19 – Great Commission, water not specifically mentioned, baptise in name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Mark 1:4,5 – John’s baptism, repentance, in water (River Jordan)
Mark 1:8,9 – “Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit” v 9 – Jesus baptised by John in the river Jordan.
Mark 10:38-39 – Possible metaphor of suffering and death, water not specifically mentioned
Mark 11:30 – Authority of John’s baptism came from God.
Mark 16:16 – Scripture only in later manuscripts, water not specifically mentioned
Luke 3:3 / Luke 3:7 – John’s baptism of repentance, water implied (Jordan river)
Luke 3:12 – Tax collectors baptised
Luke 3:16 – Further reference that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Luke 3:21 – God pleased by Jesus’ baptism. Heaven opened.
Luke 7:29,30 – John’s baptism. Pharisees and experts in law rejected baptism.
Luke 12:50 – Baptism of suffering.
Luke 20:4 – John’s baptism was from Heaven.
John 1:25,26,28,31,33 – John’s baptism – v.33 affirmation that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit.
John 3:22,23,26 / 4:1,2 – Jesus was baptising although in fact his disciples were doing it on his behalf. Water specifically mentioned in relation to John (v.23) no indication that Jesus disciple’s method of baptism was any different.
John 10:40 – Reference to a revisit of baptism site on Jordan river.
Acts 1:5 – John baptised with water but you will be baptised with the holy spirit.
Acts 1:22 – John’s baptism mentioned
Acts 2:38,41 – Baptism linked to gift of Holy Spirit / repentance, water not specifically mentioned. *
Acts 8:12,13,16 – Clear distinction between Baptism of Jesus and baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:36,38 – Philip baptises eunuch in water. Linked to profession of faith. First clear reference to water baptism after ascension of Jesus.
Acts 10:37 – Talks of John’s baptism.
Acts 10:47,48 – Gentile people already baptised in the Holy Spirit were baptised in water in name of Jesus Christ.
Acts 11:16 – John Baptised with water but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:24 – Reference to John’s baptism.
Acts 16:15 – Lydia baptised with her household, water not specifically mentioned. *
Acts 16:33 – Jailer and family baptised.
Acts 18:8 – Crispus and household believed and were baptised. No water specifically mentioned. *
Acts 18:25 – Apollos anointed teacher had only John’s baptism. No reference to Apollos having other baptism.
Acts 19 3-4,5 – Twelve men baptised into name of the Lord Jesus. Hands placed on by Paul,baptised by Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, prophesied.
Acts 22:16 – Saul’s / Paul’s baptism, washing sins away, calling on his name. Cross reference to Leviticus 8:6 ceremonial washing.
Romans 6:3 / 6:4 – Baptism into Christ, His death, buried and raised, and beginning of New Life. Symbolism of baptism – water not specifically mentioned. *
1 Cor 1:13-17 – Is Christ divided? Debate over who’s baptism. Water not specifically mentioned. *
1 Cor 10:2 – Reference to forefathers baptism into Moses in cloud and sea.
1 Cor 12:13 – Baptism of Holy Spirit – reference to drinking the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 15:29 – Obscure reference to people baptised for the dead, or on behalf of the dead.
Galatians 3:27 – Baptised into Christ have clothed themselves in Christ. No reference to water. *
Ephesians 4:5 – One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. Probably water baptism, less likely that of Holy Spirit.
Col 2:12 – Symbolic, metaphoric reference. No reference to water. *
Hebrews 6:2 – Instruction about baptism / purifying considered elementary teachings.
1 Peter 3:21 – Reference to water, the Flood, Noah, 8 saved by water, resurrection linked to baptism not about removal of dirt from body but the pledge of a good conscience towards God.
a) John’s baptism was without doubt in water, in the River Jordan. After the Baptism they got up out of the water suggesting total immersion.
b) The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is distinct from water baptism, one is not necessary to occur before the other.
c) * Although in many of the passages water is not specifically mentioned the mere word used was translated as either dip or wash and therefore in all cases the use of water is heavily implied. There is not expected to be a mention of water in the metaphorical uses of baptism.
d) The baptism of the Eunuch by Philip (Acts 8 vv 36-38) and separately the baptism of the gentiles by Peter (Acts 10 vv 47-48) were indisputably in water.
e) There is reason to believe that where baptism was mentioned without using the word “water”, it did actually involve water. This is because of the use of the word baptism and the circumstances of the events. (e.g. Jesus’ disciples baptising for Him).
f) The only text suggesting that baptism is necessary for salvation is Mark 16:16 (which is a text not actually contained in early manuscripts).
g) Baptism is a highly personal decision. One should bear in mind that God was pleased by Jesus’ baptism, the Heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and in many of the recorded cases the baptism of the Holy Spirit was either simultaneous or very closely linked. It is also the case that Paul considers baptism a part of a “seal for God”, and the Church calls it a sacrament. Is it to be considered a part of our following of the example of Christ? Another real consideration is to ask “what are the disadvantages of being baptised?”, and the answer must be that there are none.
(h) As far as the mode of water baptism is concerned the Bible really speaks for itself. There is never any reference to sprinkling, or to infant baptism. Some have said that where families were baptised (all the household) that children must have been involved. This is an assumption. In any case, in Jewish tradition, persons were not considered at the age of consent until they were 13 years old.
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JLP & JSP 19th December 2006