Found below are all the primary scriptures that discuss baptism and its purpose, followed by some conclusions that are clearly indicated by these texts:
Matthew (John the Baptist said), ‘Indeed, I baptize you in water [to show your] repentance.’
Luke 3:3, ‘So, he (John the
Baptist) went through all the country around the
Mark 1:4, ‘John was in the
desert; and he came baptizing, preaching a baptism of repentance for the
forgiveness of sins. And virtually all those in
Acts , 25, ‘Now, a Jew named Apollos (a native of
Baptism in Jesus
Acts -17, ‘When the apostles in
Acts 19:1-7, ‘When he got to
Who Were Baptized
Acts , ‘Then, those who welcomed his words were baptized, and about three thousand people were added that day.’
Acts , ‘And many men and women were baptized.’
Acts , ‘And as she and her household were being baptized, she begged…’
Acts , ‘Then, he and his entire family were baptized right away.’
When They were Baptized
Acts -38, ‘And the eunuch said, Look! Here’s some water. What’s to prevent me from getting baptized? So, he commanded the chariot [driver] to stop. Then Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, and he baptized him.’
Acts -47, ‘At this, all the faithful ones who were there with Peter (since they were all circumcised), were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Breath was also being poured out on people from the nations. [They recognized that this was true], because they heard them speaking in different languages, glorifying God. Then Peter asked, Can anyone forbid water to baptize these who have received the Holy Breath, the same as we have?’
Acts 18:8, ‘And many of the Corinthians who heard also started believing and got baptized.’
Why They were Baptized
Acts , ‘Then Peter told them: Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins can be forgiven. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Breath.’
Acts , ‘So now, why are you wasting time? Get up, get baptized, and wash your sins away by calling on his name.’
Romans 6:3-5, ‘Don’t you realize that all who were baptized into the Anointed One Jesus were also baptized into his death? So, we were buried along with him by our baptism into his death. This is so that, just as the Anointed One was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, we should likewise follow a new way of life. If we’ve been buried with him in the same type of death, then we will be resurrected also.’
1 Corinthians 12:13, ‘By the one Breath we were all baptized into one body, regardless of whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free. And we were all made to drink from that one Breath.’
Galatians 3:27-29, ‘All who were baptized into the Anointed One have put on the Anointed One. So, there aren’t any Jews or Greeks, slaves or freemen, males or females, because you’re all one in the Anointed One, Jesus. And if you are [part] of the Anointed One, you are really the seed of Abraham and heirs of the promise.’
Colossians , ‘You were all buried with him when [you were] baptized, and you were all raised together by faith in what God (who raised him from the dead) has done in you.’
1 Peter 3:21, ‘[What that chest pictured] is now saving you too. It’s Baptism. [The purpose of this baptism] isn’t to get rid of fleshly filth; it’s to ask God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus the Anointed One.’
John 3:5, ‘Jesus replied, I
tell you the truth, unless someone is born from water and [God’s] Breath, he
can’t enter the
John’s baptism symbolized repentance over past sins. It was a way of calling people’s sins to their attention and telling them to repent, to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Promised One.
Jesus’ baptism wasn’t just for repentance for past sins. After the Promised One came, people were to be baptized in his name.
All those were baptized who recognized the truth of the words of Jesus and his Apostles. However, they had to be old enough to recognize the truth.
They were baptized when they started believing and when God’s Breath was seen in their lives.
They were baptized:
1. To show that they had repented and to allow for their past sins to be forgiven (Acts , , Romans 6:3-5)
2. To show that they have agreed to follow a new way of life (Romans 6:3-5)
3. To ask God for a good conscience (1 Peter ).
4. To receive the gift of the Holy Breath (Acts , -17)
5. To accept that they may also have to share in Jesus’ death (Romans 6:3-5, Colossians )
6. To be resurrected in God’s Kingdom (Romans 6:3-5, John 3:5)
7. To become part of the Promised One’s ‘body’ (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27-29).
It is noteworthy that baptism appears to indicate at least one’s desire to be a ‘king and priest.’ in God’s Kingdom. And being ‘born again’ by God’s Holy Breath, indicates acceptance or being ‘chosen’ by God and being given the value of a ‘spiritual’ life, which would provide a person the necessary legal basis for a resurrection to heaven.
It also seems that baptism is
closely linked symbolically to the anointing (with oil) that many of the
ancient kings of
Is receiving God’s Holy Breath part of the purpose of the baptism of all Christians? Yes, because all Christians need and can receive this blessing. It isn’t limited to just the ‘chosen.’
So, when one is baptized in water, he or she is indicating a willingness to make the needed changes in his/her life in order to qualify for being ‘chosen’ by God. And receiving a ‘baptism in God’s Holy Breath’ then, seems to be an indication of acceptance of that individual by God. However, as Jesus said, ‘Not all who are called are chosen.’
Note that there are no scriptures teaching that baptism is done to symbolize simple ‘dedication’ of one’s life to serving God. In fact, the Greek word dedication isn’t found anywhere in the Greek Scriptures. The concept of dedication (but not the word) may be found in the Greek word paratitherthoran (eng. put aside for yourselves), which is translated herein as dedicate at 1 Peter . But, notice how the term is applied there: ‘So, let those who (by God’s will) are suffering, then dedicate themselves to the faithful Creator by doing whatever is good.’
As you can see, this scripture isn’t talking about baptism, since Peter was addressing Christians who were already baptized. His point was that those to whom he was writing needed to change their way of life (after baptism, not before) and rededicate it to God by doing good things.
So, the implication of all the above, is that baptism symbolizes that a person has repented (turned away from their past life’s course) and that in so doing, he or she has been forgiven by God. Or, as 1 Peter says, they have asked God for a ‘good conscience.’ They are also asking God for a measure of His Holy Breath. In addition, the action symbolizes the person’s making himself or herself available to be chosen by God to be part of the heavenly Kingdom government, and by so doing accepts a willingness to suffer a violent death as did Jesus.
Sprinkling or Total Immersion?
‘Baptize’ is a Greek word (which we have left untranslated) that means ‘dip,’ or even ‘wash.’ We can clearly see the difference dipping and sprinkling in the scripture found at Mark 7:3, 4, which says:
‘None of the Pharisees or any of the Judeans eat unless they vigorously wash their hands (gr. nipsontai tas keiras), because they follow the traditions of the elders. Nor do they eat anything they bring from the market unless they sprinkle (gr. rantisitontai) it first. And they observe many other traditions that have been passed down, such as washing (gr. baptismous – ‘dipping’) cups, pitchers, and copper pots in water.’
As you can see, there is no similarity between the Greek words that are rendered ‘sprinkle’ and ‘baptize (or dip).’ So, when the Bible instructs us to be ‘baptized,’ it means to be totally covered with water, which is a proper symbol of dying to a former course of life.
When you realize that resurrection to heaven is a gift from God that is given to people who He selects and who have lived a faithful life and died a sacrificial death, you recognize that infant baptism is unnecessary and inappropriate. The Bible’s promise is that all (other than the ‘Seed of the Slanderer’) will be resurrected, whether they are baptized or not (see Acts 24:15). So, infants that die prior to being baptized are automatically promised the hope of a resurrection.
Baptism for the Dead?
One scripture that many Bibles render in an illogical way is 1 Corinthians 15: 29. It says in Greek, ‘Epei ti poiesousin oi baptizomenoi hyper ton nekron ei holos nekroi ouk egeirontai ti kai baptizontai hyper auton?’ Which is literally translated as, ‘Since what will do those being baptized on the dead, if all the dead not are raised, why also are baptized on them?’
From the wording of the above scripture, one religious group has concluded that they must be baptized for the sake of their ancestors (their dead). Yet, this concept contradicts the other scriptures and makes absolutely no sense. What purpose does the (heavenly) resurrection serve if it can be given to any type of person (whether righteous or unrighteous) as a gift from a descendant? Isn’t resurrection to be a ‘king and priest’ in heaven the reward that is promised for one’s developing a special and personal relationship with God?
Notice how another translation renders this verse, ‘Otherwise, what will they do who are being baptized for the purpose of [being] dead ones? If the dead are not to be raised up at all, why are they also being baptized for the purpose of [being] dead ones?’
Although this wording (to make the point that baptism is for the purpose of dying) is quite convoluted, its meaning is supported by the text. The reason for this is that the Greek word hyper (which means on) can also be translated, for the purpose of. As the result, we have rendered the verse herein as, ‘So, what good does it do for them to be baptized into (or, for the purpose of) death? If none of the dead will be raised, then why [are we] being baptized for that purpose?’
Then what was Paul talking about at 1 Corinthians 15:29? The answer was provided at Colossians , where he wrote, ‘You were all buried with him when [you were] baptized.’
So, he was saying that such baptism symbolizes a person’s willingness to share in the suffering and death of Jesus.
Many religions require that once a person ‘learns the truth’ as they currently see it, they must then be rebaptised if they had been baptized before, to become part of their religion, church, or group. As the result, some who have been baptized more than once often say that they were baptized into this church and that. However, what does baptism have to do with a particular dogma, creed, or joining a religion? Isn’t baptism a personal agreement with God?
Notice from the accounts quoted above that baptism was performed at the beginning of one’s accepting the hope and agreeing to make a change in their life. Cornelius and his household, the Ethiopian Eunuch, and all others were baptized within hours of accepting the good news, so can we say that they knew the whole truth and could pass the tests that some religions require today? Surely not, but the Apostles and disciples baptized them anyhow… on the spot.
It has been argued though that those who were baptized so quickly didn’t have that much to learn since they were already familiar with the Bible’s teachings. But if that were true, then why were the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees so very wrong? And what of Cornelius who wasn’t a Jew but a gentile army officer? Surely many religions have come to wrong conclusions on this, because their instructions and requirements don’t align with what was actually practiced by First-Century Christians.
Notice that the Bible says people were to be baptized so their sins could be forgiven, to gain a good conscience, and to show that they wished to follow a new way of life. So, if any person has ever been baptized for those reasons, is there any just cause or need for rebaptism? If such an agreement has already been seriously and sincerely made with God, then what does changing one’s thoughts about what the Bible says on some teachings have to do with it, for we should always be constantly learning and changing our minds as the result of Bible study.
However, many religions require rebaptism to show that you now agree with them and that you now choose to be one of them… so it’s baptism into them not into Jesus. However, if you have already made an agreement to serve God and change your life, we would question why any action would be required other than fulfilling the vow you’ve already made.
We recently heard a story of an old woman who couldn’t join a particular group and ‘be saved’ unless she was baptized. And because she lived an incredibly long way from the nearest members of that group, she asked an itinerant preacher to baptize her (in 1923). Then in her early 90s, when her mind was disabled with Alzheimer’s, she was told that her baptism had never been valid and that she never had a relationship with God, so she had to be rebaptised by a member of the religion that she had been a member of through all those years… think about that. Were they right?
Baptism into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
The words found at Matthew 28:19, ‘in the name of the Father, the Son, and [God’s] Holy Breath,’ are not found in the ancient Shem Tob Hebrew manuscript, so they may be spurious (words that were added to the Bible). So, did Jesus really command that we be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Many churches use a variation of the baptismal formula found at Matthew 28:19 which reads, ‘Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit.’ This has been called the Trinity Formula, since it contains the three-person Godhead.
At present we don’t have any complete manuscripts of Matthew prior to the 4th Century, and all existing manuscripts written thereafter contain this phrase. However, there is evidence that this reading is a later corruption of the original text.
The early Church historian Eusebius appears to quote from a different manuscript than any we presently have. Eighteen times between the years 300 and 336-C.E. he cited Matthew 28:19, 20 as: ‘Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.’
It is interesting that the traditional Trinitarian reading of Matthew 28:19 does not appear in Eusebius’ writings until after the Council of Nicaea, wherein the Trinity began to formally held as official doctrine. So, evidence strongly indicates that this is a spurious scripture inserted by later Trinitarians, in the same vein as 1 John 5:7-8.
This finding may prove to cut both ways for some, for while it breaks apart the only mention of the Trinity trio, it does seem to prove what many Trinitarians have said all along, that baptisms should only be done in the name of Jesus.
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