Baptism

08 Apr 2016

The words baptism or baptize are only found in the New Testament. To baptize is a N.T. doctrine translated from the Koine Greek word βαπτίζω [baptizo /bap·tid·zo/].[1] Baptizo is a verb meaning to immerse or to submerge (like a sunken vessel). Baptizo comes from the root word Bapto which means to dip. A illustration of both words comes from a simple pickle recipe. In order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle![2]

We see then, that baptizo means to cover wholly with a fluid either by dipping in or under the liquid. One cannot be baptized by sprinkling [rhantizo /hran·tid·zo/] or pouring water on or over a body. Another illustration is that of dyeing a shirt. The garment is dipped into the dye and held under the liquid in order to dye it. One would not dye a shirt by sprinkling dye over it.

There are seven baptisms found in scripture:

  1. John’s baptism in water.“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Matthew 3:11, NASB95) “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”” (Acts 1:5, NASB95) This was known as the baptism of John or the baptism of repentance.
  2. Christ’s baptism in water. After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing.” (John 3:22, NASB95) “Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were),” (John 4:1–2, NASB95)
  3. Baptism in suffering. I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50, ESV) ““Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. “For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:34–37, NASB95)
  4. Baptism in the sky and in the cloud. and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” (1 Corinthians 10:2, NASB95)
  5. Christian baptism in water (in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19, NASB95) “And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.” (Acts 16:33, NASB95)
  6. Baptism into Christ and His body.Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:3–7, NASB95) “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NASB95) “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12, NASB95)
  7. Baptism in the Holy Spirit.Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”” (Acts 1:4–8, NASB95)

Let’s contrast the words baptizo and the Greek word νίπτω [nipto /nip·to/]. Nipto means to wash (especially the hands, feet, or face). “(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;” (Mark 7:3, NASB95) In Mark 7:3, the word wash is translated from the word nipto, to wash part of the body such as the hands. “When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.” (Mark 7:4, NKJV) In Mark 7:4, the word wash is baptizomai, which means to immerse. This washing was done by immersing in collected water. “When the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised that He had not first ceremonially washed before the meal.” (Luke 11:38, NASB95) This ceremonial washing was done by immersion of the hands under the water. In other words, they were washing their hands before the meal by having them baptized.

So, we see baptism is like the descending of a water bucket into a well to draw the water by placing the bucket into the water. These ceremonial washings of the Jews can teach us much about Jesus’ baptizing us into one body in the New Testament. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NASB95) We were baptized, placed into Christ’s body. It has already happened the moment we were saved. “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10, NASB95) Water baptism in the physical is showing us God’s truth in the spiritual counterpart. The spiritual meaning of baptism is identification with a person in what the name of that person stands for or what ne has come to do. we are therefore indentified with the character and purpose of Jesus.

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4, NASB95) This demonstrates the inner work of salvation. We are water baptized physically because of the identification with Christ’s death and resurrection through faith. This immersion in water does not save us nor take away our sins. These have already happened at the time of regeneration. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1, NASB95) The dipping into water is symbolic of our already having died and being buried unto sin, and our rising up from the water is symbolic of the new life, the life of the resurrection that Jesus Christ gives.

Water baptism is among the first steps of obedience in following Christ. If you have never been baptized, I want to encourage you to talk to a pastor about doing so.

© 2016 LearningTheBible.Org

[1] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

[2] Strong, James. Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon 1995 : n. pag. Print.

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JD Wilhite

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