History of Baptism
Article courtesy of "The Layman's Bible Encyclopedia

[bap´tizm, bap tiz´] Both these words have their root in the Greek "bapto," meaning to immerse, dip, or plunge under water; to wash; the words are sometimes used metaphorically, as a baptism of blood, of fire, of the Holy Spirit. Baptism was not an invention of Christianity; both Judaism and the pagan mystery religions recognized the natural symbolism of ceremonial washings and utilized baptism as a rite of initiation into their circle. Baptism first appears in the New Testament in the narratives concerning John the Baptist. John's preaching ushered in the Messianic Age; as he spoke of the imminent breaking in of the Kingdom of God, urging his hearers to "flee from the wrath to come," crowds were "baptized of him the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5). His baptism was symbolic of and accompanied by repentance. Jesus himself was baptized of John, making clear the continuity between their ministries. The effect of John's preaching was so widespread that his baptism was still being administered thirty years later in Alexandria and Ephesus (Acts 18:25, 19:1-7). 

In the development of Christian theology, the rite of baptism has been viewed in many different lights with regard to its nature and efficacy. Although it is not possible in this article to treat each of these views fully, they may be summarized as follows: (1) that baptism is for the remission of sins and therefore essential to salvation; (2) that it is a public avowal of fealty to God; (3) that it is a sign and seal of the ingrafting into Christ and the accompanying spiritual benefits, that is, and outward sign of an inward spiritual grace; (4) that it is an ordinace for admitting men into discipleship, a sign of initiation, leading to final deliverance from all evil; (5) that it is a symbol of purification. 

In Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of Paul, baptism is frequently mentioned in connection with conversion, as a natural step in the acceptance of the gospel message. Baptism is into Christ or his name, signifying union with him; this union involves sharing in his death, burial, and resurrection, of which baptism is an obvious symbol. Two of the verses in which emphasize the significance of baptism are Acts 2:38, and 22:16. Baptism is also closely connection with gift of the Holy Spirit. (John 3:5, Acts 2:38, I Cor. 12:13). Many think the phrase "born of water and of the Spirit" (John 3:5) is a description of baptism as understood in the early church, while others tend to emphasize either water or Spirit as having priority over the other. Another classic passage dealing with baptism is Matt. 28:19, Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 

The mode of baptism varies in different religious groups. Immersion was the original form of the rite. Affusion, or the pouring of large amounts of water over the subject, was introduced rather early as an alternative method of administration. Aspersion, or sprinkling, was first introduced to accommodate the sick and infirm, but was not generally accepted until the thirteenth century. There is also a division of opinion on the matter of infant baptism. Some contend that repentance and faith are a necessary precondition of baptism, thus eliminating infants as fit candidates. Others justify the practice on the basis that children of believing parents are born within the church. 

Necessity


The Biblical record shows that despite conventional wisdom, baptism is an integral part of the salvation experience.

From the black and white biblical references, to the urgency that the disciples displayed in the baptizing new converts, there is no doubt that baptism is a necessity.
 

1Pet. 3:21

The like figure 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:

Mark 16:16

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 

Titus 3:5 

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost 

Heb. 6:1-2 (Baptism is foundational) 

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  

John 20:22-23 (John's recording of the Great Commission) 

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.  

John 3:5 

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God 

Gravity (Seriousness)

The early church Christians believed that baptism was so important that they did not wait for a scheduled baptismal service, they baptized prospective candidates even if it was midnight! 

Acts 16:26-31

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every ones bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 

In another instance, a believer traveling with a hitchhiking preacher, declined to wait until he reached his destination, but instead was baptized in the desert at the FIRST sign of a body of water. 

Acts 8:29-39

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near and join thyself to his chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter...Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.   

Mode

No one in the New Testament days ever had water poured upon them or sprinkled over them. Every baptismal candidate was immersed completely under the water. Even the original Greek word from which the word baptism is derived, BAPTIZO, means: "to dip, plunge or immerse." 

Matt. 3:13-15

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.

Acts 8:29-39

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near and join thyself to his chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter...Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.  

Method

According to Biblical accounts, the early church Christians administered water baptism by calling the NAME of Jesus Christ over the prospective candidates during the baptismal rite. The titles Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were NEVER spoken over anyone in the Bible at any time, nor for any reason! 

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them: Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins...

Acts 8:16

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 10:48

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord (Jesus).

Acts 19:4-5

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  

1Cor. 1:13

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?  

Why the Name?

Jesus said that in the last days, Christians would be hated for the sake of his NAME. Satan, heaven's arch-enemy, is busy insuring that that stays the case, because he knows that there is POWER in that name. Power to save men's souls, power to heal the sick, and power to wash-away or remit men's sins through the invoking of that name. 

Acts 10:43

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Luke 24:47

...And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

Acts 4:12

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Col. 3: 17

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...

Acts 3:16

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 

Rebaptism?

The early church Christians believed that the correct form or mode of baptism was so important that they REBAPTIZED those who had not been baptized the New Testament way. Even if those being rebaptized had been baptized by John the Baptist! 

Acts 19:1-5

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 

Spiritual Significance

The Bible spiritually likens baptism to the Old Testament ritual of circumcision. It also parallels baptism with a physical or natural burial. Lastly, the Bible reveals that baptism is the agency used to induct a believer into the spiritual body of Christ. 

Col. 2:11

And ye are complete in him,(Christ) which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumsision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism...

Rom. 6:4

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Col. 2:12

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

Ga l . 3:27

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

 




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