Baptism

Hebrews 6:2; Hebrews 9:10; 1 Corinthians 10:2; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; Acts 19:4; Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8; Matthew 3:6; John 1:29,36; Matthew 3:15; John 4:1; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6; Colossians 1:23; Matthew 16:19; Acts 10:48; John 20:21-23; Genesis 7:1; 1 Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 19:3; Exodus 29:4; Numbers 8:7; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 15:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Corinthians 15:19; 1 Corinthians 15:30-32
The Greek is βάπτισμα, from βαπτίζω, to dip, plunge, wash, and so forth. The ordinance of Baptism:
1. JEWISH. In Hebrews 6:22Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:2) (βαπγισμός) the Hebrew believers were exhorted to leave “the doctrine of baptisms;” and in Hebrews 9:1010Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:10) we read of “divers baptisms or washings,” but which is followed by the words “imposed until the time of reformation,” which “time” is referred to as “Christ being come.” This shows that the baptisms referred to were some part of the Jewish ritual, in which there were many washings and bathings; but none of these washings signified fully the baptism of the New Testament, which as an initiatory ordinance places the baptized in a new position: the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:22And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; (1 Corinthians 10:2)) was a figure of this. It was the Jewish washings that the Hebrew believers were exhorted to leave, or not to be laying again as a foundation.
Further, it has often been said that the Jews received their proselytes by baptism. Of this we have no record in the Old Testament, and Josephus, who details the rites necessary for the reception of a proselyte, makes no mention of baptism. It is true that Maimonides says that proselytes were thus received; but he was not born till A. D. 1135, and was thus far too late to know what took place so long before when contemporary writers are silent on the subject.
2. BAPTISM BY JOHN. This was specially in the Jordan, to which the multitudes went out, and which is spoken of again and again as the baptism “of repentance” (Mark 1:44John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4); Luke 3:33And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; (Luke 3:3); Acts 13:2424When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (Acts 13:24); Acts 19:44Then 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. (Acts 19:4)). He challenged the multitudes who came to be baptized that they should bring forth “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:88Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8); Luke 3:88Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Luke 3:8)). He baptized those who came “confessing their sins,” (Matt. 3:66And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:6)); and he exhorted the people to believe on Him who would come after him, “that is, on Christ Jesus” (Acts 19:44Then 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. (Acts 19:4); Compare John 1:29, 3629The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
36And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36)
). The godly remnant by John’s baptism took separate ground from the national body, in expectancy of Messiah’s coming: they judged themselves, and cleared themselves of the sinful condition of the nation. The Lord was baptized by John, thus taking His place among the repentant in Israel, not as confessing sins, but as fulfilling righteousness, as He said, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:1515And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (Matthew 3:15)).
3. CHRISTIAN BAPTISM. We have seen that John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance. During the Lord’s ministry before the cross, some were baptized to Him as Messiah (John 4:11When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (John 4:1)). After His death and resurrection Peter preached, not repentance, but the rejected Jesus as exalted, and made Lord and Christ. When they were pricked in heart, he said to them, “Repent ... ”, but the baptism was to the remission of sins because the work was now done which gave it fully: they were baptized to the remission of sins—administratively and governmentally (Acts 2:3838Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)).
Romans 6:3-43Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore 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. (Romans 6:3‑4) gives the meaning of Christian baptism to saints who had been baptized long before. It treats of the death of Christ (the sinless One,) as death to sin and to the state man was in, and draws conclusions from it for us inasmuch as He is risen. They were baptized to His death, that is, they have a part in it—they are alive to God in Him risen (and consequently also alive to Him risen—not to law), and hence sin was not to reign any longer; but there is no resurrection with Him in these verses. Baptism is prefigured by Israel’s passage through the Red Sea, not by their crossing the Jordan, though resurrection is added in Colossians 2:1212Buried 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. (Colossians 2:12), as leaving sins behind: “Having forgiven you all trespasses.” It is individual, and reception into the profession of Christianity: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The signification of baptism goes further in Colossians than in Romans, but is always connected with a status upon earth, and not with heavenly privileges. It saves (1 Pet. 3:2121The 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: (1 Peter 3:21)); we wash away our sins in it (Acts 22:1616And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)); we go into death in it; and in Colossians 2:1212Buried 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. (Colossians 2:12), it is added, we “are risen:” hence also it is individual. The church as such has never to be brought into death, its very origin is in the resurrection of Christ (Col. 1:1818And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)); it is first-born in the new creation.
It is clear that Baptism, though in a certain aspect it places the recipient in a resurrection status, giving Christ for our life, never takes us out of the earth; but puts us in the position of Christian responsibility in it, according to newness of life, as it is said, “so we also should walk in newness of life.” There is a warning in 1 Corinthians 10:1-61Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. (1 Corinthians 10:1‑6). They were baptized, “but with many of them God was not well pleased.” A mere sacramental position is not enough: we have to “continue in the faith, grounded and settled” (Col. 1:2323If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; (Colossians 1:23)). We are called, as baptized, to walk in this world as dead and risen again, as in a wilderness. It is the expression of the outward visible church in its profession: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In baptism we have a good conscience by the resurrection (1 Pet. 3:2121The 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: (1 Peter 3:21)). We wash away our sins in it, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:1616And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. (Acts 22:16)); we are received by it into the responsible place of God’s people in this world.
With Peter, Christian baptism seems more connected with the kingdom of heaven (compare Matt. 16:1919And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19); Acts 2:3838Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38); Acts 10:4848And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:48)); with Paul, it was connected rather with the house of God when he did use it. Paul had a new commission. He is not found, like Peter, ministering in the midst of a known people who had promises, calling souls out of it to repentance, that they should receive remission and be separated from the untoward generation. Paul takes up man as man (though owning the Jews) and brings him into God’s presence in light. For the Gentiles it was, even in testimony, a wholly new resurrection state, not merely a good conscience through the resurrection; and baptism, which gives a status on earth founded on resurrection, forms no part of Paul’s testimony, any more than of the mission in John 20:21-2321Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:21‑23); and Paul tells us himself, that he was not sent to baptize.
At the end of Matthew’s gospel we have a commandment connected with baptism and apostolic mission to the Gentiles exclusively, but then there is nothing of repentance or remission. It is simply discipling all the nations, baptizing and then teaching them (Matt. 28:19-2019Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19‑20)). (This passage contemplates in its full sense a work to be done at the end of the age by the Jewish remnant toward the Gentiles. Christian baptism now is for Jews and Gentiles alike, that by it they should lose their standing as such, and being committed to the death of Christ be brought into Christian profession, leaving those distinctions behind them.) The direction in Luke 24:4747And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47) is repentance and remission of sins. In Mark 16:15-1615And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15‑16) salvation belonged to him who believed and was baptized; for if he was not, he refused to be a Christian.
As to the formula used, some have supposed that because we read in the Acts that persons were baptized “to the name of the Lord Jesus,” the instruction given in Matthew 28:1919Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19) to baptize “to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” was superseded. But this does not follow: baptism is always to some person or thing. The disciples found at Ephesus had been baptized to the baptism of John, (Acts 19:33And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. (Acts 19:3)); the Israelites had been baptized to Moses; and those baptized in the Acts were to the name of the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord; and there is no reason why this should not be combined with the words found in Matthew, and a person be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus unto the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In Acts 2:3838Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38) the preposition is ἐπί (ἐν in MSS B, C, D); in Acts 10:4848And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:48) it is ἐν; and elsewhere it is εἰς.
4. BAPTIZED FOR THE DEAD. This occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:2929Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29). Some maintain that the Corinthian saints had fallen into the error of holding that if some of their number had fallen asleep without being baptized, others could be baptized for them, and that Paul was condemning this. But in the language he uses there is no condemnation. If 1 Corinthians 15:20-2820But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20‑28) inclusive be read as a parenthesis, 1 Cor. 15:1818Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:18) explains 1 Cor. 15:2929Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29); and 1 Cor. 15:1919If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:19) explains 1 Cor. 15:30-3230And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:30‑32). Thus, if there be no resurrection, those “fallen asleep in Christ are perished....else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead?” Why step into their place in the ranks, and be in jeopardy every hour, like soldiers in a war, if the dead rise not? What advantage was it for Paul to have fought with beasts at Ephesus if the dead rise not? The allusion in the “jeopardy every hour” and in the “fighting” is to those in danger, as soldiers in a war.