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Water Baptism

Firstly, what did water baptism mean in the physical sense, as referred to in the Bible? What did the Greek word for baptism in the original scripts mean?

This word means 'Baptise' when translated from the original Greek.

I wonder: did the translators dodge the issue by anglicising the Greek word Baptizo into Baptism and Baptise?

In W.E.Vine's book, 'Expository Dictionary of Bible Words", it says that the root of the word is 'Bapto', meaning to dip, immerse, 'submerge and emerge'. The word was used at that time by the Greeks when signifying the dying of a garment: it is submerged, soaked in the dye. It is also used to mean the washing of articles to make them 'ceremonially clean', which would have been a very thorough cleansing. (A definite metaphorical significance here, I think).

John the Baptist and Water Baptism

If we now look at the pattern of water baptism set by John the Baptist, he 'immersed' people in a river: the River Jordan, baptising them for the forgiveness of sins. He submerged them and raised them up again, symbolising the act of dying to our sins and being raised to eternal life; of being washed clean. This would have been a more thorough ceremonial cleansing than the ceremonial washing that people had to comply with before they were allowed to enter the Temple.

Was Jesus "baptised" as an infant? Emphatically no! He was dedicated as an infant in the Temple, but this is a different matter.

I can find no references to infant baptism in the Bible. Some people refer to Acts 16:15 "When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home." - and Acts 18:18 "Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised." It does not say that Crispus and his family were baptised; only that many who heard him believed and were baptised."
Note: "... believed and were baptised". They had to believe first, AND then they were baptised. Infants cannot believe. It would appear to be conjecture to assume that this refers to infants too.

How was Jesus baptised?

Let's take Jesus as our example: he was a 30-year old adult when he was baptised by John the Baptist. The Biblical pattern is adult baptism by informed, conscious decision. Look at the wording in the Bible: in Acts 2:38, Peter said "Repent AND be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."

Note the words "repent and"... Baptism goes with belief; faith and repentance.

Powerful symbol, powerful witness

Baptism is a powerful symbol of starting a new life in Jesus Christ; it is a powerful experience within the individual; it is a powerful witness to others. Is it "really necessary"? I think perhaps not. With God, all things are possible. After all, the repentant thief on the cross next to Jesus had no opportunity to be baptised, but Jesus told him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:42-44). It was the thief's change of heart that saved him; the 'baptism' was an inner turn-around, a being born again.

However, can I tell you something? I did not understand why it was thought so special, until I witnessed someone's baptism by full immersion in water, (as it happened, this was in a Baptist Church). And then I just knew it was for me. A few months later, my wife and I were baptised on the same day, and I bear witness to you that it was a very special and spiritual blessing, that I will never forget.

Jesus' last instructions

Before Jesus left this earth to return to His Father in heaven, He said to His disciples, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

If it was good enough for Jesus, then it is good enough for me.

May God be with you in your decision.

In Jesus' name.


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"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."
- from the Bible, book of John, chapter 3, verse 16.