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What Does The Bible Actually Say About Baptism?

A flaw in human nature is that we tend to defend the ideas that we personally hold rather than trying to confirm whether they are correct. In our Christian faith, we should always be willing to yield to the teachings of the Bible, especially when those teachings run counter to what we believe or have been taught in the past. Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day because they held to the traditions of men rather than the commandments of God [Mark 7: 1 – 13].

Over the years, baptism has proven to be an area where this happens over and over again. Christian denominations and individual Christian teachers and preachers have defined and defended their version of what baptism means and why it is done, selecting only verses that support their conclusions. After a few centuries of such activity, many church attenders today are not certain what the Bible actually teaches about baptism. In this blog, I will list out the actual verses in the Bible about baptism. And I would encourage the readers to come at this topic with an open mind.

Before we hit the scriptures, though, it is critical to understand how the word is defined. The Greek words found in the Bible such as baptizo and bapto literally mean to dip, immerse or cover in water or another fluid. Every Greek study guide will provide examples from Greek literature of how the words are used - from how cucumbers were to be baptizo into vinegar for soaking in order to make pickles to the proper way to bapto cloth in order to dye it a new color.

It is helpful to place literal definitions into the Bible to gain an understanding of what is meant in its verses. We can do that with some of the key words in the Great Commission of Jesus.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28: 19 [ESV]

Go therefore and make [followers and students] of all nations, [immersing them under water] in [or into] the [single] name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

As we turn our attention to the most relevant verses regarding baptism, remember that everything in the Bible is inspired by God and completely true. If you see something that you think contradicts another verse in the Bible, the proper approach is to harmonize those verses, not pick the one that supports your existing views and ignore the other!

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28: 19 [ESV]

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3: 26 – 27 [ESV]

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6: 3 – 4 [ESV]

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16: 15 – 16 [ESV]

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2: 37 – 38 [ESV]

because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ I Peter 3: 20 – 21 [ESV]

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. Acts 22: 16 [ESV]

So what is baptism? How is it done and what is it for? After reading the verses above, you should have excellent answers to those questions (especially if you only use the content in the Bible and try as hard as possible not to be influenced by preconceived notions).

Andy’s book, Clear Vision: How The Bible Teaches Us To View The World, can be purchased here.

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