Acts 2: Were the Apostles Baptized in Water? Part 2

* A better theory. Consider what the gospels really say.

(John 13:8-11 ESV)  8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”

9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

There an element of this account which I’ve never heard explained. Why does Jesus say, in v. 10, “The one who is bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean”? In what sense were the disciples “completely clean”? What does this mean?

Add this to the puzzle:

(John 15:3 ESV)  3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

(John 15:11-15 ESV) 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.  15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

And then —

(John 20:21-22 ESV)  21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”  22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Peter asks to be washed by Jesus head to toe, and Jesus responds that this is not necessary. The image is of a man who bathes in preparation for a feast, and upon arriving there only needs to have his feet washed.

The guest was supposed to bathe (λουω [louō]) before coming to a feast and so only the feet had to be washed (νιπτω [niptō]) on removing the sandals.

Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament. Accord Leon Morris, New International Commentary on John.

In 15:3, we see that the disciples are declared clean because of Jesus’ teaching. And so it seems that Jesus is saying, in effect, I have one last lesson to teach you: washing your feet completes the cleansing by my word.  But, his point is: this is all you need. You don’t need a bath because you’ve already had a bath.

Notice Jesus’ highly emphatic “completely clean” or “thoroughly” or “entirely” clean. The disciples weren’t by any means perfect men, and so their cleanness must be a gift of grace. How else could it be complete?

Here’s my interpretation: You are utterly clean, by grace, because you’ve accepted my teaching and so have faith. But neither my teaching nor your cleansing will be complete until you learn one last lesson, the lesson of humble service. I’ll teach this lesson by washing your feet, but I’ll complete the lesson by dying for you. But I know already that you’ll learn that lesson well.

Therefore, you are no longer merely students. You are my friends.

Now, “friend” is a reference to —

(2Ch 20:7 ESV) Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

(Isa 41:8 ESV) But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend;

(James 2:23 ESV) and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God.

In what sense were the disciples like Abraham?  Well, James says in the sense that both Abraham and Jesus’ disciples are saved by faith.

In fact, the NET Bible notes suggest that “friend” means “covenantal partner” by comparison to 1 King 5:1, 15 and 2 Chron 20:7 — which in the New Testament context, means much the same thing.

Therefore, by calling the disciples “friends” and “completely clean,” he is saying they’ve already been saved — by faith in his teachings.

All that would be missing is … the Holy Spirit, which Jesus proleptically promises by breathing on them — the Greek and Hebrew for “breath” and “Spirit” being the same word.

Conclusions

We should first note that John 13-17 is not limited to the “apostles” but to the “disciples,” which could be the very same 12 or could be a somewhat larger group. (Ben Witherington argues that the group included at least Lazarus in addition to the 12.) It’s hard, though, to imagine Jesus washing the feet of 120!

The fact that this group was cleansed by the word of Jesus need not be limited solely to the 12 — as Acts 1 – 2 suggests. It could be true of the entire community of disciples that had enough faith to remain true to Jesus even after his death. Why not?

And Jesus’ use of “bathe” and “clean” to refer to the disciples present is highly evocative baptism. Thus, a natural reading of Jesus’ words is that these disciples were already cleansed in the same sense that baptism would later cleanse — lacking only the Spirit who would be given soon.

The problems with this theory are —

* It seems unlikely that the entire 120 were present during the footwashing event, and Jesus seems to address only those whose feet are being washed. But the principle of cleansing by faith in Jesus’ words is a major theme in John’s Gospel and hardly limited to just the 12.

* This contradicts the church’s later teaching that baptism is absolutely essential to salvation. But that teaching is not supported by John or Acts, both of which seem to record cleansings separate from water baptism. And so either there were exceptions that would never be repeated (the 120, Cornelius, and perhaps the Samaritans), or else faith is the ultimate test and baptism is commanded but not essential to those who have been improperly instructed.

It is, of course, John who repeatedly promises salvation to all with faith (meaning, of course, a penitent faith, not a mere intellectual assent) –

(John 3:14-15 ESV) 14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,  15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”

(John 3:16 ESV)  16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

(John 3:18 ESV)  18 “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

(John 20:30-31 ESV) 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Etc.

The advantages of this theory are —

* It’s consistent with what we read in Acts.

* It’s consistent with the numerous assertions in John that all with faith will be saved.

* It rests on actual scriptural evidence and not rank speculation.

* It supports a case for a theology of baptism that doesn’t damn converts, new to the scriptures, who are wrongly baptized because of they’ve received poor instruction from the church — which seems much truer to the heart of God than a theology that damns all who come to God with a genuine faith and penitence but happen to have a pastor with a weak baptismal theology.

The question of the apostles’ baptism is deeply troubling to those who approach the scriptures as a rule book and expect God himself to behave according to simple, easily predicted rules. Indeed, we sometimes attempt to reduce God to something like Newtonian mechanics — entirely predictable motion according to a handful of rules.

But God is a person, not a machine or a rulebook. He reveals himself through story — true story, but story. And we begin to understand the personality and heart of God by honestly confronting the stories he tells.

Jesus could have easily baptized the apostles. The Spirit could have easily recorded their immersion in a Gospel or in Acts. But instead we are told that they are bathed and cleansed by having heard the words of Jesus — an experience that culminated in learning to be like Jesus by becoming servants for others, a lesson Jesus would soon teach again (times a thousand!) by submitting to crucifixion.

Thus, more important than even baptism is submission, service, and sacrifice in response to faith in Jesus. And we’d have vastly healthier congregations if we’d learn this lesson well.

Indeed, in our zeal to damn all with an imperfect baptism, we’ve sometimes placed baptism at the center of our theology, preferring confidence in our obedience to a ritual over confidence in the love of Jesus. The result has been to turn us into rulekeepers rather than servants — and it’s a great tragedy.

And the sad irony is that the rule we should have been keeping the most is sacrificing for the benefit of others. By becoming focused on rulekeeping, we missed the most important rules.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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40 Responses to Acts 2: Were the Apostles Baptized in Water? Part 2

  1. Jerry says:

    Thus, more important than even baptism is submission, service, and sacrifice in response to faith in Jesus. And we’d have vastly healthier congregations if we’d learn this lesson well.

    Indeed, in our zeal to damn all with an imperfect baptism, we’ve sometimes placed baptism at the center of our theology, preferring confidence in our obedience to a ritual over confidence in the love of Jesus. The result has been to turn us into rulekeepers rather than servants — and it’s a great tragedy.

    And the sad irony is that the rule we should have been keeping the most is sacrificing for the benefit of others. By becoming focused on rulekeeping, we missed the most important rules.

    Some time ago, after reading John Mark Hick’s Down to the River: A Revisioning of Baptism, I emailed him objecting to some of his implications – but also recognizing that “God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.”

    It is not up to us to limit God and His offer of mercy & grace to whomever He will. In fact, to do so would be, to my way of thinking, blasphemous.

    Your statements at the end of this post are very much on target. When we try to make the New Covenant a covenant of Law instead of Grace, we err. We need to obey the Great Commission – to make disciples for Jesus in all nations – and then to baptize these disciples into the name of Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. If we focus over-much on baptism, we distort baptism itself from being a faith-response to the gospel into being an act of obedience that, in the mind of many, is but one in a list of things they must do. In this conception, there is often little expression of trust in the sacrifice of the Savior in this act. Without that trust, baptism is no longer an expression of faith, but becomes a work of law, which we trust for our salvation.

    In reality, whether the apostles were baptized in water or not should be immaterial. When Jesus Himself baptized them in the Spirit, He placed His seal of approval on them as children of God (cf. Galatians 4:6), put them into His church (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13), and supplied them with all they needed to do His work (cf. Acts 1:8).

    It is my conviction that He does the same for all of us who are baptized in His name with penitent faith (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Should He choose to do this for some who have faith with an imperfect baptism or with no baptism is His business – and I have no more right to object than the laborers in the vineyard hired at daybreak had to object when the master gave those hired at the 11th hour the same as he did them.

    At the same time, I do not have the right to commit God to accept anyone without baptism. I just do not see Him giving us the right to give such (possibly) false assurance today. Nor do I have the right to refuse fellowship with a believer who has received what I may consider to be a defective baptism because he was insufficiently taught prior to his baptism. This, by the way, includes many in the CoC who still do not know that the Lord has given them His Holy Spirit.

  2. aBasnar says:

    I’d like to repost my question from a former thread here where it better fits, followed by a suggestion:

    Joh 3:22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing.
    Joh 3:23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized
    Joh 3:24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).
    Joh 3:25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. (i.e. baptism – interstingthat baptism is called a purification …)

    Joh 4:1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John
    Joh 4:2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),
    Joh 4:3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.

    Omitted by the synoptics, John reports that baptism was part of Jesus’ ministry. In what way did this baptism differ from John’s baptism? And have the 12 or 120 been “rebaptized” when Jesus offered baptism? What do you think?

    Alexander

    My suggestion: Disciples of Christ have been disciples of Christ aölso prior to pentecost. the difference in these twio different baptism before pentecost was the presence of Christ vs. the anticipation of Christ. So the baptisms Christ’s disciples in the presence of the Lord were Christian water-baptisms. Isn’t it more than reasonabvle to assume that all of christ’s disciples had been baptized in this way, thus their water-baptism was completed at pentecost.

  3. Price says:

    What authority did John the Baptist have to baptize for the remission of sins? When did he receive this new authority and were the Jews told about the new covenant….

    Did Jesus Himself remove the idea of “water” baptism in Acts 1:5 ?? Or was it just a matter of establishing which was of more importance ?? He tells the disciples that John baptized with water but they would be baptized with the Spirit… What He didn’t say was that they would be baptized with water AND Spirit… Cornelius was baptized by God with the Spirit…and THEN Peter baptized him in water… Interesting that Peter felt the need to water baptize someone who was just as saved as he was (presuming that Peter was not baptized in water).

    Last question…Was there a water baptism of repentance in the Jewish Law ?? Sort of like what Paul submitted to… purification right or however you might describe it…

    Thanks. Happy New Year.

  4. laymond says:

    As sure as the Apostles were made of flesh and blood, they were baptized in water.

    Jhn 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
    2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
    4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
    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.
    6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
    7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
    8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

    I don’t know when precisely, we will be baptized/immereged, into the spirit of God, but I suspect it will be upon judgment day, when we are raised to enter the Kingdom of God.

  5. Norton says:

    If John 20:21-23 is John’s version of the Great Commission or perhaps Jesus preparing the disciples for it, then “remitting anyone’s sins” is equivalent to baptizing “he that believes”. In other words, Jesus gave his disciples the authority to pronounce the sins forgiven of those who believe, by baptizing them. The apostles, or the thief on the cross, for that matter, did not need a disciple to pronouce them saved, because Jesus himself did it verbally.

    The general gist of water baptism is that it is a blessing bestowed, guaranteed by Jesus himself, for the benefit of ones conscience and is assurance that he is saved because of his faith. I do not see it taught anywhere in the Bible except maybe in John 3:5 that one who is not baptized will not be saved. I do see “born of water” as water baptism, but perhaps Jesus was telling Nicodemus the normal way one is born again, not necessarily the only way. Our experiences seem to tell us that one can be changed of heart or born again without water baptism. I am not completely at ease with that interpretation of John 3:5, so maybe Jay will comment on it if he has not already, in a previous study.

  6. aBasnar says:

    The more I think about the “obscurities” around Christ baptizing while John was still “at work” the more significance I see in this short report from John 3 and 4.

    Interesting: First John said that Christ baptized.
    Then he clarified: Not Christ, but His disciples baptized.
    What does that mean?
    I think the disciples baptized in the name and authority of Christ.
    So – in effect – Christ Himself is baptizing through His disciples (the same as today)!
    This seemingly littler “error” John immediately “corrected” was nor error at all but is of highest significance!

    These baptism therfore were not anticipating the coming of Christ as John’s baptism but already in the name of the Christ that has come.
    John himself acknowledges this: The Bridegroom has come. Therefore it is time for him to leave the scene.

    Who were baptized in John 3 and 4 by Christ through His disciples?
    Disciples of Christ, not disciples of John!

    So we can – I think – safely say that Christian Water Baptism preceded the cross and the great commission and pentecost in the same way that Christian discipleship preceded each of those. When we question whether the apostles were baptized because we see no mention of this in Acts 2, we mut consistently say they had not been disciples before pentecost either.

    So I think we see a “dispensational overlap” in Christ’s ministry. He taught His disciples to call God Father although they had not yet been born from God (which occured at Pentecost), or better: They only experienced the first stage of the new birth: Water baptism. He taught them to supercede the demands of the letter of the Law by far (sermon of the mount), although they had not yet received the Spirit – but they had Christ with them. Since the Spirit came to be Christ’s vicar, the personal presence of Christ had a similar effect for the disciples with the exception of the indwelling.

    That’s my proposal to solve the puzzle: “Were the 12 and the 120 baptized in water or not?” They were baptized because Christian discipleship included Christian baptism even prior to pentecost.

    Alexander

  7. aBasnar says:

    Based on this, Jay, I can maintain the understanding of the bath in John 13 as baptism. The disciples had bean bathed and cleansed. Why? Because Baptism serves as a purification:

    Joh 3:25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification.
    Joh 3:26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness–look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”

    So, whose baptism is the “real” purification?

    καθαρισμός is defined by Strong as a “washing off, cleansing, purification”. The word for clean in John 13:10 therfore is connected to this: καθαρός. As is in John 15:3. The one with the “real” Word provides the “real” purification in baptism.

    If we maintain that we are purified by accepting Christ’s word and cancel out baptism, then we make the word of God the sole means of redemption. If – on the other hand – we make the water alone our means of salvation, we cancel out the word. BOTH is necessary, we cannot have the one without the other, because baptism is the aswer to the Gospel both before and after pentecost. And all is based neither on water nor on word but on the blood of the Lamb.

    There is a type for John 13 in the OT. When Aaron and his sons were made priests they were completely washed and received new clothes. This took place once at their “ordination”. But as they served in the tabernacle, they had a water basin between the altar and the tent where they regularly had to wash their hands and feet. The first is reflected in baptism, the latter in footwashing.

    We have to understand that there are two different kinds of cleansing we need: An intial cleansing and washing of regeneration (this happens only onece) and a perpetual cleansing of our sins after baptism (which happens regularly). The latter is shown in the footwashing. Therefore footwashing has basically all elements that constitute a sacrament:

    It has an outward form taken over from the ancient culture (such as all other sacraments have)
    It has a direct connection to Christ’s saving work (He is cleansing us)
    Christ Himself did it (such as He was baptized and broke the bread)
    Christ commanded it to be done (such as the Lord’s Supper and baptism)

    I like very much the summary from the Dordrecht Confession (Mennonite 1632):

    XI. Of the Washing of the Saints’ Feet

    We also confess a washing of the saints’ feet, as the Lord Christ not only instituted, enjoined and commanded it, but Himself, although He was their Lord and Master, washed His apostles’ feet, thereby giving an example that they should likewise wash one another’s feet, and do as He had done unto them; which they accordingly, from this time on, taught believers to observe, as a sign of true humility, and, especially, to remember by this feet washing, the true washing, whereby we are washed through His precious blood, and made pure after the soul. John 13:4-17; 1 Timothy 5:10.

    Alexander

  8. Jerry says:

    Alexander gave a suggestion:

    My suggestion: Disciples of Christ have been disciples of Christ aölso prior to pentecost. the difference in these twio different baptism before pentecost was the presence of Christ vs. the anticipation of Christ. So the baptisms Christ’s disciples in the presence of the Lord were Christian water-baptisms. Isn’t it more than reasonabvle to assume that all of christ’s disciples had been baptized in this way, thus their water-baptism was completed at pentecost.

    I see little difference between the baptism of John and that by the disciples of Jesus except the physical presence of Jesus. They preached the same message – the coming kingdom. Neither of them offered the Holy Spirit, though Jesus did give hints about the coming of the Spirit. See for example John 4:14 & John 7:37-39. We understand the first by John’s comment at the end of the second where he explains,

    Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

    Baptism prior to Pentecost could not be Christian baptism. Yet, there is possibly some validity to Alexanders comment that the baptism in water prior to Pentecost was completed in the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost – when Jesus received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured it on “all flesh” that glorious day.

    Incidentally, how we ever came up with the idea that the 12 apostles and the house of Cornelius constitute “all flesh” is a mystery. I know. I know. Between them, they represent both Jews and Gentiles. Yet, Luke 3:4-6 (quoting from Isaiah 40:3-5) closes by saying “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The fulfillment of this is certainly not merely representatives of Jews and Gentiles – but is open to all believers in Jesus. Paul says clearly in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that we all have been baptized in one Spirit and made to drink of that Spirit. In context, the Spirit is the Holy Spirit. To take this to mean something other than the Holy Spirit is to truly “wrest the Scriptures.”

  9. What scriptures do we contradict if we posit that those who believe and are baptized receive the promise (not guarantee) of salvation, but God is still free and sovereign to bestow it upon whomever He chooses? (Nor does that mean His hands are tied by contract once someone has gotten wet and said some words.) What scriptures would that invalidate?

    None, so far as I can tell, because one has to hear a message before he can believe and obey and respond and be immersed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    But for some reason, we believers have been so anxious to damn everyone who has not obeyed the way we have variously required it that we’ve managed to assume that cindemnation automatically includes everyone who has never heard the message … and, in this instance, entertain the possibility that those who followed Jesus with their very lives might have been damned unless their obedience conformed to the logical boxes we’ve constructed.

    Which are flawed, since they assume things scripture doesn’t say.

    In short, we’ve trust our vaulted yet fallible logic more than we trust the infallible goodness, justice, mercy and sovereignty of God.

  10. Charles McLean says:

    The two problems Jay points out with the interpretation he offers are reasonably resolved, IMO. It is not necessary for the 120 to be involved in the footwashing event if we are indeed speaking of a spiritual principle. The type or metaphor is not the reality, but an example of the reality. Rather like seeing a picture of my children does not mean that one has to be in a particular picture in order to be my child.

    The second objection essentially is a nod to historic tradition about baptism, which tradition was most generally predicated upon the doctrine of original sin– hence the advent of infant baptism. Many have retained the conclusion of essential baptism after abandoning the doctrine which necessitated it. This is not solid enough either doctrinally or theologically to really offer a solid objection to Jay’s interpretation.

    We are who we are because of what happens in the spirit, not because of actions taken in the flesh. I am not obviating the need for obedience in the natural as a function of the outworking of the spiritual, but the natural is the outworking of the spiritual, not the other way around. When we start making spiritual judgments based on the natural (external), we are not wise.

    John’s constant drumbeat that those who believe have eternal life is really hard to ignore. Some do it, but once you have read it, setting it aside takes a great effort, or a great blindness.

  11. Charles McLean says:

    Laymond appears to conflate birth with burial. The mixed metaphors employed here do not make for an airtight conclusion.

  12. Charles McLean says:

    What scriptures do we contradict if we posit that those who believe and are baptized receive the promise (not guarantee) of salvation…?
    >>>
    There is something here that bothers me. When I make a promise, but then immediately say that what I have promised is not guaranteed, that generally means a lack of confidence that I am ABLE to fulfill my promise, or a lack of commitment that I WILL fulfill my promise. I do not attribute either limitation to our Father. Our place in Christ is always predicated on faith, so one who ceases to believe has ceased to meet the initial condition Keith sets forth. So such a “non-guaranteed” promise must of necessity introduce some other reason for God not to fulfill his promise. Just what might it be which would cause God to demonstrate such a departure from his consistent faithfulness?

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander wrote,

    Interesting: First John said that Christ baptized.
    Then he clarified: Not Christ, but His disciples baptized.
    What does that mean?
    I think the disciples baptized in the name and authority of Christ.
    So – in effect – Christ Himself is baptizing through His disciples (the same as today)!

    I think that’s what Acts 2:38 teaches (among other things). A post will be coming that explains.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Norton,

    Check out the Baptism, An Exploration series. http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/theology-church-of-christ-issues/baptism/ for my most recent thorough discussion of the topic.

    But, in short, I entirely agree. Imagine that someone comes forward in response to the invitation, requesting baptism. The preacher has never seen this person before, and declines to baptize him until they can talk and the preacher can be sure he understands his decision. Tragically, the convert dies before the preacher can meet with him and administer baptism. Is he damned?

    I do think the church has a responsibility not to administer baptism irresponsibility. The rite is intended to convey a promise of great assurance, and it cheapens baptism to immerse anyone who asks, even a five-year old or a perfect stranger. I’d agree that the preacher acted responsibly. But did he, despite that, damn the convert by refusing water?

    I think clearly not, and if I’m right, we must see that God doesn’t damn converts of genuine faith and penitence just because the church fails to properly baptize them.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price asked,

    Last question…Was there a water baptism of repentance in the Jewish Law ?? Sort of like what Paul submitted to… purification right or however you might describe it…

    No. They washed to remove ceremonial uncleanness, but it was not seen as atoning — until the Essenes (post coming). The Essenes rejected the sacrificial system, because the priests were of the wrong lineage. In search of an alternative means of cleansing sins, they adopted ritual immersion. But this was well after the close of the OT — post-Maccabean revolt.

  16. laymond says:

    “Laymond appears to conflate birth with burial.”
    Charles, I was trying to “conflate” birth with being “raised from the dead” , just as some face a second death, we all face a second birth, the first birth is physical, the second is spiritual.

    1Cr 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

  17. laymond says:

    “I do think the church has a responsibility not to administer baptism irresponsibility”
    Jay where in scripture is this found?

  18. Price says:

    Laymond…does Acts 8:37 apply to your question? Some suggest that verse was added later.. but if it is actual scripture, then I believe it has some relevance but don’t mean to try and answer for Jay.. However, there does seem to be a strong suggestion by most that repentance is part of the process… Has one repented ? If no conversation is necessary to authenticate one’s faith, then perhaps we could set up a “drive thru” baptistery.. Car and You just one low price…:)

  19. Alabama John says:

    When a person comes to you or contacts you and ask to be baptized none of us should refuse. That is making a call we are not authorized to make.
    Many times that request comes from those about to die.
    Some do die before you can baptize them.
    I pray and believe our merciful, loving God takes all this in consideration at their judgment.

  20. laymond says:

    Price, does Matt.18-5,6 mean anything to you ?
    Mat 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
    Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

    Let’s take another look at what Jay said “it cheapens baptism to immerse anyone who asks, even a five-year old or a perfect stranger.”

  21. Alabama John says:

    I have seen Prices “drive thru baptistry”.

    We are going to be baptizing this next quarter on the – of -. Anyone wanting to be baptized, let us know or just be ready on that date.
    Also here is water and several want to be baptized. Any others?
    If so, come forward and it will be done.
    Personal decision and even their name doesn’t have to be known.

  22. Price says:

    Laymond…you are sooooo combative… All I asked was whether or not you considered Phillip’s response to the eunuch’s question of whether he could be baptized was applicable…He, Phillip said, “if you believe.” Isn’t that a modifier of some sort ?? Peter, said “repent” before being baptized in Acts 2:38… Is that a condition placed on baptismal instructions ?? Just asking a question… Phillip didn’t refuse to baptize him…but he wanted to know if he believed what he has heard before he consented… is that normative ??

  23. laymond says:

    Price, I don’t see where in Acts 8-37 there is any restrictions on who is to be baptized.
    “if you believe” now who of those that don’t believe, come asking to be baptized?

    I don’t believe we can drag someone in the water kicking and screeming, and it be effective, but like John said, I don’t want to be the one to deny baptism to any.

  24. laymond says:

    Alabama John says: January 2, 2012 at 8:18 am
    “I have seen Prices “drive thru baptistry”.

    John, do you necessarly see anything wrong with this, I often wonder just what John’s baptismal lines looked like. and Jesus’ after him.
    And Price, I did not mean to be combative, I realize I sometimes have a coarseness in my words I apologize. That said, I will venture to say I believe John the Baptist was more-so.

  25. laymond says:

    “If no conversation is necessary to authenticate one’s faith, then perhaps we could set up a “drive thru” baptistery.. Car and You just one low price…:)”

    Price , isn’t it strange how I can see your snide remarks, and you can see mine, but neither can see their own. I will try to do better– another resoloution- won’t hurt anything 🙂

  26. Price says:

    Laymond… wasn’t meant to be “snide”… I just thought that Phillip had some intention with his question that might apply to those of us to whom a request for baptism might be sought….. obviously, you don’t…you may be correct…

  27. Alabama John says:

    laymond,

    Both you and Price are two of my most read and agreed with posters.

    In Acts, thousands baptized in one day. Doesn’t say if that was the highest day or the lowest. No quizzing, just did it!

    Lines down creek banks and whoever wants to be baptized gets in line is still done here.

    Chaplains in hospitals, prisons. Marine Corps before battle final preparation, all have everyone welcomed baptism lines.

    The question has never been asked in my presence is this right to do, but many questions do come up if they are wanting to be baptized and die before.

  28. Price says:

    Al John…. in all my years of growing up in the CoC there was ALWAYS a “confession of faith” before one got dunked… Isn’t that a requirement of sorts ? Or not ?? What if the preacher asked for the confession and the guy said, “nope, not saying that.” Would the preacher just go ahead ??

    I agree 100% that we shouldn’t place ourselves in trying to judge the heart of a person as if we are God… But, if we remove ourselves from the idea that the baptism is what actually saves someone versus their Faith, then perhaps it’s not so bad to have some sort of confirmation that the person being baptized understands what is going on… If they don’t understand what the process is and just think it’s necessary to avoid hell, then what is the difference between this and infant baptism ?? Again, just a question…

  29. Charles, someone who falls from faith – rejects it; walks away from it – would invalidate God’s promise — for it is mutual.

    I’m just using the language of Galatians 3 and Hebrews 4 and 2 Peter 3 and James 1: promise. It is not within God’s nature to reneg. It is within ours, because we make a promise and commitment to God when we believe.

  30. laymond says:

    “What if the preacher asked for the confession and the guy said, “nope, not saying that.” Would the preacher just go ahead ?? ”
    Price, I don’t pretend to know what John thinks, only John and God knows for sure.
    So I won’t answer for him. There are many hypothetical questions that can be brought up on the bible and it’s teachings “what if” .
    Rom 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
    Rom 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.
    Price, I am not sure what I would do if someone denied Jesus when I was about to “dunk” him as you so elegantly say. but I do believe what Paul said is applicable. not our concern. surely you don’t believe every soul you bring before God is saved. That is why we are not the judge, and Jesus will be.

  31. Alabama John says:

    Price,
    The question is always asked before baptism in the COC, and usually in any baptism.
    Is it mandatory? I don’t think so. Can a person be alone and baptize themselves? Yes.
    If a person wants to be baptized, and doesn’t believe, or anything else, that would cause it to not be effective, that is between them and God, and all they would be doing if its all wrong is getting wet. We cannot be the judge.
    If a person said I don’t believe, I would not baptize them but give them a washcloth and a bar of soap instead. I really believe if they didn’t believe they would not be in the line.

  32. Jerry says:

    Those baptized by John the Baptist came “confessing their sins.” I do not see this as a Catholic confessional where they named each individual sin they had committed, but rather as “a word in agreement” with the fact they were sinful and needed forgiving.

    Yet, when John saw the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism (Matthew 3:7) “he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'”

    Does this suggest they came for baptism and he refused until they would show some repentance? In this context, the “fruit of repentance” was the confession of sin. Why did John refuse to baptize them if it were not that they refused to acknowledge sin?

    I remember once, when I was in my early 20’s, a young man about my age (whom I had never met) came with his parents, with whom I had been studying, to be baptized. In my heart of hearts, I believed he was doing it to please his parents. Yet I baptized him. Was I right to do so? Or did I cheapen baptism? Personally, I believe the later. Today, I would at least have asked him what John asked the Jewish leaders, “Who has warned you to flee the wrath to come?”

    Should we ask for acknowledgement of sin in those coming for baptism – or just for a confession of faith? When a young child comes, we will sometimes ask thinks such as “What have you done that makes God displeased with you?” Yet, I’ve never heard similar questions asked of older children or adults.

  33. Charles McLean says:

    Jerry, while repentance is certainly appropriate and needful, I am not sure how one withholds baptism while awaiting a statement of repentance without this eventually developing into some form of examination-of-worthiness. The only biblical “examination” I read of is Philip asking about the Ethiopian’s faith…. not his repentance or his past sins.

    Jerry, I don’t think you somehow cheapened baptism… I am not sure we even have the capacity to do so. (The only thing that might be troublesome here is what looks like judgment on your part regarding this man’s motives.) There is nothing in scripture which indicates any value in the actions or thoughts of the baptizer. We who baptize are, as near as I can see in practice, almost”nothing”. We might choose not to participate in this ritual if something there troubles us, but even that is only significant to us… not to anyone else.

  34. Charles McLean says:

    Keith, it may just be your terminology that caused me to squirm a bit, so this may be more a difference in words than substance. Where our salvation has a guarantee, it is from God, not us. While our participation is certainly up to us– we can walk away, once and for all– but we were not capable of guaranteeing any part of our salvation anyway. The promise is unilateral. That which has been given is, in fact, guaranteed to any believer. The unbeliever has not caused that guarantee to be broken– he has simply left the whole thing behind.

  35. Jerry says:

    Charles,

    Once I did refuse to baptize someone. I knew this young man had been baptized three or four times prior to that. He had first come to Christ in one of the International (Boston Movement) Church of Christ congregations while he was a student at MIT. Knowing this, I asked him why he wanted me to baptize him. He replied that he had not understood about the Holy Spirit when he was baptized earlier. I declined to baptize him because the premise on which he requested it would invalidate baptism for everyone who continued to grow in grace and knowledge of the way of Jesus and His teachings. I believed I was correct in doing so then, and I still believe so.

    In fact, I believe many of my preaching brethren would agree with me on that refusal – yet, the premise on which that young man requested baptism is fundamentally the same as the one we use when we demand re-baptism for a previously immersed believer who did not realize at the time of his/her baptism that it was “for the remission of sins.” Why do we insist on the one and refuse the other????

  36. Jerry says:

    Charles wrote:

    Jerry, while repentance is certainly appropriate and needful, I am not sure how one withholds baptism while awaiting a statement of repentance without this eventually developing into some form of examination-of-worthiness. The only biblical “examination” I read of is Philip asking about the Ethiopian’s faith…. not his repentance or his past sins.

    Of course, I was referring to John the Baptist’s baptism, not to Christian baptism (though there are many similarities). As I understand (misunderstand?) John’s practice, he baptized those who were “confessing their sins.” Yet, he declined to baptize the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him, instead asking them, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (See Matthew 3). Why did he baptize some but not others? Presumably because some refused to acknowledge sin. (I know, I know. There is “presumption” again! But as much as we want to avoid “inferences” we all make them, don’t we?) If his baptism was “for the remission of sins” in preparation for the coming kingdom and people would not acknowledge they were sinners, why would he baptize them?

    I see no “judgment” on John’s part in declining to baptize the Pharisees. Nor would I see any on our part should we, in addition to asking for a “confession of faith,” also asked for an acknowledgment of sinfulness. Generally, we assume a person is acknowledging prior sin and present repentance simply by coming to be baptized. John’s experience with the Pharisees suggests that is not always a valid assumption. If we routinely asked for confession of sins, would we baptize someone who denied having sins? I doubt it.

    In the ECF, there is frequent mention of people who came for baptism renouncing the devil and his works. Certainly, we view baptism as such a renunciation – but we do not make an issue of it at the time of baptism. They did. Perhaps we should as well.

  37. aBasnar says:

    Jerry, while repentance is certainly appropriate and needful, I am not sure how one withholds baptism while awaiting a statement of repentance without this eventually developing into some form of examination-of-worthiness.

    Charles, let me quote to you from the Didache (a 1st century church of Christ manual):

    Chapter VII – Concerning Baptism

    1. And concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water.
    2. But if thou have not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, in warm.
    3. But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice2445 upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
    4. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but thou shalt order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

    Think about it: Fasting is a means of self-examination here! But not only the one who is being baptizted shall fast, but also the baptizer and everyone else who can. ALL should examine themselves before this baptism. This reveals a very healthy attitude to me …

    Alexander

  38. Alabama John says:

    So many times emphasis is put on what the person being asked to do the baptizing thinks and their position of authority in the church. Who cares! Ask someone else that has YOU foremost in mind.

    Where is the one doing or to do the baptizing even considered in the Bible? What are the spelled out qualifications?

    If you seriously wanted to be baptized, several of you wanting to be baptized could get together and simply baptize one another in a creek or cattle watering tank. I’ve even been asked out of desperation to do so in a shower and did. None of that matters.

    I’ve seen several fathers baptize their children at the childs request and some of the fathers were sure not great examples at the time. Does that matter? I think not!

  39. aBasnar says:

    When the Eunoch asked to be baptuzed, Philipp asked a simple question:

    Act 8:37 Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, it is lawful. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    This verse s missing in our modern Bibles, but it was quoted by Irenaeus ariund 180 AD. It is a crucial text that should not be omitted from our Bibles.

    Alexander

  40. Norton says:

    Thanks Jay,
    I had followed most of your excellent discussion on baptism, but had missed or forgot your discussion of John 3:5. I just now went back and found it. Like many people I had always interpreted “born of water” as being Christian baptism because it seemed the most reasonable, and it fit with Romans 6 and Collosians 2. However; you do cast doubt on my interpretation of the verse which has for some time created conflict with my overall view of baptism and salvation.

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