Baptism in the Bible
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Mark 1:4-5)
Here we see John baptizing and we see no infants at all. All we see is that those who were baptized confessed their sins. Repentance was required for those who sought the baptism of John. When moving on to the baptism of Jesus we read:
“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.” (Matthew 3:13-15)
Now we know the Scripture tells us that Jesus was baptized in order to reveal Himself and start His ministry (John 1:31-34) but something is said here that draws particular interest.
When Jesus approached John to be baptized John tried to refuse and said “I have need to be baptized of you.” Why did he say this? The answer is that confession of sin is necessary for baptism and Jesus had no sin. John was attesting to the sinlessness of Christ and to his own sinfulness by saying you should be baptizing me but I shouldn’t baptize you.
This supports credobaptism because it shows a confession of sin closely associated with the one being baptized and therefore shows that the person being baptized must have the awareness required for that.
Moving on now to the Great Commission we read:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Here if we follow the command of Christ in the order given we are told to teach all nations which means to preach the Gospel or to make converts. Then He said to baptize them and teach them all He has commanded. So we see here conversion, baptism, and then discipleship. We see here a strong case for believers baptism.
When we see the command of Peter in Acts 2:38 he said:
“Then 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.”
Here again we see repentance commanded before baptism. Whenever we see baptism being practiced we see first repentance on the part of the one being baptized.
In Acts 8:34-38 we see the conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch:
“And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 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.”
When the Eunuch asked what hindered him from being baptized the only condition Philip gave was that if he believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He required salvation before baptism. This is the clearest case of credobaptism. He basically said as long as Jesus is your creed you may be baptized.
When we move on to the passage where the Gospel is sent to the Gentiles we see a similar exchange take place:
“And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
Here again we see the test for baptism is that they had received the Holy Ghost. Not that someone else had testified of their faith in place of the one being baptized. This would also mean infants could not be included in this because he said they could not forbid water to those who had received the Holy Ghost.
We return again now to Acts 16:31-34 and the incident with the Philippian jailer:
“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. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
Here we see the Gospel being preached to ALL in his house, we see ALL in his house believing the Gospel, and we see ALL in his house being baptized.
To review we see John requiring repentance for baptism, and Jesus being sinless was seen as not needing baptism since He had no sin to repent of. Jesus commanded we preach the Gospel and then baptize those we preach to.
Peter commanded repentance to precede baptism, and said baptism could not be forbidden to those who received the Holy Ghost or those who had been saved. Phillip said the Eunuch could be baptized if he truly believed or was saved, and Paul baptized all who believed in the house of the jailer.
The only baptism that has any Scriptural basis is believers baptism and the only requirement for one to be baptized is faith in God and repentance of sin. This is believers baptism and this is what is taught in the clear meaning of Scripture.
“Understanding Believer’s Baptism” is available in paperback or ebook through http://www.rickgarland.com