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This document is a constant-flux work. That means, it's not hard and fast, but always changing shape. Not that I am changing my views on baptism, but rather I'm constantly adding to and strengthening this document. Therefore, it reads very rough. It's a mixture of verses, conclusions, citations of other works, seminary notes, etc. While it reads very choppy, I think it's quite helpful, which is why I have included it for the world wide web. Enjoy and drop a comment at the end...

Quick verses:


Ezek 36:25,26

Baptism is not a sacrament:

1) Sacraments in themselves convey grace to people, without requiring faith from the persons participating in them (Grudem, 966).

Baptism is by immersion:

1) The word means “dunk” or “immersion”

2) Mark 1:5 (NKJV) 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

3) Mark 1:10 (NKJV) 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

4) John 3:23 (NKJV) 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.

5) Acts 8:36-39 (NKJV) 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. 39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.


Baptism is a symbol of union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.


“It is a picture of going down into the grace and being buried. Coming up out of the water is then a picture of being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life. Baptism thus very clearly pictures death to one’s old way of life and rising to a new kind of life in Christ. But baptism by sprinkling or pouring simply misses this symbolism (Grudem, 969).”

“The amazing truths of passing through the waters of judgment safely, of dying and rising with Christ, and of having our sins washed away, are truths of momentous and eternal proportion and ought to be an occasion for giving great glory and praise to God (Grudem, 969).”

1) Romans 6:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

2) Colossians 2:12 (NKJV) 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Grudem furthers the point by noting that water is often a symbol of God’s judgment. The Lord destroyed the world through the flood waters (Gen 7:6-24), He drowned the Egyptians in Exodus (Ex 14:26-29), He cast Jonah into the sea (Jonah 1:7-16). Thus when a person is baptized into water, they safely come through the judgment of God because of the merits of Christ whom they have not been united to in His death and resurrection. Thus Peter can say in 1 Peter 3:21-22 "There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him." (NKJV)

Is there any actual benefit of baptism?

“All obedience to God by Christians brings God’s favor with it (Grudem, 953).”

It brings joy and blessings to the believer.

It brings joy and blessings believers feel when they obey God.

It brings a clear conscience towards God in these matters so that we don’t have guilt every time the word is mentioned.

The Holy Spirit works through our obedience to increase our faith (Grudem, 953).

Increases our understanding of Christ’s death, resurrection, and our uniting with Him (Grudem, 953).

Lowers the our love and the power for sin in our lives (Grudem, 953).

Increases our experience of the power of “new resurrection life” we have as children on God (Grudem, 953).

Gives us greater assurance of our salvation.

Gives us greater union with other believers (Grudem, 953).

Gives greater assurance of our salvation to others who are watching (Grudem, 953).

We develop greater spiritual maturity.

Baptism symbolizes and proclaims the fact that an inward change has occurred (Grudem, 978). It puts the world on notice that so-and-so has died to their old ways and now is united with Christ in everything He is doing.

It is the exercise of obedience.

It is the exercise of faith.

It has a cleansing and purifying effect:

Acts 22:16 Ananias told Saul: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’" (NKJV)

Who Should Be Baptized?


Colossians 2:12 "buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (NKJV)

“Baptism is the outward sign of inward regeneration (Grudem, 970).”

“Only those who give a believable profession of faith should be baptized (Grudem, 969).”

“Only those who have gives reasonable evidence of believing in Christ…” should be baptized (Grudem, 969).”

Since it is a symbol of those beginning the Christian life, it should only be given to those who have in fact begun the Christian life (Grudem, 970).

In the examples of scripture, only those who believed were baptized:

Acts 2:41 "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." (NKJV)

Acts 8:12 "But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized." (NKJV)

Acts 10:44-46 "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered," (NKJV)

Acts 10:47-48 "“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days." (NKJV)

Acts 16:14-15 "Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us." (NKJV)

Acts 16:32-33 "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, “Let those men go.” So the keeper of the prison reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Now therefore depart, and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.” And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city. So they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed." (NKJV)

1 Corinthians 1:16 "Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other." (NKJV)

Infants are not to be baptized:

Galatians 3:27 "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (NKJV)

Paul was not speaking to a bunch of infants, he could not have said this and would not have said this if infants were baptized (Grudem, 970).

The same thought for Romans 6:3-4 "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (NKJV)

If Paul could not say these things for infants as he could for adults, then those who believe in infant baptism must say that baptism means something different for adults as it does for infants (Grudem, 971).

Some would say that baptism is a sign of entrance into a covenant community, but the NT does not speak of baptism in this fashion (Grudem, 971).


The Roman Catholic View of Baptism:

Baptism is necessary for salvation

John 3:5 "Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (NKJV)

Titus 3:5 "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," (NKJV)

Ephesians 5:26 "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word," (NKJV)

The act of baptism itself causes regeneration

Baptism is how the church bestows saving grace upon people.


The Necessity of Baptism:

Catholics will quote Mark 16:16 to prove we must be baptized to be saved: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Yet this verse does not speak at all about those who believe and are not baptized. The reason a person is condemned is because they do not believe in Jesus Christ (Grudem, 981).

Thief on the cross is an example of a person who was not baptized but saved. Some say he was saved under the Old Covenant but Heb 9:17-18 says the New Covenant was begun when Christ died and Christ died before the thief on the cross did (Grudem, 981).

Thus “Baptism, then, is not necessary for salvation. But it is necessary if we are to be obedient to Christ, for he commanded baptism for all who believe in him (Grudem, 981).”


The Age for Baptism:

How early? When they are able to give a believable profession of faith with a life evidenced by new life in Christ (Grudem, 982).


Who Can Baptize?

In light of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:4-10), in theory anyone can baptize. But Grudem offers the following considerations:

Since baptism is a sign of entering into a relationship with the church, then it should be done within the fellowship of a church.

This will enable all believers to rejoice with the person.

This will strengthen the faith of the rest of the church.

This will give a concrete welcome of the church to the person into their fellowship.

It will help safeguard and protect the ordinance of baptism.

It will help ensure the person is well taught and fully understands the meaning of baptism.

Having said that, often it will be administered by a person who is recognized as capable of representing the church in the above matters, often the clergy.

But within that context, the clergy/elders can give oversight to the process while allow for another person to baptize: e.g. the parent, the person who led to the Christ, etc.


Other Issues:

Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

“‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ therefore, must refer to the activity of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Christian life when he gives us new spiritual life (in regeneration) and cleanses us and gives us a clear break with the power and love of sin (the initial stage of sanctification) (Grudem, 768).”

Other references include:

The key verse is 1 Cor 12:13 that indicates that baptism of the Holy Spirit is for everyone.

This verse should be understood to say that we are baptized into the Spirit, if Paul wanted to say “by the Holy Spirit” he would have used upo (Grudem, 768).

“The day of Pentecost was the point of transition between the old covenant work and ministry of the Holy Spirit and the new covenant work and ministry of the Holy Spirit (Grudem, 770).”

“The Day of Pentecost was certainly a remarkable time of transition in the whole history of redemption as recorded in scripture (Grudem, 772).”

“Though it was a ‘second experience’ of the Holy Spirit, coming as it did long after their conversion, it is not to be taken as a pattern for us, for we are not living at a time of transition in the work of the Holy Spirit. In their case, believers with an old covenant empowering from the Holy Spirit became believers with a new covenant empowering from the Holy Spirit (Grudem, 772).”

Baptism of Fire:

In the context of Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16, both are set in the midst of passages referring to judgment and consuming fire. Thus while the baptism of the Spirit (Matthew 3:11) is the renewing life given by the Holy Spirit, the baptism of fire is the consumption of the wicked (e.g. the Pharisees and Sadducees (and any unrepentant) with whom John was talking).

Baptism for the Dead:

1 Corinthians 15:29 "Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized (who gets baptized? New converts. Why are they converting) for (upper – because of the testimony and witness) the dead (i.e. believers who have died), if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?" (NKJV)

15:29 What does this verse mean?

View 1—Unbelievers who were approaching death who wished to convert requested to have vicarious baptism performed on their behalf (Calvin, as cited in Thiselton, 1243).


a. Seems more conjecture that deduced from textual analysis.


View 2—It refers to vicarious baptism.


a. The normal reading of the text (Conzelmann, 275).


a. There is no historical evidence of this happening routinely in the 1st Century church.

b. This takes on a legalistic, magical approach of the kind that Paul normally condemns (Godet, 385).

c. A practice such as this would have provoked much stronger words of condemnation from Paul.

View 3—It refers to baptizing the dead before burying them (Beza cited by Godet, 386).


a. Neither syntax, context, or lexical meanings support this view (Thiselton, 1242).

View 4—Those who are baptized after contemplating the death of martyrs (Jonathan Edwards as cited by Godet, 387).


a. uJpevr never has this connotation (Godet, 387).

b. Paul could have used pisteuvontev instead of oiv baptizovmenoi (Thiselton, 1243).

View 5—It refers to those who request baptism just prior to their own death.


a. uJpevr doesn’t readily imply this interpretation (Godet, 388).

View 6—It refers to those who die as believers through martyrdom.


a. Fits the context as verse 30 discusses the danger of the apostles (Godet, 390).

b. Several biblical passages indicate martyrdom Christians endured (Acts 7:58,


a. This strains the meaning of tw~n nekrw~n (Thiselton, 1242).

View 7—It refers to unbelievers who, seeing their loved ones in Christ die, convert in order to be with them at the resurrection (Thiselton, 1248).


a. Fits the meanings of all the lexical/syntactical meanings of the words.

b. Fits the context.

c. Fits the practical method of how many people come to Christ (Nicoll, 931).

Conclusion: The clear meaning of the passage, at first glance, seems to indicate that some people were being baptized on behalf of the dead, to serve some vicarious purpose. However, such an aberrant view would have elicited harsh words from Paul. View 6 has some merit but ultimately a reader would not have readily understood this (unless it was true in their church). View 7, however, applies mostly normal renderings of the lexical meanings of the words of this verse and is also quite logical. On that basis, View 7 answers the most questions and solves the most problems while still being doctrinally viable. View 7 is the preferred view.

Last modified on Monday, 09 August 2010 10:28
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

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