This is the second of the 7 General Commands of Jesus.
As followers of Christ, we are called to obey His commands and one of those commands is to be baptized. In this post, we will explore what Scripture teaches us about baptism, how God uses it to confirm our repentance and faith, and the importance of baptizing new believers without delay.
Knowledge – What Does God Say In the Bible
|Full Verse (ESV)
|I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
|Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? But Jesus answered him, Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
|And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
|John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.
|Luke 3:3, 16
|And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John answered them all, saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
|John answered them, I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. And John bore witness: I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on
|After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized.
|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 8:12-13, 36-38
|But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized? And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
|Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
|One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she prevailed upon us.
|And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household. And 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 wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family.
|Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
|And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And he said, Into what then were you baptized? They said, Into John’s baptism. And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus. On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
|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
|1 Corinthians 1:13-17
|Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
|For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
|There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
|having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
|1 Peter 3:21
|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.
Understanding – How Do We Understand Knowledge
The Significance and Practice of Baptism
Baptism has been a crucial practice in Christianity since the beginning, with roots in the Jewish miqvah conversion ceremony for Gentiles. Far from being just a ritual or tradition, it represents an act of obedience to Jesus’s commandments and those of His apostles. It symbolizes an initiation into a new, holy life transformed in union with the risen Christ. It also signifies acceptance into a Christian community.
The Command to Baptize
The Great Commission, documented in Matthew 28:18-20, stands as the foundation for baptism. Jesus’ final instructions to His disciples were a distinct command: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”. This command isn’t a matter of personal preference or choice. Instead, it’s viewed as a directive that believers should follow without disagreement. It’s significant that the power to baptize isn’t exclusive to ordained clergy. New churches and their leaders bear the freedom and responsibility to baptize and administer Communion.
The Meaning of Baptism
Baptism transcends being just a symbolic act. It signifies a request to God for a good conscience, enabled through faith in Jesus Christ’s resurrection (1 Peter 3:21). It represents a believer’s declaration of repentance, a pivot from misdeeds to righteousness, and the acceptance of God’s forgiveness and the Holy Spirit. Baptism is coupled with the promise of a new life. The act of being baptized implies that the believer is dying with Christ to sin and arising with Him to a new life. It’s a transformative process, steered by God’s Spirit. It symbolically buries the believer with Jesus in His death, wiping out the impacts of past wrongdoings and the inclination to repeat them. Additionally, it bestows Christ’s new, holy life upon the believer.
The Practice of Baptism
The act of baptism goes beyond being a private matter between the believer and God—it has a community aspect. The New Testament encourages immediate baptism of new converts, ideally among friends, and a loving welcome into the community. It is essential to baptize in a setting that feels natural for the new believer. If the baptism is conducted without familiar witnesses, the new believer might feel isolated. Exceptions are permissible if the new believer’s life could be at risk, necessitating a secret baptism. The baptism should ideally associate the new believer with their home church, rather than an unfamiliar chapel.
Baptism ushers novices into a new life of faith in God, hope in resurrection, and love in human relations. As human spirits inhabit human bodies that live in human communities, the Lord has provided an experience that is simultaneously spiritual, physical, and social. At baptism, through faith, we become spiritually unified with Christ. We undergo a bodily cleansing from worldly dirt, overseen by the holy community that welcomes us.
Wisdom – The Practical Application of Knowledge and Understanding
Skits and Roleplays
Skits and roleplays are very helpful. Below are some that are related specifically to the topic of baptism. For a full list, click here.
- John Baptizes Jesus, and the Three that Are One Take Part
Materials for Use
- Q: Who can baptize?