BAPTISM, assembled by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

  1. John the Baptist’s baptism was of repentance in preparation for the soon-arriving Messiah. It was not a New Covenant post-Calvary baptism and has no relevance to Christian baptism (Acts 19:4).
  1. IMPORTANT: John the Baptist said that Jesus’ baptism would not be with water, but with fire and the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Holy Spirit indwells believers the moment they accept Him as personal Savior.
  3. Fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and was on the heads of believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:3).
  4. No literal water was used at Pentecost.
  5. This is quoted in all 4 Gospels — plus Acts.

Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:33 … he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

III. Jesus’ Baptism is His Righteousness for Believers.

  1. Jesus did not need to be baptized unto repentance.
  2. Jesus’ baptism (not the believer’s) is part of His imputed sinless righteousness for which believers are accepted as sinless — along with all of His law-keeping.

Matt 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer (permit) it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

  1. Jesus Commanded Believers to be Baptized
  2. Make disciples, witness [justification]
  3. Baptize those old enough to profess faith
  4. Teach Christian doctrines
  5. The sequence is NOT (as most churches teach):

baptize infants, teach catechism and make church members

Matt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

  1. Although the book of Acts is a transition from the Old to the New Covenant, the formula is still belief (salvation, justification) before baptism.

Acts 2:38 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.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

“For” means “because of” in this context. The 120 who had the fire upon their heads in chapters 1:15 to 2:4 were filled with the Holy Spirit apart from water baptism.

Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Note: They first believed (were born again) and then were baptized.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Acts 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Acts 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Note: Acts reflects transition from the Old to New Covenant. The Samaritans had accepted Christ as Savior and had been baptized but (for some unrevealed reason) did not receive the Holy Spirit. They were not rebaptized but received the Spirit from the apostles’ laying on of hands. Perhaps they had doubted the Apostles’ authority until this time.

Acts 8:36 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? Acts 8:37 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.

Acts 8:38 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.

Again, only persons old enough to profess faith are baptized. He believed before he was baptized.. Note that he must have been immersed because both went into the water. If sprinkling or pouring were appropriate, a water bag would have sufficed.

Acts 9:3 And as he [Saul/Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

It is very likely that Paul was converted (saved) the  moment he acknowledged Jesus as “Lord.”

Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him [Paul] said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

The Apostle Paul “received his sight and was filled with the Holy Ghost” when Ananias placed hands upon him —- not after he was baptized.

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Acts 10:45 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.

Acts 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.

The entire house of Gentile Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized. Therefore baptism by water is not essential for salvation.

Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.

This is the sixth quotation. God’s Word does not teach that salvation requires immersion in water.

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Lydia worshipped God and the Lord opened her heart (saved her) before she was baptized.

Acts 16:30 And [Roman guards] brought them [Paul and Silas] out [of the prison], and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Acts 16:34 And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

The Philippian jailer (Roman guard) was saved before he was baptized.

Acts 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Though somewhat different, they still believed before they were baptized and only received the Holy Spirit after Paul laid his hands upon them.

Acts 22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,

Acts 22:13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.

Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

Acts 22:15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Paul is quoting Ananias. The original sequence in Acts 9:17-18 was (1) be saved (believe), (2) receive the Holy Ghost and (3) be baptized.  Acts 22:16 depicts the entire event as one action. It is clear by comparing all text that the washing away of sins comes by the baptism by the Holy Ghost when one is saved apart from water.

Of 11 references to baptism in Acts, 9 are clear that belief (justification) precedes baptism. Acts 2:38 removes baptism “for the remission of sins” by interpreting “for” as “because.” And 22:14-16 can be explained by Ananias explaining Acts 9:17-18 differently from Paul.

  1. Acts 2:38 At Pentecost Peter taught repentance precedes baptism.
  2. Acts 2:41 At Pentecost receiving the word [justification] preceded baptism.
  3. Acts 8:12 Simon believed Philip’s preaching and was baptized.
  4. Acts 8:14-17 The Samaritans received the word, were baptized and then received the Holy Spirit after the laying on of hands.
  5. Acts 8:36-38 The Ethiopian eunuch believed before being baptized by immersion.
  6. Acts 9:3-6, 17-18 When Paul was converted he first believed, secondly received the putting on of hands, thirdly received the Holy Spirit and afterwards was baptized.
  7. Acts 10:44-46 Cornelius and his household first believed, second received the Holy Ghost and were afterwards baptized.
  8. Acts 11:16 s the sixth quotation that Jesus’ baptism is with spirit, not water.
  9. Acts 16:14-16 Lydia believed and was baptized.
  10.  Acts 16:30-34 The Philippian jailer believed and was baptized.
  11. Acts 19:3-6 John’s disciples were re-baptized correctly, received the laying on of hands and afterwards received the Holy Ghost.
  12. Acts 22:14-16 Thirty years after his conversion in Acts 9:17-18, Paul quotes Ananias who unified the event.
  1. Romans 6:1-12 — the Baptism chapter.
  1. This is the most important and most detailed chapter in the Bible concerning Christian baptism.
  2. Since chapter 6 follows chapters 3-5, it is clear that justification and salvation precede baptism (5:1).
  3. Again, it is not our baptism which becomes righteousness for us, but Christ’s (Mt 3:15).
  4. Baptism is a pictorial reminder that believers have already been crucified spiritually in/with Christ, buried in/with Christ and resurrected in/with Christ (Col 3:3-4; 1 Cor 1:30; Rom 8:30).
  5. Knowing that we are already spiritually living in the glory of Christ’s resurrection, we are commanded to “reckon” ourselves such for sanctification (6:11-12).
  6. Immersion is the only biblical form of New Covenant baptism because it is the only form which pictures a total death, burial and resurrection of the believer in Christ.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Rom 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

VII. Baptism by one Spirit.

1 Cor 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

This is another reference to John the Baptist’s declaration that he baptized with water but Jesus would baptize with the Spirit. This occurs the moment one accepts Christ as his/her personal Savior and is bon again. The Spirit enters His new home, the believer’s body.

VIII. Galatians 3:25-27 Faith and Baptism

Faith in Christ (salvation, justification) comes before baptism. Lest one take 3:27 out of context, Paul also wrote in Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have [previously] put on Christ.

Faith, not baptism, is the time believers “put on Christ” as His robe of imputed righteousness.

  1. Ephesians 4:5 One Baptism.

Since baptism pictures professed believer’s choice to be buried with Christ, immersion is the only proper mode of baptism taught in God’s Word for Christians. “One baptism” disproves the argument that believers could fall from grace and would require re-baptism. Regardless of one’s denomination, baptism by immersion in any Christian church should suffice for all Christian churches. Extreme exceptions may exist.

Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

  1. Colossians 2:10-14 Circumcision and Baptism.

Col 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

“In him” and “in whom” refers to justification by faith.

Col 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Circumcision is given an entirely new meaning after Calvary.  Instead of being a sign of the Old Covenant between God and Israel, it is now a shadow of being born again (justified) spiritually.

Col 2:12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

The believer’s baptism is a reminder that Christ’s baptism was for his/her righteousness.

Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Physical circumcision only reminded the believer that he/she was dead in sin. Spiritual resurrection and forgiveness come at the moment one is born again (saved, accepts Christ).

Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

It is the blood of Jesus at Calvary (and not baptism or circumcision) which blots out sins.

  1. First Peter 3:19-21 The Answer of a Good Conscience

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

1 Pet 3:19 By which [Spirit] also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

1 Pet 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

By means of the Holy Spirit, Jesus had preached [through Noah] to unbelievers who died during the flood.

1 Pet 3:21a The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us …

Important: Just as Noah and his family had been saved from the flood while staying dry, the Bible calls their deliverance “baptism.”

1 Pet 3:21b … (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Important: Baptism which “also now saves us” clearly is NOT that of literal water! Instead it is “the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It is not water at all! Rather, it is spiritual baptism which occurs the moment one accepts Christ.