An Exposition Of Water Baptism From The Apostolic Point Of View

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

Jesus Christ committed the preaching and teaching of his Gospel to his original Apostles, and to the people they would disciple thereafter. In his last words to the Apostles, he instructed them to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples for him among all people. Part of the salvation message he handed over to his Apostles was to baptise those who would repent and believe the Gospel.

It is important to note how Jesus made water baptism an essential part of the salvation process :

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

To be saved, one must believe the Gospel and be baptised! Thus, without water baptism, the salvation process is not complete!

This was exactly what the Apostle Peter preached on the day of Pentecost:

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Everywhere in the Acts of the Apostles, we see water baptism being done immediately after people believed and received the Gospel. Thus, we see that the Apostles, in obedience to Jesus’ command, made water baptism an integral part of the salvation process.

Being an integral and essential part of the salvation process, water baptism needs to be properly understood and correctly practised. In this article, we shall look at the practice of water baptism from the Apostolic point of view, with the aim of exposing and correcting wrong doctrines and practices with regards to water baptism. The writings of the original Apostles of the Lord, unto whom the Gospel was committed, will be our reference point. We will look at water baptism in terms of its meaning and symbolic importance, the qualifications for it, when and how water baptism should be conducted, and in what name people should be baptised. Finally, we shall also examine how those who were wrongly baptised should be treated.

The word baptism is derived from the Greek word “baptizo” , which means to overwhelm with or to fully wet. It means to dip fully or immerse completely inside water. The act of immersing people in water, immediately they believe the Gospel, is to demonstrate their faith in the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus Christ as the means of their salvation.

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

Romans 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.

Romans 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:

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

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

By being buried with Christ in baptism, we appropriate his death, burial and ressurection as our own. We place our faith in his finished work on Calvary as the basis of our salvation. In baptism, each believer plays out the salvation story, by admitting he died on Calvary when Christ died for him. By agreeing to be immersed in water, the believer admits he was buried with Christ when Christ was buried in the heart of the earth; by coming up out of the water, he demonstrates his resurrection from death, with Christ, into a new life of a new creature who has been freed from sin, and is now a servant to righteousness and godliness!

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

Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him.

Romans 6:10 For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God.

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

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

Romans 6:13 Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Water baptism is the initiation of the new believer into the new life of righteousness in Christ. In his heart, he believes unto righteousness, accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. By his mouth, he confesses that Jesus died and was raised from the dead for his justification. He now plays out his belief and confession in the water, before many witnesses, to demonstrate before all his new found faith.

Romans 10:9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.

Romans 10:11 For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him.

Romans 10:13 For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Water baptism, as an initiation rite of passage, is done before many witnesses, as the new believer confesses and demonstrates his new faith and new life before all other believers.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

The qualifications for water baptism can be inferred from the scriptures authorising it:

St. Matthew 28:19 Go,and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

From the scriptures cited above, we can correctly infer that water baptism is only to be carried out on people who have repented, have believed the Gospel, and have become disciples or followers of Christ. Only those who have believed the Gospel, and have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour qualify to be baptised by water, as a rite of passage into the Christian faith!

The Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.

The Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?

The Acts 8:37 And 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.

The 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.

Without believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour and confessing same, baptism is meaningless! Without repenting from one’s sins and accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour, one will just go into the water a dry sinner and come up a wet one. Baptism is the answer of a good conscience towards God!

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (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.

So, we see from the words of our Lord and from the Apostolic writings that only believers in Christ qualify to be baptised by water. It follows therefore that unbelievers, including children who cannot reasonably make a decision to repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, do not qualify for water baptism. The practice of infant baptism is there unscriptural and wrong!

When is water baptism to be conducted? How soon after repenting and accepting Christ as Lord and Saviour should a person be baptised by water? Traditionally, most churches conduct baptismal classes for all new believers, where people are taught about the rudiments of the faith and assessed thoroughly before they are subjected to water baptism. Most churches who operate baptismal classes believe people should be properly grounded in the faith and know what they’re in for, before committing them in water baptism. The length of the baptismal classes for new believers vary from church to church, and ranges from a few weeks to several months. In the light of the original Apostolic teachings, are preparatory baptismal classes scriptural? How long did new believers have to wait in Apostolic times before they could be baptised? Let us go to the Apostolic writings to find scriptural answers to these pertinent questions.

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

On the day of Pentecost, those who believed Peter’s sermon and received Christ as Lord and Saviour were baptised same day! Their baptism was not delayed for even a day!

When Philip preached to the Ethiopian eunuch, he baptised the man on his way home, immediately he believed the Gospel!

The Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.

The Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?

The Acts 8:37 And 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.

The 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.

The Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

There was no need for any baptismal class!

When Paul (then Saul) believed the Gospel, he too was baptised the same day!

The Acts 9:17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you might receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

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

When the Gentiles first received Christ in the house of Cornelius, they too were baptised by water immediately they believed!

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

The 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.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

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

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

When Paul and Silas preached to the Philipian Jailor and he and his family received Christ at midnight, the Apostles baptised them that same night! They couldn’t even wait for day to break!

The Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

The Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

The Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

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

The 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.

From the teachings and practices of the original Apostles of the Lord who are the foundations of the Christian faith, we see that baptism is to be done immediately one believes. There is no need for any preparatory baptismal class, because the only preparation one needs for baptism is to believe the Gospel and accept Christ as Lord and Saviour. Once one believes the Gospel, he should be baptised right away! It is part of the salvation process and so should not be delayed for any reason! If Apostle Paul had to baptise people at night, if Evangelist Philip had to baptise a man on his way home from church, then there’s absolutely no reason why any church should delay baptising anybody after they have believed the Gospel. Jesus said that those who believe the Gospel should be baptised immediately, to complete their salvation process!

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

Don’t delay anybody’s salvation process by an unscriptural church doctrine that contradicts the Word of God! Baptise people immediately they repent, even if it’s at night! Away with the unbiblical and satanic doctrine of preparatory baptismal classes! The only preparation anyone needs for baptism is repentance! Don’t put a stumbling block to people’s salvation! Let’s go back to the original Apostolic Gospel!

How should water baptism be conducted? Some churches sprinkle with water in the name of baptism, while others insist baptism must be by immersion. What is the Apostolic view on this issue? Let us turn to the Apostolic writings for insight on this matter.

Matthew 3:13 Then comes Jesus from Galilee to Jordan to John, to be baptized of him.

Matthew 3:14 But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of you, and come you to me?

Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said to him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Matthew 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, see, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting on him:

Matthew 3:17 And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

In the account of the baptism of Jesus, we are told he came out of the water, meaning he first went into the water! Jesus was immersed totally in water in his baptism! That is what baptism means: to be dipped or immersed in water. You cannot immerse or dip someone in water by sprinkling him with water. That is not baptism. If Jesus was immersed completely in water at his baptism, then everyone must be immersed in water to be correctly baptised!

Let us also see how Evangelist Philip baptised the Ethiopian eunuch, where baptism was described with some details.

The Acts 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.

The Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?

The Acts 8:37 And 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.

The 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.

The Acts 8:39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Note some important points here: the Ethiopian eunuch saw a body of water and drew Philip’s attention to it, requesting to be baptised. Then when he had declared his faith in Christ and had thus met the qualification for baptism, both of them went down into the water where Philip baptised him. After the baptism, we read of both of them coming out of the water. Thus, we can safely conclude that the eunuch was baptised by immersion in water, which is what scriptural baptism means!

This was what Paul described metaphorically in Romans, when he talked about being buried with Christ in baptism, and rising thereafter in the likeness of his resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). You don’t bury someone by sprinkling him with water. You bury someone in water by submerging him under water. That’s how baptism was done in Apostolic times, and that’s how it should be done by anyone who preaches the original Apostolic Gospel!

In whose name should baptism be done? A cursory look at the practices of the original Apostles with regards to the name into which believers were baptised readily reveals that baptism is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

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

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

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

From the scriptures cited above, we see that there was no controversy in Apostolic times with regards to believers being baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer in the book of Acts was baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And why shouldn’t it be so, when baptism is into Christ? When you’re baptised into Christ, you put on Christ, you bear his name!

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

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

If baptism is into Christ and and a personal identification with his death, burial and resurrection, then it doesn’t need any stretch of the imagination to understand that baptism must be in his name. There is no name under heaven whereby we must be saved!

The Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

The Church does everything in the Name of Christ, including baptism, for he is head over all things to the Church!

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Now, based on Matthew 28:19, some people insist baptism must be in the titles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and actually immerse people three times in water during baptism, one for each person of the Godhead. Now, let me make it abundantly clear that the original Apostles of the Lord did not disobey Christ. They had the revelation of the command he gave them concerning baptism and used the right name in baptism. When Jesus told them to baptise people in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, he meant people should be baptised into the Godhead through the name of God in salvation. You can only come to the Godhead through Jesus Christ, for he is the One that paid the price for man’s salvation and reconciliation to God. It is in the name of Christ you get saved and gain access to the Godhead! The name of God in salvation is Jesus, which means “Jehovah is our salvation“. It is the name by which the whole family in heaven and earth is named! The name above all names is Jesus!

Baptism symbolises and demonstrates the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and our identification with that process, as we put our faith in him to be saved. It was Christ that died to save us, and we are baptised into his death, so we are baptised into his name! Father is not a name; Son is not a name, and Holy Ghost is not the name of God in salvation. These are all relational titles of the Godhead. The name of the Godhead by which he revealed himself to mankind is Yahweh (Jehovah), and his name in the salvation process is Yehoshua (Jesus), meaning Yahweh is our saviour. So, we baptise in the name of Jesus Christ, not in the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In a similar vein, we don’t bury people three times, for each person of the Godhead. We baptise into Christ’s death, and since Christ died only once, was buried once and rose up once never to die again, we also bury people just once and raise them up just once!

Finally, let us look at the issue of people who were baptised wrongly, either by undergoing sprinkling instead of immersion, or by being baptised as infants or by being baptised in titles of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, rather than in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. All such baptisms are wrong and invalid. Such people need to be rebaptised in the proper way, when they come to the knowledge of the truth. The Apostle Paul had to rebaptise some disciples who had been baptised wrongly:

The Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

The Acts 19:2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

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

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

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

In conclusion, may we catch the true Apostolic revelation of the importance and significance of water baptism, as well as the proper way of doing it, so that we will follow the Apostolic traditions in serving God the right way, for the original Apostles of The Lord are the foundation of the Christian faith, and the Gospel they preached remains the only authentic version.
God bless you!

Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo is a teacher and an expositor of the word of God with an intense passion for doctrinal purity and the restoration of the Church to the original Apostolic faith.

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