Biblical Mode of Baptism (Part 3)By Pastor Boffey on Sunday, July 25, 2010.
The Biblical Mode of Baptism I. This study is an answer to a challenge by a Pedobaptist preacher (Pastor Jon Smith) who affirms that the Bible does not teach immersion as the proper form of Christian baptism but rather sprinkling or pouring. Other Pedobaptist arguments will also be considered and answered. II. Consider some evidence from definitions and usage. A. Baptize: (etym.) “to immerse, bathe, wash, drench,’ in Christian use appropriated to the religious rite, ....to dip, plunge, bathe.” (O.E.D.) B. There are four Greek words underlying the various forms of the word 'baptize' in Scripture: 1. baptizo (Strong's # 907) 2. baptismah (Strong's # 908) 3. baptismos (Strong's # 909) 4. baptistes (Strong's # 910) C. Baptizo: “To make whelmed (that is, fully wet)...” (Strong) 1. “To dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)” (Thayer) 2. Baptizo is derived from bapto (Strong's # 911) which Strong defines as “a primary verb; to whelm, that is, cover wholly with a fluid.” a. “To dip, dip in, immerse.” (Thayer) b. Whelm: “To cover completely with water or other fluid so as to ruin or destroy; to submerge, drown; occas. to sink (a boat).” (O.E.D.) c. Bapto is always translated as dip(ped). LUK 16:24; JOH 13:26; REV 19:13. d. Luther referred to “John the Baptist” as “John the Dipper.” D. “St. Paul alludes to the manner in which Baptism was ordinarily conferred in the primitive church, by immersion. The descent into the water is suggestive of the descent of the body into the grave, and the ascent is suggestive of the resurrection to a new life.” (Saint Joseph Edition of the Holy Bible, Confraternity Version, re: ROM 6:3) E. “...it is evident that the term baptise means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, p. 524) F. Greek Orthodox churches immerse or submerge when baptizing. III. Pastor Smith attempts to build an argument against immersion from MAR 7:1-4. A. Pastor Smith makes much of arguments from the Greek here (and other places). B. The Greek baptizo and baptismos underly wash and washing, respectively, in MAR 7:4. C. The argument (paraphrased) is: “It is ridiculous to conclude that the Jews in their ceremonial ablutions must have been immersing tables in MAR 7:4.” D. Pastor Smith regularly uses the New American Standard Bible but since the phrase “and of tables” is not in the NASB, he says, “I must point out that the words 'and tables' is missing from the text in the New American Standard, where it would be found in the King James Version.” E. Having hopped to a lily pad that suits his purpose, he then says, “You could imagine a housewife lugging a picnic table down to the water to submerge it to clean it; it's impossible of course; it doesn't make sense.” F. As support for his position that the washing of the tables, etc., must have been by pouring or sprinkling, Pastor Smith goes to a Talmudic Tractate which supposedly represents the tradition of the Jews described in this text as pouring. G. Another Talmudic Tract specifically says, "in a laver, which holds forty seahs of water, The Biblical Mode of Baptism 7-11-10 Page 1 which are not drawn, every defiled man dips himself, except a profluvious man; and in it " ,מטבילין את כל הכלים הטמאיןthey dip all unclean vessels";'' (Ib. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 9. sect. 5.) 1. Seah: “A Hebrew dry measure, equal (according to Rabbinical statements) to six times the cab...” 2. Cab: “A Hebrew dry measure, according to the Rabbins the sixth part of a seah; about 2 5 / 6 imperial pints.” 3. 40 seah therefore equals 85 imp. gal. or 102 American gallons. 4. One could even immerse a picnic table in something of this size! H. Consider that the Jews may have been observing a mutation of the law of Moses concerning defiled vessels. LEV 11:32. I. Consider that these Jewish ceremonial ablutions required sizable vessels into which objects could be plunged (JOH 2:6). 1. A firkin is slightly less than nine imperial gallons or 10.8 American gallons. 2. Thus, these stone waterpots would have held between 21.6 and 32.4 American gallons. J. A table need not be very big. LUK 1:63. K. The word tables here is the Greek kline (Strong's # 2825), which means “a couch for sleep, sickness, sitting or eating.” The same Greek word is used in MAT 9:6. L. Davis Dictionary of the Bible (p.85) says that “a bed might be no more than a rug or mat, easily bundled up and carried away.” IV. Pastor Smith takes issue with the idea that baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. A. He says this would mean that we have two pictures of Christ's death (communion and baptism) and this would be wrong. Why? B. He then affirms that God has actually given us another emblem of the resurrection of Christ, to wit, the Sunday Sabbath: “Surely God has left His people with at least a symbol of the resurrection of Christ....On what day of the week was the Sabbath observed when Christ walked on the earth? --- Saturday! ...And what day is kept as the Christian Sabbath? We observe Sunday....The change of the day commemorates the resurrection of Christ.” 1. Book, chapter, verse??? 2. Sabbath-keeping has been set aside by the cross and a New Testament. COL 2:14-17 c/w HEB 10:1; 9:11. 3. Our sabbath is faith in Christ Who finished the work of redemption. MAT 11:28-30 c/w HEB 3:1, 18; 4:1-2, 10-11 c/w HEB 1:3; JOH 17:4; 19:30. C. Baptism does represent the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, emphasizing the burial and resurrection. ROM 6:1-4; COL 2:12; 1PE 3:20-21. D. If one thinks he needs something other than baptism as a token of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, he might consider walking in newness of life, abandoning former sins and fallacious arguments against the truth. V. Pastor Smith then looks at ROM 6:1-8 which obviously associates baptism with burial. A. Pastor Smith then tries to discredit the connection between burial and immersion by stating, “Was the body at burial put down into the earth and then at the resurrection come up out of the earth? Did the burial of Jesus resemble the way we bury our dead? And the answer is, No, not really.” The Biblical Mode of Baptism 7-11-10 Page 2 B. This bit of sophistry echoes the words of a Pedobaptist apologist, Duane E. Spencer, in the March, 1980 issue of Key: “In Romans 6 the words which are important to the Immersionist argument are 'buried' and planted.' If all we had to go by was the English text it would be difficult to refute their position, but, thanks be to God who has given us His Word for 'light,' the Greek text spells out the truth clearly. “The Greek term rendered 'buried together' ( sunetaphemen) means to 'place in a tomb together.' In the Near East, during Bible times, burial was by entombment in caves, either natural or carved out of rock hillsides by the hand of man. If a man was wealthy, and wished a monument to record his prior presence among the living, that sepulchre or tomb was built in a prominent spot as a memorial. “Ignorance of the meaning of key words of Scripture, or of customs of a people, breed much heresy. For example: the Western mind sees the word 'burial' and automatically thinks of placing a body beneath the surface of the earth. This accommodates the false hypothesis that 'to baptize always means to immerse.' Yet, once we learn that Bible burials normally were by entombment, by placing a body in a stone cave 'up' on a ledge, we can no longer imagine that 'burial' in Romans 6:4 is a description of baptism by immersion. Jesus was placed in a 'sepulchre' (Lk.23:53), very much like the 'Garden Tomb' near the skull-like caves in Jerusalem today. “The Greek word translated 'planted' (sumphutoi) has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH PLACING SOMETHING BENEATH THE SURFACE (caps mine, TEB) (Rom.6:5). The term means 'to join together, to be in union with, to become one.' It is interesting to note that this is in full harmony with the correct usage - definition: ' baptizo means union, identification, fellowship, oneness.' The Greek word translated 'planted' in Romans 6:5 is used in Gk. literature to describe plants and trees with separate root systems which touch and fuse together above the the surface to become 'one plant.' The phenomena known as 'Siamese twins,' two persons joined together as one, is a good illustration of the principle expressed by sumphutoi ('planted') in Romans 6:5. “Since Christ was lifted up to rest on a stone ledge in a sepulchre, rather than being lowered into the ground; and since planted in Romans 6:5 refers to our being 'joined together in the likeness of His death,' it is an incontrovertible fact that Romans 6 will not support the false hypothesis of our Immersionist brethren that 'to baptize is always to dip, to immerse.'” 1. The entombment argument is refuted by ROM 10:7; MAT 12:40. a. Placing a body in a stone cave does not escape the notion of burial in earth. Rock is hard earth. b. So what if a sepulchre or stone cave was up on a ledge? Plenty of graveyards are built on hilltops. Plenty of churches have elevated baptistries. 2. The Greek word for planted is sumphutos (Strong's # 4854), from sun (a primary preposition denoting union; with or together) and a derivative of phuo (a primary verb; probably originally to puff or blow), i.e. to swell up; but only used in the implied sense, to germinate or grow (sprout, produce), literally or figuratively: - spring
; grown along with (connate), i.e. fig. closely united to: planted
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
Planting implies the burial of the seed. JOH 12:24; MAR 4:26-27.
Mr. Spencer also states: “They do err who argue that 'bapto always means to dip, to
immerse.' By the use of 'always' they exaggerate and say too much. By treating 'dip' and
'immerse' as terms with precisely the same meaning they speak inaccurately. Technically
speaking 'to dip is to place something or someone partially into a liquid,' while 'to immerse
is to place something or someone completely within, and beneath the surface of a liquid.”
Dip: “To put down or let down temporarily or partially in or into a liquid, or the
like, or the vessel containing it (usually with the notion of wetting, or of taking up a
portion of the liquid, etc.); to immerse; to plunge (but with less implication of force
and splashing, the sound of the word expressing a light though decided act).”
Immerse: “ To dip or plunge into a liquid; to put overhead in water, etc.; spec. to
baptize by immersion.” (O.E.D.)
Pastor Smith then takes a shot at 1CO 10:1-2, affirming that this cannot reasonably represent
baptism by immersion.
These verses plainly associate baptism with being IN a medium (the cloud and the sea), not
having the medium applied to them.
“And the children of Israel went INTO THE MIDST OF THE SEA upon the dry ground...”
They were enveloped by water as they stood on the floor of their baptistry.
Their lives were in certain peril of water except for the hand of God and the temporary
nature of their baptism. A sprinkling hardly implies such a peril.
That the Israelites did not get wet is irrelevant to the argument. If their being dry argues
against immersion, it also argues against sprinkling or pouring.
Interestingly, the Israelites exercised faith BEFORE their baptism ( HEB 11:29) and could
not have experienced this baptism without it.
Pastor Smith equates baptism with sprinkling in HEB 9:10-13, 19-21.
The Greek word underlying washings in v. 10 is baptismos.
A Non Sequitur assumption is made that the sprinklings of vs. 13, 19, 21 must be the
correspondent of the washings in v. 10 since that is the next mention of liquid in the
context. But by the same reasoning, it could be concluded that the sprinklings were the
correspondent of the drinks in v. 10.
A classic Pedobaptist work represents the argument thus: “...It is crucial to note that the
law never required immersions, but frequently required sprinklings....The law simply knew
nothing of immersions, not to speak of different kinds of them.”
(Dr. Jay Adams, The Meaning and Mode of Baptism, pp. 9-11)
The Hebrew words for the ceremonial washings of the law are:
Rachats (Strong's # 7364): “To lave (the whole or a part of a thing): bathe (self),
EXO 30:18-19. Aaron and his sons washed hands and feet.
LEV 1:9. Burnt offerings were to be washed IN water.
2KI 5:10, 14. Naaman's washing was an obvious immersion.
SON 4:2. Here is the proverbial 'sheep-DIP.'
PSA 60:8. A watering can is not a washpot; this is obviously immersion.
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
LEV 15:5-8, 10-11, 13, 16, 18, 21-22.
These were laws given so as to avoid defiling the tabernacle. v. 31.
Remember that Strong shows that rachats means to lave.
Lave: “To wash, bathe.” (O.E.D.)
Bathe: “To immerse, as in a bath: a. lit. To immerse (the body, or
any part of it) in water or other liquid, for the sake of some effect
(e.g. health, warmth, cleansing) promoted by the action of the
LEV 16:4. The high priest had to wash his flesh IN water before making
Remember that the Law spoke of Christ in types and shadows.
HEB 8:3-5; 10:1.
LEV 1:9-10 is satisfied in Christ. EPH 5:2; 1PE 1:18-19.
LEV 16:4 spoke of a high priest making atonement FOR the people,
even as Christ our High Priest offered Himself for us. HEB 7:26-27.
The pictures of the burnt offering and the high priest's preparation for
atonement are significant by the necessity of being washed IN water,
even as Christ was prepared for His baptism of suffering by a
baptism IN water.
NOTE: Mr. Duane Spencer in the March 1980 issue of Key maintains that
this word is “NEVER USED OF IMMERSING OR DIPPING.”
Kabas (Strong's # 3526): “To trample; hence to wash (prop. by stamping with the
feet), whether lit. (including the fulling process) or fig.: fuller, wash(ing).”
Fuller: “One who cleanses undressed cloth from oil and grease, and renders
it thick or compact by the application of pressure, or else one who
thoroughly cleanses soiled garments. The clothing was steeped in soap and
water and trodden, as the Hebrew name denotes.”
(Davis Dictionary of the Bible, p. 252)
This is clearly an immersion!
LEV 11:40; 13:58; 14:47. Here is the washing of defiled clothes.
LEV 6:27. Mark how this verse distinguishes between washing and
Duwach (Strong's # 1740): “To thrust away; fig. to cleanse: cast out, purge, wash.”
2CH 4:6; EZE 40:38. This is the washing of the burnt offerings.
Remember, the washing of the burnt offerings has already been shown to be
immersion. LEV 1:9.
The ceremonial washings are clearly seen to have been immersions.
The ceremonial sprinklings come under the heading of “carnal ordinances”
in HEB 9:10.
See NUM 19:2, 20-21; LEV 16:14, 34.
VIII. Pastor Smith considers the circumstantial evidence of ACT 2:38-41 and concludes that it would
have been a great stretch of the imagination to think that all those baptisms could have been done
by immersion in the time allotted.
“After all, the day was already well underway, Peter was known to be long-winded, and the
physical demands would have been overwhelming for immersion. Dipping a hyssop
branch in water and sprinkling the candidates is obviously how it would have been done.”
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
Mr. Duane Spencer apparently subscribes to the same line of thinking as Pastor Smith:
“It is hard for the Western mind to comprehend the fact that water was a scarce, precious
commodity during Bible times. We are so used to turning a faucet to gain all we want to
drink, shower or bathe, without any attempt at frugality. Yet, if we are to understand the
doctrine of baptism, it is an imperative that we realize that there were no public pools in
which persons could swim or bathe. The great pools of Jerusalem, for example, were the
civic reservoirs of drinking water for the huge population of the city, particularly at the
times of the Jewish festivals when several million packed every available space inside and
outside its great walls. Water was also drawn from some of these pools, such as Siloam,
for the sacred services. It is therefore not surprising that the entire Jewish populace
guarded them from abuse. No one wanted to drink 'bath water!'
“Although there were pools large enough for baptism by immersion, there were none
available for immersion. As J.W. Dale has wisely commented: 'If the enemies of the Lord
Jesus Christ who seven weeks before had planted His cross on Calvary, and in less time
took these men and imprisoned and scourged them, were ready to put the city water pools
at their disposal for the administration of the distinctive rite of this hated sect, still, it
remains to be shown that Peter and the people were in a position to avail themselves of this
extraordinary courtesy!' Not only were the great pools 'unavailable' for a sacred rite of
followers of The Way, but any attempt to use them would have been considered an
abomination, and bloodshed would have ensued. Water in great quantity for immersion
was an impossibility.
“Furthermore, eleven men (Peter and the ten left after the disaffection of Judas) could
never have baptized three thousand persons 'the same day.' The time and energy consumed
by lowering and raising that many bodies is a formidable task, and impossible apart from a
miracle (which, of course, is not recorded). Baptism by sprinkling or pouring, however,
would pose no problem as to time or energy. Eleven men could easily so baptize within
the limits of five to eight hours. Furthermore the baptisms could have been accomplished
secretly within the privacy of the homes of the converts, so that the enemy would know
nothing of that which was taking place. Immersion is ruled out as far as the baptism of
3000 'the same day' is concerned.” (Duane Spencer, Key, March 1980)
Though a tangent issue, it is interesting that Mr. Spencer avoids mention of the fact
that this was obviously a baptism of believers at Pentecost, which, of course, would
speak favorably of the Baptist position. ACT 2:41.
The argument about water availability is refuted by JOH 5:1-7. The word pool is
the Greek kolumbethra (Strong's # 2861), which means “a diving-place, i.e. pond
for bathing (or swimming): - pool.”
The persecution argument is refuted by ACT 2:47; 4:21; 5:26.
There were not 11 apostles; there were 12, since Matthias was added. ACT 1:26.
3000/12 = 250 converts per minister.
250 converts @ 1 minute per immersion = 4 hours, 10 minutes.
250 converts @ 2 minutes per immersion = 8 hours, 20 minutes.
There would have been ample time to even have a couple of breaks.
“With God all things are possible” (MAT 19:26).
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
Pastor Smith then looks at ACT 8:26-40.
He notes that v. 26 shows that this event took place in a desert and says, “The Baptists wish
that had been left out....(paraphrased),” implying that there could not have reasonably been
sufficient water available in the area for an immersion. Pedobaptist reasoning here must
assume that the eunuch had selected a route through desert country that would have
avoided any water sources and that, if he did so, he also wasn't carrying a canteen.
Pastor Smith considers this to be a core text for the Immersionist's position and therefore to
deal with it is to deal a great blow to the Immersionist.
This is NOT a core proof-text for Baptists relative to the MODE of baptism. It is a
reference-text at best.
But this is a valid proof-text for Baptists relative to the SUBJECTS of baptism: the
lack of belief is obviously a hindrance to baptism.
Pastor Smith affirms that the phrase, “into the water” ( v. 38) should be rendered “toward
the water” (since the preposition “into” is from the Greek “eis” which could alternately be
translated as on, toward, against, among, etc. [there are over fifty alternate renderings in a
He also states that the phrase, “out of the water” should be rendered “away from the
water” (since the prepositional phrase “out of” is from the Greek “ek” which could
alternately be translated as on, among, over, against, etc).
His selection of “toward” and “away from” seems rather selective. This is called
“cherry-picking” your facts.
What about the word “down” (v. 38) which is from the Greek katabaino which
means to descend?
What about the word “up” (v. 39) which is from the Greek anabaino which means
to arise, ascend?
ACT 8:38-39 is AT LEAST setting forth a descent and ascent associated with the
water of baptism which implies a collection of water into which Philip and the
eunuch entered. If only a sprinkling or pouring was needed for baptism, why would
either of them get into the water?
Pastor Smith says, “There is no possibility of immersion.” HUH??
Baptists serve a God Who creates oases in deserts, makes water spring forth from
rocks (EXO 17; NUM 20), makes dry valleys fill with water without rain ( 2KI 3)
and Who for His people's needs “...will make the wilderness a pool of water, and
the dry land springs of water” (ISA 41:17-18).
Pastor Smith then shows that the eunuch was reading from ISA 53 and Philip would have
shown him ISA 52:15 which must have therefore been the impetus for the rite of baptism
being administered to the eunuch.
This argument is pure speculation.
If we are going to build a case from speculation, it might be observed:
Philip BEGAN at ISA 53 according to ACT 8:35, and this would imply
moving forward in the scroll.
Maybe Philip showed the eunuch ISA 54:7-9 where God's redeeming mercy
is likened to the flood of Noah when a world of sin was buried under water
and the survivors exited their ark-coffin to walk in newness of life!
c/w 1PE 3:20-21.
God did sprinkle many nations in connection with the sufferings of Christ---NOT
with baptismal water but with blood!
1PE 1:1-2 c/w EPH 2:12-13; REV 5:9 c/w HEB 12:22-24.
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
Pastor Smith also set forth short arguments largely based upon circumstantial evidence from a
series of N.T. baptism cases.
“Well, what suggested to Peter the propriety of baptizing Cornelius and his
household? --- Because they'd received the gift of the Holy Spirit. And in what
manner did they receive the Holy Spirit? --- v. 44 says the Holy Spirit fell on them;
v. 45 says the Holy Spirit had been poured out on them. [This suggested to Peter]
the propriety of water baptism [by pouring...].”
Pastor Smith is affirming that baptism is a picture or figure of the work of the Holy
This is wrong. Baptism is a picture or figure of the death, burial and
resurrection of Jesus Christ by which we were saved.
1PE 3:21 c/w ROM 6:3-5.
The expressions “...the Holy Ghost fell on them...” and “...poured out the
gift of the Holy Ghost” are themselves figures of the Holy Spirit's arrival
The Holy Spirit is not material so as to be falling or poured in a
literal or natural sense.
Peter and the brethren likely did not even “see” a visible descent of
the Spirit. Rather, it was concluded that the Spirit had fallen upon
Cornelius' company because of their speaking with tongues. v. 46.
If Pastor Smith is correct, then baptism is a figure of a figure, which is an
exercise in futility. Go figure.
Later, Peter explained the event to his Jewish brethren, “...the Holy Ghost
fell on them, AS ON US AT THE BEGINNING” (ACT 11:15).
At Pentecost, “...there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And
there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, at it sat upon
them” (ACT 2:2-3).
By Pedobaptist logic, baptism should also include a strong wind to
fluff up the candidate's hair, which is then lit on fire, and then oil
applied (since the Spirit and oil are associated, EXO 29:7 c/w LUK
4:18-19) after which water is poured in sufficient quantity to fill the
Pedobaptists have a tendency to make much out of symbols or figures. The
problem is that they generally try to make one symbol or figure point to and
define another symbol or figure, instead of the reality that the symbol or
figure was meant to represent.
One such argument is that according to ACT 1:5, the church would
be BAPTIZED with the Holy Ghost at Pentecost but according to
ACT 2:17, the Holy Ghost was POURED OUT. Therefore, baptism
is by pouring.
The coming of the Holy Ghost was also figuratively described as a
drinking and a flowing out from the belly in JOH 7:37-39. Would
this then prove that the proper mode of baptism is by drinking water
and then (you may fill in the blank here)?
By Pedobaptist logic, we could compare two different figures
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
which described the coming of Messiah and conclude that a branch
is a lamb! ISA 11:1-2 c/w JOH 1:29.
The coming of the Holy Ghost was likened unto a pouring inasmuch
as He came from above and “...sat UPON each of them” ( ACT 2:3).
The coming of the Holy Ghost was also likened unto a baptism, i.e.,
an immersion, in that it was something of an overwhelming nature:
“...it FILLED all the house...” (ACT 2:2), “And they were all
FILLED with the Holy Ghost...” (ACT 2:4).
Pastor Smith then affirms that the language of vs. 47-48 suggests that the rite of
baptism was administered on the spot, facilitated by the simplicity of pouring or
sprinkling: “...it rather suggests that water was to be brought to them, doesn't it? ---
It really does, if you're honest.”
This makes one wonder why John, therefore, made people come to the River
Jordan in the wilderness to be baptized (MAR 1:4-5) or to Aenon where
there was much water (JOH 3:23). It really does, if you're honest.
The passage could just as easily suggest that Cornelius had some type of
bathtub or cistern at hand or that natural water was available outside. It
really could, if you're honest.
“This city was formerly called Strato’s Tower. It is situated on the coast of
the Mediterranean, at the mouth of a small river, and has a fine harbor.”
(Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)
Pastor Smith says, “I believe that the circumstantial evidence here is very strong...”
He then notes that ACT 9:9 shows that Saul was three days without food or drink,
and was obviously weak, per ACT 9:19, and asks as to whether it would be
reasonable to make Paul get up and go get immersed before he ate.
Esther fasted for three days and nights, then dressed up in her royal apparel
to appear before the king. EST 4:16-17; EST 5:1-2.
Faith can make the weak strong. HEB 11:34 c/w JDG 8:4.
Jesus Christ doesn't always make coming to Himself easy. LUK 13:11-12.
Pastor Smith conjectures that if the jailor and his household were immersed, they
would have to have completely exited the prison to find a river or such like and this
would mean that Paul was dishonest in implying to the magistrates in v. 37 that they
had never been out of the prison.
Interestingly, Pastor Smith admits that the jailor's house was probably within the
confines of the prison.
Paul and Silas had been thrust into the inner prison (v. 24) which suggests
an outer prison, and in this sense the jailor brought them OUT (v. 30).
A house within the prison is not unreasonable. GEN 40:3.
What is unreasonable is assuming that the jailor's house could not have a
cistern or spring in it and accommodations for bathing for him and his
family. Roman society was not ignorant about water-works.
Pastor Smith declares that the phrase “much water” should have been translated
“many waters,” and that the name Aenon means “streams or fountains.”
He then affirms that the area there today is nothing but marshy meadowlands with
little trickling streams that don't get above one foot in depth.
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
He is assuming that the relatively dry conditions of that land today are
typical of the way it was in John the Baptist's time.
Until God judged the land after Christ's first advent, the Promised Land was
noted for being profuse with water. DEU 8:7; 11:11.
If any mode of water purification had been sufficient, there would have been no
need for much water or many waters.
Pastor Smith forms an argument from MAT 3:15 where Jesus' baptism was to “fulfil all
Dr. Jay Adams uses this same argument in his book, The Meaning and Mode of Baptism on
Page 17. It goes like this:
John the Baptist was a Levitical priest keeping the Law of Moses.
John was keeping the righteousness of the Law for the sprinkling of Levites in
Jesus was honoring the same law and was therefore anointed as a priest at thirty
years of age by a sprinkling baptism even as Levites had to be thirty years old to
enter tabernacle service. NUM 4:3, 47 c/w LUK 3:21-23.
If John was sprinkling Jesus in keeping with NUM 8:6-7; 4:3, 47 and this is what
was fitting Him to be a priest, how could this be fulfilling all righteousness ?
Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi.
Judah was ineligible for the priesthood. HEB 7:14; 2CH 26:18.
John and Jesus would both have been breaking Moses' Law if John was
anointing Jesus as a priest.
In fact, if John's baptisms of others were according to the command to
sprinkle Levites, he had already been breaking that law since he baptized
without regard to tribe (or sex, MAT 21:31-32).
And above all, how could a Levitical priest (John) anoint Jesus with the
Melchisedec priesthood which God HIMSELF conferred upon Jesus by His
oath? HEB 7:21.
The sprinkling of a Levite is NOT the washing of a priest!
Not all Levites were priests. NUM 16:7-10; LUK 10:31-32.
Only the sons of Aaron could be priests. EXO 28:1; 30:30; NUM 3:10.
The priests had to be WASHED IN WATER to perform their office.
EXO 29:4; 30:18-21; LEV 16:4.
We have already proven that the washings were immersions and that
sprinklings are distinct from washings.
The priests were anointed with oil, not water. EXO 30:25, 30-31.
Oil suspends over water, an apt picture of the superiority of the
priests over the Levites.
Pedobaptist doctrine relative to MAT 3:15 is little more than a
spiritual realization of ECC 10:1.
Jesus' anointing was with the Holy Ghost. ACT 10:37-38 c/w LUK 4:18.
The O.T. high priest was washed with water right before his
anointing. EXO 29:4-7.
This corresponds with Christ being washed with water right before
His anointing. MAT 3:16-17.
So what were John and Jesus doing that was fulfilling all righteousness ?
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
John's baptism and ministry were by divine appointment.
LUK 3:2-6 c/w MAR 11:28-33.
John was the hinge on which God's kingdom program turned. LUK 16:16.
It was the beginning of the gospel. MAR 1:1-2.
The prophesied kingdom of heaven was now at hand. MAT 3:1-2.
The church of God was undergoing a reformation. HEB 9:10.
An old order defined by pedigree, nation, circumcision and Mosaic code
was being abrogated by a new order defined by repentance and faith.
This kingdom was spiritual and entered into by baptism.
MAT 21:31-32 c/w LUK 7:29-30.
The significance of John's baptizing in Jordan should not be
It was by a virtual immersion in Jordan that God's O.T. people
entered into their carnal inheritance. JOS 3:14-17.
“The God that had called Israel out of Egypt and let it across the
Jordan River was now creating a new people by passing them
through the waters of baptism in that same river. The twelve stones
that had been set up to mark Israel's crossing of the parted Jordan
(Josh. 4) would themselves be raised up into twelve new tribes if the
people of Israel would not repent.”
(Walter Wink, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, pp. 371-372)
John was therefore NOT perpetuating a long-held Mosaic ceremony or
imitating ritual ablutions of the Essenes, as some have conjectured.
“...John burst on the scene as a virtual mutant, for his rite of baptism, though
outwardly similar to Temple lustrations, was wholly without precedent in its
meaning....John's rite was so unique that he was named by it ('the Baptizer'),
and Jesus clearly regards it as given to John by revelation from God (Mark
11:27-33).” (Ibid, p. 372)
John's baptism was of repentance for the remission of sins. MAR 1:4.
Jesus Christ had no sins of his own and was only the legal bearer of
our sins. 1PE 2:22-24.
However, “...in ALL THINGS it behoved him to be made like unto
his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in
things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the
people” (HEB 2:17).
As God, Christ had given the law by which John baptized people into
the kingdom of heaven. Thus, He submitted Himself to that
revolutionary ordinance in demonstration of its validity and of the
fact that the promised kingdom had come: “...The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand...” (MAR 1:15).
Christ was therefore made a genuine brother of the new order: the
gospel church. HEB 2:11-12.
As the sacrificial lamb once had to be taken FROM the O.T. church
(LEV 16:5), Christ our Lamb and Brother was taken from amongst
the N.T. church to be offered for our sins.
By submitting Himself to the ordinance of water baptism, Christ by
example showed that none who would have a part in the new order
of the kingdom of heaven are exempt from its entry requirement.
The Biblical Mode of Baptism
Jesus Christ described His upcoming sufferings as a baptism. MAT 20:22.
It may be asked whether He was going to only undergo a partial application of the wrath of
God against sin (if baptism is pouring or sprinkling) or if He was going to be completely
overwhelmed by agony and the wrath of God against sin (if baptism is immersion).
Psalm 69 is rich with prophecy fulfilled in Jesus Christ. vs. 4, 9, 20-21, etc.
The troubles and agony are plainly seen here to agree with immersion.
vs. 1-2, 14-15.
Some may argue that David was only here speaking of his own troubles. But would
Christ's troubles be less than David's?
XIII. The ordinances of Christ are to be kept as delivered. 1CO 11:2.
If, as some Pedobaptists affirm, baptism can be done by any mode, then why not use coffee
and donuts for the Lord's Supper?
Properly understood and observed, Christ's ordinances represent His work of salvation. To
alter the ordinances is to misrepresent the very thing they were meant to picture: His
perfect work of redemption for a covenant people through His death, burial and
It is the responsibility of Christians to honor Christ by contending for the faith He gave
them. JUDE 1:3; REV 12:17.
To wrest Scripture to justify a spurious presupposition is to wrest it to one's own
destruction. 2PE 3:16.