CHRISTIAN WATER BAPTISM (Mark 1:9-10; Acts 8:36, 38): By Sprinkling or By Complete Immersion?

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How to Interpret the Bible-1
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 180+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary states,

Baptisma (βάπτισμα, 908), “baptism,” consisting of the processes of immersion, submersion and emergence (from bapto, “to dip”), is used (a) of John’s “baptism,” (b) of Christian “baptism,” see B. below; (c) of the overwhelming afflictions and judgments to which the Lord voluntarily submitted on the cross, e.g., Luke 12:50; (d) of the sufferings His followers would experience, not of a vicarious character, but in fellowship with the sufferings of their Master. Some MSS have the word in Matt. 20:22–23; it is used in Mark 10:38–39, with this meaning. — W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 50.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary states,

Baptism in the New Testament The word “baptism” has several uses in the NT. In addition to its usual sense of faith-witness initiation, the Bible speaks of a baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11–12), baptism by/in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), baptism for the dead (1 Cor. 15:29), and even the baptism of the Hebrew people into Moses and the Sea (1 Cor. 10:2). But overwhelmingly the most prominent use of the word refers to the first response of obedience by a new follower of Jesus. The word “baptize” is itself a loanword borrowed from the Greek term baptizo. Few scholars contest that the meaning of the term is “immerse,” and not “to pour” or “to sprinkle.” In classical Greek, the word is used, for example, to describe the sinking of a ship that is, therefore, “immersed” or totally enveloped in water. Five important issues about baptism are: (1) the meaning of the ordinance, (2) the appropriate candidate for baptism, (3) the proper mode of baptism, (4) the right time for baptism, and (5) the correct authority for baptism. — Paige Patterson, “Baptism,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 167–168.

How should persons be baptized? Some scholars would argue that it is acceptable to pour or sprinkle water on the head of the person. Yet, we need to consider more than the meaning of the Greek word (βαπτίζω baptizō). We must also consider the example set by Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, as well as the early Christians, and how they understood the meaning of baptizō. The Ethiopian eunuch was baptized in a body of “water” alongside the road. The account says: “They both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:36, 38) So, if they had understood baptizō to mean to pour or sprinkle water alone, nothing more needed, why stop the chariot at a body of water and go down into it? Being that they were traveling, they certainly had skin bottles of water, which would have been enough to baptize the eunuch. We know they had such skin bottles of water because they were traveling on “a desert road.” (NASB, CSB, LEB, and UASV)—Acts 8:26.

Jesus Paul THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK

According to A Greek-English Lexicon, by Liddell and Scott, the Greek word (βαπτίζω baptizō)—from which the English “baptize” means “to dip, to plunge.” All the biblical accounts that discuss baptism agree with this definition. John 3:23 states, “John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized” Likewise, the account of Jesus’ baptism says: “Jesus . . . was baptized [“immersed”] in the Jordan [River] by John. And immediately coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being split apart.” (Mark 1:9-10) So first-century Christians were properly baptized by complete immersion in water.

Mark 1:9-10: “Jesus . . . was baptized [“immersed”] in the Jordan [River] by John. And immediately coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens being split apart.”

Acts 8:36, 38: “… they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized [“immersed,”] him.”

THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by Stalker-1 The TRIAL and Death of Jesus_02 THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1

At the end of anyone’s exploration of Acts, they will come to the same conclusions that we have arrived at as to what baptism is, what it is not, and how it was carried out. Although Christian baptism does not wash sins away, it symbolizes repentance, indicating that the individual is immersed in water and has made an unconditional dedication to God through Jesus Christ. (Compare Matthew 16:24.) Since hearing the word, believing, and repenting precede water baptism (Ac 2:14, 22, 38, 41) and that baptism requires the individual to make a solemn decision, it is apparent that one must at least be of age to hear, to believe, and to make this decision. From the definition of baptism, as stated earlier, it is clear that baptism is a complete water immersion, not a mere pouring. The Bible’s examples of baptism corroborate this fact.

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS Young Christians

The above biblical insights continue to be the significance of full immersion Christian water baptism. Complete water immersion is an appropriate symbol of one’s personal devotion to God, as baptism is a symbolic burial. The person being plunged beneath the baptismal waters symbolizes their death to their old life. As they are raised out of the water, this symbolizes their being reborn, a complete spiritual change, to do the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23) This “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” applies to all who become true disciples of Jesus Christ as they imitate his example, as well as that of the early Christians.—Ephesians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 6:3-4.

From John the Baptist to the end of Acts (29 C.E.—61 C.E.), really, the entire first century was by water immersion based on the accounts always referring to a body of water. They show us their view of the meaning of the word baptism through their actions.  Allow me to explain this in an easier fashion. The word (βαπτίζω baptizō) is defined with several meanings in the lexicons, which the interpreter needs to apply to the context. It is not cut and dry like some would try to make it. The context for water baptism always involves a body of water. You never have any case of pouring water or sprinkling water onto someone as the context. So, the context determines which meaning is meant. The context is that all the water baptisms described involved a body of water. There is only one purpose for seeking a body of water instead of a cup of water or a bucket of water, a skin bottle of water. Let the Bible critic gives us one example in the New Testament where the baptized person had water poured or sprinkled on them.

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