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Biblical Baptism

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John [see John The Baptist], 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 fulfil all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:13-17 RSV)

Jordan River What Does Baptism Symbolize?

Baptism symbolizes the death of the old self (by repentance and the turning to a new life), burial (by complete immersion in water, just as a body is completely immersed in the earth) and the resurrection (the coming up out from under the water) to eternal life for those who repent:

"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, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of The Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His." (Romans 6:3-5 RSV)

"and you were buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12 RSV)

How Were People Baptized?

The English word baptize is derived from the original Greek word of the New Testament which literally meant to immerse in water. As the Scriptures above make clear, Jesus Christ considered baptism to be an important act, so much so that He insisted on it when John hesitated to baptize Him, as an example for those who claim to follow Him. Jesus' baptism was then done in The Jordan River, perhaps not far from the place shown in the photograph. The usual order was repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit.

"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." (Acts 2:38-39 RSV)

"John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people came and were baptized" (John 3:23 RSV)

"And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water! What is to prevent my 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." (Acts 8:36,38 RSV)

Who Was Baptized?

Baptism was and is an act of repentance (the only exception was Jesus Christ, Who was baptized as an example only - He had absolutely nothing to repent of), made by those capable of making such a decision for themselves, whether someone who discovered the Truth as an adult, or someone whose parents brought them up in the knowledge of the Lord so that they could make the decision to be baptized when they were mature enough, and responsible enough, to make such a commitment. There is no record in the Bible of infants or young children being baptized - nor is there reason to fear that if a child were to die before being baptized that he or she is somehow forever "lost" (see The Last Day).

"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 RSV)

"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" (Acts 8:12 RSV)

"And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:40-41 RSV)

Who Did The Baptizing?

Any baptized believer who was living a life in keeping with obedience to God was "qualified" to baptize (Saul, who became the apostle Paul, was baptized by Ananias, a "lay member" of the church - Acts 9:10), however in most cases those who baptized were also teachers. It often depended on circumstances. It's a surprise to many that Jesus Christ did more water baptisms than John the Baptist, although Jesus' students (disciple literally means student) did the actual baptizing for Jesus, in Jesus' Name i.e. by the authority given to them by Jesus, just like a police officer might say, "Stop in the name of the law":

"After this Jesus and His disciples went into the land of Judea; there He remained with them and baptized ... Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John, although Jesus Himself did not baptize, but only His disciples" (John 3:22, 4:1-2 RSV)

"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" (Matthew 28:18-20 RSV)

Fact Finder: Is baptism important?
Mark 16:16

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