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The Rebaptism Controversy

The prime example of "rebaptism" in the Holy Bible:

"19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul [see Paul's Ministry] having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received The Holy Ghost since ye believed?

And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?

And they said, Unto John's baptism.

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 [see How Long Was John's Ministry?]. 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues [see The Origin Of Speaking In Tongues], and prophesied. 19:7 And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:1-7 KJV)

Why did Paul "rebaptize" those people? Was it because they had "only" been baptized by John the Baptist? Certainly not! As an example for all true Christians, Jesus Christ was baptized by John, and there was no problem at all. But consider carefully, from the full account, those who did have a problem with "John's baptism" - and why i.e. "3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." (Matthew 3:1-17 KJV). They were not truly repentant, which is the purpose of baptism, and they therefore did not receive the Holy Spirit in due time after Christ's resurrection as repentant people did at the so-called "birthday of the church" Pentecost (whether they were in Jerusalem that day, or anywhere else).

"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias [i.e. The Prophet Isaiah], saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight [see The Elijahs].

3:4 And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey [see also Milk and Honey]. 3:5 Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, 3:6 And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees [see also The Origin Of The Essenes, Sadducees And Pharisees] come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father [see Circumcision]: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 3:10 And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

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 [see Baptism Of Fire]: 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

3:13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

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

3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him [see also Christian Doves]: 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

True Baptism Only Happens Once

The act of baptism, which is an act of repentance, is invalid without genuine repentance, which is based upon, first, understanding enough of the Truth to, secondly, dedicate one's life thereafter to living according to the Truth, during which the Holy Spirit will come to make greater understanding possible. The people that Paul rebaptized were apparently repentant, but had insufficient knowledge, while the Pharisees were lacking in both repentance and knowledge.

It's the repentance, based upon understanding of the Truth, that "saves" because only the repentant will be granted salvation. As plainly stated by the Word of God, baptism, by immersion (baptize literally means to immerse), is a living Prophecy of the death, burial and resurrection of the repentant person (see Dead Souls).

The Holy Scriptures

"6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 6:2 God forbid [see Grace Into Licentiousness]. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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.

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 [see When Will You Be Judged? and Could Christ Return Tonight?]: 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. 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6:1-18 KJV)

The question of whether someone should be "rebaptized" is really a question of whether the person has been truly baptized at all. According to the principles found throughout the Holy Bible, infant "baptism" is not baptism because infants are not yet capable of understanding, faith or repentance (see Why Isn't Infant Baptism Valid?). As well, even if an adult was baptized, by immersion, it isn't baptism if they didn't yet have sufficient knowledge, based upon the written Word of God, to understand what living a repentant life thereafter would involve. Being "baptized" merely to join a "church" is not baptism.

On the other hand, if the person baptized did have sufficient starting-point understanding (e.g. by observing thereafter the LORD's one and only true Sabbath) and they have done their honest best that they could thereafter to grow in grace and knowledge (see Holy Bible Reading Plan With Study Notes and Growing In The Grace And Knowledge), their baptism was valid according to the written Word of God, even if the person who baptized them was later discovered to have doctrinal errors, or even went apostate. Baptism is about the repentance of the person being baptized, not about the person doing the baptism.

Fact Finder: (a) Were the people of the Exodus "baptized"? Who did it? (b) Were they an example for us? What happened to those of them later who failed to repent and obey the Word of God? Who destroyed them?
(a) 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and Why Through The Sea?
(b) 1 Corinthians 10:5-9 and A Journey Without A Destination


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Copyright © Wayne Blank