If we peruse the Bible in the order it has been laid out, the first thing we see Jesus said is in Matthew 3. He’s come to John who has been baptizing people in the river. John recognizes him, realizes Jesus wants to be baptized by him, and protests. John says he should be baptized by Jesus. But Jesus replies:
… or something like that, we’ll assume it’s very close to what he said, although Matthew was the only one to record it. Jesus’s baptism is also recorded in Mark and Luke as well.
From this passage, one thing I think we can take away is, according to the Bible, Jesus got baptized
Some things to ponder:
- Notice, Jesus went to John, not the religious leaders of the day.
- John said he was baptizing for repentance, and that the one to come would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- Thayer Definition of the original word: 1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk) 2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe 3) to overwhelm
- There isn’t any direct reference to baptism in the Old Testament. Yet, could it relate to the cleansing rituals in the Old Testament?
- John was known to baptize in a place known as Bethabarah (Bethany in some translations). According to Strongs, The name of this place was of “Hebrew origin ([H1004] and [H5679]); ferry house” Intriguing no? (Maybe you don’t see what I see, but a ferry takes you from one location/place to another. See it now? *wink*)
- Peter said in Acts to be baptized for the remission of sins.
- Paul baptized a few, but said Christ didn’t send him to baptize, but to preach. Then later says we were all baptized into one body by the Spirit. He also says those who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
- Jesus spoke again about baptism in Mark 16:16: Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (NIV). It should be noted however, there are issues relating to Mark 16. Feel free to read about them here. Summary: Verses 9-20 aren’t found in the presumed oldest manuscripts and there are questions as to when they were added.
We can talk about the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ to be baptized, it would all be speculation since none of it is specifically outlined in scriptures. Technically, it was done in a river, so ‘how’ shouldn’t be a subject we easily point fingers at each other on since few are baptized in a river, right?
We could say full immersion is the ‘way’, since it was how Jesus was baptized. But then what do we do where there are no bodies of water? Running water? Container big enough to immerse in? Semantics?
By who? It would appear it could be by whomever God chooses.
The ‘why’ seems to be to fulfill all righteousness, repentance, and/or remission.
But one thing for sure, if we are someone who claims to be a follower, there is no question baptism should be in our past, present, or future.
For further study, here are all the places in the New Testament the word ‘baptízō’ appears.