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John the Baptist Pt. 3

Updated on January 30, 2019
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Barry is the founder and dean of Mindanao Grace Seminary, Philippines.

The Apostles Baptism

Many of the Landmarkists argue that the baptism of John was accepted by Jesus and is therefore the same as Christian baptism. Please remember that the totality of their argument for the Baptist Church being the only true church hinges upon an unbroken line from the contemporary church going back to John the Baptist. By arguing that the Baptist Church can trace its practices back to John the Baptist and that the Bible only endorses baptism by immersion they can claim that the Baptist Church is the only true church.

Who Baptized the Apostles?

I fear that there is very little I can say in response to this question and the reason being is that the Bible does not say. Some people find this to be terribly troubling but the fact remains that we have no idea who baptized all of the apostles. We cannot assume that all the Disciples were first disciples of John. The Bible tells us of two Apostles who were disciples of John.

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. John 1:35-40

Many commentators believe that in addition to Andrew who is mentioned in verse 40, that the other disciple is John.[1] For the sake of argument and simplicity, let us assume that it was John. The question remains, what of the other 10 Disciples? Who baptized them?

“Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), He left Judea and went away again into Galilee.” John 4:1-3

Given that there is no verse to contradict this statement, we must conclude that Jesus baptized no one. And given that there were disciples who were called directly by Jesus (such as Matthew) and were never disciples of John, we must conclude that it is not known nor can it be proven that they were baptized at all.

“We can assume…”

We must go back to the circular argument of the Landmarkists.

- Baptism by immersion is the only Biblical form of Baptism

- John’s Baptism was the baptism of the Church

: Therefore, we can assume that the disciples were baptized.

This is at best, an argument from silence. I would caution those who take this approach because unwittingly they open the door not only for other such assertions but for down-right heresies. For example, this is the very same strategy employed by the pedobaptism. They take the household baptisms found in the book of Acts and make a similar conclusion.

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. Acts 16:31-33

The Pedobaptism will say “We can assume that there were children and probably infants in the house so we can conclude that they would be baptized also.” Assume? Is that how we interpret Scripture? We just make assumptions about our presuppositions? I think not. Once this door is open, then like Pandora’s Box, we shall see all sorts of evils leap forth. Shall we also “assume” that Jesus had a wife, even though one is never mentioned? Shall we also assume that the seven days of creation really are not literal but refer to “ages?” No, I think not. To assume upon Scripture is to presume upon God.

Where the Bible is silent, we can only be safe if we remain silent. Note please, it is possible to make inferences but those inferences are not to be based upon presuppositions or assumptions but rather are derived from what has been clearly revealed. There is nothing about the baptism of the Disciples who went on to become the Apostles and therefore we can make no conclusions.

Is Baptism the Test?

This is a difficult question to answer. The Bible is clear from the examples that we have in the Book of Acts, as well as the commands from the Apostles, that those who profess faith in Christ are to be baptized. I will further affirm that the normative method of baptism is immersion. However, the question remains before us, is baptism the test of salvation, conversion or a true church?

I hope it would be granted that it is possible for a person to receive water baptism by immersion who is not truly converted. Unless, we believe in baptismal regeneration, this is inescapable. Surely, we must also see that it is very possible that a church could practice baptism by immersion in water and at the same time, teach heresy (please note, I am saying a self-proclaimed church). Granting these two points, then we must conclude that water baptism alone is not the test for being a convert or a true church. Perhaps, we could say that is baptism is necessary for obedience but not sufficient to guarantee salvation or that an assembly is a Biblical church. And while not necessary for salvation, it must at least be considered normative for obedience sake.

Notes

[1] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible" (Vol. 2). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 129.

John the Baptist Part 1

Landmarkism

© 2019 Barry G Carpenter

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