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The meaning of Baptism

Updated on October 26, 2012


The Lord Jesus had given two important ordinance to Church to Do. They are:

  1. Baptism and

  2. The Lord's Supper.

Baptism is the first of the two sacraments. These two ordinance were ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus baptism is seen to be an individual act of obedience on the part of a believer, to the command of His Lord and Saviour, while the observance of the Lord's supper is the collective act of obedience on the part of group of believers who have met together in the name of the Lord Jesus, for the purpose of remembering Him in the breaking of the bread and the drinking of the cup.

Baptism is the illustration of the believer's identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.

The meaning of Baptism

The meaning of the Greek word: The word baptism comes from the Greek Word 'Baptisma' the verb form is “Baptizo”. Both these words are derived from the word “Bapto” which means 'to dip'. The word occurs some 80 times in the New Testament. The word was based by the Greeks to describe the dyeing of a garments by dipping it in the dye, or the drawing of water by dipping a cup into a container of water. Thus the idea conveyed by the word is immersion.

The definition of Baptism

Baptism is the divinely appointed ordinance by which a Christian, in figure or picture, confess to others, by submitting to his immersion in water, not only his faith in the Son of God, but his spiritual identification on his behalf. As Christ went through the lawful reality of dying for sins, being buried and rising again, so the believer by gained down under the water of baptism and emerging. There from announces to all who witness it that he confess he has died to sin in the person of his substitute has been buried with Him and has been raised together with Him, hence forth to walk with Him in the newness of life and live to his glory.

Christian baptism is the act by which a person who has trusted Christ as his own personal savior and Lord openly and publicly identifies himself with Lord Jesus Christ. By this he shows symbolically that Christ's death was his death, and that Christ's resurrection was his resurrection and that henceforth he is forever identified with the Lord Jesus, to own His supreme Lordship and to live for his glory for the remainder of his life. Perhaps the best illustration of the meaning of the word identification is found in Leviticus 1:2-4.

The three fold test of the validity of a New Testament Ordinances

An ordinance, to be scripturally valid, must meet a three fold requirement:

  1. It must be commanded by the Lord Jesus as recorded in the gospels (Matt.28:19-20; Mk. 16:15)

  2. It must be practiced by the church as recorded in the Acts of the apostles (2:37-47)

  3. It spiritual significance must be clearly expounded in the epistles (Rom. 6:3). There are only two ordinances that meet three-fold test, Baptism and Lord's table.

It must be commanded by the Lord Jesus

It was commanded by the Lord Jesus in the gospels. It was after his death and resurrection that the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples as follows: “Go therefore and teach all nations baptizing them... (Matt. 28:19-20, Mk. 16:15).

It must be practiced by the Lord Jesus

The example of the early church, as seen in the Acts. The best book to read on baptism has in... for 2000 years. It is the book of the Acts of the Apostles. Let us see at few instances as recored in this book

a. The Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-47)

b. The Samaritans (Acts 8:5-25)

c. The Eunuch (Acts: 8:26-39)

d. Simon Magician (Acts. 8: 13)

e. Soul of Taurus (Acts 9:1-20)

f. Cornelius, the Roman centurion (Acts.10:1-18)

Its spiritual significance must be clearly expounded in the epistles.

There are many examples, we can see in the epistles. (Rom.6:3; Eph. 4:3-6)

Who should be baptized? The answer, in brief, in this only those who have heard and responded to the gospel message, who have believed that Christ bore their sins, died in their stead and rose again for their justification, and have received Him as their own personal saviour and Lord. Only such have any right to be the subjects of Baptism.

Example: Acts 18:8; Corinthian believers, three things are stated here. They heard the gospel. What was the gospel that they heard? Paul himself tells us in a letter he wrote to these same people a short times after words (1 Cor. 15:1-5). He proclaimed the gospel of good news he had been commissioned to declare (Rom. 10:17).

The second thing stated is that these people believed the message that Paul preached by realizing their need of salvation. Third thing mentioned is that those who had believed on Christ were baptized.

The Mode of Baptism

The scriptural mode of Christian baptism is complete immersion in the water. Of course is by immersion in water. We have many evidence from the scripture. The Greek word “Bapto” occurs 80 times in the New Testament. According to the well known authority, Liddell and Scott's Greek lexicon it means 'to dip' or 'to dye'. This of course is done by immersion. It issued to describe the act of drawing water by dipping a vessel there in. The example of scripture Mathew 3:16 'went up' Acts 8:38-39, 'went down' in the water.


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    • MarieAlana1 profile image

      Marie Alana 4 years ago from Ohio

      Congratulations on your Baptism! It is a very humbling experience.