Fruit of the Spirit

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth...Eph 5:9

Summer 2007                                                            Volume 8,  Issue 3

Why Baptism?

There has seldom been a topic of religious discussion generating more debate than baptism. For some, baptism is unnecessary, perhaps even a nuisance. Others see baptism as a matter of choice in religious practice. And still others regard baptism as a most important teaching in the Bible. Hence our question, “Why baptism?”

Some questions about how the modern person should understand baptism need to be answered. What was the meaning of baptism in New Testament times? What is the proper mode of baptism? What is the purpose of baptism? Is baptism mandatory or optional in religious practice?

The Meaning of the Word

In order to understand the teachings of the New Testament, we must understand as fully as possible the words which it contains. “Baptism” is not an English word. It is a transliteration of a Greek word. In other words, the sounds of the Greek characters were given English letters so that the word could be used in our language without translating its meaning. Our task, then, is to determine what the word means.

Baptidzo is the Greek word which lies behind our English word baptism. Baptidzo was used in common life long before it gained any religious significance. Its basic meaning was “dip” or “immerse.” A form of this word would have been used, for example, to talk about the process of “dipping” or “immersing” a piece of cloth into a liquid for the purpose of dying it to another color.

Therefore, in order to properly translate the meaning of baptidzo, it is necessary to use a word which conveys a picture of pushing, dipping, plunging something beneath a liquid surface, causing it to be completely covered over with that liquid. We have several such words in English, the best of which is perhaps the word “immerse.” It would be better, then, to read “immerse” where our English Bibles give us “baptize.”

In Acts 8 we are told about the conversion of the Ethiopian after he was taught about Jesus by Philip the evangelist. In verse 38 Luke tells us that “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” If the Ethiopian were “immersed” in the water, completely covered by it, then it makes sense that they both went down into the water.

Concerning John the Baptist, we are told in John 3:23 that “John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.” It is significant that John chose a place to baptize which had “plenty of water.” Immersion, dipping, completely covering a person with water requires “plenty of water.”

The Significance of Baptism

The significance of baptism as a religious rite lies in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Paul expressed very clearly the force of the act of baptism when he wrote: ”What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

(continued on page 9)

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Page 1 - Elusive Victory | Page 2 - What Do I Say/Do In Time Of Loss?
Page 3 - Prison Report: Hope | Page 4 - Old Testament Studies: The Tower...
Page 5 - The Awesome Responsibility of... | Page 6 - Cutting Okra and Killing Wasps
Page 7 - Christian Evidences | Page 8 - Why Baptism?
Page 9 - Why Baptism? [Continued] | Page 10 - Continuations
Page 11 - The Weakness of Islam | Page 12 - Advertisements

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