Baptism, thoughts on its origins and meanings

        Water baptism is commonly practised as one of the ordinances of the church, the body of Christ, to which believers belong today.  But it may surprise some of us that this ordinance has its roots in the Old Testament Hebrew scriptures, and specifically in the law of Moses. Water itself is known as the 'universal solvent' and because of this characteristic it performs a vital function for plants, animals and human beings. It is also used today to wash dishes, hands, clothes and other things that have become soiled, so it is not surprising that the scriptures also use water in a spiritual or figurative sense to cleanse a person or a thing if they have become spiritually soiled or dirty or otherwise contaminated.

         This figurative sense of the cleansing power of water is seen when Aaron and his sons became priests:

     "And this is the thing which you shall do to them to hallow them, that they may serve me as priests....  Aaron and his sons you shall bring near the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water.  (Exodus 29:1, 4)


Old Testament washings

          Ceremonially unclean

          Defilements: bone, bodies, leprosy in person, leprosy in house, discharges, birth

          Failure to cleanse after defilement (exclusion)

          Luke 2:22 when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished


John the Baptist washings in preparation for the kingdom of the heavens

          Baptism of repentance for remission of sins in preparation for the kingdom of the heavens

          Failure to be baptized

          John 1:31  that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water

          Connection of OT washings and NT baptisms: translations & discussion of Pharisees re. washings & baptism


Jewish washings, the Mikveh

          Pots, cups, hands

          Purification, John 2

          Purification versus John’s disciples John 3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26.  And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

          Scribes & priests would become unclean by entering a gentile building & thus not eat the Passover

          John 11:55 the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

          John 2:6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. (This was a Jewish pouring, not a full body immersion)

          Acts 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads. Vs. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

 27.  And when the seven days were almost ended, (see Acts 24:28)


Lord Jesus Christ washings in preparation for the kingdom of the heavens

          Significance of the Lord’s baptism? Was it cleansing for His Priesthood?

          Was it to identify him with Israel?

          Same as John the Baptist, but done by His disciples, not by the Lord Himself

          Mat 3:14-15 saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 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.


Acts 2 – 28 baptisms

          Distinction being baptized with John’s baptism and baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ

          Mark 16:16          he that believes and is baptized shall be saved

          Acts 2:38             repent and be baptized and you shall receive the holy spirit

          Acts 22:16           be baptized and wash away your sins

          2 Peter 3:21         baptism which now saves us,  cleansing of conscience  - The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

          1 Cor 15:28         baptism for the dead

          Rom 6                   buried with Him

          Col 2:12               buried with Him

          1 Cor 6:10-11      Ye were washed, sanctified.  Kingdom of God. Also Acts 22:16

          Eph 5:26              Washing of water by the word

          1 Tim 5:10           Washed the saint’s feet

          Titus 3:5              Washing of regeneration

          Heb 6:2                Of the doctrine of baptisms

          Heb 9:10              Divers washings

          Heb 10:22            Hearts sprinkled, bodies washed with pure water

          Heb 9:13              if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  (see also vs 23


Prison Epistles baptisms

          Eph 4:5                One baptism

          Col 2:12               Buried with Him, also circumcised with Him

          Titus 2:14            Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.