Friday, October 10, 2008

Jesus' Baptism

I've been asked many times in our New Members' Class, "If Jesus was immersed, then shouldn't we be immersed as well?" Let me make a couple comments here. First, Jesus' baptism, ironically and amazingly, was NOT Christian baptism! Paul makes this very clear when he meets up with the converts in Ephesus as recorded in Acts 19. In Acts 19:3 the converts said they were baptized into John's baptism which Paul states in v4 was a baptism of repentance. So, in v5 they then received the baptism into Jesus, Christian baptism. But that is not the real point...the real issue is the question as to whether Jesus was immersed even in John's baptism. What leads people to the conclusion that he was is the use of the prepositions in the Gospel accounts. In Matthew 3:16 we read that when Jesus was baptized, he went up from the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descend upon Him. Many conclude that this proves immersion...Jesus went under the water, then came up from the water. But it could just as easily mean that He walked down into the water from the bank with John, was baptized by pouring or sprinkling (as is often portrayed in most art!), then walked out from the water onto the bank (thus, "went up from the water") and then, on the bank of the river, the Spirit descended upon Him. This carries even more weight when we notice that the text tells us Jesus came up FROM the water...if Matthew was trying to tell us Jesus was immersed, he could have been more clear. Because if you simply arise from UNDER the water, you are still IN the water. But Matthew tells us that Jesus "went up from the water", that is, He walked out of it. The greek preposition is a preposition of motion, meaning to move away from, expressing the idea of separation. If Jesus was immersed and Matthew simply means Jesus came up from being immersed, this is not the best preposition to use. It is as if Matthew said, Jesus walked up out of the water onto the bank, and the Spirit descended upon Him. The baptism of Jesus says nothing about immersion.


John Edwards said...

sounds good to me. Just like walking out of the pool huh?

John Edwards said...

I was there sunday morning and witnessed an infant baptism for the first time. In my mind it is no different from all the baby dedications that I did as a Pentecoastal pastor for ten years. I would say the same things and use oil. I dont see the problem.