What is Baptism ? What is Baptism For ? Is Baptism Essential To Salvation ?
Those are some very good questions. “What is Baptism”, “What is Baptism For ?”, and “Is Baptism Essential to Salvation ?”. And we’re going to let the bible answer All of those questions. Let’s start by going to the bible, to answer the first question. Exactly what IS baptism ? What is it ?
From the two pictures above, one would get the impression that water is involved in baptism. And that’s true, water is involved. But actually only ONE of the pictures, properly depicts, what baptism really is. Do you know which one it is ? Which one of the pictures is depicting the “act of baptism” according to the bible, and which one is depicting an act that man has adopted as a “substitution” for true bible baptism ?
If you know the answer, I’m proud of you. But don’t worry, if you’re not sure which one is depicting bible baptism, it’s simply because man has “clouded” everyone’s thinking so much, that people just don’t know what to believe. But again, don’t worry, because we’re going to let the bible, tell us the truth !
The Bible Word For Baptize
As you probably already know, the original text of the New Testament was written in Greek. As a matter of fact the people of that day, including Jesus, spoke what is sometimes referred to as “Koine” Greek, pronounced “coin”. Koine Greek simply means “Common Greek”, the “everyday language” that people spoke. It may have varied some from “philosophical works”, or “Official” documents, but it was the common, everyday language of the people during the time of Jesus.
The word used in the original Greek text, (the word that is translated “baptize” in English) is the Greek word, “Baptizo”, which is pronounced “Bap-tid’-zo”. Here’s the meaning of that word…
Baptizo – means properly, “to submerge or immerse”. Literally, “dip under”. Baptizo implies, “immersion, submersion”. The word “Baptizo”, comes from the word “Bapto”, which means, “to dip, to sink”.
“Baptizo”can also be used figuratively to mean, “to overwhelm”.
It’s just like being submerged, or immersed in water. In either case, you are completely “overwhelmed” with water.
You get the idea, don’t you ? It’s nothing complicated, or mysterious. Baptizo, and thus our English word Baptize, (which is really simply a “transliteration” of the original Greek word) both mean “to immerse, to submerge, to overwhelm”.
Consider Our Two Pictures
Now, take another look at the two pictures at the top of the page. Does one of the pictures depict an immersion? Does it depict being submerged? Does one depict being overwhelmed? The picture on the left depicts someone being submerged under the water, doesn’t it?
What does the picture on the right depict? It looks to me like it depicts a girl having water poured over her head. It does look like the girl has gotten fairly “wet”, but she certainly doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed with water. And she certainly isn’t being submerged, or immersed in water, is she? So, has the girl in the picture been “baptized”, or has she simply “gotten wet”? Let’s see again, what it looks like to be immersed in water…
The Meaning of Baptize
The meaning of the Greek word “baptizo” is very clear, isn’t it? Every time the bible uses the word “baptize”, it can be properly translated “immersed”. It would also be correct to translate it “overwhelmed”. But somewhere along the line, and it’s not clear exactly what the correct date was, but when the bible was translated into English, the translators made up an “English version” of the original Greek word “baptizo”. The word that the translators created is “baptize”. But even though they made up a new word, the meaning didn’t change. The meaning of the word is still, “to immerse, to submerge, to overwhelm”.
Modes of Baptism
Some people today want to argue that there are different “modes” of baptism. But what they’re actually doing is CHANGING the meaning of the word. The argument goes like this…
Immersion is only one “mode” of baptism. “Sprinkling” is another “mode”, and “pouring” is yet another “mode”. The problem is that the words “sprinkle” and “pour”, have their own separate meanings. They do not MEAN the same thing as immersion. It would be like saying that running is a “mode” of walking. Or that skipping is a “mode” of walking. Running and skipping do not MEAN the same thing as walking does. They each have their own meanings.
So we can easily understand that running and skipping are NOT “modes” of walking, but rather, they all refer to different things. Walking, skipping, and running, are all “modes” of travelling, but one is not a “mode” of the other.
The same is true of immersion, sprinkling, and pouring. They may very well, all be “modes” of getting wet, but one is not a “mode” of another. The difference is plain to see.
Modes of Immersion
Just to explain this even further, let me illustrate what would be, different “modes” of immersion, or what would be different “modes” of submersion.
You can be immersed in water by jumping into a lake. You can be immersed in water by going scuba diving. And you can be immersed in water by laying down under the water, in a large bath tub. All three of these methods of immersing yourself in water could be called “modes” of immersion. But unless you are somehow, completely covered with water, in other words, “overwhelmed” with water, you haven’t fulfilled the definition of being “immersed” in water.
How the Bible Describes Baptism
Now let’s look at a description of baptism, right from the bible. Listen please, to these two verses of scripture…
Rom 6:3-4, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ, have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism, into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead, by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
It says here that, “we have been buried with Him through baptism”. Now I ask you this; Is someone buried by sprinkling some dirt on them or by pouring some dirt on them? Or is one buried by completely overwhelming them in the dirt of the earth? It is obvious that when one is buried, they are completely immersed under the ground. They are “BURIED”. Need we really say more?
Baptism is a Burial
God almighty, the God of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, your God and my God, says that baptism is a burial ! It is a burial in water ! In Acts chapter 8, Philip the evangelist, was teaching the scriptures, to a man from Ethiopia, while riding in a chariot. The Ethiopian is described as a “eunuch”, and we are told that the eunuch had been reading a particular passage of scripture from Isaiah 53:7.
And it says in Acts 8:35, “And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, he preached to him Jesus.”
In the process of “preaching to him Jesus”, Philip obviously taught the Ethiopian eunuch about baptism, because we are told in verse 36, “And as they went along the way, they came to some water, and the eunuch said; Look ! Water ! What prevents me from being baptized ?
It sounds like the eunuch was a bit excited when they came across water, and so in his excitement, he asked Philip, “What prevents ME from being baptized? Obviously Philip had told him of the importance of baptism.
Listen to what happens next…
Acts 8:37-39, “And Philip said; If you believe, with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said; I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God !” And he ordered the chariot to stop; And they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they had come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.”
“They went down into the water….and he baptized him !” “And when they had come up out of the water..”
Philip the evangelist, “buried” the eunuch in water. “They both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he immersed him” He “buried” him in the water. “And when they had come up out of the water…” the eunuch was “rejoicing” !
Just as we have read in Rom 6:4, the eunuch had, “arisen to walk in newness of life”, and he rejoiced over it !
What Is Bible Baptism ?
Bible baptism is a burial in water. It is an immersion. It is an overwhelming in water. The “mode” of bible baptism, is to “lay one down”, beneath the water, signifying a “burial”.
And then to raise them up again, so that they can “walk in newness of life”.
That’s so simple. even a child could understand.
Our Next Lesson
In our next lesson, we will once again look to the bible, and answer the question, “What is baptism for ?” Don’t miss it. Keep reading “Bible Answers to Spiritual Questions”. Thanks so much for reading along, and allowing God’s word to teach us. May God bless you in your search for the truth.