Christian Apologetics Society

Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
- Matthew 22:29

Isaiah 55:11
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it
Gen 1:3
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body."
Malachi 1:11
My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty.
John 20:23
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 2:14
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
Luke 20:38
For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.
Rev 21:27
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
1 Cor 3:15
If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
John 3:5
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
1 Timothy 3:15
but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Acts 22:16
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Baptism by Immersion Only

During one of our routine patrols of the Blogosphere for all things "baptism", we chanced upon a comment citing a portion of a Nineteenth Century Bible dictionary. The dictionary was compiled by M.G. Easton M.A., D.D.. M.G. Easton was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and writer, whose best known work is Easton's Bible Dictionary, published in 1897, three years after his death. A quick search for "Easton's Bible Dictionary" indicated that the tome was available in digital form at one of my favorite online Christian libraries, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College.

Here's the excerpt that caught our attention:

    The mode of baptism can in no way be determined from the Greek word rendered "baptize." Baptists say that it means "to dip," and nothing else. That is an incorrect view of the meaning of the word. It means both (1) to dip a thing into an element or liquid, and (2) to put an element or liquid over or on it. Nothing therefore as to the mode of baptism can be concluded from the mere word used. The word has a wide latitude of meaning, not only in the New Testament, but also in the LXX. Version of the Old Testament, where it is used of the ablutions and baptisms required by the Mosaic law. These were effected by immersion, and by affusion and sprinkling; and the same word, "washings" (Heb. 9:10, 13, 19, 21) or "baptisms," designates them all. In the New Testament there cannot be found a single well-authenticated instance of the occurrence of the word where it necessarily means immersion. Moreover, none of the instances of baptism recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (2:38-41; 8:26-39; 9:17, 18; 22:12-16; 10:44-48; 16:32-34) favours the idea that it was by dipping the person baptized, or by immersion, while in some of them such a mode was highly improbable.

    The gospel and its ordinances are designed for the whole world, and it cannot be supposed that a form for the administration of baptism would have been prescribed which would in any place (as in a tropical country or in polar regions) or under any circumstances be inapplicable or injurious or impossible.

    [Illustrated Bible Dictionary, by M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897]


It was the sentence "The mode of baptism can in no way be determined from the Greek word rendered "baptize." that caught our eye. As regular CAS readers know, we are located deep in Southern Baptist territory. Local baptists are quick to state the the Greek word baptizmo means "to dip" and nothing else. Therefore, baptism is by immersion only. The fact that a learned mainline Reformation minister not only took exception to the rigid Baptist definition of baptizmo, but also listed some very strong polemics against the limited definition is somewhat amazing.

We'll have to test Doctor Easton's arguments with our Baptist friends. We'd be curious to hear the Baptist response, other than the rote baptizmo means "to dip".

Related Posts:
The Geek of Immersion Baptism
Baptism by Immersion - Clothed or Unclothed?
The Holiest of Nights

Source: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

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8 Comments:

Blogger Jacin said...

You can pull out dictionaries if you want, and pull out modern translations of ancient words to justify what you believe real baptism is. But the Bible is clear and gives plenty of examples of baptism done through submersion. Our savior was baptized in the dead sea as an example. In Puals writings, there is an exmaple of a baptism in a small body of water. Just think of what a baptism symbolizes. Its the cleaning and washing of your sins, leaving your old self behind and being born again into Christ. Your whole body is corrupted, so your whole body needs to be washed away of sin (in a metaphorical sense). That is what baptism represents.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Jacin, thank you for your comment.

>Jacin: "But the Bible is clear and gives plenty of examples of baptism done through submersion"

No, the Bible is anything but clear regarding the mode of baptism. The Bible was late being writen and baptism was already such an accepted practice that the writers didn't think it prudent to describe the process.

As M.G. Easton points out, none of the examples of baptism mentioned in the Bible are clearly and unambiguously by submersion. It may be your personal preference or the tradition of your congregation to interpret those passages as being baptism by submersion, but the Bible is NOT clear in this regards.

>Jacin: "Our savior was baptized in the dead sea as an example."

According to the Bible, Jesus was baptised by John in the River Jordan.

"At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased'"
(Mark 1:9-11)


Historians place the baptism in the vicinity of Bethany, about five Roman miles (7400m) north of the Dead Sea. As the River Jordan runs into the Dead Sea nearby, I can understand your personal interpretation of the scriptures and you are most welcome to your opinion. Just be aware that most Bible scholars hold the River Jordan and the dead Sea as distinctly different locations.

>"...your whole body needs to be washed away of sin (in a metaphorical sense). That is what baptism represents."

I am an orthodox Christian and, like the earliest Christians, believe that baptism is more than metaphorical or symbolic. I take the Bible at its word that baptism washes away sin and is regenerative. That's what the Bible clearly says and that is what the earliest Christians believed and taught consistently.

"And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Acts 22:16

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Acts 2:38

"The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us"
1 Peter 3:21

The Bible makes this clear three times and saying something three times in scripture is significant, is it not?

God bless...

+Timothy

10:52 AM  
Blogger Jacin said...

Timothy,

I appreciate your input regarding this topic. Let me start out by saying you are absolutely correct about the jordon river. That was a mistake that I realized too late. So thanks for pointing that out.

To bring on the topic at hand, there is nothing in the bible to suggest that baptism is anything but submersion. Again, I think the bible is pretty clear on this.

How many different types of baptism do the Scriptures teach? It's in the Bible, Ephesians 4:5, NIV "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."

How is such a baptism described? It's in the Bible, Romans 6:2-7, NIV. "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? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life."

What occurred at the baptism of Jesus? It's in the Bible, Matthew 3:16-17, NIV. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.' "

How and where did Philip conduct the baptism of the converted eunuch? It's in the Bible, Acts 8:36-39, NIV. "As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?' And he ordered the chariot to stop. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing."

Last that I checked, nobody goes into a river to just get sprinkled with water. Finally,I agree with your opinion that baptism is a symbolic event. It is a public testimony of your faith in Jesus Christ. However, If I am going to get baptized, I rather do it the way the Bible says and not through a man made teaching.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Greetings, jacin! Thank you for returning and commenting.

>Jacin: "...there is nothing in the bible to suggest that baptism is anything but submersion. Again, I think the bible is pretty clear on this."

No, the Bible is anything, but clear on this. No where in the Bible is there a single, unambiguois, clear case of immersion. Due to the interpretive tradition taught you, you perhaps interpret several mentions of baptisms as clear cases of submersion, butthat is an entirely different thing altogether.

>Jacin: "How many different types of baptism do the Scriptures teach? It's in the Bible, Ephesians 4:5, NIV "One Lord, one faith, one baptism."

If by "how many types of baptism" you are referring to types of modes (immersion, pouring, etc.), then the Bible is silent as it mentions none.

Also, multiple modes of baptism in no manner contradict Ephesians 4:5. For example, when baptising by immersion should the convert be baptised by laying backward, layig face down, or by bending at the knees. What does the Bible say? It doesn't. The modern tradition of man is to have the convert cross their arms, hold their nose and be immersed backward.

Of course, your personal interpretation may differ.

>Jacin: "How is such a baptism described? It's in the Bible, Romans 6:2-7, NIV."

Amen. Yes, in Romans 6:2-7, Paul compares baptism to the death and resurrection of Christ. However, Paul omits describing the actual mode of baptism.

>Jacin: "What occurred at the baptism of Jesus? It's in the Bible, Matthew 3:16-17, NIV. "As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water."

Amen. Matthew 3:16-17 says very clearly that jesus was baptised and went up out of the water. What does "went up out of the water" mean? You interpret that to mean baptism by immesion. Other Christians interpret that as Jesus was standing in the river and walked up the bank. Again, the Bible is ambiguous as the actual events. Your tradition is to interpret Matthew 3:16-17 as baptism by immersion. Again, its your personal interpretation based on a tradition that you were taught.

>Jacin: "How and where did Philip conduct the baptism of the converted eunuch? It's in the Bible, Acts 8:36-39, NIV"

Amen, This is one of my favorite baptismal passages.

According to your prior interpretation of Matthew 3:16-17, "Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water" should mean that both Phillip and the eunuch underwent baptism by immersion. Also, "When they came up out of the water" seems to confirm that both underwent baptism by immersion.

Yet, I'll wager that you interpret Acts 8:36-39 as meaning only the eunuch was baptised and that Phillip stayed above the water as the baptizer. However, the Bible clealy says that both "went down into the water" and both "came up out of the water." Same, same.

Again, you base your personal interpretation on the tradition taught you and not on the actual words found in Acts 8:36-39. We have no way of knowing from the text as to the mode of the baptism.

>Jacin: "Last that I checked, nobody goes into a river to just get sprinkled with water"

Are you not basing your statement on your local observations of river baptisms. How can you be certain that Christians in other parts of the world do not pour water over the heads of converts?

In Sprinkling the Only Mode of Baptism Made Known in the Scriptures By Absalom Peters, D.D., Doctor Peters states:

"And to this day, Jewish pilgrims are often seen to go down to the Jordan, where Christ was baptized, and while they kneel down in or by the river, the administrator takes up a little water, and baptizes them by applying it to their persons.* Thus they are baptized with water, not into water. Christ was probably baptized in this way, according to the Jewish usage, and went up straightway out of, or from the water."

So here's at least one documented example by a non-Catholic minister that some people do go to a river to sprinkle and not immerse.

>Jacin: "If I am going to get baptized, I rather do it the way the Bible says and not through a man made teaching."

Me too, but since the Bible never once describes the details of how to perform a baptism, we are pretty much left to listen the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1Timothy 3:15). Of course, the early Christians of about 70 A.D. did write down baptism instructions in a historical document known as the Didiache, the first manual on how to "do" church.

God bless...

+Timothy

7:20 PM  
Blogger Jacin said...

Timothy,

Great information. This is the primary reason I love discussion of this type, it forces you to think hard and strengthens your faith. I am sure you feel the same way.

Here are some problems with an interpretation contrary to submersion. If baptism was sprinkling with water for example, then why does the person doing the baptizing always enter the water with the person being baptized? If sprinkling is true, at the very least both parties, if you follow the Bible, should be in the water. Exceptions not included, most faiths that do not use submersion do not go into a body of water.

Similar to the above point, all baptisms took place in a body of water. It was not with the drinking water someone had in a jug. In all cases, the requirement was they had to go into the water. Again, if it were sprinkling, why would this be the case?

Therefore, to recap, why did both parties have to enter a body of water, Wouldn’t it be much more convenient to just have done it on land with a jug or “bucke?”

As far as nuances such as kneeling and things like that, not important. Any form of submersion is fine. However, what the Bible does make clear is that a body of water had to be present in which two people at least can fit into the water. In my opinion, the logical reason for this is submersion. If you go by sprinkling, then you have to figure out why both need to be in the water. And if you concur that both need to be in water, then it becomes more like a useless ordinance or ritual to have both in water then actually having a practical purpose (practical from a Christian standpoint).

Finally, if you look at baptism in the context of the entire message of the Bible, you are dieing to your old self to be born again to a new life with Jesus. Why would a sprinkling signify this? It really does not make sense. No one just washes there hands when there whole body is dirty. You have to listen to the message of the Bible. Follow the KISS principal. Submersion makes the most sense when you really think about it. I do not think anyone can reasonably deny that.

Note to people sitting on the sidelines, the important message to take here is that you accept Jesus Christ, no matter the mode of baptism. I have a few personal reasons why I prefer submersion, but if your conviction in Christ is strong, then the only thing you really owe to yourself is to make sure your following the truth and not a man made teaching. I think Timothy will agree to that. The final authority rest with the Bible.

Timothy, the stage is yours. 

God bless.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Greetings, Jacin, my brother in Christ. Good to hear from you.

>Jacin: "Great information. This is the primary reason I love discussion of this type, it forces you to think hard and strengthens your faith. I am sure you feel the same way."

Absolutely!

>Jacin: "If baptism was sprinkling with water for example, then why does the person doing the baptizing always enter the water with the person being baptized?"

The person doing the baptising does NOT always enter the water. Only in the baptism of the eunuch does the Bible ever state that two people entered the water. One instance out of many does equal "always". Also, in modern practice, there are countless videos and photographs showing the baptiser standing outside of the water on dry land.

>Jacin: "If sprinkling is true, at the very least both parties, if you follow the Bible, should be in the water."

Not so. That's a false assumption on your part. If you read Sprinkling the Only Mode of Baptism Made Known in the Scriptures, Dr. Peters carefully examines every single baptism recorded in the Bible and gives clear testimony as to why many of the baptisms were by "sprinkling" (pouring) and inland, outside of water.

>Jacin: "Similar to the above point, all baptisms took place in a body of water."

Again, read Dr. Peters book and his explanations of each baptism recorded in the Bible. All baptisms did NOT take place in a body of water.

>Jacin: "It was not with the drinking water someone had in a jug."

In several baptisms recorded in the Bible, drinking water in a jug is the simplest (KISS, Occam's razor) explanation. See Dr Peters discussion of the baptism of the jailer and also the baptism of Cornelius. There's also the problem of the baptism of the thousands in Jerusalem. Again, read Dr. Peter's discussion of the available water sources at the time and location.

>Jacin: "In all cases, the requirement was they had to go into the water."

Um, no. No where in the Bible does it ever state that there is a requirement to go into the water. That's your personal interpretation of scripture and not what scripture actually states.

>Jacin: "Therefore, to recap, why did both parties have to enter a body of water, Wouldn’t it be much more convenient to just have done it on land with a jug or “bucket?”

Again, there is no requirement in the Bible that both parties have to enter a body of water. If there were, I doubt the baptisers in the photo and video I linked to would be shown standing outside the water.

>Jacin: "However, what the Bible does make clear is that a body of water had to be present in which two people at least can fit into the water."

Nope. The only thing the Bible makes clear is that water must be used for baptism and not milk, motor oil, or beer.

>Jacin: "In my opinion, the logical reason for this is submersion."

I fully agree that this is your opinion. However, there is a difference between one's opinion and what scripture actually states.

>Jacin: "If you go by sprinkling, then you have to figure out why both need to be in the water. And if you concur that both need to be in water, then it becomes more like a useless ordinance or ritual to have both in water then actually having a practical purpose (practical from a Christian standpoint)."

Um, this is a strawman fallacy. Your strawman ("useless ordinance") is based on a faulty assumption ("you have to figure out why both need to be in the water"). As both do not need to be in water, there is no useless ordinance.

>Jacin: "Finally, if you look at baptism in the context of the entire message of the Bible, you are dieing to your old self to be born again to a new life with Jesus. Why would a sprinkling signify this? It really does not make sense. No one just washes there hands when there whole body is dirty."

Two things:

1) You seem to make the case that baptism is regenerative and not symbolic. If baptism is symbolic, then pouring is just as symbolic as submersion.

2) You seem to doubt the power of God. Does not almighty God have the power to cleanse us from sin without our entire body being submersed? Does God have limitations?

>Jacin: "Follow the KISS principal. Submersion makes the most sense when you really think about it. I do not think anyone can reasonably deny that."

Yep, I and most of the world's Christians can reasonably deny that. Pouring is the most simple mode of baptism and can be performed anywhere on the planet with just a cup of water or less. Submersion requires large bodies of water and impairs baptism in much of the inland planet. Why would God require an ordinance that could not be performed everywhere on earth? Pouring beats submersion in simplicity (KISS, Occam's razor).

>Jacin: "The final authority rest with the Bible."

Not according to the Bible. The Bible and Jesus clearly teach that the final authority is the Church.

"And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."
(Matthew 18:17)

BTW, as you seem an authority on baptism:

One submersion or three?
Clothed or unclothed?
Jewelry or no jewelry?
Hot water or cold?
Running water or still water?
Self-submersion or by 2nd person
One baptism or is rebaptism allowed?

What does the Bible say? What did the early Christians (1st - 4th Century) practice?

God bless...

+Timothy

10:42 PM  
Blogger Seraphim said...

I guess my layity is coming out here.

Logically, if baptism is a demonstration of a circumsised heart, why is the process have requirements that are not explicitly explained in the Bible?

For instance, the sacrifice and temple preceding were explicitly defined in the OT, seems to me something as important would have a more definite explanation?

I believe baptism is important, but not salvific, and necessary but not redemptive. I cite the thief on the cross as my biblical example.

So to my mind, if you as a bond-servant of God, sprinkle water on your child, or immerse them, you do so with a prayer to God that he might give them repentance and be adopted to the family. (2 Timothy 21-end)

I was brought up with the idea that only confessing believers should/could be baptised and only after they had some sense of what they were doing. As your first public act of obedience.

I agree with Timothy though, the Bible is ANYTHING but clear.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Seraphim said...

Last comment;

What is the harm of immersion?

3:30 PM  

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