Category Archives: BAPTISM

Why did Saul of Tarsus not refuse his water baptism by Ananias?


by Shawn Brasseaux

On the basis of 1 Corinthians 1:17, we know the Apostle Paul was not commissioned to water baptize: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” Ephesians 4:5, something else Paul wrote, says: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism….” He had also penned in 1 Corinthians 12:13 that that one baptism is not water baptism but the baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Church the Body of Christ. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Despite these “anti-water-baptism” verses from Paul’s own pen, we find him (then known as Saul of Tarsus) permitting Ananias to water baptize him!

Turning to Acts chapter 9, we read what Doctor Luke wrote as the Holy Spirit moved him: “[17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. [18] And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.”

Chapter 22 affirms: “[12] And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, [13] Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. [14] And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. [15] For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. [16] And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

If Paul was so opposed to water baptism, then why was he himself water baptized? Was that not hypocritical? If water baptism does not belong in our dispensation, how is it that Paul allowed Ananias to water baptize him? Was Paul a double-talker? “For what saith the Scriptures?” (Opinions and traditions of men do not concern us!)

Just as the Bible is a gradual revelation or unfolding from cover to cover, so individual ministries within the Bible are progressive. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ said that He had more to tell His 12 Apostles but that they could not bear it at that time. Notice John chapter 16: “[12] I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [13] Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” He would disclose that information later—the writings of our “New Testament Scriptures” would be the result of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, the Apostle Paul received direct revelation from the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ Himself for a period of 30 to 35 years. From the very moment of his salvation and commissioning on the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was aware that more Divine revelation would be given him. He knew something was different regarding God’s dealings with man—although it took over three decades for him to see all the details of that change. In other words, Paul did not immediately receive everything there was to know about God’s new program. It was an extremely slow and steady unfolding of new dispensational truth.

Acts chapter 26 says to this point: “[15] And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. [16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” During the Acts period, Paul thus wrote: “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 12:1).

One day, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed to Paul that water baptism was no longer part of His dealings with man. Paul did not understand that truth at the time of his conversion, and neither did Ananias. Both Ananias and Paul understood that water baptism—up to that time anyway—had played an integral role in the lives of those who trusted Jesus Christ. Water baptism had Old Testament roots (see Exodus 29:4 and Leviticus 8:6), and it related to purification (see John 3:23-25, especially verse 25). Ezekiel 36:25 confirms that water baptism is a ceremonial cleansing: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Israel’s washing in water symbolizes her being purified of her pagan idol worship.

Thus, John the Baptist came with a ministry to wash Israel from her paganism, to demonstrate her change in mind from worshipping idols to trusting JEHOVAH God (and His Son, Jesus Christ, their Messiah-King). Reading from Matthew chapter 3: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand…. [11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:….” (See parallels Mark 1:4,8 and Luke 3:2-3,16.) Other verses about Israel’s water baptism include John 1:26-34, Acts 2:38-40, Mark 16:15-16, John 4:1-2, Acts 10:37, Acts 13:24, and 1 Peter 3:20-21.

Jesus Himself was water baptized, and those who were water baptized were identifying with Him. Read Matthew 3:16: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:….” (Parallels are Mark 1:9-10 and Luke 3:21.) Those who rejected John’s water baptism manifested their unbelief: “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him” (Luke 7:29-30). Now, let us return to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

Paul’s salvation outside the city of Damascus is the first step in starting our Dispensation of Grace. God is still describing His new program. Truths never before revealed are now coming to the forefront. Prophecy is fading, to be resumed later, and mystery is becoming more prominent. That switch did not happen instantaneously. During the Book of Acts (chapters 7–28), that transition lasts for at least 30 years. It is conjectured that Paul’s ministry could have continued another five years after Acts. Throughout those three decades, Paul himself grew in God’s Word. The Body of Christ matured with him as he preached and wrote down those new revelations from the Lord.

During the Acts period, with the transitory nature of spiritual gifts under discussion, Paul remarked in 1 Corinthians chapter 13: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” Partial knowledge would be completed one day, Paul wrote. Now, we have that complete knowledge.

It is therefore not appropriate for us to use Paul’s latter ministry to vilify his earlier ministry. With a completed Bible, a full revelation from God, it is possible for us to become ill-minded toward the saints in Scripture who did not have that full picture. We see in entirety what they saw in fragments. They walked in the spiritual light they had, and we need to walk in the light we have. We should not demand they should have walked in the light we have. The last thing Paul ever wrote about baptism was Ephesians 4:5 (which was after Acts). Prior to this time—that is, during Acts—he had water baptized Christians. He himself was water baptized. Later, God revealed water baptism was totally unnecessary in the Dispensation of Grace. What belonged in the old program existed for a time, but passed away once the Acts transitional period was over. What Divine revelation came directly to and through Paul, that will stay with us until the Rapture.

As Paul himself commented in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (quoted earlier), those saints understood that God would bring to a close His revelation of grace doctrine at some point. Christ’s own words to Saul/Paul on the road to Damascus once again: “But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee(Acts 26:16). The point of ultimate revelation was reached when the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write his farewell Book—his second epistle to Timothy.

Indeed, Paul knew that part of his God-given ministry was to bring the Holy Bible to a close. Prophecy had already been revealed (and written down), and now the last installment of God’s plan (mystery) was slowly being exposed (and written down). Once the final part of mystery truth was divulged, the entire counsel of the triune Godhead was discovered. Beloved, consequently, there is no “secret will of God” today. All of God’s will has been revealed through the pages of the Holy Bible, especially with the addition of the Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

Colossians chapter 1: “[23]… whereof I Paul am made a minister; [24] Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: [25] Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil [bring to completion] the word of God; [26] Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: [27] To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: [28] Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: [29] Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

Ephesians 1:8-10: “[8] Wherein he [Father God] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….” With the penning of each of his 13 epistles, Paul began to see more and more into God’s mind. The Body of Christ, when hearing and reading the Holy Spirit through Paul, began to mature in its understanding (cf. Ephesians 3:1-21).

What about Israel’s believing remnant? The Little Flock developed in their spiritual knowledge as well, although they struggled to understand all the details. Nevertheless, these Circumcision saints at least recognized their prophetic program was temporarily interrupted. If necessary, read the entire third chapter of 2 Peter—especially verses 15-18. We will quote two of the highlight verses: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” You may also consult Acts chapter 15 and Galatians chapter 2, when Pauline doctrine first became apparent to the Apostle Peter and the Jewish Apostles and Elders associated with him.

As noted earlier, all revelation from God to mankind ceased when Paul wrote his goodbye Book, 2 Timothy, which was before A.D. 70. Therefore, the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” If we want to know what the Lord God has to say today, we simply open the Holy Bible and read it. We do not go around (like many precious souls do) begging God for wisdom while ignoring the Scriptures. He has already spoken. His words to and about us are Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. We study all the Bible, for it is all God’s Word, but we study all the Bible “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15). All the Bible is for us, but not all the Bible is to us or about us.

Also see:
» Does Acts 22:16 teach that water baptism washes away sins?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» How did the Great Flood’s water “save” the eight souls in 1 Peter 3:20?

Does Acts 22:16 teach that water baptism washes away sins?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Ananias told Saul of Tarsus these words shortly after the latter’s conversion. Is it really true that water baptism can wash away our sins (as in Roman Catholicism)? How are we to handle this part of God’s Word?! Not “For what saith the preacher?” or “For what saith the denomination?,” but rather “For what saith the Scriptures?”

In Acts chapter 22, the Apostle Paul is in Jerusalem giving his testimony before the Jews. Historically, his conversion occurred some 25 years earlier (in chapter 9), but we must go to chapters 22 and 26 to get further details. Notice the following in chapter 22:

“[12] And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, [13] Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. [14] And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. [15] For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. [16] And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

In order to understand verse 16, it helps to view it from the perspective of the speaker. Paul is quoting Ananias. Ananias, according to verse 12, is “a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there.” He is a believing Jew, someone who has recognized and believed on Jesus as Messiah/Christ. Ananias understands the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Read from Acts chapter 9 now: “[10] And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. [11] And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, [12] And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. [13] Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: [14] And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. [15] But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: [16] For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. [17] And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.”

Ananias does not know Paul’s Gospel or any Pauline doctrine. He does not know about Calvary as good news—especially for Gentiles. He does not know any dispensational changes have occurred other than Saul being God’s chosen vessel to the Gentiles (verse 15). Saul was an idolater in the eyes of Ananias, and he needed to be cleansed from idolatry like Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 36:25, “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” This is God promising to cleanse Israel of her idol worship. John the Baptist conducted his ministry under such instructions. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom. All Ananias knows is the Gospel of the Kingdom. Notice Acts 2:38: “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.” This was based on Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15-16: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

As far as Ananias is concerned, Saul needs to be water baptized for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This was all done for Ananias’ benefit rather than Paul’s. Paul was already a justified man (it happened outside of Damascus), but God had him visit Ananias (in Damascus) so as to show the Little Flock that Saul was now a follower of Jesus Christ. Such a radical transformation needed abundant proof. Paul, already a member of the Body of Christ, had the indwelling Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:13-14; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Ananias does not know this though—he knows nothing about the Body of Christ, nothing about the Dispensation of Grace, nothing about salvation and forgiveness of sins apart from Israel’s program. God will let Ananias operate with Saul in such a special way so as to not damage Ananias’ spiritual edification.

Remember, prior to Saul’s salvation, water baptism was simply something a believer in Jesus Christ did. John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and the 11, et cetera, had all been water baptized and had ministries that endorsed water baptism. Unless Saul followed in like manner, he would be discredited (by either members of the Little Flock, believing Israel, or apostate Israel, unsaved Jews). Up to that point, water baptism had played an integral part of God’s program with Israel. To not be water baptized meant a person was expressing unbelief! (It would hinder Ananias unless he water baptized Paul, so God allowed Paul’s water baptism.)

Turn to Luke 7:29-30: “[29] And all the people that heard him [John the Baptist], and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. [30] But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” Verse 30 was true of the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus during Christ’s earthly ministry (Matthew through John) and all the way until Acts chapter 9. Saul was an unbeliever, and all the Little Flock knew it because he refused to participate in John’s water baptism. When Saul met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts chapter 9), however, it only made sense for him to be water baptized. Acts is written for Israel’s benefit, that they see how God set them aside after they refused to believe His Son. Paul’s water baptism entered the record of Scripture in Acts so as to bear witness of his conversion.

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins, so is it possible for water to take away sins?! Of course not!! Physical water molecules cannot remove spiritual stains!! Even in Israel’s program (like ours), the shed blood of Jesus Christ is how sins are cleansed. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7). “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood(Revelation 1:5). “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Water baptism for those in Israel’s prophetic program was the outward testimony of an inward trust in God. It was a symbol or sign of inward cleansing or purifying. It demonstrated to Ananias (and all other members of the Little Flock) that Saul of Tarsus was a believer in and servant of Jesus Christ, though Saul was saved apart from Israel’s program (more on this later). Again, this is highly important because Acts chapter 22 is Paul giving his testimony to the Jews in Jerusalem. When he shared that same testimony with Gentile King Agrippa in chapter 26, he made no such reference to Ananias and his water baptism. A Gentile did not need to know such information; however, a Jew did. God had Paul be water baptized so he could talk about it years later to Jews in Acts chapter 22.

John chapter 3 shows us water baptism conveyed the issue of purification: “[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.” The meaning behind water baptism is found in 1 Peter 3:21: “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:….” Again, water baptism represents an inward issue. For those in Israel’s prophetic program, it was the outward testimony of an inward trust in God. It was an expression of their faith. If Saul were not water baptized, he would be perceived as (still being) an opponent of Jesus Christ. Go back to Luke 7:29-30 if necessary.

By the way, there is a strange idea in some theological circles that Paul was actually saved by two Gospels. It is argued, on the basis of Acts 22:16, that Paul was first saved unto eternal life following Acts 2:38 (the Gospel of the Kingdom). Paul was allegedly saved a second time, justified a second time, by believing the Gospel of the Grace of God. This is absolutely silly and completely unnecessary. If one is justified before God unto eternal life, there is no purpose in a second justification. One cannot be forgiven of all sins twice. This is impossible. Righteousness does not need to be imputed twice. That is downright foolish.

Paul was the first member of the Church the Body of Christ, and like us, he believed the Gospel of the Grace of God. Notice 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “[15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Something new began with Paul. His salvation, justification, had absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s program. There was no New Covenant with him. There was no kingdom of priests for him. There was no earthly reign with him. There was no Law-keeping with him. Paul is our pattern; we are saved however he was saved. Have we been justified twice? Then neither was Paul justified twice! Have we believed two Gospel messages for salvation? Then neither did Paul believe two Gospels! Did water baptism wash away our sins? Then neither did it wash away Paul’s sins!

The “Jewish” events surrounding Paul’s salvation and Acts ministry were especially designed to communicate doctrine to Israel—particularly unbelieving Israel. Paul was water baptized, and he water baptized some of his converts. He spoke with tongues. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He physically circumcised Timothy. Why? God was proving to Israel that He was moving away from them and their prophetic program. Paul was God’s replacement for Peter (whose ministry had done those things). When the Acts transitional period ended, so did God’s provoking ministry to Israel. For more information, consider the studies linked below.

Also see:
» Can you explain Paul’s “Acts” ministry?
» Why does the Book of Acts end so abruptly?
» Why was water baptism necessary in Israel’s program?

How did the Great Flood’s water save the eight souls in 1 Peter 3:20?


by Shawn Brasseaux

A very awkward preposition appears in 1 Peter 3:20 of the King James Bible: “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” Did not the water of the Great Flood in Noah’s lifetime drown and kill? Then, how is it that eight souls were “saved by water?” And, from what did that water save them? Lastly, why would the Apostle Peter even mention in his first epistle something that happened so long ago?

The Great Flood of Noah’s lifetime was the most catastrophic event ever to occur in human history. There was unparalleled devastation, literally worldwide ruin, in all natural realms. With greatly accelerated rates of erosion, transportation, and deposition of sediment, Earth’s surface was drastically changed. Even its atmosphere was altered significantly. With the exception of those on the Ark, all members of the animal kingdom died. Save the eight souls onboard, the entire human race perished in watery graves. Such violent waters drowned many millions of—perhaps a few billion—people. Today’s fossil record is one of the evidences of a worldwide, systematic extermination of all kinds of life-forms. Modern floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, and tsunamis we experience allow us to partially understand the terrible natural conditions that occurred during the Great Deluge. Massive canyons with “puny” rivers flowing through them, major orogeny (mountain building), the divisions of continental landmasses, gigantic impact craters, and other physical landforms, show us Earth’s history has the blot of an unmatched and cataclysmic event. (As an Earth scientist, I enjoyed that digression, but let us now get back to the Bible text!)

Depending on the context, the Greek word “dia” can be translated either “by” or “through.” In the King James Bible, it was rendered “by” in 1 Peter 3:20: “eights souls were saved by water.” Some modern English versions make the verse say “through.” That is, “by” was so problematic that the standard 400-year-old English reading was changed to “through.” When reading the King James Bible, some will actually have the audacity to “correct” the word “by” and make the text say “through” (encouraging unbelief and the exaltation of man’s opinions over God’s Word). If we give our Authorized Version translators the benefit of the doubt, however, we will wind up in faith rather than doubt. What if I told you that verse 21 held the key to the proper translation of the word “dia” in verse 20? Let me prove it to you.

We turn to read 1 Peter 3:21: “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:….” Is water baptism “saving” these individuals? Well, if words mean anything, the answer is, “YES!” “…[E]ven baptism doth also now save us….” Is water “saving” those in verse 21? Yes! Could water in verse 20 (our “problem” verse) be “saving” those in that verse 20? Yes! Verse 21’s “the like figure” points back to verse 20. The Noahic floodwaters of verse 20 preview that which those in verse 21 are saved by (and from)! If that sounds like nonsense, just wait a bit longer for me to flesh it out. It will become clear shortly.

Think about what was going on during the time of the Great Flood. (Historically, those events are recorded in the Bible in Genesis chapters 7 and 8.) Water was coming from beneath Earth’s surface, and it was coming down from heaven. A universal ocean was forming on the planet. All landmasses—even their mountain ranges—were completely covered. As water levels rose because of the rain and groundwater introductions, as the continental plates sank, and as the oceanic plates rose to deliver seawater onto the landmasses, Earth’s surface was progressively inundated. The lowest elevations (coastal plains, canyons, lake/sea basins, river valleys, et cetera) were filled first. Of course, mountains were the last to flood. Animal, plant, and human carcasses floated. Sediments—even gigantic boulders—were lifted and carried about and violently deposited. (Sorry for the science excursion again!)

What else rose with those water levels? Why, the Ark, the buoyant and waterproof boat that God commanded Noah to build to the saving of his house (Genesis chapter 6). That giant marvelous vessel began to lift from the surface of Earth. In fact, the language of the Bible is that the water level had to rise for 40 days around the world before the Ark actually began to float! Genesis 7:17-18: “And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.” While it is mathematically impossible to figure out the volume of water needed to bring this to pass, the mere thought is staggering… to say the least!

Getting back to the Apostle Peter’s comments, we can see why the Holy Spirit said what He did. Why did the 1611 translators choose the word “by” instead of “through?” Something did not merely save Noah and his family through the water (as in the Ark passing through the water). There is more going on in Genesis chapters 7 and 8. Peter’s emphasis is on the water actually saving them. Remember, verse 21 says that water baptism saves Peter’s audience (which is certainly not us, but the nation Israel). In keeping with verse 21, verse 20 would have water saving people as well. The floodwaters in Noah’s day had a dual application. Firstly, they destroyed the evil human race and made way for a new world. Secondly, the waters lifted up Noah and his family, as the Ark floated above God’s judgment poured out on that wicked civilization. Without the water carrying the Ark, those in the Ark could not be saved from the water. Buoyancy in the water kept them from drowning with all the others in the water!

When the Holy Spirit led Peter to write 1 Peter 3:21, He was pointing back to Ezekiel as well as Matthew (and John the Baptist). Water baptism in Israel’s program symbolizes national repentance and cleansing from idolatry. Notice Ezekiel chapter 36: “[21] But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went. [22] Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. [23] And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

“[24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Please notice verse 25 especially—the sprinkling of clean water to cleanse Israel from all her filthiness and all her idols.)

Following Ezekiel’s prophecy, John the Baptist conducted his ministry. Matthew 3:1-12 tells us all about it: “[1] In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, [2] And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [3] For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. [4] And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

“[5] Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, [6] And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. [7] But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: [9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

“[10] And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [11] I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [12] Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

The Jews coming to John’s water baptism were preparing for God’s wrath to come (see verse 7 above). God’s wrath was approaching, soon to be poured out upon idolatrous Israel. Those who had come in faith and repentance to John’s baptism would be saved through that wrath (seven-year Tribulation and subsequent Second Coming of Christ). That wrath was anticipated in early Acts. Hence, the Apostle Peter continued preaching water baptism, as Acts 2:38-40 confirms: “[38] 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. [39] For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. [40] And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

That “untoward generation” (verse 40) was the unbelieving, rebellious Jews. Weeks earlier, they had rejected and crucified Jesus as a fraud, a liar. Instead of trusting Him as Messiah, they denied Him. Unfortunately, they were still in unbelief on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2). These people would be consumed in God’s wrath. Peter urged his Jewish audience to leave apostate Israel and join the “Little Flock” (Israel’s believing remnant). As the Lord Jesus had said in Luke 12:32, members of this Little Flock would be the heirs of the literal, physical, visible, Davidic kingdom that Israel had been expecting for many centuries. Read Jesus’ comments in Luke 12:31-31: “[31] But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. [32] Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”


Just as the floodwaters bore the Ark, so that it floated and delivered the believers from God’s wrath, so water baptism delivers the believing Jews from being consumed in God’s wrath during the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ. The water “saved” Noah and his family by floating them to safety. Likewise, the water baptism “saves” Israel by preserving them through that fiery wrath of the end-times. We have no reason to change the King James Bible in 1 Peter 3:20—eight souls were saved “by” water. This is in accordance with Jewish souls being saved “by” water during the conclusion of Israel’s prophetic program (future from us). Hence, I will leave the King James Bible text alone and just believe it. I have no business correcting it; it should be correcting me. (And, as far as I am concerned, it just did.)

Also see:
» Can you explain 1 Peter 3:18-21?
» Do I need water baptism?
» Why was water baptism necessary in Israel’s program?

Is immersion the “proper” mode of water baptism?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Some sincere people have attempted to use the Bible to prove that water baptism by immersion is the only “proper mode.” They say this to counter those in Christendom who hold to water baptism by sprinkling (aspersion) and those who hold to water baptism by pouring (effusion). Like all groups, the immersionists have “pet” verses. If people have been in such a denomination for a long time, they will mindlessly say, “But, see, this verse sounds like immersion to me….” The top three passages used here are—Matthew 3:16, Acts 8:38-39, and Romans 6:3-4. In this study, we want to ask and answer two questions: (1) Are these three passages teaching water baptism by immersion, and (2) Are they instructing us to water baptize believers today?

Indeed, this controversial topic has generated many bitter battles for centuries, but, friends, Bible truth needs to be known no matter whom it contradicts. What we will soon share will probably contradict your preacher, your theology, your opinions, your alma mater, and your parents, but so what. None of them can change what the Bible says. The words we write now and the verses we share now will anger people who have very strong emotional attachments to religious tradition of any and every denomination. Again, it is our conviction to let the Holy Bible speak for itself, and to let it contradict whomever it contradicts. “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). It does not matter who says what, which theological institution teaches what, which church believes what, et cetera. For far too long, “scholars” have been allowed to speak while the Bible has been pushed aside unless it teaches what they want it to teach. Dear readers, such nonsense ends here.

Let me be blunt. So many people suffer from “theological hydrocephalus.” This affliction troubles individuals who study the word “baptism” in the Bible through the lenses of denominational teaching. They do not read the Bible alone. Instead, they read books about the Bible, and then feed those preconceived ideas back into the Bible. Their minds get all muddled up because the traditions of men obscure the Bible’s clear teachings. They make the Bible text fit what they have heard all their lives in church, and end up all mixed up. One such example is our current topic—water baptism by immersion. Whenever someone sees something even close to proving that idea in Scripture, they will immediately pull the verse from its context and use it. No matter the topic, this is certainly a very dishonest approach the Scripture. No matter the denomination, they all “proof text” to some degree. That will not happen here. God’s words mean so much more to us than that.

The best way to analyze these three alleged “baptism by immersion” passages is to divide them into two groups. Matthew 3:16 and Acts 8:38-39 are clearly water baptisms—we will look at their contexts. However, Romans 6:3-4 is certainly not a water ceremony of any mode—we will look at its context. We will examine these passages shortly; for now, we have a verse of Scripture that has greatly helped me concerning this concept. I would like to share it with you first.

EZEKIEL 36:25—DATED 600 B.C.

Long before any part of the “New Testament” Scriptures was written, the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Ezekiel had already set a precedent in his book as to Israel’s baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Notice what he wrote in Ezekiel 36:25: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” When referring to Israel’s national conversion, her re-gathering into Palestine, when JEHOVAH God restores her unto Himself in the last days (end times), He says that He will “sprinkle” clean water on them. Friends, we are free to believe whatever we like, but we cannot change what the Bible says. The mode of water baptism that God will use for Israel is sprinkling. There is no immersion here. If we want immersion, we have to toss out the precious words of God. If we do that, we show ourselves to be loyal to men instead of to God! Still want to do it?

From the book of Acts, chapter 5, verse 31, we learn of Jesus Christ: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” We learn that God was coming in the Person of Jesus Christ to give Israel forgiveness of sins. There are no Gentiles such as ourselves here. John the Baptist’s ministry was to lead Israel back to JEHOVAH God and His Son (Messiah/Christ Jesus). Again, let us look at the Bible. Mark 1:4: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” And, “When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel (Acts 13:24). Could the Bible be any clearer? We would have to want to miss it to miss it.

So, when we come to the books of Matthew through Revelation, Christ’s earthly ministry onward, and we see references to water baptism in the Bible, the mode of water baptism is implied to be sprinkling. Why? Remember, Ezekiel 36:25 had already predicted water baptism by sprinkling centuries earlier. If we say water baptism by immersion or water baptism by effusion (pouring) is “the New Testament practice,” we are forced to not take Ezekiel 36:25 literally. Either Ezekiel 36:25 is literal, and sprinkling is the mode of water baptism for Israel, or Ezekiel is wrong and the mode of water baptism in the New Testament is immersion. Either the Word of God is right, or a denomination is right. Those are the only two options. We cannot have it both ways, friend.


“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him” (Matthew 3:16). “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:38-39).

As you can see, these two passages appeal to the immersionists. Jesus “went up straightway out of the water.” “They went down both into the water… they were come up out of the water.” It is contended that the language demands water baptism by immersion. But, again, are these verses really teaching immersion? No, not if we actually believe Ezekiel 36:25, a verse written long before Matthew and Acts. Matthew and Acts should be interpreted in light of the information the Holy Spirit had already revealed centuries prior. Ezekiel predicted “sprinkling” and Matthew and Acts are the fulfillment. That is the only logical way to look at it without changing the Bible.

So, if it is not water baptism by immersion, why the language of “he…went up straightway out of the water” and “they went down both into the water… And when they were come up out of the water…?” Remember, when John the Baptist water baptized people, he did so in the Jordan River. “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him” (Matthew 3:13). A river (situated in a valley) is at lower elevation than the surrounding land, of course. It would only make sense that Jesus, leaving the river’s elevated banks, walked into the stream, stood on the (lower) riverbed, and then walked across the riverbed to stand on the (higher) banks. He climbed down into the river, stood in the river, and then climbed back onto land. The common picture of Jesus being immersed in water is fiction—Ezekiel 36:25 does not support it. Jesus was “sprinkled” with water. Of course, we can always throw out the Bible if we prefer our theology!

Now, to the water baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8: “[35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. [36] And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? [37] And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. [38] And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. [39] And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”

Whether this was a river or a small oasis, the Bible text is obscure. Whatever “certain water” it was (verse 36), this baptism obviously was water baptism. Due to gravity, water collects in a basin, a low-lying area, whether a river, or oasis, either. Whether a river valley or oasis pond, water had collected to form a body in Acts 8:36. Like Jesus entering the Jordan River, both the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip had to climb down into the water body, stand there in the water as Philip sprinkled water onto the eunuch, and then they waded to come up out of the water body.

If we insist Acts 8:38-39 was immersion, we have a major problem: “…and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. [39] And when they were come up out of the water….” Both Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch went down into the water—then who immersed whom? See, the language is not immersion… it is descending from higher elevation (banks of the water body) to lower elevation (the water body). My dear friends, it is not hard to grasp unless we want to teach some denominational tenet!


“[3] Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

This passage is one of the most misconstrued passages in the whole book of Romans, probably in the whole Bible. As much as 99.9% of the preaching and teaching on this portion of Scripture can be reduced to the shallow expression, “We need to follow Jesus in believer’s baptism. Being dunked into water is a picture of our death to our old life, and us being raised out of the water is our resurrection to new life.” Friends, there is not one—NOT ONE!!—drop of water in these verses here! The passage never mentions the word “water” at all! For someone to make this passage a “water baptism” proof-text, he or she must invent an explanation and then force the Bible to say what he or she wants it to say. This is a most dishonest approach to the Bible, especially if that person claims Jesus Christ as personal Saviour!

If we are going to be Bible believers, we are going to have to believe the Bible. The verse says we are “baptized into Jesus Christ” and “baptized into his death.” There is no “baptized into water in the name of Jesus Christ” and no “baptized into water to picture our death to sin in Christ.” This is how denominationalists read the verse, and they are wrong. They are 100 percent wrong. Period. This “baptism” is not water baptism. It is a supernatural baptism. We cannot be placed into the death of Jesus Christ by being physically placed into water. That is dumb. We cannot be placed into Jesus by being placed into water either. That is heresy.

Romans 6:3 says we are placed into Christ’s death, not water. Jesus died 2,000 years ago, but we can still be placed into His death because the verse says so. How is this possible? The Holy Spirit is not limited by time or space. He can identify us with Christ’s death, even though that death happened many centuries ago. First Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” A person who trusts Jesus Christ’s bloodshed, death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins (Romans 4:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4), the Holy Spirit takes that believing sinner and places him or her into the Church the Body of Christ. That individual is thereby made one with Jesus Christ’s death. In God’s mind, when Jesus died, that new believer died. When Jesus was raised again, that new believer was raised again. God sees complete identification here. No “picture” (a water ceremony) is needed. That is religious tradition. God is satisfied with that one baptism” of 1 Corinthians 12:13 (Ephesians 4:5). That baptism of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is not water.

If you read all of Romans chapter 6, you can see how the Christian life operates (read chapters 7 and 8 for a fuller picture). We are dead to sin and alive unto God. We are crucified with Christ and we are raised with Christ. Sin no longer has an iron grip on our lives. We can choose not to sin because God has given us, in Christ, a capacity to be victorious over sin. There is nothing in Romans chapter 6 about water ceremonies—the whole book of Romans is silent about “water” altogether! Anyone who says there is water is Romans chapter 6 is being dishonest and simply mindlessly repeating what church tradition teaches. They need to read their Bible before they claim to believe it!


So what about water baptism today? Is it necessary for us to practice? There is not one command in God’s Word to us Gentiles, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, that we must water baptize believers in this the Dispensation of Grace. You would have to twist Israel’s verses and force them onto us—ignoring their contexts—to make them fit us the Body of Christ. As we mentioned earlier, Ephesians 4:5 says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” The only baptism that we need is 1 Corinthians 12:13, and it is the Holy Spirit (not a priest or preacher) placing us into Jesus Christ the moment we believe the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the all-sufficient payment for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). In fact, Paul said that he actually “thanked God” that he did not water baptize converts. Paul even admitted, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17). How could Paul, our Apostle, God’s spokesman to us Gentiles (Romans 11:13), say that Christ did not commission him to water baptize? The only logical explanation is that water baptism has no place or purpose in the program of God currently in effect. We either believe those verses, or we believe our denomination. It really is that simple. Do not get angry with me. Friends, believe the verses and forget the traditions of men!

Also see:
» Why was Jesus water baptized?
» Why do Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 contain dissimilar instructions?
» Why did Paul water baptize?

What does 1 Corinthians 15:29 mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” This is probably the most mysterious verse in all of the Pauline epistles—yea, in all the Bible. I doubt there is a person on earth who could fully explain it. This is partly because religion has done a very thorough job in making it extremely complicated by offering their various, and sometimes foolish, guesses as to what it means. Yet, we can use the context to shed much light on this verse. Brethren, to the Scriptures we go to be illuminated!

Some groups—Mormons, for instance—use 1 Corinthians 15:29 to teach that we should water baptize for the dead. (Hence, that organization is well known for keeping the most systematic genealogical records in the world.) The technical terms for this teaching are “baptism by proxy” and “baptism in abstentia.” That is, one individual being water baptized in the place of a dead person—especially a “non-churched” blood relative—in hopes of getting the deceased into heaven. Years ago, one local Roman Catholic priest slyly attempted to use the verse to say “early Christians” practiced it as some type of cleansing for the afterlife. He twisted the verse all out of shape just to advance his church’s (fabricated) tenet of “purgatory.” We will come right out and say it. Although this “baptism by proxy” or “baptism in abstentia” can be traced back to the second century A.D., these doctrines are flat-out heresies and completely false. They certainly are not the meaning of 1 Corinthians 15:29. The earliest Christians never practiced “baptism by proxy” and “baptism in abstentia” because the Bible never commands it! Furthermore, you would have to be blind and desperate to make 1 Corinthians 15:29 teach the notion that a judgmental fire cleanses souls in the afterlife before they reach heaven!

Others claim the verse refers to people who were water baptized because of the testimony of those who had died. A “scholar” writes, “A reasonable view seems to be… living believers who give outward testimony to their faith in baptism by water because they were first drawn to Christ by the exemplary lives, faithful influence, and witness of believers who had subsequently died.” Another explanation of the verse is that new converts in the church were water baptized to take the place of members who had died. These two interpretations are also useless. They too are spoken by denominational people advancing their churches’ traditions by forcing water baptism into this the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 1:17)!

With these opening thoughts divulged, we proceed to determine exactly what the Apostle Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Firstly, the context cannot aid us in defining that term “baptized for the dead.” We have no idea what “baptism” this is—and even those people who enjoy using 1 Corinthians 15:29 to prove their denomination right, they have no idea what the verse is saying. The Corinthians were once pagan (1 Corinthians 12:2). Pagan religions have their water rituals and rites. Whatever “baptism” that is in 1 Corinthians 15:29, it was something the Corinthians knew (from the time when they were lost). Remember that the same pagans who baptize for the dead today existed then in Paul’s day, so Paul may be referring to that. (?)

Secondly, if we look at the verse, we see, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead” and “why are they then baptized for the dead?” Because Paul uses the pronoun “they,” we know he does not associate himself with this baptism (he would have used “we”) and we know that the Christians at Corinth are not related to that baptism (he would have used “you” or “us”). The word “they” indicates that no member of the Body of Christ was performing this baptism of 1 Corinthians 15:29—this was not something for Christians. Despite what religion says today, 1 Corinthians 15:29 was not describing a Christian practice. The verse involves a third party—it was not Paul (writer) and it was not the Corinthians (audience). That fact rules out Christians from the verse entirely. End of story.

Thirdly, if you come across people who want to discuss 1 Corinthians 15:29, point out to them that Paul never condoned whatever “baptism” it was, and we are never commanded to administer it. The expression “baptism for the dead” appears nowhere else in Scripture, which makes it more mysterious. What we know is that Paul was simply making a point, not giving a command to the Corinthians (or to us). If it were such a big deal, something that we ought to believe and practice, Paul would have repeated it in other epistles. He would have given instruction on how to do it instead of making a single, vague reference to it. The Holy Spirit would have provided have been more details had it been worth discussing and practicing. There are no such details so we have no reason to get involved in it. (But, of course, people looking to advance pet denominational tenets will use anything and everything to defend themselves, with no regard for God’s precious Word.)

Ultimately, the whole argument of 1 Corinthians 15:29 is not that “baptism” at all. Religionists miss the theme of the context and just pick on an appealing phrase found in it. It is typical of denominations to “use the verses you want and ignore the ones you don’t!” The purpose of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is to prove the doctrine of resurrection as valid, not water baptism as valid, and certainly not this “baptism for the dead” as valid. Paul was defending the doctrine of bodily resurrection, which the Corinthians were denying (verse 12). The Apostle was arguing that, if there were no such thing as resurrection, those being baptized for the dead were wasting their time, for the dead would never be resurrected. There is no approval of the practice, just an affirmation of the doctrine of bodily resurrection. Imagine, there are 58 verses on resurrection in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, and the only thing religious people focus on is one silly baptism verse and one silly baptism doctrine. Shame, shame, shame!! Insane, insane, insane!!

Also see:
» Should we be water baptized—for salvation, for a testimony, or not at all?
» Why was the Lord Jesus baptized?
» Why did Paul water baptize?

Why do Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 contain dissimilar instructions?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Water baptism, the most divisive issue within Christendom, is rightly called “religious TNT.” There is tremendous confusion about water baptism. Who should administer it (priest, pastor, deacon)? What is the proper mode (sprinkling, pouring, immersion)? What words should be said? Who should be water baptized (adults only, or adults and babies)? How many times forward and backward? Where should it occur? For salvation, for a testimony, or not at all?

Two particular verses regarding this topic are Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38.

Jesus Christ commanded His twelve apostles, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19).

Strangely, we read in Acts 2:38, “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.”

Does the Bible contain a mistake here? How do we resolve Jesus Christ’s instructions in Matthew 28:19 with what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Peter in Acts 2:38? Do you see why people get confused when they read the Bible? The Bible seems to be contradicting itself, does it not? Which is it? Water baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” as Jesus Christ declared (Matthew 28:19)? Or, be baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ,” as the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter taught (Acts 2:38)? Even today, some denominations follow Matthew 28:19 while others obey Acts 2:38, fervently accusing each other of not having the valid baptism!

Resolving the apparent contradiction between Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38 is as simple as reading and believing the verses and their context. To whom does Matthew 28:19 refer? “All nations”Gentiles—just as the verse says. Whom does Acts 2:38 involve? “All the house of Israel(verse 36).

Matthew 28:19 refers to believing Gentiles in Christ’s millennial kingdom (verse 20) being cleansed from their pagan idolatry and embracing the triune Godhead, the only true God. Acts 2:38 is God’s plan of salvation for Israel: Peter is instructing Jews to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Person they rejected and crucified on Calvary’s cross. Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36), and then He urged to be baptized in Jesus’ name (verse 38).

Also see:
» Do I need to be water baptized?
» Why is water baptism necessary in Israel’s program?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?

Why did Paul water baptize?

Why did Paul water baptize?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In 1 Corinthians 1:17, Paul wrote, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” Unlike the 12 apostles in Matthew 28:19, Jesus Christ did not send Paul to water baptize, and yet, Paul did water baptize in Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, and Acts 18:8 (1 Corinthians 1:15-17). If Paul was not sent to water baptize, then why did he water baptize at all? A related question is, Why was Paul water baptized if water baptism has no place in our Dispensation of Grace? These are very good questions, and the Bible certainly has the answers. Will we be Berean Bible students and search the Scriptures for ourselves?

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:15-17 that Paul water baptized Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanus’ household. In Acts 18:1,7,8, which is where Paul first came to Corinth, the Bible says some of the Corinthian believers were Jews (this is what 1 Corinthians 1 is discussing). Crispus was the “chief ruler of the synagogue;” he and his household believed and were water baptized (Acts 18:8). Why Paul water baptized is best answered by considering the follow facts in Scripture:

  • The signs, miracles, and wonders of Israel’s program were carried over into Paul’s ministry. In doing so, God was demonstrating to Israel that her program was falling away, and Paul’s ministry was replacing Peter’s (Romans 11:11-13; 2 Corinthians 12:12).
  • Peter water baptized (Acts 2:41; Acts 10:46-48), so Paul also water baptized.
  • Paul spoke with tongues, performed healing miracles, et cetera, just like Peter did: healing—Acts 3:6-8 cf. Acts 14:8-10, raising the dead—Acts 9:36-42 cf. Acts 20:9-11, laying on hands to give the Holy Ghost—Acts 8:14-20 cf. Acts 19:6.

To validate Paul’s ministry for the Jews’ sake, God temporarily granted Paul the gift of miracle-working. Lest the Jews discredit Paul for not water baptizing, he also water baptized—that is, they could have said, “Paul does not water baptize… we should not follow him.” Paul water baptizing (and performing miracles) provoked the Jews to jealousy (Romans 11:11). Eventually, water baptism became divisive within the Corinthian church, and so Paul quit water baptizing.

Actually, the contents of 1 Corinthians indicate that Paul wrote it before Acts 28. By the time we get to Paul’s latter epistles (his prison epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus, Philemon, et cetera), Paul makes no more references to water baptism. By Acts 28, Israel’s program had ceased and she had fallen. The Acts transition period was over, and so Paul’s prison epistles such as Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, make no references to water baptism.

As a side-note, Paul was water baptized of Ananias because of Ananias’ benefit, not for Paul’s benefit (Acts 9:18; Acts 22:16). Paul was saved apart from his water baptism. Ananias knew that, up to that point, believers of Jesus Christ were water baptized. Had Paul not been water baptized, it would have been a stumbling block to those believing Jews who had been water baptized. Paul being water baptized was another instance of his ministry and apostleship replacing Peter’s. Paul being water baptized safeguarded against his critics from claiming that he was not a legitimate apostle for having not been baptized.


Also see:
» Why was water baptism necessary in Israel’s program?
» Do I need to be water baptized—for a testimony, for salvation, or not at all?
» Why was Jesus water baptized?