How Baptism's Meaning and Method Are Related
What is the correct method of baptism: sprinkling, pouring, immersion or some other technique? As most Bible dictionaries show, the word translated into English as "baptize" is the Greek word baptizo, meaning "to dip into" or "immerse." The Greek language uses different words to express sprinkling or pouring, none of which ever refers to baptism.
All biblical examples reveal that baptism was always performed in a body of water large enough and deep enough for immersion. John 3:23, for example, tells us that John the Baptist "was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there." Matthew records that when Jesus was baptized He "came up immediately from the water" (Matthew 3:16).
All other examples of baptisms by Christ's disciples mentioned in the Scriptures follow this pattern. We read in Acts 8:38 that "both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he [Philip] baptized him." There is no biblical example of any other form of water baptism.
We find an important reason that immersion is the only proper form of baptism. In Romans 6 Paul describes baptism as a symbolic burial (verses 1-6). No other form of baptism except full immersion in water can depict a true burial. Baptism represents the burial of the old self.
The Scriptures show us that baptism should be performed in water deep enough to immerse, to completely submerge, the new believer. Baptism done in this manner is profound in its meaning.
Romans 6 shows that it represents not only the burial of our old self, but our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as our Lord and Master. It also pictures our rising from a symbolic death to a new, converted life—by our coming out of the watery grave of baptism. It represents our faith that, just as Jesus was resurrected from the grave, so will God resurrect us to immortality at Christ's return.
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