I have been reading Joan E. Taylor’s The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism. In “Chapter Two: Immersion and Purity” she juxtaposes John’s baptism with ritual cleansing at Qumran (e.g., 1QS). She quotes Josephus’ comments about John Antiquities 18.116-117:
(116) Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; (117) for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.
There are similarities between John’s baptism and ritual cleansing in 1QS, namely that both understand baptism to be something that follows the cleansing of the soul, and cleansing of the soul happens through righteous actions: in the case of 1QS obedience to the Law as interpreted by the Teacher; in the case of John as exemplified through virtue, righteousness toward others, and piety toward God. For both John and 1QS the body could be contaminated through unrighteousness, but the soul cannot be cleansed through baptism. So one must first cleanse one’s soul through righteous action, then, and only then, the washing ritual would make one pure in body.
This brought to mind 1 Peter 3:21 where the author states explicitly of baptism that saves that it is “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus”. If most ritual cleansings were for the express purpose of making the body ritually clean so that the body could “catch up” with the soul (if you will), then is 1 Peter aiming to imply a direct contrast? If so, what does this mean for Christian baptism?
I haven’t seen Taylor’s work nor have I gone into 1QS. From my research, however, …
W. M. Ramsay (Luke the physician, and other studies in the history of religion. New York: Hodder and Staughton, 1908) relates that G. Mackinlay (The Magi: How the recognized Christ’s star, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1907) speculated that Jesus’ baptism was before Tabernacles in 25 CE, whence His ministry began, but Ramsay can only place the baptism sometime before Passover of 26 CE. J. K. Fotheringham (The evidence of astronomy and technical chronology for the date of the Crucifixion. Journal of Theological Studies, 35, 1934) rather pointly disagreed with Ramsay’s, and therefore as well G. Mackinlay’s, reckoning. Fotheringham claims Ramsay retroactively based his counting figuring in the co-regency years of Titus (in whose reign Fotheringham claims Ramsay stated Luke wrote) and his father Vespasian. F. F. Bruce (John the forerunner. Faith and Thought, 94(3), 1965) relates that extra-Torahic ablution practices and frequencies had developed among smaller Jewish fringe groups. He also states that “a further analogy to John’s baptism may be sought in the practice of Jewish proselyte baptism.” Bruce and R. L. Webb (Jesus’ baptism: Its historicity, and implications. Bulletin for Biblical Research, 10(2), 2000) call John’s baptism, performed by him onto others, his innovation (cf. the sparse information on Bannus, first c. CE). It expanded well past mere ritual immersion of the physical body to go from an unclean to a clean state. It also included expressions of repentance (Luke 3.3), illustrations of forgiveness (connected with repentance in Is. 55.7), and cleansings from moral issues. John’s baptism (Luke 3.16) was also for conversion/initiation into a ‘readiness state’ (C. J. Bleeker, Initiation: Contributions to the theme of the study-conference of the international association for the history of religions held at Strasburg, September 17th to 22nd, 1964. Leiden: Brill, 1965); and Ant. 18.117) for the individual’s and community’s judgment and restoration by the coming Messiah, see Webb and Bruce. In form, all other Second Temple era descriptions of ritual cleansings were those of the self-administered sort.
Taylor emphasizes John’s baptism as coinciding somewhat with 1QS in that it seems like first someone had to show signs of repentance, then the baptism was allowed. The Gospels present John as telling his audience to bear fruits of repentance before submitting to his baptism. So I agree that it illustrates forgiveness, but it seems, to use some Christian language, to be “an outward symbol of an inward reality”. The context is slightly different though, with the worldview adopted by John affirming a state of spirit and a ritual state of the body that are connected, but not necessarily the same.
Yet more evidence that the Baptizer was possibly influenced, if not, a part of the Essenes (or the Quamran community)? If John the B. was chronologically baptizing in this manner before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (per the Gospels) what does that imply regarding the Christian understandings of baptism? Is water immersion to be understood as cultural? Interesting questions to ponder.
Interestingly, Taylor presents quite a case for disassociating John’s baptism directly with the community at Qumran. I haven’t come to a conclusion on this matter quite yet. There are important similarities, and important dissimilarities, and it is hard to tell if there is a connection between Qumran and John or if both Qumran and John share similar morphings from their common roots in Second Temple Judaism.
John’s baptism does seem like a bridge to Jesus’ baptism though. Jesus’ is different (at least as portrayed by the Gospels and practiced by the early Christians) is that it is baptism unto a person. John’s baptism is under his authority, but Jesus’ is under his authority and associated with his identity.
As far as baptism being cultural–in some sense, yes, very much so. We don’t share the worldview of ritual purity from which baptism emerges. Yet I am hesitant to suggest it is irrelevant for moderns, since it has evolved to become part of Christian proclamation, and it has survived the culture from which it originates, even creating religious culture in our world to some extent. The uniqueness of Christian baptism as identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus makes me shy away from any suggestion that it may be a symbol from a bygone era, like a mikvot or something.
A couple of thoughts: Jesus juxtaposes His baptism against and over John’s, (water vs. fire)- and its interesting that some consider Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit as that Baptism. I wonder if Christ’s pre-resurrection baptism with John was not used by the Gospels to theologically juxtapose the Holy Spirit which purifies over water which purifies? (It begs the question why Phillip immersed the Ethiopian, and why at Pentecost they were immersed afterwards). From an historical perspective, I wonder if Jesus’ baptism under John would not have been seen as: a) an act for repentance, OR ritual cleansing of some kind in the body; b) Jesus identifying Himself with John’s ministry as under his authority (was Jesus considered a disciple of John’s, etc); and c) why did Jesus not baptize His own disciples?
So, if I could tie together three statements from the blog and the replies…
“So one must first cleanse one’s soul through righteous action, then, and only then, the washing ritual would make one pure in body.”
“This brought to mind 1 Peter 3:21 where the author states explicitly of baptism that saves that it is “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus”. If most ritual cleansings were for the express purpose of making the body ritually clean so that the body could “catch up” with the soul (if you will), then is 1 Peter aiming to imply a direct contrast? If so, what does this mean for Christian baptism?”
“John’s baptism (Luke 3.16) was also for conversion/initiation into a ‘readiness state’ (C. J. Bleeker, Initiation: Contributions to the theme of the study-conference of the international association for the history of religions held at Strasburg, September 17th to 22nd, 1964. Leiden: Brill, 1965); and Ant. 18.117) for the individual’s and community’s judgment and restoration by the coming Messiah, ….”
… I would quote something I’ve read but unfortunately cannot attribute: “From observance comes obedience, from obedience comes observance.” Think about teaching your children manners. You teach them at an early age to say please, thank you, yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir (at least in the South we do!) At first, they learn that’s just what is expected of them; then later they realize from the ingraining of it that it’s respect they’re giving. The flip side is that if you are respectful, you will say please, thank you, etc.
Brian, really interesting post.
Let me take up the question from your conclusion: “This brought to mind 1 Peter 3:21 where the author states explicitly of baptism that saves that it is “not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus”. If most ritual cleansings were for the express purpose of making the body ritually clean so that the body could “catch up” with the soul (if you will), then is 1 Peter aiming to imply a direct contrast? If so, what does this mean for Christian baptism?”
Yes, this does sound to me like a direct contrast. 1 Peter, at minimum, is saying that baptism is not like any other washing–but it’s that second phrase, “an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus” that really drives this. A washing starts outside, and can purify the body. So one could say that baptism can purify the soul, but 1 Peter puts a very particular spin on this–an appeal FOR a good conscience THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus–and the prepositions are everything, because they generate distance. Baptism does not presume a good conscience, but rather is its basis, and this good conscience cannot come on the basis of anything about me, but on account of the risen Jesus. So, 1 Peter says that baptism is precisely the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness, and this saves you. How oddly reformational, as well as sacramental.
I wonder what Paul’s addition to all of this would be seeing that he was raised as a Pharisee where there was no real distinction between the soul/body. He literally believed in the resurrection of the body, not unto a new body or a heavenly body, but the body. Seeing that baptism is seemingly juxtaposed by 1 Peter where water cleanses the body but baptism cleans the conscience, might there be another way to reinterpret what 1 Peter is saying? 1 Peter 3 continues :
” 18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. ”
Could another interpretation hold that flesh put Jesus to death, but the Spirit made Him alive…the flood killed many but the ark saved only a remnant, and this water is prefigured as baptism…but its not the water that saves you, (not the ritual cleansing understanding of baptism, which is really in the flesh) but figuration (fleshing out) of desiring to be initiated into Christ’s resurrection–which truly saves.
I have been fascinated by the connection between Jesus and John, and the complex distancing-while-associating agenda of early Christians. You are correct that the first point of differentiation is John’s baptism is limited to water, for repentance, precluded by a renewed fidelity to Israel’s God and the Covenant while Jesus’ baptism is associated with Spirit/Fire and it is framed within the New Covenant language of the eschatological S/spirit (especially in Acts). Jesus doesn’t seem to do any baptizing himself (did he baptize his disciples, some of them?), but his disciples baptize under his authority. It is altogether possible that John’s baptism served as the efficient baptism for some of John’s earliest disciples (though Acts 19:1ff. makes me wonder if there is a tradition that the disciples of Jesus were rebaptized unto Jesus, since Paul is portrayed as advocating this).
To your questions:
(1) Jesus’ baptism as an act of repentance: Yes, at the time, no in Christological retrospect. What did Jesus think? We can’t know. Did Jesus see himself as part of a sinful nation (even if not a participant)? Likely. Jesus’ baptism was in solidarity, if nothing else, and even the early Christians couldn’t avoid this while at the same time seeking to present Jesus himself as one who did not share in the activity of sin, merely the corporate effect of sin (later, Paul would speak of Jesus becoming “sin for us” in 2 Cor 5:21, and sharing the “likeness of sinful flesh” in Romans 8:3, indicating to me that Paul was aware of the necessity to clarify Jesus’ relationship to corporate humanity in juxtaposition with his own personal actions toward God).
(2) Jesus as John’s disciple is a paradigm worth exploring, though the data may be insufficient. In other words, our sources are the Gospels, and the Gospels say nothing about this, though Jesus’ willful submission to baptism leaves the door open for the possibility that he may have seen himself as willingly following John’s teachings. Of course, later John is presented as somewhat concerned with Jesus’ identity as the Christ, asking if this is so, likely because Jesus wasn’t becoming the type of person John envisioned.
(3) It is possible that Jesus did baptize, then left those whom he baptized to baptize, but again, we don’t have information. Paul does something similar when he comes to Corinth, baptizes a few, then leaves the baptized to baptize. Maybe he is modeling his actions on what he knew of Jesus?
It is quite interesting how Christian baptism continued to share with other ritual cleansing the role as following something (for the Pharisees, whoever wrote 1QS, and John it seems like active repentance, displayed by renewed fidelity to the Covenant, precedes washing with washing functioning not to do something internal, but rather to make the body ritually in unison with the inner person), yet Christian baptism is seen as doing something internal that could not be done without the baptism. Baptism as associated with Jesus’ death is such a unique concept in a Jewish matrix, even baptism unto a person, which is why I imagine some have felt obligated to connect Christian baptism to pagan rituals rather than Jewish rituals (e.g. Schweitzer).
As to the reading of 1 Peter 3:18 suggested by Tyler, I think θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζῳοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι aims to convey that Jesus was “on the one hand being put to death in flesh/body, but [on the other hand] he was being made to life in S/spirit”. In v. 19 the author seems to present this idea that while Jesus’ body was being killed his S/spirit was being renewed (or, as Christians says “regenerated”), and in this state of being (ἐν ᾧ, “in which”) he was sent into prison to preach to spirits there. It is an odd statement indeed, but one that does seem to affirm Jesus existing in spirit in some sense while he was dying in body.
Interesting discussion, enjoying it.
I’m curious whether we are to interpret 1 Peter 3 literally, or figuratively. Did Jesus’ Spirit form literally descend into Hades and preach to spirits imprisoned there? That raises a lot of questions:
1. Can the “Spirit” of God be separated from the body of Jesus, who was the all the fullness of the Godhead, the exact representation of the Father, etc? I’m certain there is a precedence here where Jesus gave up His Spirit upon the cross, but is that not another way of saying, ‘he died’?
2. Can a “Spirit” preach?
3. Was Christ in need of being “regenerated”? One would assume that Jesus, being One with the Father, was lacking nothing, and had everything. The reformed understanding of regenerated seems different than how it is being used here, as if Christ’s Spirit was in need of pruning and purifying. But if the understanding is “sustained/renewed” in that the Spirit is how He dwelled or was enabled/lived, then it seems different. Thoughts?
Or was the author trying to show that baptism (literal immersion in water in the Christian process) is simply prefigured by the water involved in the flood, where a remnant was saved and a majority was destroyed?–that is to say, that Christ’s death and resurrection serves to testify to that generation in a similar way that the “generation of Jonah” was testified to in Matt. 12 and 16? In other words, through obedience to baptism in Jesus (through the resurrection) the baptism serves to initiate one under the authority of Jesus, and saves, where the obedience of being in the ark during the flood saved Noah and his generations? The water seems to be symbolic of death in both instances. The resurrection (being made alive by the Spirit) seems to be symbolic of the ark. Just some ideas.
Sorry, last comment 🙂
This brought to mind the idea that baptism was often used synomously with death. For instance, where Jesus speaks of the “baptism he must undergo” in Luke, and in Romans 6 where Paul says:
“3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.”
Its similar to 2 Corinthians where he says that all were crucified and died upon the cross with Jesus. Again, the death seems to be unifying, but the special significance is placed upon those who are resurrected with Christ, which the baptism seems to indicate. In the above post (sorry again for posting an additional comment)
I think the baptism of Jesus was analogous to His becoming human. He had to become “one of us” for our sakes. You gotta reach your audience where they are.
It is a complicated text. Honestly, I am not sure whether the text is saying that in the S/spirit Jesus went into Hades at the time of death to preach to the spirits or if it is saying that at the time of Noah, when Noah was preaching, that this is when the S/spirit of Christ was talking to those who would perish. I know option 1 has a long tradition, especially among Orthodox Christians, but I don’t know what to make of it exegetically.
As regards the Spirit of God’s connection to the body of Christ, it would seem that early Christian anthropology presented humans as soul/spirit and body (reading the Pauline Epistles and the Apocalypse). There may be a sense in which a soul/spirit exists without a body, though this isn’t “fully” human, which is why the soul/spirit needs a resurrected body. If this is what was believed, then it may be that early Christians understood Jesus’ soul/spirit to be united to the S/spirit of God in a way unique to humans, or (contra later creedal statements) the soul/spirit of Jesus was in some way the S/pirit of God (again, this view would be reversed by later thinkers and councils if it was affirmed early). In that sense, anything the S/spirit of God did in the past is the action of Jesus.
Logos Christology in writers like Justin Martyr allow for this idea, with the angel of YHWH being the Logos prior to the incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth. How faithful is this idea to that of the earliest Christians? I don’t know.
When I speak of “regeneration”, I don’t mean purifying, per se, but rather a renewal of the inner person allowing it to be united with a renewed outer person. This may be useless language when speaking of Jesus though.
Are you saying you think Jesus went through the ritual motions of baptism in order to appear like other humans?
K-i-i-i-nda… God could have easily just imposed the Kingdom upon us from on High, but instead He ‘descended’ into human form and as a human He ‘descended’ into John’s baptism to come from the same place we come from in order to lift us up (think about the physical action of lifting: the lifter is grounded, the liftee is raised) into the Kingdom.
That certainly seems to make sense from Mark’s perspective, but I wonder if the same can be said of the Incarnation of Luke and Matthew and John? I think so. It seems that Jesus being “born” as a human but being One with the Father certainly fulfills what you are stating above.
I always found Mark’s (and adoptionism) baptism very interesting, and now the possibility of John the Baptizer’s cultural role during early Christianity is fascinating to me.
Thanks all for the input/ discussion, esp. Brian!
“Baptism as associated with Jesus’ death is such a unique concept in a Jewish matrix, even baptism unto a person, which is why I imagine some have felt obligated to connect Christian baptism to pagan rituals rather than Jewish rituals (e.g. Schweitzer).”
Yes, it really is. Interesting point on the notion of it at once presupposing an internal movement and also doing something internal that another baptism cannot do. But the association with Jesus’ death puts a point on that–if baptism saves by way of Jesus’ resurrection, then the precondition isn’t merely repentance, but death. And rather strangely, Paul treats this precondition as provided precisely by baptism–“baptized into his death.” So what is finally unique about Christian baptism is its double action, occurring in the imputation of Jesus’ death and resurrection. One could search for a long time for a suitable pagan origin for that. And, I wonder, why bother looking for such an origin, since the unique factor is precisely the same as the unique factor in all Christian proclamation: “God has made him both Messiah and Lord, this Jesus whom you crucified.” But, I suppose, when your exegetical method presupposes the key thing to be either an ethic (19th century liberalism) or a general eschatological expectation (Schweitzer), rather than the man himself, this is easy to miss.
Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,
I ask you to consider these points:
1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean?
Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.
Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?
Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?
2. There IS no translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into any language, anywhere on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.
No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”
There is no translation that translates, into any language, Acts 22:16 as, “ And now why tarriest thou? arise, believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Then be baptized.” Not a single translation in the entire world translates that verse in any way remotely resembling the manner in which Baptists believe it should be translated.
Isn’t that a problem?
And this verse, I Peter 3:21 as, “Asking Christ into your heart in a spiritual baptism, which water Baptism symbolizes, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”
And Mark 16:16 as, “He that believes will be saved, and then baptized, but he that does not believe will be condemned.”
Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.
Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell all the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??
3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, when exactly does God give it?
4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism doesn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?
Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?
Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?
Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters, your doctrine is very well thought out and very reasonable…but it is wrong. Do you really believe that God would require an education in ancient Greek or a Greek lexicon to understand what he really wants to say to you? And do you really believe that Baptist “Greek” scholars understand Greek better than the Greeks themselves? If the Greek language, correctly translated, states in the Bible that Baptism is only a public profession of faith as Baptists say, then why do the Greek Orthodox believe that the Greek Bible plainly says, in Greek, that God forgives sins in water baptism? Somebody doesn’t know their Greek!
Please investigate this critical doctrine further. Do you really want to appear before our Lord in heaven one day and find out that you have been following a false doctrine invented in the sixteenth century by Swiss Ana-baptists?
God bless you!
He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,
Have you ever wondered why John was baptizing for forgiveness of sin when there was a system and Temple in place to offer sacrifices for forgiveness of sin. Could it be this system was polluted by edomite jews. Could water baptism have been the means for the elect of Israel to maintain a Covenant with YHWH during the exiles . Could it be the means of entering a Covenant after repenting and accepting the Words of the Covenants replacing the Aaronic Covenant which was faulty and could not make one perfect. ????
John the Baptist was telling Jews, God’s chosen people, that they needed to be baptized—the same ritual used by the Pharisees to bring Gentile converts into the Covenant. The Jewish authorities were shocked. They sent “investigators” to the Jordan to see what John was up to. Read it in the Bible.
There is no evidence that any Christian in the first 800-1,000 years of Christianity believed that the purpose of John’s baptism was as a public profession of one’s faith NOR that Christ’s baptism, Christian baptism, is solely for a public profession of faith/act of obedience. ALL early Christian writers indicate that in baptism, sins are washed away/sins are forgiven, LITERALLY, not symbolically as Baptists/evangelicals want us to believe.
I agree that water baptism is the washing away of former sins which was done after repentance and the acceptance of the Words of the Covenants aka The Word of God for entering or renewing a Covenant Relationship with YHWH.
I am very sure the Jews were shocked because they thought this should be done by the Aaronic Covenant which provided the mediation . John was providing the means for forgiveness of sin because the other means was polluted by edomites.
I am not sure where you find that gentiles were required to be baptized to enter the Covenant. I see Isaiah 56 very clear that they just had to take hold of the Words of the Covenants and not profane YHWH’s Sabbaths. I see the gentiles in the NT as the exiles that were scattered and were called “not my people” who were blinded of who they were.
After the Babylonian exile, Jews used baptism in the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism. This practice was still being performed during the time of Christ (mikvah). Christ criticized a lot of the practices of the Pharisees, but he never criticized this practice. In fact, he used this “ritual” as his disciple making act.
Where do you read that water baptism was used in conversion of gentiles during 2nd temple judaism . I have read they required circumcision plus accepting the Torah and their oral law but never baptism. I have seen some references to ritual washing of priest and defiled people .
But again Isaiah 56 is very clear that neither baptism or circumcision is required of a foreigner to enter the Covenant nor would the be the need to be forgiven of sin since they or their ancestors were never given any Commandments or ever broke Covenant.
So what did you think of the Jewish reference regarding proselyte baptism?
Can you point me to this reference?
I think maybe you are referring to rabbinical interpretations in the talmud which should always should be taken with a grain of salt but could water baptism been the means for entering or renewing a Covenant Relationship with YHWH during times when the Temple was not functioning as the alternative to offering a sacrifice for forgiveness of past sins . Absolutely. Then yes it would have been used in a non-Israelite entering the Covenants but could do the same for an Israelite.
We have the beliefs of the early church fathers, it is the Bible. We don’t need to look any further. Baptism is only performed on those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. We have all we need to know. We don’t need to look at the opinions of men when God answers it for us.
Besides, I don’t refer to Luther, Calvin, Origen, Augustine as Baptist “fathers”. Groups like the Arnoldists, the Petro-Brussians, the Albigenses, Waldenses, Ana-Baptists, etc…. were never part of the catholic whore and therefore never needed to come out. They believed in salvation by grace through faith and they believed in believer’s immersion.
My Lutheran response:
I have a challenge for you:
Ask a Mormon for DNA evidence that the American Indians are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. He will refuse to give you such evidence.
Ask a Mormon to show you the golden tablets given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni. Again, he will refuse to give you such evidence.
Ask a Mormon for archaeological evidence that thousands of years ago there were cities in North America inhabited by God-fearing Jews. Again, the Mormon will refuse to give you such evidence.
After he refuses to give you the evidence that confirms the validity of his theology, do you know what the Mormon will say? He will say this, “We Mormons know that we are right because God tells us with a “burning in our bosoms” that we interpret the Bible correctly. Therefore, we don’t need historical evidence to prove we are right.”
Baptists and evangelicals refuse to give any historical evidence that ANY Christian in the first 300-400 years of Christianity believed that Baptism is only an act of obedience/public profession of faith. When confronted with the total lack of any such evidence, the Baptist/evangelical will respond: “We Baptists/evangelicals do not need historical evidence to confirm our beliefs. God tells us in our hearts that we interpret the Bible correctly.”
Strange coincidence, isn’t it, brother?
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
Romans 6:1-5 (ESV)
6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
1. Paul asks if we Christians should sin to make God’s grace abound.
2. “Of course not!” he replies to his own question.
3. Addressing those who have been baptized into Christ (Christians), he asks, “Don’t you know that you were baptized into Christ’s death? All who are Christians were buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that we too may walk in newness of life (the new life brought by Christ’s resurrection).
It is interesting to note that as far as I know, this is the first passage of Scripture which occurs after the story of the resurrection, that Christians today debate whether or not the “baptism” mentioned in the passage means a spiritual baptism or a water baptism. There is never any doubt in the Book of Acts.
Let’s look at it more closely. If you have been following this series of Baptism passages, you have seen that ever since Christ exhorted his disciples to baptize all nations just prior to his ascension into heaven, every passage of Holy Scripture has been very clear in distinguishing a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and water baptism. Whenever the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” is discussed it is always referred to by its entire name. It is never referred to as just “baptism”. In the book of Acts, if the word “baptism” or “baptized” is used, it is very clear that the passage is referring to water baptism.
So why would God change his pattern now? Yes, it is true that God is speaking through a different writer (Paul) in Romans, rather than Luke in Acts, but it is still God speaking. Why would he suddenly start referring to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with just the word “baptism”?
If this passage in Romans is referring to the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” isn’t it odd that in some of the conversions mentioned by Luke in Acts, the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” doesn’t occur until a period of time AFTER the person believes, and sometimes not until they have been baptized, AND sometimes not until an apostle or disciple has laid his hands on them.
Do Baptists and evangelicals really believe that Christians can be “baptized into Christ’s death” at any time other than when the sinner believes/makes a decision for Christ? For Baptists and evangelicals to be consistent about reading this verse as a Baptism of the Holy Spirit, wouldn’t they then also have to admit that not everyone receives the Holy Spirit when they believe? Some Christians receive the Holy Spirit at a later time??
Or are Baptists and evangelicals saying there is now a THIRD baptism in the post-resurrection era? A spiritual baptism that is not the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is also not water baptism? Is there any Scriptural basis for this “third baptism”?
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
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