When Christ commissioned His disciples to go and evangelize all nations, he instituted at that time the ordinance of baptism. Baptism is an essential doctrine of Scripture. It occurs alongside such concepts as repentance, faith, and forgiveness of sin. he words of Christ to His disciples in Matthew 28:19 arouse two very important inquiries: What is baptism? And, to whom is baptism to be administered? Had the Greek word, which signifies the action of baptizing, been translated into English there would most likely not be a debate regarding its meaning or significance.
In these next few posts I plan to briefly take time to examine textual evidence, philological considerations, and biblical-theological arguments which I believe all indicate that Scripture teaches baptism of confessing believers by immersion. In these next few posts I will cover the institution of baptism, the mode of baptism, the candidates for baptism and the meaning of baptism.
The act of baptism finds its pattern in the acts of John the Baptist. However, believer’s baptism is not just a continuation of his practice. The main concern of John’s baptism was repentance in anticipation of a coming Messiah while believer’s baptism is performed at the command of Christ (Acts 19:33). In contrast to John’s baptism, believer’s baptism indicates a participation in the completed work of the Messiah who has already come. John's ministry was predicative of a coming one who would begin a baptism different than his own (Matthew 3:11). John says that this man would baptize, "In the Holy Spirit."
Christ’s command concerning baptism
The Greek grammar of Christ's command in Matthew 28:19 suggests one action (make disciples) carried out in two ways (baptize and teach). Baptism in this verse is grammatically subordinate to “making disciples.” The practice of making disciples and baptizing then is thus a practice that follows the clear teaching of Christ. The following verse makes this very clear: “And, lo, I (Christ) am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Since the church exists to the “end of the age,” and the apostles didn’t, we can conclude that the command to baptize exists to the end of the age.
The practice of the early church
The early church began the institution of baptism on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38, 41). This practice is consistent throughout the book of Acts (8:12, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47; 16:14-15, 33; 18:8; 19:5). F.F. Bruce concludes from this that “the idea of an unbaptized Christian is simply not entertained in the N.T.” The practice of the early church was to preach the Gospel, call for a decision, and baptize those who believed. Baptism in this case was always subsidiary to the Gospel. The Gospel provided the purpose for baptism and never were the two roles reversed. This understanding of the subordination of baptism to the Gospel provides the context for what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1: 14-17. Here Paul says that only a few should baptize. Paul is striving to show the importance of belief in Christ before baptism and not the importance of who is baptizing the individual.
 Adoniram Judson. Christian Baptism (Laurel, MS: Audubon Press, 2000), 3.
 Robert L. Saucy. The Church in God’s Program (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1972), 192.
 Saucy, 193.
 F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 77.
Posted by Caleb
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