Baptist History Homepage



      "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Colossians 2:12.

      "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." Romans 6:4.

      Doctrinal preaching has an important place in the dissemination of the gospel. Such preaching should not be dessicated or acerbating. When neglected, the result is seen in a membership of lax and unsettled views. "Speaking the truth in love" should be our motto as we calmly and soberly endeavor to show that the Baptists are correct in their practice of immersion and that only.

      I. The Greek word translated baptize means immerse.


      Proof. - All the authorities cited are Pedo-Baptists


      (a) Liddell & Scott - "Baptism, to dip in or under water." Classical.

      (b) Thayer - "Baptism, to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge. An immersion in water." A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, date 1887.

      (c) Sophocles - "Baptize, to dip, to immerse, to sink. . . . There is no evidence that Luke and Paul and the other writers of the New Testament put upon the verb meanings not recognized by the Greeks." "Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods," date 1870.

      2. Encyclopedias.

      (a) Kitto's - "Baptism, that is dipping or immersion."

      (b) Britannica - "The word is derived from the Greek to dip, or wash."

      3. Dictionaries.

      (a) Smith - "Baptism properly and literally means immersion."

      (b) Marcus Dods - "To use Pauline language, his old man is dead and buried in the

water, and he rises from his cleansing grave a new man. The full significance of the rite would have been lost had immersion not been practiced." "Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels," by Hastings. (1906-1908.)

      4. Histories.

      Fisher - "The ordinary mode of baptism was by immersion."

      5. History.

      (a) Greek church, old and knowing the language, practices immersion only.

      (b) The earliest case of sprinkling on record is that of Novation, 250 A. D., and it originated in a baptism of the sick, and this was not accepted by all as valid. Novation re- covered and became a minister, but some al- ways opposed his eligibility to the office on the ground that he had never been baptized. One can readily see that a belief in baptismal regeneration was the cause for sprinkling one who was thought to be dying.

      6. Fathers.

      Tertullian - "The law of immersion has been imposed, and the form has been prescribed."

      7. Commentators and Translators.


      (a) John Calvin (Presbyterian) - "The word 'baptize' signifies to immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the primitive church."

      (b) Luther (Lutheran) - "Baptism is a Greek word, and may be translated 'Immerse.' I would have those who are to 436 baptized to be altogether dipped."

      (c) John Wesley (Methodist) - "Buried with him by baptism - alluding to the an- cient manner of baptizing by immersion."

      (d) Wall (Episcopalian) — "Immersion was in all probability the way in which our blessed Saviour, and for certain the way by which the ancient Christians received their baptism.

      (e) Brenner (Catholic) - "For thirteen hun- dred years was baptism an immersion of the person under water."

      Conclusion. - By seven different methods and from fourteen antiBaptist authorities I have shown that the Greek word means immerse, and was so interpreted and practiced by early Christians. It is a rule in court practice that a person cannot impeach his own witness, and yet our Pedo-baptist friends would

be forced to that before they could overthrow the Baptist position.

      II. There is no instance in the Bible where God ever commanded any one to sprinkle pure water upon anything for any purpose. Ask the Old Testament for the authority for sprinkling; it replies, "It is not in me." Ask the New Testament; it replies, "It is not in me." This is shown by an examination of all the passages in original or translation in which reference is made to the idea of sprinkling. Only two Hebrew words in the Old Testament are translated sprinkle in our version of the Scriptures - Zah-rak and Nah-zah

      1. Nah-zah - twenty-four times in the Old Testament.

      (a) Used of sprinkling blood, twelve times. Leviticus 4:6, 17; 5:9; 6:27, twice; 16:14 twice, and verses 15 and 19; Numbers 19:4; 2 Kings 9:33; Isaiah 63:3. Blood is the object of the verb in every case.

      (b) Used of sprinkling blood and oil, twice. Leviticus 8:30; Exodus 19:21.

      (c) Used of sprinkling blood and water mingled, twice. Leviticus 14:7, 51.

(d) Used of sprinkling blood and oil, three times. Leviticus 8:11; 14:16, 27.

      (e) Used of sprinkling blood, ashes and water mingled, four times. Numbers 19:18, 19, 21. "And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:

      And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day; and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.

      And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even."

      (f) Once in Isaiah 52:15. So shall he astonish or startle (Revised Version) many nations

      2. Zah-rak - Thirty-five times in the Old Testament.

      (a) Used of sprinkling blood, twenty-five times. Exodus 24:6, 8; 29:16, 20; Leviticus 1:5, 11;

3:2, 8, 13; 7:2; 8:19, 24; 9:12, 18; 17:6; Numbers 18:17; 2 Kings 16:13, 15; 2 Chronicles 29:22 (three times); 30:16; 35:11; Ezekiel 43:18.

      (b) Used of sprinkling ashes and water mingled, twice. Numbers 19:13, 20.

      (c) Used of scattering small solid substances, seven times. (1) Dust, 2 Chronicles. 34:4; Job 2:12; (2) Ashes, Exodus 9:8, 10; (3) Seeds, Isaiah 28:25; (4) Gray hairs, Hosea 7:9; (5) Coals of fire, Ezekiel 10:2.

      (d) 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."

      Here it is used figuratively of cleansing water. Consider the

      (1) General usage. The water of purification was always clean as uncontaminated and cleansing.

      (2) God is the subject of the sentence and no one contends that it literally means God will sprinkle in showers and dews.

      (3) National custom. A figure is not to be ascribed to an assumed custom when it can be explained on known customs as well. Water of purification is referred to in Leviticus.

15:19, 30. "And if a woman have an issue and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days; and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even."

      "And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the Lord for the issue of her uncleanness." By comparing Num. 19:17 we learn what the water of purification was. It was the ashes of a red heifer mixed with running water.

      There is no case, or even a hint, where sprinkling of simple water ever occurred. The Jews did many things not commanded, but not this, and if they had done this it would not be binding on us.

      3. If sprinkling as now practiced has any countenance from God, it must be in the New Testament; but let us see - The only word in the New Testament to denote sprinkling is rantizo. It is always used of blood.

      (a) Hebrews 9:13, 19, 21; 10:22. (13) "For if the hlood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh." (19) "For

when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people." (21) "Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry." 10:22. "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." Blood is expressed in all passages but the last and must be supplied here to get the correct meaning.

      (b) Rantismos (sprinkling) occurs twice in New Testament and refers to blood.

      Hebrews 12:24. "And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."

      1 Peter 1:2. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."

      (c) Proschusis - translated sprinkling, occurs once and refers, to blood. "Through

faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them." Hebrews 11:28.

      Sprinkling clear water is not commanded, mentioned or hinted. This is unaccountable if God intended it as an ordinance. There is a great deal of sprinkling in the Old Testament, but none of clear water. Sprinkling of blood is all that is alluded to in the New Testament.

      4. Pouring occurs in the New Testament twenty-four times, but is never of water, nor is baptizo ever so translated. In four instances some form of the verb ballo is used and in twenty instances some form of the verb eccheo.

      (1) Of wine, Matthew 9:17; Mark. 2:22; (2) Emptying the changer's money, John 2:15; (3) Outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:17, 18, 33; 10:45; Titus 3:6; (4) Shedding of blood, Acts 22:20; Romans 3:15; Revelation 16:6; (5) Oil and wine upon wounds of man who fell among thieves, Luke 10:34; (6) Pouring ointment on the Saviour's head, Matthew 26:7, 12; Mark 14:3; (7) Pouring water into a basin to wash his disciples' feet, John 13:5; (8) Of outpouring

of the vials of wrath, Revelation 16:1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12 and 17. There is no case in the New Testament in which water was poured upon any one. Neither sprinkling nor pouring is in the Bible, and hence cannot be a form of Christian baptism.

      III. Jesus Christ was certainly immersed by John the Baptist and his apostles practiced the same mode -

      1. Baptism of Jesus. The account is in five places. Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12. I quote them:

      "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the waters and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3:13-17.


      "And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mk. 1:9-11.

      Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened : And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said. Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." (Luke 3:21f.)

      "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." (Romans 6:3-5.)


      "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." (Colossians 2:12.) Note (a) In what — River; (b) Came up out of; (c) Buried; (d) Risen in baptism with Christ. Such terms are appropriate to immersion only. (Colossians 2:12.)

      2. John's continual practice. "In Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there." (John 3:23.) He received his name from his custom of baptizing.

      3. Philip and the Eunuch. "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? 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. 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 8:36-39.) The four duals in verse 38 are significant. This is the most minute description of the ordinance in the Bible and leaves no doubt as to the mode.

      IV. The baptism of 3,000 at Pentecost and of the Jailer present no difficulty.

      1. Case of the 3,000. It is objected that they could not have been immersed.

      (a) Scripture does not say all were baptized in one day.

      (b) The twelve apostles, each baptizing thirty-two an hour, could have baptized 3,076 in eight hours. I have baptized a large number of persons at one time and it required less than a minute to a person. It is not at all taxing upon the strength of the minister.

      (c) Almost certainly the seventy sent out by Jesus aided in the baptism.

      (d) It is common in history for 3,000 to be baptized in one day. Chrysostom baptized 3,000 in Constantinople 16th of April A. D., 404. St. Patrick of Ireland immersed 120,000 during his life. In Madras Confederacy in 1878 six missionaries immersed in nine hours,

two baptizing at a time, 2,222. On December 28, 1890, they baptized 1,671 more.

      2. Case of jailer, Acts 16:29. Opponents of immersion say he was in the jail and there was no place for immersion. A careful reading of the passage shows -

      (a) His conversion did not take place in prison.

      (b) His baptism did not take place in the prison house.

      (c) Paul perhaps carried him to the river near by.

      (d) Persons have been immersed in prison. Men are immersed in the penitentiary at Richmond every year. These objections are superficial.

      V. Certain fundamental principles in law to be remembered are -

      1. Words of law are to be understood in their ordinary sense. The ordinary meaning of baptize is to immerse. Dr. Broadus trans- lated the Greek word immerse in every place in the New Testament and it fit the sense. Try this with sprinkle or pour and the result is ridiculous. Eccheo (pour) and rantizo.

(sprinkle) are never used as synonyms for baptizo.

      2. You cannot depart from the words of the law. Departure means to disregard the law. If one admits immersion as the New Testament mode but says the mode is unimportant, we say you have no right to change the law.

      3. Where law is uncertain, there is no law. If we cannot know the prescribed form of baptism, then we have no form at all.

      4. It availeth nothing if you know what is to be done and do not know how it is to be done. Uncertainty about the mode of baptism practically destroys baptism itself.

      5. A law, when it expresses one thing, excludes everything else. Agents buying horses for the government by specification cut out all animals that do not come up to the requirements as to height and size, no matter how pretty such animals are.

      6. The law requires absolute obedience. The registration law says all qualified voters must register by a certain time on a certain day. One coming thirty minutes after the hour would not be allowed to register.

      (a) Baptism is a matter of much importance. It has been commanded by the Lord. The use of water is in one particular way. The Baptist principle is "obedience to Christ."

      (b) The meaning is obscured if you change the mode. Death, burial and resurrection are not set forth by any other mode.

      (c) Obedience is the test of love. "If ye love me keep my commandments; he that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." The proper mode is of such importance that Judson was immersed, although it meant the loss of friends and left him on the foreign field, for the time being, without an appointment and without support; that Dr. A. T. Pierson, the able editor of the Missionary Review, asked baptism at the hands of Spurgeon's brother, when he knew such a course would put him out of favor with his beloved people, the Presbyterians; that G. Campbell Morgan, the spiritual teacher and prophet of God, felt impelled to immerse his own son who joined a Congregational Church; and Billy Sunday, marvelous combination of physical energy, youthful enthusiasm and passionate

evangelism, was satisfied with nothing but immersion for himself. Our Saviour gave three commands which his disciples are to obey to the end of the world, viz., Make disciples, baptize and teach. Baptism stands between the two great experiences of regeneration (make disciples), and sanctification (teaching them to observe all things). Standing on this lofty position,, baptism symbolizes the essential facts of Christianity in the past, present and future. That is, it embodies three fundamental ideas, (1) the fact of Christ's death and resurrection - historical Christianity; (2) the regeneration of the soul, buried with him by baptism and raised to walk in newness of life - living Christianity; (3) the final resurrection of the body - prophetic Christianity. Baptism is an epitome of Christ's message to the world: "More beautiful than figures of speech, more accurate than any statement of the lips, more complete than the articles of any creed." We show our love by obeying Christ implicitly. Abraham had the peculiar distinction of being called "the friend of God." Every believer may have the same distinction. "Ye are my
friends if ye do whatsoever I have commanded you." My Christian friends, have you all been baptized? Not sprinkled or poured, but baptized? If not, what will you do with the positive command and plain example of Jesus, "Why call ye me Lord and keep not my commandments?"

[From George W. McDaniel, The People Called Baptists, 1919, pp. 62-80. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Section IV
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