The word “baptize” is found 63 times in the NT; the word “baptized” 45 times; and the word “baptism” 26 times. The Greek word is baptizo which is not simply translated into English but is transliterated. This means that a new English word was formed instead of merely employing an already existing English term, as is normally the case in translation.
Here are some other important concepts that the NT teaches concerning baptism.
- The Greek word baptizo, according to Thayer, means, “immersion or submersion.” Our knowledge of Greek is unnecessary to make this determination as the Scripture clearly reveals that baptism is by burial (see Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12; also notice Jn. 3:23; Mk. 1:5; 1:9-10; Acts 8:36-39). Sprinkling and pouring simply aren’t baptism, by definition or example.
- The first time baptism is found in the NT is in regard to the baptism of John (see Mt. 3:6). This was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (see Mk. 1:4) in which one confessed his sins (Mt. 3:6) in preparation for Christ and His kingdom (see Mt. 3:1-3). It is important to note that this baptism did not place one into the church since Christ had not yet established His church (see Acts 19:1-5).
- Baptism was a part of the message that was to be preached to the whole world beginning in Jerusalem when the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16).
- While baptism is not merely a symbol of Christ’s death, it certainly does represent that. In baptism one conforms to the likeness of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (see Rom. 6:1-6).
- Baptism is necessary for salvation, just like belief (Jn. 3:16), repentance (Lk. 13:3), and confession (Rom. 10:9-10).
- The motive for being baptized is seen and commanded in passages like Acts 2:38 where repentance and baptism are stated to be “for the forgiveness of sins.” The motivation for baptism is designated in the word “for.” Some, projecting their belief back into this passage have suggested that the word “for” should be translated “because.” This can’t be discussed at length here, but suffice it to say that no reputable translation uses the word because here, and one can compare the very same grammatical structure found in Matthew 26:28 and see that the rendering of the word “for” in that instance, would make no sense. Additionally, other passages clearly state the connection between baptism and the remission of sins and salvation (see Mk. 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Pt. 3:21).
- The point of baptism is when God adds a precious soul to the body of Christ, or the church (see Acts 2:41, 47; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13).
- When one is baptized for forgiveness of sins, he or she receives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38; also see Acts 5:32). This should not be confused with a miraculous ability of the Spirit given to the apostles when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 or the household of Cornelius in Acts 10.
- Finally, we see that by the time Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, there was but “one baptism” (see Eph. 4:5). We are forced to conclude this was the baptism the apostles were to proclaim to the whole world (see Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8), a baptism in water (see Acts 8:38), of a penitent believer (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), that adds one to the Lord’s body (see Acts 2:41, 47) and in which one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).