Skip to main content

1. Introduction

There is a wide range of teaching when it comes to water baptism. What is water baptism, why is it important and powerful?
Did it finish with the Old Covenant? Or was it a Jewish custom not applicable to non-Jewish believers? And is water baptism necessary for salvation? Is infant baptism biblically based? What does putting on Christ at baptism mean?
And what happens at our baptism?
Reading Transformation Through Salvation is a prerequisite to this study.

2. Defining Water Baptism

A. Greek Meaning

The word baptism comes from the Greek word baptizo:

g0907. βαπτίζω baptizō; from a derivative of 911; to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet)

In other words, it is a water immersion, not just a sprinkling as some practice. Submerging us in water, totally wet. . A better description is that We are a vessel, dipped into the water until totally overflowing. The water fills us to overflowing.

B. Jewish tradition

Water baptism was a Jewish tradition of ceremonial washing for those wanting to join the Jewish faith. This was a practice of immersion (tevilah) in a ritual bath (mikveh). John refers to this ceremonial bathing:

An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.

John 3:25

In the Old Covenant, ritual washing was by full immersion:

… then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 15:16

C. Baptism is Not New Birth.

We found in Communion that partaking of the bread and wine is not bringing in the New Covenant. It is the same with Baptism. Baptism does not mean that we enter the New Covenant; that happens through faith in Jesus.

Likewise, the other baptism, Holy Spirit Baptism, is not when we are born again; that happens later. When we are born again, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then again at Holy Spirit baptism, and throughout our walk with God.
The simple truth of faith in Jesus is how we enter the kingdom of God.

D. Is Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation?

People who adhere to the false teaching that “baptism is necessary for salvation” will quote this scripture.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:16

What baptism is Jesus referring to? Is it water baptism, or is it Holy Spirit baptism? We will find out that it is most likely both baptisms as in God’s eyes, both baptisms are one. In Transformation Through Salvation, we learnt that salvation is not a correct terminology for the new birth, although nearly universally used. “Is water baptism necessary for salvation?” Here is an example of why this is the case. Once we realise what salvation is, then the answer to this question is no longer a problem.

It is also important to see that we are only condemned (i.e. eternal separation from God) based on belief in Jesus. Water baptism in water is not necessary to enter eternal life.

We learnt in Covenantal Atonement that remission of sins happens through the death of Jesus Christ, not through baptism. On the other hand, Salvation is to be rescued or delivered and therefore transformed into the image of God. Yes, Jesus saves us from our sins because we need rescuing, and that is through reconciliation. He does that through the atonement and the New Covenant becoming active in our life.

SALVATION STARTS AT THE RESURRECTION is why baptism saves us, not that it is part of being born again.

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5:10

E. The Thief on the Cross

If water baptism was essential to salvation, then the man on the cross next to Jesus did not go to paradise (as Jesus promised).

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:43

It would also mean that all those from before Jesus preached to them in Hades could not enter the kingdom of God as we learnt in the Judgement of God.

by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison,

1 Peter 3:19

If any doubt still exists around “Is baptism necessary for salvation,” please look closely at Transformation Through Salvation.

3. How to Water Baptise

A. Full immersion

Now that we have defined water baptism, we will see that is what the early church practised. Looking again at Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, we find that the New Testament church performed full-immersion baptism.

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

Acts 8:38

Do you notice that Philip and the eunuch both go down INTO the water?

John was baptising where there was a pool of running water in the river:

Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.

John 3:23

(According to the tradition of the Jews, the minimum amount of water for baptism needed to be between 454 to 952 litres or nearly one cubic metre).

B. After the New Birth

Some say that we should baptise infants. John baptised Jesus as an adult, not as an infant. And how can a baby join with Christ in His death and resurrection if the baby has not yet believed in Jesus Christ and become a new creation? Awakening Impact Ministries does not perform infant baptism.

The baptism of an infant is similar to John’s baptism. John was preparing the way for Jesus. Likewise, the religious practice of baptising a baby prepares the child for “confirmation’ later on.

Infant baptism also came out of fear of what happens to a child when they die at an early age. Infant mortality was much higher then than it is now. The 17th Century Church of England said that an infant must be no older than 7 days. This teaching arose because of the wrong theology of original sin, which came through from the parents. Augustine (354-430CE) thought that the sexual act in itself was unholy and sinful. We discussed this in Sin Entered the World.

4. Water Baptism is for Both Jew and Gentile:

A. All nations

Jesus commands us to baptise people from every nation.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 28:19

Therefore we are to baptise whoever believes in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.

B. Ethiopian Eunuch

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.

Acts 8:35-38

First, we see that the man is Ethiopian – a Gentile. There are two possibilities here:

  1. He is reading the Old Covenant and wants to join the Jewish faith. However, this is not what it means, as Philip baptises him into Jesus Christ, not repentance as John did.
  2. Philip has given him the gospel that includes the step of obedience, water baptism.

C. Roman Centurion

When we look at the first evangelism of a Gentile believer – Cornelius, a Roman, we can only conclude that baptism is for both Jew and Gentile.

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,

Acts 10:1

He is a Roman (Italian)! Peter’s preaching results in both water and Holy Spirit baptism.

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

Acts 10:37-38

D. Cultural Practice

The teaching that baptism is based on a Jewish custom, therefore only Jews should do it would also mean that we would have to stop sending apostles. Apostles were Roman leaders who were ambassadors for the Roman kingdom. Jesus then calls His disciples ambassadors – which is exactly what apostles are. Apostles go into the world as ambassadors as representatives of the kingdom of God. They take new ground for the kingdom.

The word apostle in Greek means:

ἀπόστολος Apostolos; a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ (“apostle”) (with miraculous powers). Apostle, messenger, sent one.

5. Baptism of Repentance – No Longer Required.

A. Incorrect Theology that Water Baptism is Old Covenant

It is the view of some individuals that because water baptism was a cultural practice, it is, therefore, Old Covenant and unnecessary. This view is not true and has no scriptural basis.
John baptised Jesus in water. Why then would Jesus do it if He did not consider it necessary? The baptism unto repentance is Old Covenant, but the Baptism into the name of Jesus Christ is New Covenant.

B. John’s Baptism

John’s baptism concerned his calling, which was to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. 

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”… I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Matthew 3:1-11

The message John preached was: ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is near for the remission of sins.
He is saying: “Change the way you think- For the Kingdom of God is near.” No longer will you need to obey all the requirements of the Law to have your sins covered.

 In Acts 19, the Apostle Paul sets a precedent. John’s baptism into repentance is no longer valid:

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Acts 19:4-6

6. One Baptism

A. Water and Holy Spirit Baptism are One.

We have just seen that the Apostle Paul, baptised in Holy Spirit and water – both are an essential part of our full Christian walk. In Ephesians, we see there is only one baptism:

one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

Ephesians 4:5

In “Studying the Bible”, we learnt that we need to be very careful not to take one scripture without taking the whole of scripture.

The apostles taught both baptisms are important. We may not remove one of them. So when Paul teaches one baptism, he is not taking one away; he says that the two are one.

B. Water and Cloud.

Let’s look into the scripture about baptism into Moses.

all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

1 Corinthians 10:2

They were baptised into Moses, so we are baptised into Christ.

The sea represents water baptism, and the cloud represents Holy Spirit baptism.

C. Jesus Our Example.

The writer of Acts, Luke, is clear that Jesus could only start His effective ministry after He had both baptisms. First, the water baptism:

that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached:

Acts 10:37

Then the Holy Spirit baptism:

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Acts 10:38

Until that happened, God could not anoint Him. He was Jesus of Nazareth beforehand, and Jesus Christ after water and Holy Spirit baptism.

At His baptism, it was both baptisms as one event:

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17

7. Baptism is Putting On Christ.

Water Baptism is MUCH more than a public declaration of internal change.

A. We PUT ON Christ. 

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:27

The Greek word for Christ is only used to refer to Jesus Christ. It is:

Χριστός Christos; from 5548; anointed, i.e. The Messiah, an epithet of Jesus: — Christ.

We put on the Anointed One! As we saw above, there is one baptism – Holy Spirit and water. In Holy Spirit Baptism, we saw that Holy Spirit comes upon us. Now we see that not only does Holy Spirit come upon us; Jesus clothes us. In Greek, the word anointing is:

χρίσμα chrisma; smearing, i.e. (figuratively) the special endowment (“chrism”) of the Holy Spirit: — anointing, unction.

B. Arrayed and Sinking Into.

The word translated put on in Galatians 3:27 in Greek is

g1746. ἐνδύω endyō; from 1722 and 1416 (in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively): — array, clothe (with), endue, have (put) on

And the two root words for this word are:

g1722. ἐν en; a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state)


g1416. δύνω dynō; or δῦμι dumi; prolonged forms of an obsolete primary δύω duō; to go “down.”
to go into
. And to be plunged into,

What an incredibly accurate description of water baptism. To plunge into Jesus Christ.

Now let’s look at other times this word is used:

C. Clothed with Splendour.

This word is used in our wedding garments

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.

Matthew 22:11

D. John’s Mantle.

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

Mark 1:6

Jesus’ mantle comes upon us through baptism.

E. The Armour of God.

When we put on Christ, we also put on the armour of God

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

We will see that water baptism is a good conscience towards God. So when the devil attacks us, we can declare that we are free of guilt and shame to the devil. We have put on the armour of God. For many people, water baptism precedes a spiritual encounter with demons that occurs shortly afterwards. Jesus also experienced this immediately after His baptism:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 4:1

The Spirit led Jesus into the desert. Jesus arrays us with His armour. So Father wants to train us how to use our armour against the devil.

8. Water Baptism is a GOOD Conscience Towards God

Once we have been baptised, if the devil condemns us, we can declare the Word of God that says we are dead to sin and alive to God (a lack of a BAD conscience).

We have a GOOD conscience that tells us we are a son or daughter of Abba Father whose nature NEVER changes. Our conscience recognises that GOD works everything for good according to His purpose for our life because we have shown that we love Him and are surrendered to Christ.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

9. Baptism Brings Recognition of Maturity by the Father

A. Jesus’ Baptism was Important to the Father.

Jesus’ baptism was important enough for Dad to turn up!

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:16-17

In “How Jesus became the Son of God”, that Jesus became the Son of God at His birth. Sonship was not a result of baptism – as we have discussed above.

B. Adoption as an Adult Son.

The term “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased” is related to the concept of Huiothesia, translated adoption in Ephesians:

having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:5

Of course, if we are a born a male, then we are biologically a son. However, this is not what sonship or adoption is referring to. Huiothesia is an adult son’s legal and relational recognition to take full authority for the Father’s house. Adoption does not include daughters in the New Testament because, in the Greek-Roman and Hebrew cultures of that time, there was no word for that.

This is what happens at water and Holy Spirit baptism. We receive all of the responsibilities and privileges of being a son of God.

The devil will do anything to stop us being baptised in water and Holy Spirit, because he knows that is an important step in adoption:

Full authority and power being released to us to have dominion as a son and daughter of God

C. Being Led as a Son.

According to Romans, the Sons of God are led by the Holy Spirit.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

Romans 8:14

This passage is directly before the use of Huiothesia (adoption).

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15

The first time Jesus was led by the Spirit was after His baptism in water and Holy Spirit.

In the same way, Holy Spirit will start leading us after our baptisms. This is because we are now mature sons and daughters. The Father says, “This is my son/daughter, I am well pleased with him/her”. And we now have full authority and power to do the Father’s business.

10. Water Baptism is Unity with Jesus Christ.

A. We DIE In Christ Through Water Baptism.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death

Romans 6:3

B. BURIED With Christ Through Water Baptism.

buried with Him in baptism,

Colossians 2:12

C. RESURRECTED WITH Christ through Water Baptism.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead.

Romans 6:4

buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Colossians 2:12

D. Sonship Declared Through Water Baptism.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,

Romans 6:4

When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:16-17

E. We WALK in Resurrection Life Through Water Baptism.

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

F. We are UNITED Into the Body of Christ not a Denomination or “Man of God”.

Because the church is the body of Christ, and because we are united with Christ, we are also united with the rest of the body of Christ.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:13

We are NOT baptised into a particular denomination or person’s ministry, which is made clear by the following scripture:

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:13

11. A Water Baptism Prayer

Firstly it is important that the person has received Jesus Christ. It is not at all uncommon for me to be baptising someone, and an onlooker who has not yet accepted Jesus will want to accept Jesus and desire to be baptised as well. I lead them in a simple prayer, where they copy me (usually through a translator). If you also have never received Jesus, asking Him to be Lord of your life, then now is a good time to do so.

A. Prayer of Receiving Jesus.

Jesus, I believe that you died for me and rose again from the dead. I now confess you as my Lord. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. You made a New Covenant which means that I inherit eternal life. I give you my sins and receive the gift of your righteousness. My sins are no more, and I receive you into my life.
Holy Spirit, I welcome you into my body as your temple. I believe that I am now a son/daughter of God. Welcome – as the Spirit of God and the spirit of adoption, so I may come to know that God is my Father and also lives inside of me. I renounce all fear and bondage and believe I am a brand new creation and no longer a sinner.

B. Prayer of Baptism.

This is what I say when I baptise a person after I am sure they believe in Jesus and that He was raised from the dead.

“(Name of the person) I baptise you into Jesus Christ and His body. You have died with Christ; in these waters, you are buried, you are dead to sin, and your sins are buried in these waters. As you come up out of these waters, you rise in newness of life. Abba Father looks down on you with joy and recognises you as a glorified son/daughter of God. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Amen.”


© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten 2021