Skip to main content

The video link is at the bottom of the page.

1. Introduction

There is a wide range of teachings when it comes to water baptism.

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:

βαπτίζω baptizō; to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i.e. thoroughly wet)

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

B. Jewish Tradition.

Water baptism was a ceremonial washing tradition for those wanting to join the Jewish faith. Ceremonial washing was the practice of immersion (tevilah) in a ritual bath (mikveh), as seen in the gospel of John.

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 complete immersion:

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

Leviticus 15:16

C. Baptism is Not New Birth.

In Communion, we found that partaking in the bread and wine does not bring in the New Covenant. It is the same with baptism. Baptism does not mean we enter the New Covenant; that happens through faith in Jesus.

Likewise, Holy Spirit Baptism is not when we are born again; that happens later. When we are born again, Jesus fills us with the Holy Spirit, then again at Holy Spirit Baptism and throughout our walk with God.
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

To what Baptism is Jesus referring? Is it water baptism, or is it Holy Spirit baptism? We will find out that it is most likely referring to both baptisms as both are one in God’s eyes. 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?” Water baptism is part of salvation because salvation is part of God’s plan of restoring His children to full maturity. Limiting salvation to being born again means we are not born again if we are not baptised. Entering the family of God is by faith, not through water baptism. Once we understand salvation, the answer to this question is no longer a problem.

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

In Covenantal Atonement, we learn 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 lives.

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 you have any doubts about “Is baptism necessary for salvation?” please look closely at Transformation Through Salvation.

3. How to Water Baptise

A. Full immersion.

The early church practised complete immersion, having defined water baptism. 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

Did you notice that Philip and the eunuch 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. Wrong Theology; Infant Baptism.

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 do not perform infant baptism.

This teaching arose from the wrong theology of original sin, which came through the parents. Augustine (354-430CE) thought that sexual acts were unholy and sinful. We discussed this in Sin Entered the World.

Infant baptism also came out of fear of what happens to a child when they die early. Infant mortality was much higher than it is now. The 17th Century Church of England stated that an infant must be seven days old.

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.

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 preached the gospel message 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 Jews and Gentiles.

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

5. Baptism of Repentance.

A. Incorrect Theology that Water Baptism is Old Covenant.

The teaching that baptism is a Jewish custom, therefore only Jews should baptise, is not logical.

We know from 1 Corinthians that Apollos, a non-Jew, was baptising people with Paul’s full knowledge. Apollos was a gentile, and Paul a Jew. If baptism finished with the Old Covenant, then Paul would have said so in his writing to the Corinthians:

Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.

1 Corinthians 1:12-17

Furthermore, Paul was baptising the Gentiles Crispus and Gaius.

Some individuals believe that because water baptism was a cultural practice, it is, therefore, the Old Covenant and unnecessary. This view is not accurate and has no scriptural basis.

Baptism unto repentance is of the Old Covenant, but baptism into the name of Jesus Christ is of the New Covenant.

B. Baptism into Repentance.

John’s baptism concerned his calling 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

John preached the message: ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is near for the remission of sins.
Or, “Change the way you think- For the Kingdom of God is near.” You will no longer need to obey all the law requirements to cover your sins.

 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 the Holy Spirit and water, is essential to 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 should be careful not to take one scripture without the whole Bible.

The apostles taught both baptisms are essential. 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

God baptised the Israelites into Moses, so we are baptised into Christ.

The sea represents water baptism, and the cloud represents the 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

This Greek word for Christ only refers 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 notice that the Holy Spirit comes upon us. Now we see that the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and Jesus also 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 another usage of this word: clothed with splendour:

C. Clothed with Splendour.

This word describes 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 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 Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. Jesus arrayed us with His armour, so Father wants to train us to use our armour against the devil.

8. Water Baptism is a GOOD Conscience Towards God

There is also an antitype that now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

1 Peter 3:21

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

We have a good conscience that tells us we are sons or daughters of Abba Father. Our conscience recognises that God works everything for good according to His purpose for our lives because we love Him and remember Jesus’ Lordship.

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 necessary 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 “Jesus the Son of God”, Jesus became the Son of God at His birth. Sonship was not a result of baptism – as we have discussed above. However, we also learned that His full authority did not come until John baptised Jesus in water and Holy Spirit came upon Him.

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 as adoption in Ephesians:

having predestined us to adoption (Greek = huiothesia) as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:5

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

Full authority is what happens at water and Holy Spirit baptism. We receive all the responsibilities and privileges of being a son or daughter 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

When we are baptised in the name of Jesus, we can be confident to use the name of Jesus and all the authority.

C. Being Led as a Son.

According to Romans, the Holy Spirit leads the sons of God.

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 the Holy Spirit.

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

Matthew 4:1

In the same way, the Holy Spirit will start leading us after our baptisms. Being led by the Holy Spirit indicates 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 we unite with Christ and His body.

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 do not baptise 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

When you are baptised in the name of Jesus you can be confident to use the name of Jesus and all the authority that means.

Neville van Eerten

11. A Water Baptism Prayer

Firstly, the person must receive 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 do so and desire to be baptised as well. I lead them in a simple prayer, copying the words I say. If you 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 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 welcome you into my life and receive the gift of eternal 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 know that God is my Father and 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.

When I baptise a person after I am sure they believe in Jesus, I say the following: He died and rose again.

“(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 out of these waters, you rise in new life. Abba Father looks down on you with joy and recognises you as God’s glorified son/daughter. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.”


© Use by Permission Awakening Impact Ministries / Dr Neville van Eerten D.Miss. 2024

Leave a Comment