Barry Newman's Blog

January 18, 2010

Biblical Baptism Revisited (part I)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 7:04 am

I was intending to create some posts dealing with the Old Testament and then the New Testament references to “the heart”.  However there are good reasons for first returning to the subject of “Biblical Baptism”.

Over September 1 to September 13 2009 I created a series of blogs on the subject entitled “Biblical Baptism”.   The material has been discussed by various people in different venues and I have tried to listen carefully to the comments made. What follows is an attempt to further contribute to the debate particularly with reference to the Matthew 28: 19, 20 text.  Some of that earlier material will be referred to again.  If the earlier series has not been read it might be helpful to do so before reading this series.


The evidence firmly suggests that from earliest times up to the end of the first century A.D. the Greek verb “baptizo”, outside of the New Testament, was a word in ordinary use having the general sense of immersion.  It was commonly used of the sinking of ships and the drowning of people.  However it was also used of inanimate objects and in a variety of situations.  Furthermore it was used metaphorically as well as literally.  Of the 100 or so instances of its usage external to the New Testament, there are only a couple or so where it could be argued that it referred to some type of established rite.  The noun “baptisma”, with only one or two exceptions, is first found in the pages of the New Testament and seems to follow the usage of the verb in that literature.


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