Barry Newman's Blog

January 22, 2010

Biblical Baptism Revisited (part VI)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 9:45 pm

The Baptismal Water Ceremony in the New Testament

In order to understand the place of the baptismal ceremony in the Acts of the Apostles, we need to remember its origins and that in a short period of time it became a well established and well known practice.  John the baptiser may have been mimicking Jewish proselyte washings but clear evidence to that effect is lacking. He claims that the reason behind his coming, baptising with water, is so that “the lamb of God” “might be revealed to Israel” (John 1: 31). Sometime after John began baptising, the disciples of Jesus and perhaps, though not likely, Jesus himself, began to baptise (John 3: 22; 4: 2).  John was a prophet and perhaps baptism was understood by him as an enacted sign, somewhat along the lines of the enacted signs of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 4: 1 – 5: 4; 12: 1 – 11; 24: 15 – 27) and Hosea (Hosea 1: 2 – 9).  It is well attested that great crowds became familiar with what both John and the disciples of Jesus were doing. (See Matthew 3: 5, 6; Mark 1: 5; Luke 3: 7; John 3: 26).  Though to our ears it is an exaggeration, Mark records that, “the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him (John) (Mark 1: 5).  At one time it appeared that Jesus (in reality the disciples of Jesus), was (were) baptising even more disciples than John (John 4: 1). Even before the time of the apostolic period, water baptism associated with either John the Baptiser or Jesus of Nazareth had become a very well known practice in and around the localities in which they ministered.

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