Barry Newman's Blog

February 9, 2010

Biblical Baptism Revisited (part XV)

Filed under: Baptism — barrynewman @ 9:10 pm

In Conclusion

It is not the argument here that there could not be any reference to a baptismal water ceremony in the Matthew 28 text.  There may have been, but in the light of the various arguments above, my suggestion is that at best any reference to a water ceremony was by way of allusion.  It is acknowledged that there was a baptismal water ceremony that had become well known just prior to and during the ministry of Jesus.  When his disciples heard Jesus utter the words of Matthew 28: 19, 20 in whatever language, they may have had the baptismal water ceremony brought to mind.  It is also acknowledged that there was a baptismal water ceremony that had become well known during the ministry of the early disciples post the resurrection of Jesus and it was expected that new disciples be baptised in such a ceremony.  When the early readers of Matthew’s Gospel came across the text of Matthew 28: 19, 20, the use of “baptizo” may well have brought to their minds that water ceremony.

However what has been argued above is that when Jesus says, “immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” he is primarily making a reference to something like “enveloping them in all that pertains to, submerging them under the governorship of,  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Such an understanding tightly connects “make disciples” with “teaching them all to observe all that I have commanded” in the Matthew 28: 19, 20 text and eliminates the problems associated with understanding the text in the traditional manner.  Without denying its value, the baptismal water ceremony need not be viewed as an obligatory ceremony, commanded by Jesus to be performed by his disciples, and as such seen to be a peculiar attachment to the gospel of grace.

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