Barry Newman's Blog

November 11, 2012

The Sacraments (part XIX)

Filed under: The Sacraments — barrynewman @ 8:27 pm

Other Figurative Usage in the New Testament

Recognised that “baptizo” can, indeed should, sometimes be understood figuratively, enables us to understand the following texts as possibly unrelated to a water baptism (the traditional rendering being placed within parentheses): Acts 19: 3 “Into what ‘teaching’ (what) were you immersed (baptised)?”; Romans 6: 3 “As many of us who were caught up (baptised) into Christ Jesus were caught up (baptised) into his death”;  1Corinthians 12: 13 “By one spirit we were all immersed (baptised) into one body”; Galatians 3: 27 “Those who have been enveloped in (baptised into) Christ have put on Christ.”

The Prepositions used with “Baptizo

The prepositions found accompanying “baptizo” in the Greek literature external to the New Testament during the period 1st century BC to 1st century AD are “en” (1x) and “eis” (11x).  In the New Testament “baptizo” is followed by “eis” (11x) and “en” (14x), with “epi” occurring once.

With respect to the New Testament and the occurrence of “baptizo” followed by a preposition, worthy of note is the following: (i) A reference to the Holy Spirit, whether in the Gospels or in Acts, is always such that it is governed by the preposition “en”.  (ii) Paul only ever uses “eis”. (iii) The various objects of “eis” are “the name” (5x), a person named (3x), “what” (in a question being asked) (1x), the death of Jesus (1x) and “one body” (1x).  (iv) The various objects of “en” are the “Holy Spirit” (6x), “water” (4x), a locality (3x) and “the name” (1x).  (v) The object of the single occurrence of “epi” is “the name”.

In the New Testament it does not seem to be particularly significant whether “eis”, “en” or even “epi” follow “baptizo”, particularly when the object of these prepositions is “the name”.  However, in general, if some distinction is to be made, “eis” seems to carry with it the idea of “into”, with “en” taking on the notion of “in” both with respect to a locality but also when the object is the person of the Holy Spirit.  Some differences of usage may simply be a matter of style.

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