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Lesson 5 The Mode of Christian Baptism


Devotional Reading:   Philippians 2:5–12


Memory Verse:           Romans 6:4


Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.




Mark 1:4, 5, 9. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 9And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.


John 3:23 John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.


Acts 8:35–39. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.


Matthew 28:19–20. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.




Mark 1:4. John both preached and practiced baptism, a good pattern for gospel ministers. V5. His converts were baptized in the Jordan. This is water baptism and the use of much water. V9. Jesus sets the example for being baptized in water. He entered the river, was baptized, then came out of the water.

John 3:23. John chose a place to baptize where there was much water. This would be unnecessary were he a sprinkler.

Acts 8:35. Philip preached Jesus. This included baptism. Vv 36–39. The eunuch believed in Christ and asked to be baptized. In the act of baptism both went into the water, the eunuch was baptized, then both came up out of the water. There is no question there as to the mode of baptism.

Matthew 28:19, 20. In this last commission Jesus instructs his apostles to baptize and to teach their disciples to continue the practice to the end of the world. The ordinance of baptism is still in force in the church.






1. An ordinance defined.


A) An ordinance is an outward symbol representing a spiritual experience or a relation to God. B) Baptism represents the new condition of life in Christ and the new birth through which this experience is entered. It is established by divine command and is for all races and all ages of the church. C) Baptism meets this requirement.


2. It is not a Jewish ordinance.


A) Jewish ceremonial washings were of a different nature and for a different purpose. B) Baptism connected with repentance and remission of sins began with the preaching of John and belongs to the gospel.


3. It was established by Jesus.


A) He was himself baptized, thus approving the act. The accompanying presence of the Spirit, and of the Father’s witness is conclusive proof of divine approval. B) He practiced baptism (by proxy). Those baptized under his ministry were many (see John 3:22, 26; 4:1, 2). He commanded its observance in his last commission which is to continue to the end and is for all nations.


4. It was practiced by the Apostles.


This is well established in the Book of Acts . . . It has not been repealed. The last commission prevents its repeal, and the Apostles never ceased its practice.




1. Divine commands are distinct.


A) Christ’s personal commands were definite. He gave directions as to what he desired done. The blind man was to go wash in Siloam; the lepers were to show themselves to the priests. A command to all people should be equally definite. B) The obligation inhering in a divine command requires that it be definite. God does not give commands concerning trifles in which he has no choice. C) The fact that God commands requires that it be distinct that we may know when we have met the obligation.


2. The nature of the ordinance requires it.



A) The proper symbolizing of the spiritual truth to be taught requires a definite act. Only definite acts portray definite truths. B) Baptism is such a symbol so it must be definite.


3. The Bible description is definite.


Where baptism is described it is represented as a distinct act. No varying modes are to be found.




1. The meaning of the word.


A) Baptize is not a translation of the original word. The Greek word is but transferred into English. Some English versions do translate the word and render it immerse or dip. No one translated it sprinkle or pour. B) The original word is defined in standard lexicons, to dip, to immerse, to plunge, to wash; but it is never defined to sprinkle or pour. C) The word, when used without reference to the ordinance of baptism, is translated to dip, or to wash. Thus the meaning of the original term is established beyond dispute.


2. Proved by the Bible examples.


A) The baptism of Christ. He was baptized in the river Jordan, and after his baptism he came up out of the water. This agrees perfectly with immersion but not with sprinkling or pouring, in which cases there would have been no occasion for going into the river. B) The baptism of the eunuch. Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, then the eunuch was baptized after which both came up out of the water. This is a clear picture of immersion. All admit that immersion is correct. Some contend that other modes will do as well but we find no scriptural ground for their contention. Immersion is continued by the Greek churches to the present time.


3. Objections to immersion.


A) Peter could not have baptized 3,000 on Pentecost by immersion. There is no reason to think this. Peter did this baptizing, there were others qualified to help, and there were plenty of pools in which to do it. B) It would not do to immerse sick people. It may be true that some cannot be immersed. But baptism is not required where it is not possible. The thief on the cross was not baptized—not even sprinkled. It is not baptism that saves. If it were, a substitute could be of no value. The Philippian jailer could not be immersed at night. Why not? They left the house to be baptized then returned to the house which would be unnecessary in another mode.




1. The death and resurrection of Christ.


In Romans 6 Paul discusses the death and resurrection of Christ and our salvation in terms of a baptism or a burial. This not only establishes the nature of the act of baptism but gives to it a ceremonial connection with the death and resurrection of Christ. In the act of baptism we testify our faith in these solemn facts.


2. Our salvation from sin.


Our death to sin and the new life in Christ is connected in this ceremony with the death and resurrection of Christ which is its procuring causes. Baptism is likewise a figure of the cleansing wrought in salvation (see 1 Peter 3:21).


3. The bodily resurrection.


Paul teaches this in the same connection. Only immersion can symbolize these truths; neither pouring nor sprinkling have any value in teaching the great truth symbolized by this ordinance.