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By Curtis Pugh

An interesting statement about John the Baptist found in John 3:23. There it is written: “And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.” At certain times the Jordan River almost dries up. The only depths to be found in its waters are in pools located in various places. The verse just quoted speaks of one of those areas where there was a sufficient amount of water for John's need.

While almost every group that identifies as being Christian believes and practices what they call baptism, this verse tells us much about the ordinance. It requires much water: at least enough to submerge a person in it. Of course that is the meaning of the Greek words translated as baptize, baptism, etc. There is not a scholar to be found among all the religious groups that denies that the meaning of these words is to plunge or to dip.

Some sprinkle and some pour using only a little water, but when details are given as they are in the case of Philip and the Ethiopian we are told, “...they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him,” (Acts 8:38). But does the mode matter? Three things especially cause us to think that it does.

Number one: baptism is a matter of following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. The first verse quoted above has to do with John's baptism of Jesus. Jesus was baptized in the “much water” that was found near Salim where John baptized. Jesus walked some sixty-odd miles to get to John that He might “fulfil all righteousness,” (Matthew 3:15). So if we would follow the Lord's example, we will be plunged or dipped in water by one authorized to do so. It matters whether or not we follow Christ's example.

Number two: Baptism pictures or portrays something. That something is stated clearly by Paul in two places. First in 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,” and again in Colossians 2:12: “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Of the three modes of what is called baptism: i.e. sprinkling, pouring and immersion, only the latter in any way portrays the act of being buried. It matters whether or not our baptism pictures a burial.

Number three: the command is specific: “And he [Peter] commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord...” (Acts 10:48). The command is to be dipped or plunged or immersed and then brought up out of the water picturing both the burial and the resurrection of Christ. That is the meaning of the word “baptizo.” It matters whether we are obedient to the command or not.

Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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