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Benjamin Amankwaah wrote:

Hi, guys —

I want you to show me where in Bible Baptism was by sprinkling. In John 3 and Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus, He vividly compared Baptism to birth and in Colossians 2:12 Baptism was again compared to death.

There is so much evidence in the Bible pointing to the fact that Baptism was by immersion including Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch where in Acts 8:39 it reads they came up and out of the water.

  • Now if Baptism was by sprinkling, why the need to go down into the water?

I would be very pleased if I could get an immediate reply. Everything in your reply should be biblical and not historical as, in 1 Peter 4:11, we are told to always speak as from the oracles of God.

Thank you,

Benjamin

  { Without using historical sources as in 1 Peter 4:11, where in the Bible is Baptism by sprinkling? }

Eric replied:

Dear Benjamin,

First of all, the Catholic Church does not baptize by sprinkling. Presbyterians and certain other Protestants do, but Catholics do not (except, perhaps, out of necessity, say if a little water was available, or a bed-ridden person was involved). We baptize by immersion (preferred) or by pouring (albeit more common).

But to answer your question, Baptism is prefigured in Ezekiel 36 where it says,

22 Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. 24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

(The New King James Version. (1982). (Ezekiel 36:22–27). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.)

Also see Isaiah:

3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;
4 They will spring up among the grass
Like willows by the watercourses.’
5 One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’;
Another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
And name himself by the name of Israel."

The New King James Version. (1982). (Isaiah 44:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Moreover, when 3,000 were baptized (Acts 2:41) but there was not enough water in that region for that many to be baptized by immersion in one day.

Finally, historically, pouring has always been an option for Christians. Early Christian art portrayed Baptism by standing in a body of water having water poured over the head. In the first century, one of the earliest, if not the earliest document we have from the Church outside of the Scriptures, the Didache, or the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, it says,

Chapter VII. — Concerning Baptism.

1 And concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. 2 But if thou have not living water, baptize into other water; and if thou canst not in cold, in warm. 3 But if thou have not either, pour out water thrice upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. 4 But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whatever others can; but thou shalt order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

(Chapter 7; Roberts, A., Donaldson, J., and Coxe, A. C. (Eds.). (1886). The Lord’s Teaching through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations. In Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries: Lactantius, Venantius, Asterius, Victorinus, Dionysius, Apostolic Teaching and Constitutions, Homily, and Liturgies (Volume 7, page 379). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.)

You object to speaking historically, citing 1 Peter 4:11, but that says,

  • "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God." (NKJV) or
  • "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (KJV) or
  • "whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God" (RSV).

This has nothing to do with speaking from the oracles of God, it is saying, when you speak, speak as if you are uttering the oracles of God, i.e., very carefully and deliberately. Listen to the oracles of God speak about the value of tradition:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (KJV). It is the church which is the pillar and foundation of the truth

(1 Timothy 3:15).

So it is valid to bring in historical evidence about what the church has always believed.

You may find other useful information:

There are sure to be previous answers to this question.

Eric

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