Throughout my 15 years in the Christian ministry, I have heard of various types of baptisms, but the most common type is water baptism. It has been embraced by many Christians all over the world, which made me curious to understand its origin and significance. So, how many times is water baptism mentioned in the Bible?
Water baptism is mentioned several times in the Bible, especially in the New Testament books. In King James Version, it is mentioned 22 times, while in the International Standard version, it appears 14 times. However, theologians believe that it has been mentioned over 100 times through various references and in different forms. Some of these mentions are not word for word across all translations.
Join me in this article as I look into what the Bible says about water baptism and whether or not it is in the Old Testament. I will also uncover the various Bible verses which talk about water baptism and where it first appears in the Biblical passages. Read on for answers to these and more questions.
What does the Bible say about water baptism?
According to Matthew 3:13-17, John baptized Jesus in the river Jordan in Galilee. It is the most direct reference to water baptism in the Bible. It suggests that when Jesus approached John the Baptist, he was unsure of Baptizing him. Jesus had no sin, and in his response to John, he said it needed to be done to fulfill all righteousness. This was also the reason for his crucifixion. Baptism symbolizes washing away sin and embracing a new life in Christ, which is what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Romans 6:3-4 stresses the importance of water in the baptismal process. It implies that immersion translates to being baptized into the death of Christ. By overcoming that death (rising from the water), we are raised from that death to live a new life. Though many people assume that baptism immediately washes away one’s sins, that is not the case. Mark 16:16 implies that there is more to it than simply immersion. According to the verse, one has to believe in Christ for the baptism to count. Whoever does not believe will be condemned, whether or not they are baptized.
Was there water baptism in the Old Testament?
Water baptism, as defined in the New Testament, is not found in the Old Testament. It is, however, notable that some events can be assumed to have been water baptisms. Take the events in 2 Kings 5:10-14 for instance. The Bible implies that the Lord instructed Namaan through Elisha to dip himself seven times in the Jordan River for his leprosy to be cured. This is the same idea that is used in baptism in the New Testament. The point of Naaman dipping himself in the river was to get rid of impurities.
A similar instance is implied in Ezekiel 47:1-12 where Ezekiel is describing his vision. In the vision, he sees a stream of water flowing from the temple, giving life and healing the land. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, the apostle Paul references Israelites crossing the Red Sea as a form of baptism. The verse suggests that the Israelites were baptized when they were passing through the waters of the sea. Other events include the story of Jonah when he was swallowed by a great fish, as implied in Jonah 2:5-6 and that of Moses when his mother put him in a basket and let him pass through the waters of the Nile in Exodus 2. Though these examples may not be considered baptism in the same way as was practiced in the New Testament, they too involved cleansing and renewal.
Instances where baptism appears in the Bible
There are various instances where baptism appears in the Bible. They include;
Matthew 3:13-17 where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River
Acts 2:38-41 says that Peter called on people to repent of their sins and be baptized so that their sins could be forgiven.
Matthew 28:19-20 where Jesus issued a command to his disciples to go and teach nations his word and baptize them
Acts 8:26-40 says that Philip baptized the Ethiopian Eunuch after he had confessed his faith in Jesus.
Acts 9:1-19 implies that Saul, who later went by Paul, was baptized after he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus.
1 Peter 3:20-22 where Peter compares baptism to the saving of Noah and his family from the flood.
Galatians 3:27 Paul refers to the baptized as those who have put on Christ, which means they have accepted a new life in Christ, as should we.
Romans 6:4 relates baptism to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
1 Corinthians 12:13 implies that baptism unites us in one body despite our differences.
Mark 16:16 advises us to believe and be baptized so that we can be saved rather than face condemnation.
Where does water baptism first appear in the Bible?
According to gotquestions.org, the practice of water baptism can be traced back to Leviticus 16:4. The verse implies that Aaron bathed with water before he put on the sacred garments. While what is described in this passage might not be defined as baptism, they have the same significance.
When it comes to the immersion termed “baptism,” it appears for the first time in the story of Jesus and John the Baptist in the Book of Matthew. This baptism differs from those in the Old Testament books because it links to the crucifixion. The immersion of Jesus in water can be compared to his death on the cross, and when he rises, it shows that he has beaten death and washed away our sins.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.