How did they Baptize in the First Century? Before we speak of how they baptized in the First Century, let us look at why they baptized. First of all, non-Catholics believe that to be “saved” one must claim Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It is true, we must all claim Christ to be our personal Lord and Savior (and none other than he), however, there is more to baptism than what the non-Catholic would choose to believe.
John the Baptist, baptized with water symbolizing the cleansing of sins. John stated to the Pharisees that his baptism was not the final standard for baptism, (Jn. 1:26) that someone would come (Jesus) that would do more than baptize with water. The verse non-Catholics like to quote, John 3:3, is not completed by Jesus, or let us say interpreted until verse 3:5. Let us look two verses ahead at John 3:5. In John 3:5, Nicodemus is confused about being born again. Jesus clarifies what He states to Nicodemus stating:
(John 3:5) – Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Here we see that being “born again” means the sacrament of baptism! If the non-Catholic would only read a little further he would find the true meaning of being “born again.” Catholics do not believe that works alone will get them to Heaven. What Catholics do believe is that works accompanied by faith and God’s grace will get them into Heaven. There are so many verses in the Bible stating that entrance into Heaven is not as simple as saying “I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.” Let us see what the Bible has to say about salvation:
(Phil 2:12) -…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
(Rom 2:5-6) – …the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
(James 2:14) – What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
Ok, so what is the point? The point is that in order for man to be “saved,” to have eternal life, he must be baptized with both water and the Holy Spirit and that being baptized is what secures eternal salvation. Water is not the only means of “saving” but there is also the spirit that “saves”. The sacrament and meaning of baptism, according to the words of Jesus, is not whether one is immersed or not, or how much water is poured on the head of the person being baptized, but instead it is a sign of purification, new life, and a new relationship with God.
Would Jesus be so unmerciful as to not give us the graces he promises, only because the we were not completely dunked under water? I don’t think so! Jesus is a merciful God; it is the intent that he sees, not the amount of water. Besides, nowhere in the Bible does it state that Jesus baptized, thus he did not leave us an example to follow. If Jesus intended that total immersion be the only way a baptism is valid, wouldn’t he have made this clear to his apostles? Instead he tells his apostles in Mt. 28:19 to baptize in the names of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (this he makes clear).
Now on to the baptisms of the First Century, according to Acts 9:17-18 Paul was baptized in a house. In Acts 16:33 Paul baptized his jailer within the prison. The argument of immersion is deceptive because in baptism, water is a symbolization of cleansing. In one of the earliest known Christian writings “The Didache” it states that immersion is not the only means of baptism.
Didache [7,1] “In regard to Baptism – baptize thus: After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. If you have no living water, then baptize in other water; and if you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
As you see from the excerpt taken from the Didache; baptism can be valid without having the individual totally immersed. My question to a non-Catholic would be, If baptism is merely a rule or practice to follow and not a sacrament within their respective churches, and has no effect on salvation, why do they make such a big deal about whether someone is totally immersed or not?
Where does it say in the Bible that only adults should be baptized, not infants? Nowhere! In Col. 2:11-12, Paul shows us a parallel between circumcision and baptism.
Then why is there baptism of adults in the New Testament? Simple! The new converts were already grown adults! Let us look at some verses that show otherwise:
(Acts 2:38-39) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off…
(1Cor. 1:16) And I baptize also the household of Stephanas…
(Acts 16:15) And when she was baptized and her household, she besought us…
Non-Catholics state that the act of baptism is a waste because the infant is not capable of knowing what is happening and has not yet received the Lord as their Savior. Let us take a look at the Jewish infants that were being circumcised. Did these infants know that at the moment they were being circumcised, they were making a covenant with God? There is no validity to the non-Catholic claim that only adults should be baptized.
Born Again for Protestants
it means ‘to be born the second time.’ A sinner is born again and becomes righteous when he/she is saved spiritually by believing in the baptism of Jesus and His Cross.
We can spiritually be born again by believing in the baptism and the blood of Jesus. The born again are those who have been washed of all their sins and “who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27).