Christian Baptism

The Doctrine of the Church - Lesson # 12

Joel Stephen Williams


    I. Definitions

       A. baptizō, βαπτίζω, "dip, immerse, baptize" (BAGD, 131).

       B. Working from an English translation only, what does the word "baptize" or "baptism" mean? Jn. 3:23; Mk. 1:4-5; Acts 8:36; Rom. 6:3

  II. Historical setting

       A. Jewish ceremonial washings and proselyte baptism

       B. The baptism of John the Baptist - Mk. 1:4-8; Mt. 3:5-6

       C. The baptism of Jesus himself by John - Mt. 3:13-17; Lk. 3:21-23

       D. The baptism of Jesus through his disciples during his ministry - Jn. 3:25-30; 4:1-2

III. Proper subjects for baptism

       A. Penitent believers - Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38

        B. Discuss infant baptism in relation to penitence and faith.

IV. Meaning of baptism

       A. Make a list from the following passages of some of the results or consequences of baptism - Mt. 28:18-19; Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 5:32; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-6; 1 Cor. 12:13; Mk. 16:15-16; 1 Pet. 3:21; Eph. 5:25-27; Jn. 3:5; Tit. 3:5

            1.                                                                                 6.

            2.                                                                                 7.

            3.                                                                                 8.

            4.                                                                                 9.

            5.                                                                              10.

       B. Since baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, why is it not appropriate for infants? Eph. 2:3; Psa. 51:5; Mt. 18:2-4; 19:13-15 Rom. 9:11; 1 Cor. 14:20; Deut. 1:39

       C. Discuss the question of baptism and children who are "raised in the church" in light of the following quotation: "The child of a Christian home is in some kind of relation to the Lord. [Eph. 6:1-4; 1 Cor. 7:14]...There must be some way in which the religious experience of the child is not denied and treated as non-Christian but the real meaning of believer's baptism is maintained. If the child is in a positive relationship to the kingdom of God and to the church, as the above texts indicate, then it is proper to teach the child to pray, to study the Bible, and to practice Christian morality. The child is to be taught to know the Lord.

                 "What then does baptism mean for the child who has grown up in a Christian home? It must still retain the positive significance that it has for the adult convert from the world, but it would not have the same sense of a radical break with the past" (Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ, 200).

       D. Discuss how baptism, grace and works are to be coordinated properly in a theology of salvation - Tit. 3:5; Eph. 2:8-10.

  V. Discuss these quotations from early church writings. All dates are approximate.

       A. "Your life was saved and will be saved through water" (Hermas, 135 A.D.).

       B. "It is the washing through which we are cleansed of our sins, the grace gift by which the penalties for our sins are removed....We who have repented of our sins, renounced our faults, and are purified by baptism run back to the eternal light" (Clement of Alexandria, 190 A.D.).

       C. "We as little fishes, are born in water....It has assuredly been ordained that no one can attain knowledge of salvation without baptism....Baptism has a spiritual effect, because we are set free from sins" (Tertullian, 210 A.D.).

VI. Memory verse - Acts 22:16