"Christian" Baptism prior to the Resurrection

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    It is often presented that baptism represents our death, burial, and resurrection in Christ. I realize that there is quite a bit in that short statement, and of course that “in the name of Christ” may indicate or include his death, burial, and resurrection (I’m not disputing or arguing against that symbolism).

    But if the primary symbolism of Christian baptism is a representation of our death, burial, and resurrection in Christ then what is the significance of the baptisms performed by the disciples while Jesus was still living?
     
  2. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist
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    I believe it was ultimately designed by "counsel of God (Lk. 7:29-30 - as it is God that sent John to baptize) to symbolize the very same thing. For example the Baptist said,

    And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. - Jn. 1:31

    John preached Christ as "the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" thus identifying him with the sacrificial lamb sin offering offered up every morning and evening in the temple, and therefore, John preached what all the prophets preached "to him give all the prophets witness that whosever believeth upon HIS NAME shall receive remission of sins" - Acts 10:43 and this is self-evident by his words in John 3:36:

    Thus he required both faith in the coming Christ and repentance as prerequisites for administering baptism:

    Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying un
    He that believeth on the son hath life but he that beleiveth not the son hath not life but the wrath of God abidedeth upon him - Jn. 3:36to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. - Acts 19:4

    He called it the "baptism of repentance" because he demanded the "fruit of repentance" prior to administering baptism (Mt. 3:6-8) .

    God's design was in keeping with the gospel preached "according to the scriptures" meaning the Old Testament Scriptures:

    3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
    4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:


    Again,

    Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
    23
    That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. - Acts 26:22-23

    Again,

    Lk. 24:44
    And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
    45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
    46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:


    The ministry of John the Baptist was fortold by Isaiah (Isa. 40:1-5) and Isaiah presented the gospel of Christ more clearly than any other prophet in the Old Testament (Isa. 53).

    Moreover, no other baptism existed when Christ gave the Great Commission but the baptism of John and no other baptism is possible to be included in his words 'HAVE commanded you" (Mt. 28:20). It must be kept in mind that the Great Commission continued the preaching of repentance unto all nations:

    45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
    46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
    47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem
    .

    Therefore, baptism continued to be a "baptism of repentance" or baptism that required repentance and faith as its prerequisite as in Acts 2:40.

    Therefore, God's design on baptism was exactly in keeping with God's gospel pattern "according to the scriptures" as you must bear in mind that it was God that sent John to baptize and the baptism of John was according to the "counsel of God"

    Lk. 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
    30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.


    So one may argue how much did the administrators understand about God's counsel behind the baptism of John, but it cannot be argued that God did not know his own design of baptism matched perfectly with his own gospel "according to the scriptures."

    Now, with regard to baptizing "in the name" of Christ or the Trinity, first we must recognize what the Biblical meaning of "in the name" stands for. Acts 4:7 gives us insight on how that phrase was understood in current Jewish culture:

    And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? - Acts 4:7

    The Greek term translated "power" in this text is exousia or the term for "authority". Hence, to do something in someone's name was to act under their authority or by their authority. John made it very clear that it was God that authorized him to baptize and therefore John baptized by the authority of God. Furthermore, John the Baptist understood that God was Triune in nature. Recognized God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit:

    John 1: 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
    33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
    34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

    Again,

    Jn. 1:31
    He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
    32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.
    33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.
    34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
    35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

    Again,

    Mt. 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
    17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


    Finally, in the book of Acts you never read at any baptism "baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost (Mt. 28:19). In fact, there is not one case where the words are identical with another case. Why? Because Matthew 28:19 simply conveys that baptism is to be administered under the authority of God who is trinune in nature. To baptize "in the name of the Lord" or "in the name of Jesus" or "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ" is to baptize as Christ instructed by the authority of God, who is triune, the same authority John baptized under. Remember, Paul said that John baptized in reference to Christ (Acts 19:4 whereas those in Acts 19 had been baptized in reference to the authority or name of John).

    It may be argued about how much the administrators understood God's design for baptism, just as it might be argued how much the administrators understood God's gospel of death, burial and resurrection, however, it cannot be argued how much God understood his own design for both baptism and the gospel.
     
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  3. JonC

    JonC
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    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I was thinking along the same lines. Would you then consider the baptisms performed by the Disciples during Christ's ministry before the cross to be along the same lines as this baptism of John?

    What I am wondering is how much those being baptist connected that baptism to the Christ suffering and being raised. The reason I am asking is that the necessity of Jesus to suffer and die to be raised on the third day was not necessarily apparent to the Disciples at first.
     
  4. TCassidy

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    That was the reason for the pre-cross baptism. As a prophetic picture of the coming death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. The Disciples were looking forward to the cross just as we look back to it.
     
  5. The Biblicist

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    The pre-cross gospel consisted of God's promised provision for their sins in the coming Christ. Simply repentance and faith in that promise was sufficient for salvation. Now, how much they understood about "how" or by what precise "means" God would use to accomplish this promise is open to debate. However, at every stage of progressive revelation the gospel revealed was sufficient for full salvation (justification and regeneration followed by progressive sanctification).

    However, the God who designed and authorized the Baptism of John certainly designed it in according to what he knew and designed in keeping with the fulfilled gospel provisions.
     
  6. JonC

    JonC
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    I agree that it was a prophetic picture. I guess what I am wondering is Mt. 16:21 explains when Jesus started explaining that he would go to Jerusalem and die, but Jn. 4:2 pictures the Disciples baptizing early on in Christ's ministry. Am I thinking this out wrong in terms of a timeline? Also, sometimes it seems that the Disciples do not anticipate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus until afterwards (which may be an issue with my perception rather than actual fact as well).
     
  7. Van

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    First, anytime the words "baptize, baptizing, baptized, baptism are used we should insist they are preceded with either "water" or "spiritual" so we do not confuse the two very different actions.

    Why were the disciples water baptizing? To make disciples. Thus a public declaration of faith, love and devotion toward Jesus the Christ. Was the pre-cross ritual really an attempt to symbolize the death and resurrection of Christ? No verse or passage supports that claim. But the idea was at least two fold, those water baptized "acknowledged God’s justice," which indicates repentance (Luke 7:29) and perhaps a flawed view of obtaining "ceremonial purification." (John 3:25).

    In summary, water baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, makes a public commitment to strive to follow God's commands (repentance) makes a public profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and a commitment to strive to become Christ like, a disciple of Christ. Of course, in addition, post-cross, we are water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to symbolize that our sins have been "washed" away.
     
  8. JonC

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    That's what I was thinking, Van. If we look at baptism it seems (to me) to indicate discipleship and the forgiveness of sin. I understand that this forgiveness is "through the Cross" or "in Christ", but at the time of Jesus' ministry on earth I am simply not sure that they looked at it as a "death, burial, and resurrection". I agree with TC and Biblicist that this is foreshadowed (we are forgiven "in Christ"), but if we were living just before the crucifixion of Jesus I am not sure that we would have looked at our baptism by his disciple as we do today. The early emphasis seems to be on the cleansing of forgiveness and becoming a disciple of Christ rather than symbolizing death, burial and resurrection (although that may be another way of saying the same thing).
     
  9. Darrell C

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    Its not really an issue with your perception, unless it is the perception that your years of study have given you, which brings up the questions posed.

    We see Peter oppose the one thing that could redeem him on an eternal basis in Matthew 16, and even further, in regards to trusting in the Risen Savior, we see all of His disciples in unbelief after He arose from the dead. Think of the statement of the Angels, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but has arisen...as He told you (He would)."

    So I will give you a passage to consider (because it sums this up in one passage, there are more that can be considered in regards to the point):


    Mark 16:9-14

    King James Version (KJV)


    9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.

    10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

    11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.

    12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.

    13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.

    14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.



    Everything that took place under Christ's Ministry has to incorporate this into the conclusion/s drawn about the preceding period.

    Here is one more:


    John 20:6-9

    King James Version (KJV)


    6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

    7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

    8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

    9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.



    Now, John, I ask you: how does this impact your perception?


    God bless.
     
  10. Yeshua1

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    Exactly! For Just as john the Baptist was pointing towards the coming kingdom and its messiah in his baptism of repenting, so those taking their baptising at habds of discliplies were agreeing and lokking forward to the messiah...
     
  11. Yeshua1

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    water Naptism as an ordiance of the church comes to its real meaning and focus with the death/resurrection of Jesus as the messaih, so would there not first have to be a pentacost before there could be vaild Baptism or communion?
     
  12. Darrell C

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    I would say yes, without question, because I take the position that the Mystery of the Gospel is revealed by the Comforter Who does not come until Pentecost.

    But the disciples are never water baptized themselves after Petnecost, that we have a record of. I think we could view their association with Christ as acknowledged, but I don't think we can neglect the fact that the disciples of Christ were likely baptized by John. They may have baptized men in the Name of Christ prior to the Cross, but again, we have no record of an exception being made Post-Pentecost.

    Paul makes the statement he was not sent to baptize, which, if water baptism (and that is what is in view in 1 Corinthians 1) had salvific quality, we would have Paul saying "I was not sent to save (and "save" does not imply Paul himself saved men in his efforts)." Paul was sent for the purpose men would be saved, so we have a good example of why water baptism should not have salvific quality imposed into it. It is always contrasted with being Baptized with.in the Holy Spirit, which is clearly seen to be salvific.


    God bless.
     
  13. Yeshua1

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    Yes, water baptism is to be seen as more of us confirming and stating to others that the spirit baptism has already happened!

    Water Baptism cannot save a sinner, but it is more than just an option also,,,
     
  14. Revmitchell

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    How the disciples looked at it is not indicative of its purpose designed by God.
     
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  15. Revmitchell

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    No we shouldn't
     
  16. JonC

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    Perhaps not but I do believe that an early understanding of baptism is worth exploring, particularly as baptism (water baptism) was significant to both first century Judaism and the followers of Christ prior to the Crucifixion. Ultimately they do (IMHO) point to the same thing but the earlier baptism foreshadowing what was to be revealed later.

    What I find interesting is that the focus seems to shift. In terms of the symbolism of baptism, the Disciples may have looked towards the forgiveness of sins where my experience has been that we look more towards regeneration (in terms of dying and being raised to a new life).
     
  17. percho

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    I can't think how many times I have asked if the baptism of Jesus was a prophetic picture, without getting an answer. Thanks for this reply. The baptism of Jesus shows I believe when the fulfillment of all righteousness takes place. At the death and subsequent rising again, with the Spirit descending and remaining on him and the declaration of this is my beloved Son.

    Romans 1:4 comes to mind. And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

    Are we baptized when the Spirit of adoption is shed on us, imputing to us the righteousness of God, declaring us as heirs, for we have then been redeemed? Showing us that we shall follow Jesus in death and resurrection and son ship, Spirit born? -- Those are questions as to whether I understand correctly not statements.
     
  18. percho

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    Did baptism precede John?
     
  19. The Biblicist

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    You must remember that in the early stages the church, its officers, form of government, ordinances were all part of a new public covenant administration. So it does not really matter how the general public or new disciples perceived these things. What matters is God's design for them and the scriptures very plainly state that God had a specific design for water baptism (Lk. 7:29-30). Remember, when Jesus was baptized he told John that he must do it in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Well, water baptism was not part of the Old Covenant Law of God or else he need not send John. Jesus did not need baptism in order to be come righteous. However, his purpose for coming was to provide victory over sin, death and the grave. All righteousness is bound upon in "HOW Christ died according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." He was baptized to signify the true gospel salvation and whether they understood it or not, everyone baptized by John and the disciples of Jesus was baptized upon their profession of repentance and faith in the Christ as both John and Jesus preached salvation by repentance and faith in Christ. For example would you claim the following as preaching the gospel of Christ:

    A. Jesus

    Jn. 3:14
    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
    15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


    Jn. 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    Jn..6:40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.


    B. John The Baptist

    Jn. 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

    The baptism of John is called "the baptism of repentance" because John required both repentance and faith in Christ to be baptized. The Great Commission as recorded in Luke 24:47 still preaches repentance and faith as the prerequisite to water baptism.
     
  20. JonC

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    Baptism in general existed long before John, and what many (to include myself) would term "Christian Baptism" was practiced after the Resurrection (as symbolizing not only forgiveness, but also redemption through the blood of Christ).
     

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