Although baptism is but a "figure" or symbol through which the believer publicly identifies with Christ as an expression of his faith, it has far more reaching significance. In the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20 those authorized to administer baptism are those who preach the right gospel and are capable of instructing the baptized beleiver in observing all things whatsoever Christ has commanded. Baptism is stuck right between going to preach the gospel (Mk. 16:15; Acts 2:41 "as many as received the word") and instructing the baptized believer in apostolic doctrine and practice (Mt. 28:20; Acts 2:42). Why in such a position? Simply because baptism is designed by God to be a compendum of theology. 1. Soteriology as it must visibly express the gospel, internal washing externally expressed (Tit. 3:5) progressive sanctification ("walk in newness of life"). 2. Theology proper "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost" 3. Harmatology - "for the remission of sins" - Acts 2:38 4. Ecclesiology - "were baptized and added unto them" - there are no such churches in the New Testament of unbaptized believers. - I Cor. 12:13 5. Eschatology - the believers "resurrection" illustrated in the mode - I Cor. 15:29 John was predicted by Old Testament prophets (Isa. 40; Mal. 4) and God had purposed his ministry (Lk. 1:17) and sent him to baptize (Jn. 1:30-33) and before he administered baptism he was designated by the use of a definite PROPER noun "The Baptist" (Mt. 3:1). The Holy Spirit did not choose an adjective to modify his person. The Holy Spirit did not choose a verb to describe an action. The Holy Spirit did not choose a participle (verbal adjective). God designated him "The Baptist" because scriptural baptism was "the counsel of God" (Lk. 7:29-30) and was the compendum of New Testament Theology and that is precisely why it is placed right between the gospel and instructing them how to observe all things commanded by Christ. It is the visible standard, ensign, of New Testament doctrine and practice. Only those already discipled in the proper gospel and instructed in the faith once delivered are authorized to administer it. They are the "ye" of the Great Commission while all other human beings on planet earth fall into one of two categories: 1. "all nations" - unbelievers 2. "Them" believers not yet baptized (v. 19) or unassembled, untaught baptized believers (v. 20). It is the ensign of the faith once delivered and it is easy to prove. Suppose the Lord saved you and you were told that baptism is the next step in obeying the Lord's commission. So you go to the first church on the corner, a Methodist church and ask to be baptize. The minister sets a date and you go invite all your friends to come and watch. On that day, your friends are watching as you get sprinkled and as soon as it is over you turn to your friends and loudly proclaim, I have been baptized and am now a baptized Lutheran!!! or "Nazerine"! or "Mormon"! Or etc. How would they respond? They would say you were nuts! Why? Because YOU CHOSE to submit to a Methodist minister, not a Lutheran, Nazerine or Mormon! What kind of administrator you publicly identify yourself with in Baptism IDENTIFIES YOU DOCTRINALLY! This is why Jesus placed baptism between the RIGHT GOSPEL and THE RIGHT FAITH AND ORDER and authorized only those who fit that criteria to administer baptism because Jesus wanted his followers to publicly identify with HIS GOSPEL and HIS FAITH and ORDER by HIS CHURCHES.