Updated: Jun 21, 2021
The meaning of the word “baptize” comes from a Greek word which means “to submerge in water. Baptism, by its inherent definition, must be an act of immersion in water.
The Lord taught the significance of baptism to the extent that He Himself was baptized by John the Baptist at the start of His ministry (Mark 1:9).
(1) Baptism is to take place after a person has received Jesus Christ as Savior, trusting in Him alone for salvation.
(2) Baptism is to be by immersion.
Baptism did not begin with Christians or with John. The Jews had used baptism in ritual cleansing ceremonies of Gentile proselytes years before Christ.
The origins of baptism might be found in the book of Leviticus where the Levite priests were commanded to perform a symbolic cleansing in water before and after performing their priestly duties.
Leviticus 16:4 tells us, “He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.”
Water baptism symbolizes the believer’s total trust in and total reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a commitment to live obediently to Him.
It is a symbolic representation of a cleansing that is complete and a commitment that is the natural response of one who has been made new.
Water baptism conveys this and more, but it is not what saves us. Instead, we are saved by grace through faith, apart from works (Ephesians 2:8–9).
It is a public profession of faith and discipleship. A new believer in Jesus Christ should desire to be baptized as soon as possible.
“What was the meaning and importance of the baptism of John the Baptist?”
Paul affirms it in Acts 19:4: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
Being baptized by John demonstrated a recognition of one’s sin, a desire for spiritual cleansing, and a commitment to follow God’s law in anticipation of the Messiah’s arrival.
John prepared the way for Christ by calling people to acknowledge their sin and their need for salvation. His baptism was a purification ceremony meant to ready the peoples’ hearts to receive their Savior.
The importance of Christian baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church. Just before Jesus ascended, He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).
These instructions specify that the church is responsible to teach Jesus’ word, make disciples, and baptize those disciples.
These things are to be done everywhere (“all nations”) until “the very end of the age.”
Baptism has importance because Jesus commanded it.
When we are saved, we are “baptized” by the Spirit into the fellowship of the church-into the Body of Christ.
First Corinthians 12:13 says, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
Baptism by water is a “reenactment” of the baptism by the Spirit.
The action of being immersed in the water pictures dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water illustrates Christ’s resurrection.
As a result, baptism by immersion is the only method of baptism which illustrates being buried with Christ and being raised with Him.
Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit—this is what makes it “Christian” baptism.
It is through this ordinance that a person is admitted into the fellowship of the church.
Christian baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
Jesus has cleansed my soul from sin, and I now have a new life of sanctification. It is an outward proclamation of an inward conversion. “Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:3-4).
Bible verses about water baptism.