The Biblical Mode Of Baptism

Among the various denominations today, there are four different modes of baptism.

  • Sprinkling: The baptizer dips his fingers in water and flicks it onto the baptizee.
  • Pouring: The baptizer fills a cup with water and pours it over the head of the baptizee, who usually is standing in the baptismal.
  • Dipping: The baptizee is partially submerged in the water, often leaving the head or face emerged.
  • Immersion: The baptizee is completely submerged in the water.

Which of these modes is the Biblical one, the one employed by John the Baptizer and by Jesus and his apostles?

The first place to turn would be the word itself: Baptize. It is derived from the Greek word baptizo, the word used throughout the Bible in reference to baptism. According to Strong’s Concordance, baptizo is defined as “to immerse, submerge; to make whelmed (i.e. fully wet)”. This seems clearly to indicate that baptism, in the true sense of the word, requires the baptizee to be lowered completely into the water.

Let’s look at what the Bible has to say about this.

In Matthew 3:16, after Jesus was baptized, He “came up immediately from the water”. When Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:38, Philip and the eunuch “both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.” It becomes apparent through these passages that the Biblical mode of baptism involves both the baptizer and the baptizee stepping into the water — the former to perform his task in baptizing the convert, the latter to submit to the process.

Having established this so far, we move on to the actual act of baptism. Paul, in Romans 6:3-7, has this to say:

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

When we are baptized, we are buried into Christ’s death. We are buried with Him. The entire baptismal process is a picture, or representation, of us dying as Christ died, being buried, shedding the old sinful man, and rising up a new creature, freed from sin. We are following in the footsteps of Jesus, who first set the example for us in being baptized by John, then underwent His own, horrible baptism of true death and burial as He mentions in Luke 12:50.

But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!

Paul also mentions this in Colossians 2:12 while telling the Colossians that their body of sinful flesh had been removed through Christ,

having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Notice that the theme here is burial. When we are baptized, we are buried with Christ into His death, the death from which He rose.

It therefore follows that baptism in the true Biblical sense does not involve sprinkling, pouring, or partial submersion, but a complete immersion. The baptizee is buried in water to simulate Jesus’ own burial in the earth, then raised up again a new man, just as God raised Jesus to reign forever as King. Baptism in any other form is a fabrication of man — a mere tradition — not recognized by God.

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