Chapter 14: BAPTISM

Seventh-day Adventists Believe...p

By baptism we confess our faith in the death and

resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to

sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we

acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people,

and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a

symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our

sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by

immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of

faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows

instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their

teachings.--Fundamental Beliefs, 14.



Nyangwira, who lived in Central Africa, did not consider

baptism to be merely an option. For more than a year she had

eagerly studied the Bible. She longed to become a Christian.

One evening she shared with her husband the things she

had learned. Outraged, he shouted, "I don't want this kind

of religion in my home and if you keep on studying I'll kill

you." Although she was crushed, Nyangwira continued

studying, and soon was ready for baptism.

Before leaving for the baptismal service Nyangwira knelt

respectfully before her husband and told him she was to be

baptized. He picked up his large hunting knife and shouted,

"I have told you that I do not want you to be baptized. The

day you are baptized I will kill you."

But Nyangwira, determined to follow her Lord, left with

her husband's threats resounding in her ears.

Before entering the water, she confessed her sins and

dedicated her life to her Saviour, not knowing whether she

would be laying down her life for her Lord that day, too.

Peace filled her heart as she was baptized.

When she returned home, she brought the knife to her


"Have you been baptized?" he asked angrily.

"Yes," replied Nyangwira simply. "Here is the knife."

"Are you ready to be killed?"

"Yes, I am."

Amazed at her courage, the husband no longer had a desire

to kill her.(*1)

How Important Is Baptism?

Is baptism worth risking one's life for? Does God really

require baptism? Does salvation hinge on whether one is


Jesus' Example

One day Jesus left the carpenter shop in Nazareth, bade

His family farewell, and went to the Jordan where His cousin

John was preaching. Approaching John, He asked to be

baptized. Amazed, John tried to dissuade Him, saying, "`I

have need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?'"

"`Permit it to be so now,'" Jesus answered, "`for thus it

is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness'"

(Matt. 3:13-15).

Jesus' baptism forever gave this ordinance(*2) divine

sanction (Matt. 3:13-17; cf. Matt. 21:25). Baptism is an

aspect of righteousness in which all can participate. Since

Christ, the Sinless One, was baptized to "`fulfill all

righteousness,'" we, who are sinners, ought to do the same.

Jesus' Commandment

At the end of His ministry Christ commanded His

disciples: "`Go therefore and make disciples of all the

nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the

Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all

things that I have commanded you'" (Matt. 28:18-20).

In this commission Christ made it clear that He required

baptism of those who wished to become a part of His church,

His spiritual kingdom. As, through the disciples' ministry,

the Holy Spirit brought people to repent and to accept Jesus

as their Saviour they were to be baptized in the name of the

triune God. Their baptism would demonstrate that they had

entered into a personal relationship with Christ and were

committed to living in harmony with the principles of His

kingdom of grace. Christ concluded His mandate to baptize

with the assurance, "`And lo, I am with you always, even to

the end of the age.'"

After Christ's ascension the apostles proclaimed the

necessity and urgency of baptism (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16).

In response, multitudes were baptized, forming the New

Testament church (Acts 2:41,47; 8:12) and accepting the

authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Baptism and Salvation

Christ taught that "`He who believes and is baptized will

be saved'" (Mark 16:16). In the apostolic church baptism

automatically followed acceptance of Christ. It was a

confirmation of the new believer's faith (cf. Acts 8:12;


Peter used the experience of Noah during the Flood to

illustrate the relationship between baptism and salvation.

In antediluvian times sin had reached such proportions that,

through Noah, God warned the world to repent or face

destruction. Only eight persons believed, entered the ark,

and "were saved through water." "There is also an antitype

which now saves us," Peter said, "namely baptism (not the

removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good

conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus

Christ" (1 Peter 3:20,21).

Peter explained that we are saved by baptism as Noah and

his family were saved through water. Of course God, not the

flood waters, saved Noah. By analogy, it is the blood of

Christ, not the water of baptism, that removes sin from the

believer. "But baptism, like [Noah's] obedience in entering

the ark, is `the answer of a good conscience toward God.'

When man by God's power gives `the answer,' salvation

provided `by the resurrection of Jesus Christ' becomes


However, while baptism is vitally linked to salvation, it

does not guarantee salvation.(*4) Paul considered Israel's

exodus experience to be a symbolic representation of

baptism:(*5) "I do not want you to be unaware that all our

fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,

all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same

spiritual drink." "Immersed" in water--the cloud above and

the water on each side--the people of Israel were

symbolically baptized as they passed through the Red Sea.

Yet in spite of this experience "God was not well pleased"

with most of them (1 Cor. 10:1-5). So today, baptism does

not automatically assure salvation. Israel's experience was

written for our "admonition, on whom the ends of the ages

have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed

lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:11,12).

"One Baptism"

The administration of baptism in the Christian world

varies. Some employ immersion, or dipping; others aspersion,

or sprinkling; and still others affusion, or pouring.

Characteristic of the unity the Spirit brings in God's

church is the practice of "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5).(*6) What

does the Bible reveal about the meaning of the term to

baptize, about the practice itself, and its spiritual


The Meaning of the Word "Baptize."

The English word baptize comes from the Greek verb

baptizo, which implies immersion, since it is derived from

the verb bapto, meaning "to dip in or under."(*7) When the

verb to baptize refers to water baptism it carries the idea

of immersing, or dipping a person under water.(*8)

In the New Testament the verb to baptize is used (1) to

refer to water baptism (e.g. Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:9; Acts

2:41); (2) as a metaphor of Christ's suffering and death

(Matt. 20:22,23; Mark 10:38,39; Luke 12:50); (3) to the

coming of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16;

John 1:33; Acts 1:5; 11:16); and (4) of ablutions or the

ritual washing of the hands (Mark 7:3,4; Luke 11:38). This

fourth usage simply denotes washings to cleanse from

ceremonial impurities, and does not legitimize baptism by

pouring.(*9) Scripture uses the noun baptism of both water

baptism and Christ's death (Matt. 3:7; 20:22).

J.K. Howard observes that the New Testament offers "no

evidence that sprinkling was ever an apostolic practice,

indeed the evidence all points to it being a late


Baptism in the New Testament

The incidents of water baptism the New Testament records

involved immersion. We read that John baptized in the river

Jordan (Matt. 3:6; cf. Mark 1:5) and "in Aenon near Salim,

because there was much water there" (John 3:23). Only

immersion would require "much water."

John immersed Jesus. He baptized Jesus "in the Jordan"

and after the baptism Jesus "came up out of the water"

(Mark 1:9,10, RSV; cf. Matt. 3:16).(*11)

The apostolic church baptized by immersion also. When

Philip the evangelist baptized the Ethiopian eunuch they

both "went down into the water" and "came up out of the

water" (Acts 8:38,39).

Baptism in History

Before the Christian era the Jews baptized their

proselytes by immersion. The Essenes at Qumran followed the

practice of immersing both members and converts.(*12)

Evidence from the paintings in catacombs and churches,

from the mosaics on floors, walls, and ceilings, from

sculptured reliefs, and from drawings in ancient New

Testaments "overwhelmingly testifies to immersion as the

normal mode of baptism in the Christian church during the

first ten to fourteen centuries."(*13) Baptisteries in the

ancient cathedrals, churches, and ruins in North Africa,

Turkey, Italy, France, and elsewhere still testify to the

antiquity of this practice.(*14)

The Meaning of Baptism

Baptism's meaning is intimately related to its mode.

Alfred Plummer said, "It is only when baptism is

administered by immersion that its full significance is


Symbol of Christ's Death and Resurrection

As covering by waters symbolized overwhelming trouble and

afflictions (Ps. 42:7; 69:2; 124:4,5), so Jesus' water

baptism represented a prophetic enactment of His suffering,

death, and burial (Mark 10:38; Luke 12:50) and His emergence

from the water spoke of His subsequent resurrection

(Rom. 6:3-5).

Baptism would have had no significance as a symbol of

Christ's passion "if the apostolic church had practiced a

mode of baptism other than immersion." Therefore "the

strongest argument for baptism by immersion is a theological


Symbol of Being Dead to Sin and Alive to God

In baptism believers enter into the passion experience of

our Lord. Paul said, "Do you not know that as many of us as

were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His

death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism

into death, that just as Christ was raised from the

dead...we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3,4).

The intimacy of the believer's relationship with Christ

is revealed through expressions like "baptized into Christ

Jesus," "baptized into His death," and "buried with Him

through baptism." Howard noted, "In the symbolic act of

baptism the believers enters into the death of Christ, and

in a real sense that death becomes his death; and he enters

into the resurrection of Christ, and that resurrection

becomes his resurrection."(*17) What does the believers's

entering into the passion of our Lord imply?

1. Death to sin.

In baptism believers "have been united together in the

likeness of His [Christ's] death" (Rom. 6:5) and "crucified

with Christ" (Gal. 2:20). This means "our old man was

crucified with Him, that the old body of sin might be done

away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he

who has died has been freed from sin (Rom. 6:6-8).

Believers have renounced their former lifestyle. They are

dead to sin and confirm that the "old things have passed

away" (2 Cor. 5:17), their lives being hid with Christ in

God. Baptism symbolizes the crucifixion of the old life. It

is not only a death but also a burial. We are "buried with

Him in baptism" (Col. 2:12). As a burial follows a person's

death, so when the believer goes down into the watery grave

the old life that passed away when he accepted Jesus Christ

is buried.

In baptism believers renounced the world. In obedience to

the command "`Come out from among them and be separate, says

the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean'" (2 Cor. 6:17),

candidates make public their forsaking of Satan's service

and their receiving of Christ into the life.

In the apostolic church the call to repentance included

the call to baptism (Acts 2:38). Thus baptism also marks

true repentance. Believers die to their transgressing of the

law and abtain forgiveness of sin through the cleansing

blood of Jesus Christ. The baptismal ceremony is a

demonstration of an inner cleansing--the washing away of

sins that have been confessed.

2. Alive to God.

Christ's resurrection power goes to work in our lives. It

enables us to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4)--dead now

to sin, "but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.

6:11). We testify that the only hope of a life victorious

over the old nature is in the grace of a risen Lord who has

provided a new spiritual life through the energizing power

of the Holy Spirit. This new life lifts us to a higher

plateau of human experience, giving us new values,

aspirations, and desires that focus on a commitment to Jesus

Christ. We are new disciples of our Saviour, and baptism is

the sign of our discipleship.

Symbol of a Covenant Relationship

In Old Testament times circumcision marked the covenantal

relationship between God and Abraham (Gen. 17:1-7).

The Abrahamic covenant had both spiritual and national

aspects. Circumcision was a mark of national identity.

Abraham himself and all the males of his family eight days

old and older were to be circumcised (Gen. 17:10-14; 25-27).

Any male not circumcised was to be "`cut off'" from God's

people because he had broken the covenant (Gen. 17:14).

That the covenant was made between God and Abraham, an

adult, reveals its spiritual dimension. Abraham's

circumcision signified and confirmed his previous experience

of justification by faith. His circumcision was "a seal of

the righteousness of the faith which he had while still

uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:11).

But circumcision alone did not guarantee entrance into

the true spiritual dimension of the covenant. Frequently

God's spokesmen warned that nothing less than spiritual

circumcision would suffice. "`Circumcise the foreskin of

your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer'" (Deut. 10:16;

cf. 30:6; Jer. 4:4). The "uncircumcised in the heart" were

to be punished with the Gentiles (Jer. 9:25,26).

When the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah they broke

their covenant relationship with God, terminating their

special status as His chosen people (Dan. 9:24-27; see

chapter 4 of this book). Although God's covenant and His

promises remained the same, He chose a new people. Spiritual

Israel replaced the Jewish nation (Gal. 3:27-29; 6:15,16).

Christ's death ratified the new covenant. People entered

this covenant through spiritual circumcision--a response of

faith to Jesus' atoning death. Christians have "the gospel

for the uncircumcised" (Gal. 2:7). The new covenant requires

an "inward faith" and not an "outward rite" of those who

would belong to spiritual Israel. One can be a Jew through

birth; but one can be a Christian only through the new

birth. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor

uncircumcision avail anything, but faith working through

love" (Gal. 5:6). What matters is "circumcision is that of

the heart, in the Spirit" (Rom. 2:28,29).

Baptism, the sign of a saving relationship with Jesus,

represents this spiritual circumcision. "In Him you were

also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,

by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the

circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which

you also were raised with Him through faith in the working

of God who raised Him from the dead" (Col. 2:11,12).

"Having the `body of flesh' removed through the spiritual

circumcision performed by Jesus, the one baptized now `puts

on Christ' and enters into the covenant relationship with

Jesus. As a result he is in line to receive the fulfillment

of the covenant promises."(*18) "For as many of you as were

baptized into Christ have put on Christ....If you are

Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according

to promise" (Gal. 3:27-29, RSV). Those who have entered into

this covenant relationship experience God's assurance, "`I

will be their God, and they shall be My people'"

(Jer. 31:33).

Symbol of Consecration to Christ's Service

At His baptism Jesus received a special outpouring of the

Holy Spirit, signifying His anointing or dedication to the

mission His Father had assigned Him (Matt. 3:13-17; Acts

10:38). His experience reveals that water baptism and Spirit

baptism belong together, that a baptism void of the

reception of the Holy Spirit is incomplete.

In the apostolic church the outpouring of the Holy Spirit

generally followed water baptism. So today, when we are

baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy

Spirit, we are dedicated, consecrated, and united with the

three great powers of heaven and to the spreading of the

everlasting gospel.

The Holy Spirit prepares us for this ministry by

purifying our hearts from sin. John declared that Jesus

"`will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire'" (Matt.

3:11). Isaiah revealed that God would cleanse His people

from their impurities "by the spirit of judgment and by the

spirit of burning" (Isa. 4:4). I will "`thoroughly purge

away your dross,'" God said, "`and take away all your

alloy'" (Isa. 1:25). "God is a consuming fire" to sin (Heb.

12:29). The Holy Spirit will purify the lives of all who

surrender to Him, consuming their sins.

Then the Holy Spirit provides them with His gifts. His

gifts are "a special divine endowment, given at the time of

baptism, to enable the believer to serve the church and to

minister to those who have not yet accepted Jesus

Christ."(*19) The baptism of the Holy Spirit gave the early

church the power to witness (Acts 1:5,8), and only that same

baptism will enable the church to complete its mission of

proclaiming the everlasting gospel of the kingdom

(Matt. 24:14; Rev. 14:6).

Symbol of Entrance Into the Church

As a sign of a person's regeneration or new birth (John

3:3,5), baptism also marks that person's entrance into

Christ's spiritual kingdom.(*20) Since it unites the new

believer to Christ, it always functions as the door to the

church. Through baptism the Lord adds the new disciples to

the body of believers--His body, the church (Acts 2:41,47; 1

Cor. 12:13). Then they are members of God's family. One

cannot be baptized without joining the church family.

Qualifications for Baptism

Scripture compares the relationship between Christ and

His church to a marriage. In marriage, both parties should

know well the responsibilities and commitments involved.

Those desiring baptism must reveal in their lives faith,

repentance, and the fruits of repentance, as well as an

understanding of the meaning of baptism and the subsequent

spiritual relationship.(*21)


One prerequisite for baptism is a faith in Jesus' atoning

sacrifice as the only means of salvation from sin. Christ

said, "`He who believes and is baptized will be saved'"

(Mark 16:16). In the apostolic church only those who

believed the gospel were baptized (Acts 8:12,36,37; 18:8).

Since "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of

God" (Rom. 10:17), instruction is an essential part of

baptismal preparation. Christ's great commission confirms

the importance of such instruction: "`Go therefore and make

disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of

the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching

them to observe all things that I have commanded you'"

(Matt. 28:19,20). Becoming a disciple involves thorough



"`Repent,'" said Peter, "`and let every one of you be

baptized'" (Acts 2:38). Instruction in the Word of God

produces not only faith but repentance and conversion. In

response to God's call people see their lost condition,

confess their sinfulness, submit themselves to God, repent

of their sin, accept Christ's atonement, and consecrate

themselves to a new life with Him. Without conversion they

cannot enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Only

through repentance can they experience death to sin--a

prerequisite for baptism.

Fruits of Repentance

Those who desire baptism must profess faith and

experience repentance. But unless they also bring forth

"`fruits worthy of repentance'" (Matt. 3:8) they will not

have met the Biblical requirements for baptism. Their lives

ought to demonstrate their commitment to the truth as it is

in Jesus and express their love to God through obedience to

His commandments. In preparing for baptism they ought to

have surrendered erroneous beliefs and practices. The fruits

of the Spirit displayed in their lives will reveal that the

Lord abides in them and they in Him (John 15:1-8). Unless

they give this evidence of their relationship with Christ,

they are not yet ready to join the church.(*22)

Examination of Candidates

Becoming a church member involves taking a spiritual

step; it is not simply a matter of having one's name

recorded in a book. Those administering baptism are

responsible for determining the readiness of candidates for

baptism. They must ascertain the candidate's understanding

of the principles for which the church stands and give

evidence of a new creation and an enjoyable experience in

the Lord Jesus.(*23)

Yet they must be careful not to judge the motives of

those seeking baptism. "When a person presents himself as a

candidate for church membership, we are to examine the fruit

of his life, and leave the responsibility of his motive with


Some have been buried alive in the water of baptism. Self

did not die. These did not receive a new life in Christ.

Those who have joined the church in this way have brought

with them the seeds of weakness and apostasy. Their

"unsanctified" influence confuses those within and without

the church and jeopardizes its witness.

Should Infants and Children Be Baptized?

Baptism incorporates new believers into the church within

the context of "being born again." Their conversion has

qualified them for baptism and church membership.

Incorporation takes place at the "new birth," not at "infant

birth." This is why believers were baptized--"both men and

women" (Acts 8:12,13, 29-38; 9:17,18; 1 Cor. 1:14). "Nowhere

in the New Testament," Karl Barth admitted, "is infant

baptism either permitted or commanded."(*25) G.R.

Beasley-Murray confessed, "I find myself unable to recognize

in infant baptism the baptism of the New Testament Church."


Because infants and little children cannot experience

conversion, they do not qualify for baptism. Does that mean

they are excluded from the new covenant community? Certainly

not! Jesus did not exclude them from His kingdom of grace.

"`Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid

them,'" He said, "`for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'

And He laid His hands on them'" (Matt. 19:14,15). Believing

parents fulfill a vital role in guiding their children into

a relationship with Christ that will eventually lead them to


Jesus' positive response to the mothers who brought their

children to Him to be blessed has led to the practice of

child dedication. For this service parents bring their

children to church to be presented or dedicated to God.

At what age should a person be ready for baptism?

Individuals can be baptized if they (1) are old enough to

understand the meaning of baptism, (2) have surrendered to

Christ and are converted, (3) understand the fundamental

principles of Christianity, and (4) comprehend the

significance of church membership. A person puts his

salvation in jeopardy only when he has come to the age of

accountability and then rejects the influence of the Holy


Because individuals differ as to their spiritual maturity

at any given age, some are ready for baptism at an earlier

age than are others. So we can set no fixed minimum age for

baptism. When parents consent to their children's being

baptized at an early age, they must accept the

responsibility for their spiritual growth and character


The Fruit of Baptism

The pre-eminent fruit baptism bears is a life lived for

Christ. Goals and aspirations focus on Christ, not on self.

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things

which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand

of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the

earth" (Col. 3:1,2). Baptism is not the reaching of the

highest peak attainable to the Christian. As we grow

spiritually, we acquire Christian graces to be used in

serving others on God's plan of multiplication: "Grace and

peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of

Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2). As we remain faithfully

committed to our baptismal vows, the Father, Son, and Holy

Spirit, in whose name we have been baptized, guarantee that

we have access to divine power to assist in every emergency

we may face in the postbaptismal life.

The second fruit is a life lived for Christ's church. We

are no longer isolated individuals; we have become members

of Christ's church. As living stones we make up God's temple

(1 Peter 2:2-5). We maintain a special relationship to

Christ, the head of the church, from whom we receive our

daily graces for growth and development in love (Eph. 4:16).

We assume responsibilities within the covenant community,

the members of which, bear a responsibility for the newly

baptized (1 Cor. 12:12-26). For their own good, as well as

that of the church, these new members must be involved in a

life of worship, prayer, and loving service (Eph. 4:12).

The final fruit is a life lived in and for the world. It

is true that we who have been baptized hold our citizenship

in heaven (Phil. 3:20). But we have been called out of the

world simply to be trained within the body of Christ to

return to the world as servants, participating in Christ's

saving ministry. True disciples will not withdraw from the

world into the church; we are born into Christ's kingdom as

missionaries. Faithfulness to our baptismal covenant

involves leading others into the kingdom of grace.(*27)

Today God anxiously waits for us to enter into the

abundant life He so graciously has provided. "`And now why

are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your

sins, calling on the name of the Lord'" (Acts 22:16).




1. S.M. Samuel, "A Brave African Wife," Review and Herald,

February 14, 1963, p. 19.

2. An ordinance is an established symbolic religious rite

or observance that sets forth the central truths of the

gospel and that is of universal and perpetual obligation.

Christ prescribed two ordinances--baptism and the Lord's

Supper. An ordinance is not a sacrament in the sense of

being an opus operatum--an act that in and of itself imparts

grace and effects salvation. Baptism and the Lord's Supper

are sacraments only in the sense of being like the

sacramentum, the oath taken by Roman soldiers to obey their

commander even unto death. These ordinances involve a vow of

total allegiance to Christ. See Strong, Systematic Theology

(Philadelphia, PA: Judson Press, 1954), p. 930; "Baptism,"

SDA Encyclopedia, rev. ed., pp. 128,129.

3. Jemison, Christian Beliefs, p. 244.

4. "From the beginning SDA's, in common with their

Protestant heritage, have rejected any view of baptism as an

opus operatum, that is, as an act that, in and of itself,

imparts grace and effects salvation" ("Baptism," SDA

Encyclopedia, rev. ed., p. 128).

5. SDA Bible Commentary, rev. ed., vol. 6, p. 740.

6. At times individuals who have experienced baptism by

immersion feel convicted that they should be rebaptized.

Does this desire conflict with Paul's assertion that there

is only "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5)? Paul's practice reveals

that it does not. On a visit to Ephesus he met several

disciples who had been baptized by John the Baptist. They

had experienced repentance and expressed their faith in the

coming Messiah (Acts 19:1-5).

These disciples had no clear understanding of the gospel.

"When they received baptism at the hand of John, they were

holding serious errors. But with clearer light they gladly

accepted Christ as their Redeemer; and with this advance

step came a change in their obligations. As they received a

purer faith, there was a corresponding change in their life

and character. In token of this change, and as an

acknowledgment of their faith in Christ, they were

rebaptized, in the name of Jesus.

"Many a sincere follower of Christ has had a similar

experience. A clearer understanding of God's will, places

man in a new relation to Him. New duties are revealed. Much

which before appeared innocent, or even praiseworthy, is now

seen to be sinful....His former baptism does not satisfy him

now. He has seen himself a sinner, condemned by the law of

God. He has experienced anew a death to sin, and he desires

again to be buried with Christ by baptism, that he may rise

to walk in newness of life. Such a course is in harmony with

the example of Paul in baptizing the Jewish converts. That

incident was recorded by the Holy Spirit as an instructive

lesson for the church" (White, Sketches From the Life of

Paul [Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald, 1883], pp.

132,133; see also Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual

[Washington, D.C.: General Conference of Seventh-day

Adventists, 1986], rev. ed., p. 50; White, Evangelism, pp.


Scripture says nothing that would deny rebaptism to

individuals who have broken their covenant with God through

grievous sin or apostasy and then experienced reconversion

and desire a renewal of their covenant (see Seventh-day

Adventist Church Manual, pp. 51,162; White, Evangelism, p.


7. See Albrecht Oepke, "Bapto, Baptizo," in Theological

Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans.

Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publ. C.,

1964), vol. 1, p. 529. Vine noted that bapto "was used among

the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the

drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another, etc."

(W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words [New

York, NY: Thomas Nelson, 1985], p. 50). "To dip," appears

three times in the New Testament, in each instance

reflecting the meaning "to submerge." In the parable of the

rich man and Lazarus, the rich man requested Abraham to

permit Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger into cold water

and bring a drop to moisten his tongue (Luke 16:24). On the

night before the crucifixion Jesus identified His betrayer

by dipping a morsel and handing it to Judas (John 13:26).

And when John in vision saw Jesus riding forth as the

commander of the armies of heaven, Jesus' garments appeared

to John as though they had been dipped in blood

(Rev. 19:13).

8. George E. Rice, "Baptism: Union With Christ," Ministry,

May 1982,p. 20.

9. See Albrecht Oepke, "Bapto, Baptizo," in Theological

Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 1, p. 535. Cf. Arndt

and Gingrich, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p.


10.J.K. Howard, New Testament Baptism (London: Pickering &&

Inglis Ltd., 1970), p. 48.

11.Italics supplied.

12.Matthew Black, The Scrolls and Christian Origins (New

York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961), pp. 96-98. See also

"Baptism," SDA Bible Dictionary, rev. ed., pp. 118,119.

13.G.E. Rice, "Baptism in the Early Church," Ministry,

March, 1981, p. 22. Cf. Henry F. Brown, Baptism Through the

Centuries (Mountain View, Cal.: Pacific Press, l965);

William L. Lampkin, A History of Immersion (Nashville:

Broadman Press, 1962); Wolfred N. Cotte, The Archeology of

Baptism (London: Yates and Alexander, 1876).

14.Brown, Baptism Through the Centuries, pp. 49-90.

15.Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on

the Gospel According to S. Luke, The International Critical

Commentary, ed. Samuel R. Driver, et al., 5th ed.

(Edinburgh: T. && T. Clark, 1981 reprint), p. 88.

16."Baptism," SDA Encyclopedia, rev. ed., p. 128.

17.Howard, New Testament Baptism, p. 69.

18.G.E. Rice, "Baptism: Union With Christ," Ministry, May

1982, p. 21.

19.Gottfred Oosterwal, "Every Member a Minister? From

Baptism to a Theological Base," Ministry, Feb. 1980, pp.

4-7. See also Rex D. Edwards, "Baptism as Ordination,"

Ministry, Aug. 1983, pp. 4-6.

20.White in SDA Bible Commentary, rev. ed., vol. 6, p.


21.If there are qualifications for baptism, how can one be

"baptized for the dead"? The following interpretation

preserves the harmony of the Biblical message:

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul stresses the significance of the

resurrection from the dead and rejects the notion that there

is no resurrection. He shows that if there is no

resurrection the believer's faith is in vain and futile

(1 Cor. 15:14,17). Along the same lines he argues "what will

they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not

rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?"

(1 Cor. 15:29).

Some have interpreted the expression "baptized for the

dead" as a reference to vicarious baptism by believers for

dead persons. In light of the Biblical qualifications for

baptism one cannot maintain such a view. W. Robertson Nicoll

points out that what Paul is referring to was a "normal

experience, that the death of Christians leads to the

conversion of survivors, who in the first instance `for the

sake of the dead' (their beloved dead), and in the hope of

reunion, turn to Christ." Paul describes such converts

"baptized for the dead." "The hope of future blessedness,

allying itself with family affections and friendship, was

one of the most powerful factors in the early spread of

Christianity" (W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor's

Greek Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1956],

vol. 2, p. 931. M. Raeder points out that the preposition

"for" [huper in Greek] in the expression "baptized for the

dead" is a preposition of purpose. This means that this

baptism was "`for the sake of'" or "`because of' the dead

for the purpose of being reunited with dead Christian

relatives at the resurrection" [M. Raeder, "Vikariatstaufe

in 1 K. 15:29?" Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche

Wissenschaft, 45 (1955), pp. 258-260 quoted by Harold

Riesenfeld, "Huper," Theological Dictionary of the New

Testament, vol. 8, p. 513]. Cf. Howard, New Testament

Baptism, pp. 108,109).

Howard states that in its context Paul's argument in

1 Corinthians 15:29 runs, "If Christ has not risen those who

have died `in Christ' have perished, and, with no hope, we

become hopeless and wretched, especially those who have

entered the Christian community and have been baptized for

the sake of those who have died in Christ, hoping to be

reunited with them" (Howard, "Baptism for the Dead: A Study

of 1 Corinthians 15:29," Evangelical Quarterly, ed. F.F.

Bruce [Exeter, Eng.: Paternoster Press], July-September,

1965, p. 141).

22.Cf. Damsteegt, "Reaping the Harvest," Adventist Review,

October 22, 1987, p. 15.

23.See SDA Church Manual, p. 41.

24.White, Evangelism, p. 313.

25.Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, trans. G.W. Bromiley

(Edinburgh: T. && T. Clark, 1969), vol. 4/4, p. 179.

26.G.R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Grand

Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1973), p. 392.

27.See Edwards, "Baptism."