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
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'"
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.
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).
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
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
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'"
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
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
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
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.
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."