Route 9 - Baptism is Immersion Only - Matthew 3:5-6
In the religious world today, minds differ on the necessity and the mode of water baptism. In this study we will focus
on the action necessary to accomplish New Testament baptism. Does the New Testament authorize sprinkling,
pouring or immersion? Is one mode to be preferred over another, or are all three acceptable before God and
Christ? We will learn through our study of the Scriptures that baptism is immersion only.
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Examples of Baptism
9 - Matthew 3:5-6
- John was baptizing in the Jordan River. Why IN the river if all he needed was a cupful of water, or a branch
dipped in water with enough water on it to sprinkle?
9 - John 3:23
- You would not necessarily need MUCH water for sprinkling or pouring, yet the reason John was baptizing in this
particular place was BECAUSE THERE WAS MUCH WATER. What was John doing that necessitated MUCH
9 - Mark 1:5, 9-10
- The men of Jerusalem, Judea and all around Jordan CAME to John to be baptized. Finally, Jesus CAME to be
baptized of John. John did not carry water to the candidates for baptism. When John completed baptizing
Jesus, HE came UP and OUT of the water. What was John doing that required that men go to him? If
sprinkling is the action in view, why would it be necessary to be IN the river, and to come UP and OUT of the
9 - Acts 8:36-39
- As in the cases above, the amount of water necessary to accomplish baptism is such that the candidate must
COME to it. Notice also that the baptizer and the baptized both go INTO the water. Why should both go INTO
the water if only a cupful for sprinkling or pouring was needed? Finally, considering all that the text says, what
action could possibly necessitate going INTO the water, BAPTIZING, and COMING UP OUT of the water?
Immersion is the only action that corresponds to all of these facts.
Baptism is a Washing
9 - Acts 22:16
- Baptism is called a "washing." Which action, sprinkling, pouring or immersion, is most consistent with the idea
of "washing away sins?"
9 - Hebrews 10:22
- This text is cited to show there is a difference between "sprinkling" and "washing." Sprinkling is NOT washing.
We need to know what action the Bible associates with washing. What action, as baptism, would be consistent
with the idea of washing? Let's study and find out
9 - Numbers 19:18-19
- The word for "dip" in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, (LXX), is the same Greek word
for "baptize." The hyssop branch was "dipped" or "baptized," then the water of purification was "sprinkled."
The person or objects "sprinkled" were then told to wash. Sprinkling is not "washing."
- The sprinkling of blood and water was a purification ritual under the Law of Moses. The hyssop branch was
dipped into a basin of the mixture, which was then sprinkled on the objects in need of atonement.
- Leviticus 14:50-52
9 - 2nd Kings 5:10, 14
- Elisha told Naaman to go and wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman had no trouble knowing what
action was required. When he obeyed the commandment of the prophet, he dipped seven times in the river.
- Note: In the Septuagint, the words "wash" and "dip" are the same Greek words translated respectively "wash"
in Hebrews 10:22 and "baptized" in Acts 8:38.
- Only immersion could accomplish a washing of the body.
9 - Leviticus 14:15-16
- This text supplies all three actions that are claimed by some for baptism: dipping, pouring, and sprinkling. It is
clear that "dipping" is not the same action as "pouring" or "sprinkling.
- Compare this text with Acts 8:38. Did Philip dip, pour, or sprinkle the Eunuch when it says, "He baptized him?"
- In the Septuagint text of this verse, the Greek words baptizo and rhantizo are used for dip and sprinkle,
respectively. They are not the same.
9 - Ephesians 5:26
- There is one thing commanded by Christ associated with salvation that involves water, namely, baptism. Which
action, sprinkling, pouring or immersion, is most consistent with the idea of "the washing of water?"
9 - Titus 3:5
- Which action, sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, is most consistent with the idea of the "washing of
Baptism is Both a Burial and a Resurrection
9 - Romans 6:3-4
- This passage tell us we are BURIED with Christ. How could sprinkling or pouring come close to resembling a
burial? Does one "bury" by sprinkling a little dirt on the dead body or is it accomplished by immersing the body
in the grave?
- Paul tells us that the old man of sin is crucified with Jesus and destroyed in the grave of baptism, then the new
man is raised to walk in "newness of life." Which action, sprinkling, pouring, or immersion, best represents this
- Note: It might be effective to also stress for your student that it is a spiritually dead man that is "buried" and a
spiritually alive man that is "raised." A person is not first made alive with Christ by faith only and then buried.
9 - Genesis 23:4, 19
- What did Abraham require in order to bury Sarah? He said he wanted to bury her "out of my sight," so he
buried her IN the cave of the field of Machpelah. A literal burial is an immersion in the grave of earth, and
baptism is an immersion in the grave of water.
9 - Colossians 2:12
- BURIED and RAISED in baptism. Compare to Romans 6:3-4. Note that baptism also involves a
RESURRECTION. What action, sprinkling, pouring or immersion, facilitates the representation of being "risen
with Christ" in the "likeness of His resurrection?"
- Note: You may want to stress that the person baptized is not trusting in his own deeds, but rather in the
operation of God. Baptism is not a work of our own righteousness, but a work of God.
9 - Colossians 3:1-4
- When have we learned a person is risen with Christ (Colossians 2:12)? When they are baptized.
- What action portrays our resurrection to newness of life, sprinkling, pouring or immersion?
- It is only when we have been "risen with Christ" in baptism that we are "dead" to sin and alive "in Christ."
- Only those risen with Christ have the hope of appearing with Him in glory.
9 - 1st Peter 3:21
- Peter makes it clear what baptism is not - "the putting away of the filth of the flesh." Would anyone get that
mistaken notion from sprinkling a little water on the head?
- Peter says that baptism save us. What does that say to the person who has not been baptized, that is,
immersed? They are not saved.