Immersed in Christ: Examining the Role of Baptism in the New Testament

Introduction

Within Christian circles, confusion often arises over the purpose, mode, and practice of baptism, often materializing in impassioned disagreement regarding infant baptism. Analyzing the longstanding debate between paedobaptists and credobaptists against the backdrop of Scripture, it becomes evident that paedobaptism runs contrary to biblical examples and undermines the fundamental purpose of the ordinance.1 Substantiating this claim requires examining the New Testament documents, before conducting a historical inquiry into the understanding and practices of early church leaders.2 Understanding the fundamental purpose of the sacrament, while simultaneously considering the historical underpinnings of baptismal practices, will allow contemporary Christians derive practical applications and assuage common misunderstandings.

 

Baptism in the Gospels: Examining John’s Baptism

Throughout the Old Testament, ablution arises as a significant aspect of the Jewish religion, symbolizing a (temporary) purification of the participant, and eventually became a prerequisite for a gentile’s conversion to Judaism.3 Transitioning to the New Testament, one finds few baptismal passages in the Gospels, and collectively, they provide little direct evidence concerning the topic in question.4 Nevertheless, excerpts articulating John’s baptism reveal a crucial underlying theme—predominantly, the inherent connection between baptism and repentance (cf. Mark 1:4-9; Luke 3:3; Matthew 3:1-7).5 6 Explicating this leitmotif, professor Andreas J. Köstenberger writes,

The references to repentance and the forgiveness of sins make clear that John’s baptism is to be understood not merely in terms of ritual purification and religious observance but as essentially moral and ethical. This, in turn, is set within a prophetic-apocalyptic eschatological framework which contrasts the impending divine judgment with the coming of the Messiah. . . . In light of the reality and certainty of God’s judgment, John called for conversion—a reorientation of one’s life, a return to God, and a restoration of one’s relationship with him—whereby people’s confession of sins resulted in divine forgiveness.7

As Köstenberger astutely points out, the repentance motif also reveals an eschatological dimension of John’s baptism, a concept John introduces by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).8Essentially, the baptismal candidate recognizes his moral decadence, expresses a sincere desire to turn from his wickedness, and acknowledges God’s authority and intent to exercise judgment against him. Understanding the baptismal prerequisite of genuine repentance helps explain John’s apparent refusal to baptize the impenitent Pharisees and Sadducees (cf. Matthew 3:7-8; Luke 3:7-9), and his reluctance to baptize a sinless Jesus (cf. Matthew 3:13-14).9

Although historians are unable to link the baptismal practices of John with Old Testament ablution or first-century proselyte baptism, there appear to be commonalities between the rituals. First, the baptismal candidate recognizes his corrupt condition and his need for moral and spiritual purification. Second, the ceremony is symbolic, not salvific, and is representative of the person’s humble repentance before God. 10 Interestingly, the ancient historian Josephus recognizes these characters of John’s baptism, writing,

[John the Baptist] commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him [God], if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness.11

Consequently, although the Gospels do not directly address the issue of infant baptism, they provide valuable insight into the fundamental purpose and historical context of the tradition. Accordingly, it seems a baptismal candidate must possess sufficient cognitive abilities to comprehend his moral standing before a holy and righteous God, recognizing his need for purification in the face of divine judgment.

 

Baptism in the Gospels: The Great Commission

Apart from the scant passages referring to John the Baptist, the Gospels remain virtually silent on baptismal rituals. Nonetheless, the New Testament documents record the disciples administering baptism in the course of their ministry efforts (cf. John 3:22-24, 4:1-2), without noting significant alterations from John’s ceremony.12 Additionally, after the Resurrection, Jesus commands them to continue the practice after His ascension (cf. Matthew 28:16-20). Although Jesus does not directly address theological or administrative concerns, His commission appears to intrinsically link baptism with discipleship, providing an archetype in which Christian conversion appears to precede baptism inevitably. Following the structure of the passage produces the following model of Christian conversion: (1) a new disciple accepts the gospel message, (2) he undergoes baptism, and (3) receives continuing instruction in Christian doctrine. Hence, this model implies the recipient possess sufficient cognitive abilities to obtain, understand, and accept the gospel message—requisites presupposed in the notitia, assensus, and fiducia model of conversion, as espoused by Reformed theologians.13

Recognizing this concept, professor Köstenberger comments, “Jesus’ command to his followers to make disciples of all nations and to baptize and teach them clearly presupposes that the recipients of baptism and teaching are of sufficient age and maturity that they can consciously choose to be baptized and be instructed in the principles of the Christian faith.”14 Therefore, it seems the Great Commission expands our understanding of baptism—emphasizing the importance of discipleship—while simultaneously paralleling the fundamental purpose of John’s baptism. Accordingly, although Jesus does not address the issue of paedobaptism, the Great Commission seems to reinforce the notion that baptismal candidates must possess sufficient maturity and cognitive abilities to comprehend the gospel message, understand his standing before God, and make a conscious decision to repent, thus culminating in the symbolic demonstration of baptism.

 

Examining the Baptismal Practices in Acts

Intriguingly, the topic of baptism becomes increasingly complex after Jesus’ ascension, as a fundamental distinction between water baptism and Spirit baptism arises as a result of Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to minister to Christians.15 While there is often a close association between bestowal of the Spirit and water baptism, one does not always precede the other. Presumably, water baptism antecedes reception of the Spirit in the case of the disciples, yet the Gentiles in Acts 10 receive the Spirit before undergoing water baptism (vv. 44-48).16 Furthermore, it is important to note that Scripture associates the remission of sin with the underlying principles of baptism—repentance (cf. Luke 24:47; Acts 3:19; 5:31) and faith (cf. Acts 10:43; 26:18; Ephesians 2:8-9)—not the ceremony itself, and water baptism never an antecedent of faith and repentance.17 Consequently, the Scriptures underscore the fundamental difference between water and Spirit baptism, characterizing baptism of the Spirit as salvific, while recognizing water baptism as symbolic.18

Additionally, the Christian baptism of Acts shifts focus from that of John, altering from a prophetic view of Christ’s atonement to a commemoration of it. Encountering a group of men in Ephesus (Acts 19) Paul expounds upon faith and repentance as a prerequisite to baptism, while the narrative simultaneously distinguishes between water and Spirit baptism. Although the men underwent John’s baptism in water (v. 3), they did not realize the inherent connection between the ceremony and the person Christ (v. 4). Appreciating the ritual’s context and understanding the redemptive work of Christ, the men request baptism in the name of Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit (vv. 5-6). This passage reveals the fact that baptismal practices remain unfruitful without the accompaniment of authentic repentance and faith in Christ’s substitutionary atonement.

Nonetheless, performing water baptism and mentoring Christian converts remains a vital aspect of the Great Commission, becoming a prominent aspect of Christianity throughout the book of Acts. Harmoniously, as the Apostles spread the gospel message and establish churches through the region, they continue to administer water baptism as an inevitable aspect of the conversion process. Emphasizing this principle, Dr. Robert H. Stein writes,

Within Luke-Acts baptism is an initiatory rite intimately associated with conversion to Christianity. This is seen by its association with other aspects involved in becoming a Christian. . . . In the experience of becoming a Christian, five integrally related components took place at the same time, usually on the same day: repentance, faith, confession, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and baptism.”19

Furthermore, although there are notable differences between John’s baptism and that of first-century Christians, baptismal ceremonies retain the essential characteristics of faith and repentance as inseparable aspects of Christian conversion. For example, at Pentecost (Acts 2) Peter’s preaching parallels that of John the Baptist, as he exhorts the audience to “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” (v. 38).20Moreover, Peter describes baptism as occurring “in the name of Jesus,” an expression which communicates the willful alignment and identification of the baptismal candidate with Jesus, while acknowledging His authorization of the practice.21Explicating the basic meaning of the phrase, New Testament scholar I. Howard Marshall comments, “It conveys the thought that the person being baptized enters into allegiance to Jesus, and this would tie in with the evidence that at baptism it was customary to make a confession of Jesus as Lord [cf. Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3].22Given these considerations, it seems the baptismal practices in Acts are indicative of credobaptism, as both elements—genuine repentance and the underlying pledge of allegiance to Jesus—presuppose the convert possess an adequate mental capacity and the free will capability to make such a conscious and deliberate decision.

However, proponents of paedobaptism quickly object, noting three categories of baptism documented in Acts: (1) individual (cf. 8:13; 8:38; 9:18; 18:8; also, 1 Corinthians 1:14), (2) group (cf. Acts 2:41; 8:12; 18:8; 19:5), and (3) household (cf. Acts 10; 16:15; 16:33; 18:8; also, 1 Corinthians 1:16). While paedobaptists acknowledge baptism occurs after a profession of faith in the first two categories, they insist that the household baptisms intrinsically undermine the credobaptists position.23 Unfortunately, the few examples of household baptisms fail to make explicit comments concerning the baptism of infants, and sound abductive reasoning provides support for credobaptism. For instance, although the baptism of individuals in Acts 10-11 appears more indicative of a group baptism than a household baptism, the text implies the participants understand the gospel message, responding with faith and repentance. Surveying Acts 10-11, professor Stein comments,

The assumption that infants were part of Cornelius’s household and that they were also baptized is often put forward by advocates of infant baptism. However, it should be noted that the “them” who are baptized in 10:48 and 11:17 are described as: having heard the word (10:44); having received the Holy Spirit (10:44-47; 11:15-17); having spoken in tongues (10:46) as at Pentecost (11:15); as believers (implied in 11:17); and having repented (11:18).24

The passage not only fails to mention the baptism of infants but never even implies unwilling participants were present during the ceremony.

In contrast, Acts 16 unquestionably records the baptism of an entire household, as Luke specifies both Lydia and her household underwent baptism (vv. 14-15), yet the passage does not include specific details regarding the incident or about the members of the household. Thus, any assertion concerning the involvement (or lack thereof) of infant children derives from pure speculation.25 While the subsequent references to household baptisms might increase the probability infants were present, none of the passages mention children and do not indicate infants participated in the ritual. In the absence of direct evidence, one must actively seek to avoid speculation, while simultaneously considering the fundamental purpose of the baptismal ceremony in contrast to the paedobaptism paradigm.

Considering the consistency of paedobaptism with the doctrines of the New Testament, theologian Joseph Agar Beet concludes,

In Baptism, an infant is absolutely passive; whereas a believer is himself the most conspicuous actor. So great is this difference that two of the most important assertions about Baptism in the New Testament are altogether inapplicable to the Baptism of infants. Certainly, even though baptized for Christ, they have not so put on Christ as to be in Him sons of God through faith: Galatians 3:26. For, to say that infants have faith, is to make St. Paul’s words meaningless. Nor have infants been raised with Christ through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead: Colossians 2:12. Moreover, to speak of Baptism as a means of salvation, as was implied in the words of Ananias quoted in Acts 22:16, is to introduce, if applied to infants, . . . an element utterly opposed to the spirit of the New Testament.26

Likewise, after analyzing the household baptism passages, theologian Wayne Grudem concludes,

The examples of household baptisms in the New Testament are really not decisive for one position or another. When we look at the actual examples more closely, we see that in a number of them there are indications of saving faith on the part of all of those baptized. For example, it is true that the family of the Philippian jailer was baptized (Acts 16:33), but it is also true that Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house” (Acts 16:32). If the Word of the Lord was spoken to all in the house, there is an assumption that all were old enough to understand the word and believe it. Moreover, after the family had been baptized, we read that the Philippian jailer “rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God” (Acts 16:34). So, we have not only a household baptism, but also a household reception of the Word of God and a household rejoicing in faith in God. These facts suggest quite strongly that the entire household had individually come to faith in Christ. With regard to the fact that Paul baptized “the household of Stephanas” (1 Cor. 1:16), we must also note that Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians that “the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints” (1 Cor. 16:15). So, they were not only baptized; they were also converted and had worked at serving other believers. Once again, the example of household baptism gives indication of household faith.27

Congruently, New Testament scholar Thomas R. Schreiner concludes,

In the NT era, it was unheard of to separate baptism from faith in Christ for such a long period. Baptism occurred either immediately after or very soon after people believed. The short interval between faith and baptism is evident from numerous examples in the book of Acts [cf. 2:41; 8:12-13; 8:38; 9:18; 10:48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5]. It follows, then, that when Paul connects death to sin with baptism, death to sin takes place at conversion, for baptism as an initiatory event occurs at the threshold of one’s new life. Paul appeals to baptism because it dramatically represents the washing away of one’s sins and the new life to which believers are called.28

Analyzing these passages holistically, it appears the baptized individuals possess the cognitive abilities to understand the gospel message and respond with faith and repentance, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Even if one rejects this conclusion, the fact remains that the Scriptural texts categorically fail to mention the participation of infant children. Furthermore, by considering the fundamental aspects of the Apostle’s baptismal practices, it seems unreasonable to advocate paedobaptism.

 

Additional Considerations: Identifying the Historical Position of the Church

Following examination of the Scriptural data, it is essential to consult the writings of early church leaders, attempting to ascertain their understanding of the text and early liturgical traditions. Reflecting the text of Scripture, second-century writings (e.g., the Didache, Justin Martyr’s First Apology, and Aristides’ Apology) parallel the Scriptural teachings concerning baptism, failing to address the issue of infant baptism explicitly, yet provide valuable insight into the purpose and practice of the early church. Notably, the Didache prescribes prayer and fasting in preparation for baptism (cf. 7.4-8.3), a requirement seemingly disqualifying administration of infants.29 Harmoniously, Justin Martyr recognizes the prayer and fasting of the baptismal candidate, while simultaneously acknowledging the person’s acceptance of the gospel message, his commitment to adhere to Christian ethics, and his willful choosing to participate in the ceremony.30 Finally, Tertullian makes a similar comment, writing, “Those about to enter on Baptism should supplicate with frequent prayers, fastings, genuflexions and vigils, and with confession of all their past sins.”31

After studying the position of the early church, professor Steven A. McKinion concludes,

The absence of specific instructions for baptizing infants in the liturgies and church orders into the fourth and fifth centuries imply that infant baptism was a liturgical innovation that did not find universal acceptance. . . . The practice of infant baptism, arising most likely in the second century, required accommodation of the church’s baptismal liturgy to the innovative practice and is not reflected in the early manuals. Prior to the third century, there are no patristic advocates for paedobaptism.

While none of these sources provide explicit support for or against paedobaptism, each document coincides with the Scriptural purpose of baptism—principally, the willful demonstration of faith and repentance. Additionally, the baptismal requirements recorded by early church leaders provide additional support for a credobaptist understanding, as all references indicate the ritual presupposes the participation of a mature, competent individual, capable of understanding the gospel message and responding in faith and repentance.32

 

Application

That Baptism is not lightly to be conferred, is known to those whose duty it is to confer it. . . . If any should understand the importance of Baptism, they will be more afraid of its consequences than of its postponement; unimpaired faith is sure of salvation.

—Tertullian, On Baptism

 

Although contemporary scholars and church leaders continue to debate the mode and qualifications of baptism, all seem to recognize the ceremony commemorates the atoning work of Jesus, while signifying the admittance of the baptized person into the Christian community.33 Regrettably, the practice of infant baptism produces a false sense of eternal security among the recipient (and their family members), while simultaneously permitting the entrance of nonbelievers into the community of Christians which provides them with a potential opportunity to obtain a position of authority within the church. Both aspects prove detrimental to the individual and the Christian community as a whole. Understanding the symbolic nature of water baptism allows us to appreciate what the ritual represents and accomplishes. First, the ceremony serves as a solemn commemoration of the person and work of Jesus, recognizing salvation as a gracious act of divine mercy. Second, baptism allows the participant to publicly express his faith, repentance, and willful obedience to God. Third, the sacrament represents the inseparable unity between the Christian and Jesus. Fourth, the ordinance initiates the participant to the intimate fellowship of the Christian community. Recognizing the fundamental principles of baptism and sincerely appreciating what the ceremony represents will significantly assist us in guiding our conscience concerning baptismal administration.

 

Conclusion

In light of the sparsity of baptismal passages in the New Testament, it becomes evident that there exists diminutive direct evidence concerning the topic in question and matters of baptismal administration only find resolution in systematic and ecclesiological theology. Accordingly, it seems wise to avoid dogmatism concerning specific procedures (including the mode) of baptismal celebration. Nevertheless, the preponderance of Scriptural and historical evidence underscores repentance and faith as fundamental aspects of the sacrament, thereby requiring the baptismal candidate to possess sufficient maturity, adequate cognitive abilities, and the free will capability to make a conscious and deliberate decision to participate. Therefore, analysis of the longstanding debate between paedobaptists and credobaptists against the backdrop of Scripture substantiates the credobaptist claim that paedobaptism runs contrary to biblical examples and undermines the fundamental purpose of the ordinance.

 

 

Footnotes

  1. While contemporary scholars and church leaders actively debate the proper mode theological significance of baptismal practices, this essay intends to focus on the underlying purpose of baptism, demonstrating the contradictory nature of paedobaptism, regardless of mode or the placement of baptism within the ordo salutis. For additional information on the various theological views, see John H. Armstrong, and Paul E. Engle, eds., Understanding Four Views on Baptism, Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007).
  2. Although this essay centers around the role of baptism the book of Acts—as this encompasses the majority of baptismal passages—one must consider the historical and religious context to understand the mindset of the Apostles, the author, and the original audience. Additionally, it is necessary to consult the writings of early church leaders and ancient historians to identify their understanding of the practice.
  3. Grant R. Osborne, “Baptism,” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1988), 257; Laurence Hull Stookey, “Baptism,” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 147; Lars Hartman, “Baptism,” in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992), 583.
  4. Andreas J. Köstenberger, “Baptism in the Gospels,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner, and Shawn D. Wright (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 32.
  5. All Scriptural references are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise annotated.
  6. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961), 29-33.
  7. Köstenberger, “Baptism in the Gospels,” 13.
  8. Compare with Matthew 3:3, 11:10; Mark 1:1-3; John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1. Also, see Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1992), 52-53; Osborne, “Baptism,” 258; Hartman, “Baptism,” 584.
  9. Curiously, the sinless Jesus opts to undergo the baptismal process nevertheless (cf. Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34), equating the ceremony with a divine command (cf. Matthew 3:15). Considering the context appears crucial in understanding this action. First, God commanded John to conduct baptisms (cf. Luke 3:1-2) to call people to repentance, proclaim an eschatological message, and identify Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Matthew 3:2; John 1:33-34). Second, the symbolism of aligning oneself with God seems fitting since Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of His earthly ministry. Accordingly, Jesus’ baptism does not represent an act of repentance, but as an example for faithful believers to follow.
  10. Additionally, John’s baptism intrinsically points to Jesus, as his eschatological message implicitly proclaims the coming Messiah, while his baptismal practices explicitly reveal the divinity of Jesus.
  11. Josephus, Antiquities18:117.
  12. John makes an important distinction between his water baptism and Jesus’ divine baptism (i.e., Christian baptism) with the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33). John’s (water) baptism results in repentance, whereas Jesus’ (Spirit) baptism results in unification with Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). However, baptism of the Spirit does not occur until after Jesus’ ascension (cf. John 16:4-15; Acts 1:5, 2:3). Accordingly, there does not appear to be a difference in the administration or result of baptismal practices conducted by John’s disciples and Jesus’ disciples; which explains why both coincide. Also, it is important to notice the passages differentiate between the element of baptism (i.e., water vs. Spirit) and do not introduce the Spirit as the agent of baptism. Considering the historical and religious context, it is unlikely that John understands spiritual baptism to involve a Trinitarian understanding of the Holy Spirit, but rather an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit as recorded by Old Testament prophets (e.g., Joel 2:28), and the inherent purification associated with such an experience. See R. T. France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 1:97-98; Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, 61-62.
  13. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume Four: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 110-113.
  14. Köstenberger, “Baptism in the Gospels,” 24.
  15. Both John the Baptist and Jesus foretell of this distinction; see footnote 12. Additionally, the distinction between water and Spirit baptism is evident in Acts 1:4-5; 2:38; 8:16; 9:17-19; 10:47-48; 11:15-18; 19:1-7; 1 Corinthians 12:13.
  16. Also, see Acts 8:12, 14-17; 9:17-18; 19:5-6.
  17. John B. Polhill, Acts, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 26:116-117; Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012-2013), 1:972-982; William J. Larkin Jr., Acts, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, Vol. 5 (Downers, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), Acts 2:37.
  18. James D. G. Dunn, “Baptism of the Spirit,” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1988), 262.
  19. Robert H. Stein, “Baptism in Luke-Acts,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner, and Shawn D. Wright(Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 36; 52.
  20. David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2009), 154-156; I. Howard Marshall, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 5:85-87.
  21. Also, see Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-8; Colossians 2:12; Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, 982-984; Paige Patterson, “Baptism,” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 168.
  22. Marshall, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, 86.
  23. Bryan Holstrom, Infant Baptism and the Silence of the New Testament (Greenville, SC: Ambassador International, 2008), 67-79; George R. Beasley-Murray, Baptism in the New Testament (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 1962), 312-320.
  24. Stein, “Baptism in Luke-Acts,” 62.
  25. Hans Conzelmann, Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, ed. Eldon Jay Epp and Christopher R. Matthews, trans. James Limburg, A. Thomas Kraabel, and Donald H. Juel, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1987), 130; Marshall, Acts: An Introduction and Commentary, 284; Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:399; Joseph Agar Beet, A Treatise on Christian Baptism (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1888), 28-29; Stookey, “Baptism,” 148.
  26. Beet, A Treatise on Christian Baptism, 29-30.
  27. Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 978.
  28. Thomas R. Schreiner, “Baptism in the Epistles: An Initiation Rite for Believers,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner, and Shawn D. Wright(Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 93.
  29. Kurt Niederwimmer and Harold W. Attridge, The Didache: A Commentary, Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 129-130; Steven A. McKinion, “Baptism in the Patristic Writings,” in Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner, and Shawn D. Wright(Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 170.
  30. Justin Martyr, First Apology61.1-8.
  31. Tertullian, On Baptism 20.
  32. Such affirmations do not preclude exceptions, as historical documents indicate the performance of emergency or clinical baptisms, transpiring before the fourth century; however, there is no evidence to suggest these deviations are normative or prescriptive. See David F. Wright, Infant Baptism in Historical Perspective (Great Britain, United Kingdom: Paternoster, 2007), 62.
  33. Stookey, “Baptism,” 148.

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