When people love each other, wanting to spend the rest of their lives together, and are committed to each other, they get married. In the same manner, when people love Jesus, wanting to follow Him as His disciples, and are committed to Him, they get baptized.


Ceremonial washing occurred in the Old Testament. John the Baptist introduced a baptism of repentance (see Matt. 3) which was also accepted by Jesus and practiced by His disciples.

• Baptism has to do with repentance of sins and with dedicating one’s life to Jesus (Matt. 3:2, 5, 6, 11; Acts 2:38).

• Baptism has therefore to do with cleansing and is a sign of accepting forgiveness and salvation (John 13:10; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 6:11).

• Baptism is by water and the Holy Spirit, depicting death to sin and bringing about newness of life (John 3:3, 5; Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:17).

• Baptism is a public act of confessing Christ and believing in Him (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16).

• Baptism has to do with discipleship and allows Jesus to live His life in His followers (Matt. 28:19; Gal. 2:20).


Christian baptism is rooted in baptize Jesus who Himself was baptized and who gave the commission to those who desire to become God’s children. However, His own baptism was not a baptism of repentance; He was baptized as our example.

• Jesus’ baptism is the example that we should follow. What happened at His baptism indirectly happens with any person who is serious about following Christ and who is being baptized (Matt. 3:13-17).

• Jesus through His disciples baptized people (John 3:22; 4:2).

• Jesus wants people to be baptized (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16).


1. The Mode of Baptism

Baptism is by immersion.

• The Greek verb baptizō and other words of the same family are used in the New Testament to denote baptism by immersion.

• That people went into the water and came up out of the water again supports immersion (Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:38, 39).

• Baptism is a symbol of being buried with Christ. A burial is a complete and not just a partial interment (Col. 2:12).

2. Prerequisites for Baptism

The Book of Acts continuously stresses the sequence of hearing the proclamation of the gospel, believing in Jesus, and being baptized. Exceptions confirm the rule and are due to special circumstances. Nevertheless, hearing and believing always precede baptism.

• Hearing, believing, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-41).

• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 8:12).

• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 8:34-39).

• Hearing, receiving the Holy Spirit, being baptized (Acts 10:44-48).

• Hearing, believing, being baptized (Acts 18:8). Believing in Jesus includes the entire gospel. Therefore, people were baptized in the name of Jesus after they had heard the proclamation of the message and accepted it. This is not possible with infants.

• Renewed baptism because the first was inadequate (Acts 19:1-7).

3. Entrance into the Church by Baptism

Although people are baptized because they believe in Jesus, they are also joined to “His body” which is the church.

• Those who were baptized were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 42, 46, 47).

• They form one body (1 Cor. 12:13). One cannot be a Christian in isolation (Heb. 10:24, 25).


Benefits are described, for instance, in Acts 2:38, 39; Matthew 3:11, 16, 17; 1 Corinthians 12:7-13.

• Belonging and relationship: Beloved sons and daughters of God.

• Members of the community of Christ.

• Forgiveness of sins, salvation, eternal life.

• Receiving the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. Benefits lead also to responsibilities.

They include:

• The use of one’s natural and spiritual gifts for Christ’s cause.

• Becoming active in a local church.

• Fulfilling the missionary task given by the Lord.


We are challenged as Paul was when he met Jesus: “And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). We decide to follow Christ’s example.

Ekkehardt Mueller is an associate director for the Biblical Research Institute at the General Conference World Headquarters. This article has been reprinted, by permission, from Reflections, the BRI Newsletter.