Does Baptism Require Immersion?
Occasionally, someone will report, with great joy, that their infant was recently baptized. When referring to such an event, the parent most certainly means that their child was brought before a religious authority, within their church, and that individual sprinkled or poured a small amount of water on their child. Thus, when the parents refer to their baby’s “baptism,” they are referring to sprinkling or pouring.
As with every religious question, it is a great idea to investigate what the Scriptures say on the matter. Accordingly, what do the Scriptures teach about baptism’s mode? Do they even address the issue? Yes, they do. There are several points which have great bearing on this question.
First, the Greek word for “baptism”
, and means to immerse, dip, plunge, sink or overwhelm. When the Holy Spirit chooses a word to use for a certain action, unless sufficient evidence (within the context of a passage) warrants a different conclusion, we humans do not have the right to change its meaning, or view it otherwise (Proverbs 30:6
; John 12:48
Second, the New Testament refers to baptism as a burial
. In Romans 6:3-4
, as Paul was discussing a Christian’s obligation to live above sin, he said those Christians in Rome “were buried
(emp. added--dg) with Him through baptism into death...”
(see also Colossians 2:11-12
). It should go without saying, that a burial is more than simply sprinkling dirt over a body. No, when someone is buried, they are put completely under the ground.
Third, a sterling example of Christian baptism is found in Acts 8:26-39
. There, we find an evangelist, named Philip, who preached the gospel message of salvation to a man who had been reading Isaiah 53
. When the message of baptism had been delivered, the man decided to obey Philip’s instruction. Of signal importance is that both
Philip and the man “went down into the water, and he baptized him”
). If sprinkling or pouring were adequate means of baptizing, why did Philip go to the trouble of getting wet too? To ask is to answer.
These points, as well as many others, undergird the conclusion that baptism--during New Testament times--was by immersion. Since we do not have the right to change God’s way of doing things (Rev. 22:18-19
), we have to stick with what has been written (Psalm 19:7a