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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15

Baptism is Immersion

John Craps

From A Concise View of Christian Baptism, 1827

"Paul says, We are buried with him by baptism into death; that is, the ceremony of wholly immersing us in water, when we were baptized, signified that we die to sin; and that of raising us again from our immersion signified that we would no more return to those disorderly practices in which we lived before our conversion to Christianity."—Saurin.

That baptism is immersion may be determined by the following considerations.

The WORD “baptism” means “immersion.”

This is admitted by the following writers, although they were not Baptists:

CALVIN says," The word baptize, signifies to immerse."

BEZA says, "Christ commanded us to be baptized, by which word it is certain immersion is signified."

LUTHER says, "I would have those that are to be baptized, to be wholly dipped into the water, as the word imports and the mystery does signify."

Dr. CAMPBELL says, "The word baptizein, both in sacred writers and in classical, signifies to dip, to plunge, to immerse."

Scott says, "Immersion is DOUBTLESS baptism." Life by J. Scott.

Dr. CHALMERS says, "The original meaning of the word baptism is immersion."

Nothing but the force of truth could have induced these writers to give this testimony in favor of immersion.

2.  The words "sprinkle" and "pour" frequently occur in the Scriptures, but there is not one instance in which the original of them is either bapto or baptizo. The word "dip" or "dipt" occurs six times in the New Testament, and in every instance the original word is bapto or embapto. This plainly shows that, in the opinion of the translators, bapto, from which the word "baptize" is derived, means to "dip" or to "immerse."

3. The word "immersion" will in every case supply the place of the word “baptism” so as to make good sense; but the word "sprinkling" will not, neither will the word "pouring." This the reader may easily prove by examining all the passages in which the word "baptism" occurs. Is not this a plain evidence that baptism is immersion and not sprinkling or pouring?

4.  The words which in the original language of the Scriptures properly mean "sprinkling" and "pouring" are never used by the sacred writers to describe baptism. If baptism were either sprinkling or pouring, would not the term which properly expresses such act have been sometimes used by the sacred writers to describe the ordinance? If the term which properly means immersion is the only one used in the Scriptures to denote the ordinance, must not the ordinance be immersion? Would the Holy Ghost have invariably used a word which means immersion, if He had intended the ordinance to be administered by sprinkling or pouring?

5.  John baptized "in the river of Jordan." Mark 1:5. And Jesus "was baptized of John in Jordan." Mark 1:9. If John immersed our Lord and others, this account of his administering the rite "in the river Jordan" is plain and natural. Is it reasonable to suppose a prudent man would go into a river merely to sprinkle another? Can an instance be produced from history of people racing into a river for the purpose of being sprinkled? Do those who sprinkle in the present day ever go into a river for that purpose?

6. Jesus "went up straightway out of the water." Matt. 3:16. A proof that he was baptized in the water, and an evidence that baptism is immersion.

7.  "John was baptizing in Ænon because there was much water there." John 3:23. "Because there was a great quantity of water there."—Doddridge. Is this reason satisfactory if he sprinkled the people? Would that have required much water? Would not a single spring or a small rivulet have been sufficient? If John immersed the people the reason is a good one.

8.  Philip and the eunuch "came to a certain water; and they went down both into the water; both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip." Acts 8:36-39. They "came to" this water, and then "went down into it," and when "he baptized him" they "came up out of the water." This is exactly what immersion would require, but what would have been unnecessary for sprinkling or pouring. The sacred historian could not have described the immersion of the eunuch in more clear and forcible language.

9.  Our Lord calls his sufferings a baptism; "I have a baptism to be baptized with." Luke 12:50. Jesus here refers to those deep waters of divine justice into which he was soon to sink for man's redemption. In reference to which he might truly say, "I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me." "All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." If baptism is immersion there is an obvious propriety in calling these sufferings a baptism because there is a striking resemblance.

10.  The Israelites "were baptized unto Moses, in the cloud and in the sea" 1 Cor. 10:1, 2. Dr. Whitby says,  "Both the cloud and the sea had some resemblance to our being covered with water in baptism; their going into the sea resembled the ancient rite of going into the water, and their coming out of it, their rising up out of the water."

Moses was a type of Christ, as a prophet and a lawgiver. Acts 3:22, 23. As the people on this occasion surrendered themselves to the guidance of Moses, so a believer, in baptism yields himself to the direction of Christ to be conducted in the way of holiness to the heavenly Canaan.

11.  Believers were "buried with Christ in baptism." That the apostle here alludes to immersion is generally admitted. Mr. Wesley is constrained to allow that this is an allusion "to the ancient manner of baptizing by immersion." In Rom. 6:4, and Col. 2:12, the apostle speaks of baptism as an emblem of a burial and of a resurrection; there must therefore be in baptism something that corresponds to these. Neither sprinkling nor pouring in any way resembles either a burial or a resurrection; but an immersion in the water, end a rising out of it strikingly resemble both. This must be obvious to every unprejudiced mind.

12.  If, as Mr. Scott says, "immersion is doubtless baptism"—if the term "immersion" will in every case translate the term "baptism," and the words "sprinkling" and "pouring" will not—if the terms properly meaning "sprinkling" and "pouring" are not once used in the Scriptures to denote the ordinance—if baptism was administered "in the river Jordan" and where there was "much water"—if the baptizer and the baptized "went down both into the water"--if baptism resembles the sufferings of Christ—if it resembles the state of the Israelites in the cloud and in the sea"—and if it resembles a death, burial, and resurrection—then let the unbiased reader judge whether baptism must not be immersion, and whether it is not an error to consider either sprinkling, or pouring to be baptism. And if he thus judge, must he not conclude that those who have been sprinkled only, have not been baptized, and that to practise sprinkling instead of immersion is to set aside the law of God?