As I present the Biblical Plan of Salvation to my Evangelical friends, one of the common protests they raise is the issue of “multiple baptisms” appearing in the scriptures. I might reference Acts 2:38 in order to explain what happens in water baptism and my evangelical friend quickly responds with something like this…
“Well, water baptism might not be what Peter is talking about there in Acts. You know, there are several types of baptisms mentioned in the scriptures. This is probably a spiritual baptism, not water baptism.”
To add to the confusion, there is another problem affecting this debate. By the time Paul got around to writing Ephesians 4:4, he tells us “there is only one baptism.” So, is Acts 2:38 spiritual baptism or is it water baptism?
A Multitude of Baptisms
As we begin, let’s talk about these “multitude of baptisms” we see in the scriptures; then, let’s see if we can’t narrow all of this down to the one baptism Paul talks about in Ephesians. I have been told there are as many as 11 different types of baptisms mentioned in the Bible. More commonly, I hear from 7 or 9. Here’s my list. I’m up to ten.
1 – Baptism of or with Fire (These would be trials or even death.)
2 – New Testament Water Baptism
3 – Baptism for Jewish Conversion (This is called a Mikvah.)
4 – John’s Baptism
5 – Jesus or His Disciples Baptizing People
6 – Holy Spirit Baptism into Christ
7 – Baptism of the Holy Spirit (This is different from number 6.)
8 – Baptism into Moses
9 – Ceremonial washings of the Old Testament
10 – Baptism for the Dead (That’s an interesting topic!)
There may be more. If you can think of any, please let me know.
Well, we are probably only concerned with a couple of these. We are only looking for baptisms which apply to the New Testament era and they must be associated with the conversion experience Jesus calls, “Born Again,” in John.
“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
This seems to narrow it down to either a spiritual baptism or water baptism.
We know that water baptism was commanded by Jesus in The Great Commission. That happens in…
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”
We know this Matthew 28 passage is about water baptism because the disciples are told it is something they were to perform on people who had decided to respond to the Gospel message. They were to baptize new disciples.
We are also familiar with spiritual baptism. Look at:
1 Corinthians 12:13
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” We can not get into the body of Christ unless the Spirit baptizes us into the one body!
So, there appear to be two different baptisms we acknowledge when we have this debate. One is a physical baptism and one is a spiritual baptism. This seems to me to be the two competing understandings of what Pauls’s one baptism might be. Water or Spirit. The other baptisms we see throughout the Bible don’t seem to have anything to do with connecting us to Christ or adding us to the church.Continue reading “029 – Multiple Baptisms”