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THE BAPTISM OF JOHN

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.    There are seven baptisms mentioned in the New Testament.

1.     The Lord’s baptism (also called New Testament baptism or the baptism of the Great Commission)

2.     Holy Spirit baptism

3.     John’s baptism

4.     The baptism of fire

5.     The baptism of suffering

6.     The baptism for the dead

7.     The baptisms (washings) of the Old Covenant

 

B.    In this lesson, we want to study one of them, that is, “The Baptism of John.”

1.     In John 1:6 we read:  There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

a.     John was divinely commissioned.

b.     John was a prophet of God (Matt. 11:9).

c.     John was the forerunner of Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:10).

2.     Part of his ministry involved a baptism.

a.     We are first introduced to John in Matthew 3:1-2.  He bursts onto the scene preaching in the wilderness of Judea.

b.     Matthew 3:5-6

 

Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

3.     Let’s examine John’s baptism by noting some of its unique features and some questions that surround this baptism that always generate hearty discussion.

 

I.               JOHN’S BAPTISM WAS AUTHORIZED BY GOD

 

A.    We have already seen that John was sent by God.

1.     Thus, his message was from God.

2.     Too, what he commanded man to do was from God, including being baptized.

 

B.    Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders on one occasion based upon the authority of John’s baptism.

1.     The Jewish leaders rejected John’s baptism (Luke 7:30).

 

But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.

 

2.     When Jesus was questioned about where He received His authority to teach and do what He did, He asked the Jews a question (Matt. 21:24-25).

 

And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.  The baptism of John, whence was it?  From heaven, or of man?

 

a.     Jesus knew John’s baptism was from heaven and that these leaders had rejected it.

b.     He also knew that if they said it was from man the people would be stirred against them because the people believed John was a prophet of God.

c.     These men, therefore, chose not to answer Jesus about John’s baptism.

 

II.            THE DETAILS OF JOHN’S BAPTISM

 

A.    First, John’s baptism was in water.

1.     Mark 1:5 reads:  …and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan…

a.     The river Jordan was a lazy, winding, shallow river that connects the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.

b.     The last time I read the definition of a river it involved water.

2.     John’s words (Matt. 3:11)

 

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance…

 

B.    Second, John’s baptism was immersion, that is, a complete submerging of one’s body in water.

1.     Mark 1:4

 

John did baptize in the wilderness…

 

a.     Strong (907):  to make whelmed (that is, fully wet)

b.     Thayer:  to dip…to immerse, to submerge

2.     The idea of immersion is implied in John 3:23.

 

And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there:  and they came, and were baptized.

 

a.     Sprinkling and pouring do not require much water.

b.     Immersion, on the other hand, does.

c.     John baptized (immersed) in Enon “because there was much water there.”

3.     When Jesus was baptized, we are told that He went up straightway out of the water (Matt. 3:16).

a.     Sprinkling and pouring do not require one to go down into the water and do not involve one coming up out of the water.

b.     Immersion does require this.

 

C.    Third, John’s baptism required those who desired it to first repent of their sins.

1.     For this reason, it is called a “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4).

 

John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

 

2.     Example:  John’s words to the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt. 3:7-8).

 

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth fruits therefore meet for repentance.

 

3.     Repentance

a.     Repentance can be defined simply as “change.”  It is a change of mind that leads to a change of action that results in a reformation of life (Matt. 21:28-29).

b.     Repentance can also be defined as “death.”  It is death to an old, sinful lifestyle (Rom. 6:11).

 

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

D.    Fourth, those who submitted to John’s baptism were required to confess their sins.

1.     Matthew 3:6

 

And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

 

2.     Herein lies one difference between John’s baptism and the baptism authorized by Jesus Christ.

a.     Those who submit to Jesus’ baptism do not confess their sins.

b.     They are required to confess the name of Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-37).

 

E.    Fifth, John’s baptism was “for the remission of sins.”

1.     Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3 both affirm this point.

 

John did baptized in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

 

a.     The phrase “for the remission of sins” is identical to the one found in Acts 2:38.

 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

 

b.     Remission

1)    Strong (859):  freedom…pardon

2)    Thayer:  forgiveness or pardon (letting them go as if they had never been committed)

 

 

 

 

III.          THREE QUESTIONS ABOUT JOHN’S BAPTISM

 

A.    If John’s baptism was “for the remission of sins,” why was Jesus baptized by John for He had no sins?  We find the answer to this question in Matthew 3:13-15.

 

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.  But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.  Then he suffered him.

 

1.     Jesus said:  “Suffer it to be so now.”  We “suffer” the exception, not the rule.

2.     Jesus was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness.”

a.     In Psalm 119:172 we learn that the commandments of God are righteousness.

b.     Jesus was baptized because God commanded Him to be baptized, not because He had sins that needed to be forgiven.

 

B.    Could the sins of these individuals be forgiven prior to Jesus’ death on Calvary?

1.     No.  …and without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. 9:22).

2.     Once Jesus shed His blood on Calvary, His blood would flow backward to cleanse the sins of those baptized with John’s baptism just as it forgave the sins of those who had offered the animal sacrifices under the Law of Moses.

 

C.    QUESTION #3:  RE-BAPTISM

1.     Stated:  Did those who received John’s baptism have to be baptize

again with the Lord’s baptism?

a.     Some say:  “Yes.”

b.     Some say:  “No.”

c.     Some say:  “Yes” and “No.”

1)    The apostles did not, but all others did.

2)    Those who submitted to John’s baptism prior to the cross did not have to be baptized again.  Those who received John’s baptism after the cross had to be baptized with the Lord’s baptism.

2.     In Acts 18 & 19, we have two cases involving John’s baptism.

a.     Apollos – Acts 18

1)    Acts 18:25 tells us that Apollos spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

2)    When Aquila and Pricilla heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

3)    The text does not indicate that he was baptized again.

b.     In Acts 19, about twelve men of the city of Ephesus had been baptized with John’s baptism (Acts 19:3).  These men were required to be baptized with the Lord’s baptism (Acts 19:5).

 

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

 

c.     What as the difference between Apollos and the men at Ephesus?  Apollos was baptized with John’s baptism before Jesus died on the cross and the men of Ephesus were baptized with John’s baptism after the cross.

d.     We will answer this question during out Q&A lesson next Sunday night.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.    John’s baptism is an interesting study.

 

B.    NOTE:  It is no longer a valid baptism.

1.     There is now only “one baptism” (Eph. 4:4).

2.     The “one baptism” is the Lord’s baptism (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 19:1-7).

 

C.    One’s understanding of John’s baptism is not a salvation issue.  We might have some differences regarding it, and we can still fellowship one another.