Hebrew Roots/The original foundation/Baptism in Acts
WHAT IS WATER BAPTISM?
1. Obedience An Act of Obedience to the revealed will of God in following Y'shua through the waters of baptism.
2. A Confession of Faith An outward confession of an inner reality, a demonstration of having believed in one's heart in the work of atonement, confessing Y'shua as Lord of one's life and commencing to follow Him.
3. A Validation of Faith The Father acknowledges us as His sons (If you confess Me before men, I will confess you before My Father in heaven Matt.10:32 & Romans 10:13) Angelic ministration is subscribed to us (Luke 12:8 & Psalm 91:11)
4. Remission of Sin Cleansing by which forgiveness of sins is mediated and remission granted for them (Acts 2:38) reconciliation with God is effected, our sins are 'loosed' (Greek, 'remit' = loose, send away), and the power of sin loses its hold on us.
5. An Act of Identification with Y'shua in His Death and Resurrection. We put our old life to death under the waters of baptism by faith in the operation of God to raise us up in the power of His Spirit in resurrection life. (Colossians 2:12)
6. Cleansing from Sin Our conscience is cleansed and we are spiritually washed from our sins. "baptism doth now save us ... the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Y'shua the Messiah" 1 Peter 3:21 & Hebrews 10:22 "But ye are washed ...." "By the washing of regeneration" (1 Cor.6:11 & Titus 3:5
7. Spiritual Circumcision The Spirit circumcises our heart - "putting off the body of the sins of the flesh .. .. by the circumcision made without hands" (Colossians 2:11,12 &Hebrews 4:12) This circumcision is in the spirit (Romans 2: 29 & Philippians 3: 3)
8. New Nature - New Heart His laws are engraved upon our heart, which is now a heart of flesh (soft, tender to Him) Jeremiah 31:33 & 2 Corinthians 3:3 "You are a new creation" (John 1:12 & 2 Corinthians 5:17) "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection" Romans 6:5
9. Spiritual Adoption Born of God - given the right to become sons of God. (John 3: 3; John 1:12), we are adopted into the family (Romans 8: 15-17), "The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs - " (Rom.8:16-17a) "to redeem those .. .. that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Galatians 4:5)
10. Sealed by the Spirit Marked as God's possession, a guarantee of ownership (Ephesians 1:13 & 2 Corinthians 1:22) Bought back from the enemy he no longer holds the title deed to our life, we have a spiritual inheritance. Acts 20: 28 & Ephesians 1:14 (the initial deposit on our lives)
11. New Identity & Authority We are baptised into His Name and become a Messiah-in person (Messianic) or a Christ-in person (Christian). We have taken His name in covenant relationship and in that Name we have spiritual authority (Galatians 4: 6). It is a spiritual union. As in natural marriage, you take on another name and surrender your individual rights.
12. Spiritual Ministry We are placed in the Body. "For by one Spirit you are all baptised into one Body" (1 Cor.12:13) "The assembly/ecclessia which is His body" (Ephesians 1: 22,23) As individual members of that corporate spiritual body we each have differing functions and ministries imparted by the Spirit.
Y'shua established a new order of new creation sons of the Almighty, through baptism. The Jews were the first to enter into this sonship, and when entrance was given to the nations, they were not required to be circumcised first, as was normally the practice for "Gentiles" entering the nation of Israel. Acts 10; 11:18; 15:13-29; Colossians 2:11-13; Galatians 5: 1-6,11
REQUIREMENTS FOR BAPTISM
When undergoing immersion, faith has to be exercised in the atoning work of Messiah's blood sacrifice and the work of redemption, for oneself personally. They have to believe that they have been reconciled to Yahweh God through Y'shua and have been brought back into relationship with Him. Now as a child of God they are prepared to live in fellowship with the Father through Y'shua, His Son, and obey His commandments by the enabling of the holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) of God which is given to them. In this restoration into divine favour they need to fully identify with Y'shua in His death, burial and resurrection so that they may forsake the old pattern of life and fully yield to the life of Y'shua which is imparted to them.
After the candidate for baptism has made a confession of following Y'shua and prayer has been made for him, he undertakes to go into the water when he is ready in his heart, at sufficient depth so as to be able to be completely immersed when bending his torso at the waist and the knees. This he does three times as a witness between God and man of his profession of faith.
Unlike the various styles of Christian baptism, in the Biblical/Hebraic practice the candidate himself initiates the act of burying their own life in identification with Y'shua's death, burial and resurrection under the Mikveh waters. The person officiating acts as an assistant to the candidate to receive their profession of faith and pray for them.
Early writings from the apostolic era indicate that prayer and fasting preceded baptism and that there was always a verbal profession of faith made by the candidate going under Baptism in a place where there was "living water". Leviticus 11:36
The Didache (Apostles doctrine), says, "having first said all these things" which refers to the previous teaching of the apostles doctrine that involves the basics of 'the way of life'. The Didache sets out the requirements for living in the 'Way', which is what some 'churches' have called 'catechism' i.e. foundational doctrines.
(The Apostle's Doctrine, written 90 AD approx.) "Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. (The following passage is a suspected interpolation as it was customary to use only running water, and the following is Roman tradition) But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before" (translated by Robertson)
This type of instruction seems to have been the practice of the early assemblies and it is supported in scripture. The requirement for baptism was taught and also its meaning as is shown by the immediate response in each instance in the book of Acts and the desire to be baptised as soon as they had believed.
So, repentance was mandatory,
- so was faith toward God, - "if you believe with all your heart, you may (i.e. be baptised) Acts 8:37
- then the necessary instruction - as outlined in the Didache and evidenced in the preaching in Acts
- also 'living water' - this was Hebraic terminology for water which was either running as in a stream or river, or that had been collected from rainwater naturally as a pool or reservoir - not drawn from wells, dams or by human means. As the eunuch said, "See here is water, what hinders me .. .." Acts 8:36
METHOD OF BAPTISM
The Greek word for baptise which we have taken an English derivative, is BAPTIZO which is the verb 'to immerse, plunge, put into or under'. So by implication of the choice of word in the Greek, it is complete immersion. This is substantiated by the early assembly practice. "John was baptising at Aenon because there was much water there" John 3:23 Lydia, as an example, was near a river where prayer was made when she responded to the gospel and was baptised then. (Acts 16:13-15). The disciples chose places where there was adequate water. In Gaza, "they went down into the water" and "they came up out of the water" Acts 8: 38.39
Complete immersion was standard Hebraic practice for ritual cleansing/baptisms. Drawings discovered from that era in the catacombs, depict John standing at the riverside extending his arm in blessing toward the candidates who immersed themselves. Early messianic writings substantiate the practice of immersing three times, which as a threefold witness.
The type pictured in baptism is symbolic of death in a watery grave. Partial immersion is only partial burial and so other forms of sprinkling etc. are not true to type. Beware of men's traditions - Titus 1:14 Infant baptism is not scriptural as only an individual conscious of their sinful state can respond to baptism.
The mothers brought their children to Y'shua to be blessed by Him (Matt.19:13-15). In the Hebraic/scriptural order the babies were presented to Yahweh, but not till their coming of age were they accountable (Ezek.18:20 - righteousness is not inherited). Parents are responsible to bring up their children in the admonition of the Lord. so that when they are mature they will choose to follow Him. (Ephesians 6:4; Deut.6: 6-9)
In the Name of
Matthew 28:19 says, "baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Yet in the Book of Acts we see the interpretation of this as, "In the name of Y'shua Ha Maschiach/Jesus Christ." Why the change?
Actually it is not a change. The name of the 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit' is interpreted as the One who represented them on earth and whose authority God endorsed. He was given a name which is above every name that is named upon earth (Philippians 2:8-10), that at that name every knee must bow. That is, He has authority over everything on earth, in heaven and under the earth (the domain of 'hell'), until the time when He has fulfilled the work of bringing all things into subjection to Himself, and then, at that time, He shall hand all things over to the Father, that He, Yahweh, may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28). Until then, what we do, we do in Y'shua's precious Name (Acts 4: 12) 'Father', 'Son' and 'Holy Spirit' are generic titles and not names. Y'shua was the name of the Son who represented the Father and the Spirit. Note: There is an indication that Matthew 28:19 was not in the original text, but a later addition.
Peter, entrusted with the 'keys of the kingdom' said, "be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ/ Y'shua the Messiah" Acts 2:38
The representative Name of the godhead in Hebrew is Adonai, Y'shua Ha Maschiach, in our English translation Lord Jesus Christ. (Christ is the Greek for Messiah meaning 'anointed one')
The Name of the Son is Y'shua Luke 1:31 The name of the Father is Yahweh Exodus 3:15 The name of the Spirit is in His ministry of anointing Y'shua, i.e. the Messiah/Christ Acts 10:38 (it was the anointing that made Him the Messiah 1 Jn.2:20,27)
So in the Book of Acts we see the disciples/apostles using His representative name for the godhead as the 'formula' for baptism. (Acts 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 22:16) Y'shua says in Luke that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations" Luke 24: 47
Note that the believers referred to themselves as being baptised into 'Christ'/ Messiah (Romans 6:3). Y'shua said that He had come in His Father's name (John 5:43), and the Spirit is sent to us in Y'shua's name (John 14:26) In Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9) So the scriptural formula for being baptised is in the name of the Lord, Y'shua HaMaschiach.
Baptism is a covenant with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) represented by our Lord, Y'shua the Messiah. Baptism therefore is an immersion into all three persons of the godhead - i.e. into the fullness of the godhead. As Y'shua was the embodied fullness of the godhead, so also are we, although we as yet have not come into that fullness. We have the deposit of that and the final installment will be in the redemption of our bodies from mortality to immortality.
Y'hsua in His earth life experienced relationship with the Father and the Spirit, so also we can enter into relationship with each individually. John 17:20-23 & John 15:26,27; 16:13-15
Laying on of Hands
The Didache as well as apostolic writings mention prayer made with laying on of hands for candidates. In the scriptures with what is recorded, there does not seem to be a definite pattern, sometimes it is before and sometimes afterward, but it is seen to be a practice to pray and impart an anointing of the Spirit through the laying on of hands. (Ananias with Saul Acts 9:17, Paul with the Ephesians Acts 19:1-5)
Baptism was regarded by the early Assembly as such an integral part of the new covenant that to fall away into sin or apostasy or to go into heresy, necessitated a re-immersion after full and complete repentance and restoration to the faith. (study 6a)
It follows in order after repentance and faith, as one of the very foundational doctrines of the new covenant. Hebrews 6: 1-2
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." 1 John 3: 1