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What Does the Bible Say About..Water Baptism?

Does the Bible say that water baptism no longer exists and the only way you can be baptized is with the Holy Spirit?


It would be a surprise to a lot of people in the New Testament if they were to find out that their immersion (baptism) in water no longer existed. There are only two recorded instances of anyone being immersed in the Spirit. The first is the apostles on Shavuos (Pentecost) in Acts 2. The second came ten years later (Cornelius and his household in Acts 10 and 11), and was such a surprise to Peter that it clearly had not happened any time in the period in between.

On the other hand, most of the immersions in the New Testament are probably water immersions. We know for sure that the Ethiopian that Philip taught was immersed in water. (Acts 8:36-39) Although the other instances in the book of Acts don’t specifically mention water, they were most likely immersions in water. After all, Jesus was immersed in water. All Jews knew that baptism was immersion in water, because it had been so in Jewish society for centuries before that time.

Peter says that baptism is immersion in water for the purpose of salvation. “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:20-21).

Paul indicates (Romans 6, Colossians 2:12) that it is an actual burial. Immersion in the Spirit (the word of God) would not satisfy the requirements of those passages, but immersion in water does.

It would take an exceptional amount of twisting to remove immersion in water from the New Testament church. It is one of the bedrock doctrines of both the Old and New Testaments.