The ideas associated with the baptism which was the central feature of John’s ministry are often vague or quite mistaken, so perhaps it may be worth-while to re-examine the gospels’ teaching about it.
Statements can be found in many of the commentaries to the effect that John was merely making use of a familiar existing rite or institution in order to emphasize that his converts were converted; e.g. Carr in Cambridge Greek Testament: “In baptizing John introduced no new custom, for ceremonial ablution or baptism was practised in all ancient religions… Among the Jews proselytes were baptized on admission to the Mosaic covenant. John’s baptism was the outward sign of the purification and life-giving change, and contained the promise of forgiveness of sins.”
Most of this is either incorrect or misleading. Other religions may have had ceremonial washings, but these were not baptisms, nor is it conceivable that there was any sort of connection between John’s baptism and any of them. Neither is there any evidence that at this time the Jews administered a form of baptism to converts to their faith. So far as is known, this came in as a Jewish practice after the first century. True, a mikveh has been excavated at Masada, but it is certain that the meaning and purpose of such washings had no resemblance to the baptism John administered.
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Author: Harry Whittaker
Keywords: Water baptism, Baptism, Baptist, Baptized, Baptised, Baptize, Baptise, Baptizer, Baptiser, Sprinkling, Is baptism mandatory, Is baptism essential, Is baptist required, Baptism salvation, Baptized by water, Infant baptism, Infant sprinkling, Christening, Baptizing babies, Baptizing infants, Baptizing children, Baptising babies, Baptising infants, Baptising children, Immersion, Ritual bath, Water immersion, baptizo, baptisma, baptismos, Pouring, Baptism essential to salvation, Dip, Dipping, Plunge, Plunging, Dipped in water, Plunged in water, John's baptism, John the Baptist, John the Baptizer
Bible reference(s): Matthew 3:6, Matthew 3:7, Matthew 3:11, Matthew 3:13, Matthew 3:14, Matthew 3:16, Matthew 11:11, Matthew 11:12, Matthew 21:25, Matthew 28:19, Mark 1:4, Mark 1:5, Mark 1:8, Mark 1:9, Mark 10:38, Mark 10:39, Mark 11:30, Mark 16:16, Luke 3:3, Luke 3:7, Luke 3:12, Luke 3:16, Luke 3:21, Luke 7:29, Luke 7:30, Luke 20:4, John 1:25, John 1:26, John 1:28, John 1:31, John 1:33, John 3:22, John 3:23, John 3:26, John 4:1, John 4:2, John 10:40, Acts 1:5, Acts 1:22, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 2:41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:13, Acts 8:16, Acts 8:36, Acts 8:38, Acts 9:18, Acts 10:37, Acts 10:47, Acts 10:48, Acts 11:16, Acts 13:24, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8, Acts 18:25, Acts 19:3, Acts 19:4, Acts 19:5, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:3, Romans 6:4, 1 Corinthians 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:14, 1 Corinthians 1:15, 1 Corinthians 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 10:2, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 Corinthians 15:29, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:5, Colossians 2:12, 1 Peter 3:21
Source: Studies in the Gospels.
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