Water Baptism - What the Bible says...


This short study is designed to answer common questions on the subject of Water Baptism.

The Bible is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and therefore is always the final authority on any subject. As you go through this short study it would be a good idea to look up the scriptures in your own bible and perhaps underline them.

The meaning of Baptism

Our English word “baptize” originates from the Greek word “baptizo”, which means to dip or to immerse. Therefore when a person is being baptised they should be totally immersed in water and not merely have some water sprinkled on their head.

Acts 8:36 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him.

It is a command of the Lord, not an optional extra


Mark 16:15-16 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. 

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Believing in Jesus (faith) and turning from one’s sins (repentance) are vital to salvation; however baptism is also a key element in the process and is a clear biblical command.

It is a part of our salvation

Colossians 2:12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, andbe baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

Baptism is a like a spiritual funeral, with the old person being buried and the new person being raised to a new life in Jesus.

It is for believers only

Acts 2:41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church.

Baptism is a choice that we make after we have made the decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Therefore it is not for unbelievers nor is it for babies. Infant baptism is not found anywhere in scripture and is of no effect.

It should be done without delay

Acts 8:36-38 As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 

Acts 16:31-33 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.

Although some Christians believe that there should be an indeterminate period of time between turning to Jesus and being baptized, perhaps to see if the individual is truly saved, there is no biblical foundation for this. The two instances above show that the new converts were baptized without delay.

It is a spiritual act

Colossians 2:11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure—the cutting away of your sinful nature.

Being baptized is more than simply making an outward declaration that you are going to follow Jesus. A transformation takes place in your spirit, your inner being. Baptism brings you into a new freedom to obey God as it cuts away the power of the carnal, sinful nature. You now have the power to live a life pleasing to God.

It is a cutting off of the past

1 Peter 3:20-21 Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. And this is a picture of baptism, which now saves you by the power of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Baptism is not a removal of dirt from your body; it is an appeal to God from a clean conscience.

Many people are held back in life as they remember past mistakes and failures. Baptism is God’s way of wiping the slate clean in your life and giving you a fresh start. (See also Romans 6 1-14 and 1 Corinthians 102 )

It is a separation to God

Galatians 3:26-27 So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him.

Baptism is a part of the sanctification process. It separates you to God and brings you into his family. It is an initiation into the Christian life.

All scripture quotations are taken from the New Living Translation ©1996 unless otherwise stated.