Part 1 – The rite of Baptism – The Proper Wording Used In Baptism
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added).
Is this what in fact the Apostles and the disciples did on and after the day of Pentecost? Did they follow the command of the Master Yahushua Messiah? Did they baptize the newly converted individuals “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?” There are four examples found in the book of Acts where individuals were baptized.
The first one is found in Acts 2:38 on the day of Pentecost. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahushua Messiah for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Why only “in the name of Yahushua Messiah?”
In Acts 8:16, we find our second example of a baptism taking place during the days of the early church. “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Master Yahushua.)”
Our third example is “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Master” (Acts 10:48).
Our fourth example is “And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Master Yahushua” (Acts 19:5).
So why the discrepancy in these verses and what we find written in Matthew 28:19 of the King’s James Version? Did the Apostles and the disciples take it upon themselves to change the wording to be used during the baptism of the new converts? If they did so, where do we find permission for them to do so?
The problem lies much deeper than what appears to be just a change of the wording used in the baptism of individuals. Who is really responsible for the discrepancy that we see in what Yahushua supposedly commanded His followers and what His followers actually did? The truth of the matter can be seen in the following statement by Cardinal Ratzinger of the Catholic Church who eventually became the Pope that recently retired and a statement that is found in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Catholic Cardinal (Eventually Pope Benedict) Joseph Ratzinger made this confession about the origin of the chief Trinitarian support text of Matthew 28:19: “The basic form of our [Matthew 28:19] profession of faith took shape during the course of the second and third centuries in connection with the ceremony of baptism. So far as its place of origin is concerned, the text [Matthew 28:19] came from the city of Rome.”
“The baptismal formula [in Matthew 28:19] was changed from the name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son and Holy Spirit by the Catholic Church in the second century.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, II, page 263.
Eusebius cites Matthew 28:19, 20 eighteen times in his work, always in the same form “Go ye make disciples of all nations in My name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.” Article in Beauties of the Truth, January 1991 edition.
In Part 3 of this study this comment is found: “In fact, the practice of substituting sprinkling for baptism was unheard of until A.D. 253.” This seems to coincide with what the early Roman Church was doing with Matthew 28:19.
The truth of the matter is that the Papacy was inserting verses not originally found in the Greek texts to support the Trinitarian beliefs that were being brought into the early Christian church from paganism. (See our study on Introduction to the Deity (Arianism and Daniel 7:24) [click on shaded area].) Another text of Scripture the Papacy has inserted into the Scriptures is found in 1 John 5:7. "When Erasmus published his version of the Greek New Testament, he left out the additions to 1 John 5:7 from his first two editions (1516, 1519), arguing that he could not find those words in any Greek manuscript. Pressured by some (Catholics) to include this addition to the Greek text, Erasmus proposed that if they could show him a single Greek manuscript in which the addition was found, he would include it in his next edition. Sure enough, they came up with a Greek manuscript in which the addition was found, one, scholars believe was dated from the sixteenth century AD, translated from Latin to the Greek and added to the Greek text. Erasmus subsequently included it in his 1522 edition of the Greek New Testament."
So we find in these verses pertaining to the rite of baptism the “mystery of iniquity,” which Paul talked about in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, already at work during his life time, having changed the wording to what we now find in Matthew 28:19 and in 1 John 5:7.
“For as many of you, as have been baptized into Messiah have put on the Messiah” (Galatians 3:27).
Part 2 – What is Baptism?
What does Baptism mean or signify? Is there something of significance that actually takes place during the rite of Baptism? Or is it symbolic?
“Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Yahushua the Messiah [not to include the Father and the Holy Spirit] were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as the Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead, is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with the Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with Him; knowing that the Messiah being raised from the dead dieth no more [He, like us when we are resurrected, had immortality bestowed upon Him at His resurrection.]; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died [He died because He did not possess immortality at that time], He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto Elohim. Likewise reckon [consider] ye also yourselves dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto Elohim through Yahushua the Messiah our Master. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto Elohim, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto Elohim. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:3-14). In order to know and understand what it means to be under grace and not under the law [the “law of sin and death” and not the Ten Commandments], please click the shaded area to read our study, Under Law/Under Grace.
Baptism is purely symbolic and has no special power in and of itself to do for mankind what is needed and discussed in this passage of Scripture. Baptism reveals to us what should have already happened in a person’s life. There should have been a death to sin and self. If that has not taken place in one’s life then when that person is buried in Baptism, he is buried alive and cannot possibly “walk in newness of life” because “the old man of sin” has not died yet. Many are led into a false experience not having begun with death to self and sin and continue to live a life of sin filled with quilt. They have never experienced being “born again” and continue to serve the sinful nature of fallen mankind. Paul makes this statement in Romans 6:2: “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Have we died to sin? If we have not, then we will continue to sin.
Baptism is much like the marriage ceremony. When two people become husband and wife, their hearts should have been united prior to the wedding ceremony. The reason there may be so many divorces is because this has not taken place prior to the marriage ceremony. So with Baptism.
Let us examine Ephesians 2:1-6. “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But Elohim, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with the Messiah, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in the Messiah Yahushua” (emphasis added). The way you lived before you came to the Messiah should be radically different from the way you live after you have come to the Messiah. It is not just a modification of the old man of sin. It is death to the old man of sin, and a new life marked by the fruits of the Spirit of Elohim who abides in you.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of Elohim dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of the Messiah [Spirit of Elohim], he is none of His. And if the Messiah be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him [Elohim] that raised up the Messiah from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up the Messiah from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:9-11). We are “born again” when the Spirit of Elohim comes to dwell within these mortal bodies of flesh. And “if the Messiah be in you” you will not continue to sin for the Spirit of Elohim shall “quicken your mortal bodies” enabling you to live a life of righteousness. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).
Many after they have been baptized do not live a Spirit filled life. How can I say that? Am I judging? No, I am fruit inspecting. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such is no law. And they that are the Messiah’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:22-24). They have died to the old man of sin and have begun to experience the new life in the Messiah. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die [the second death which is eternal and from which there is no resurrection]: but if ye through the Spirit [not on your own strength] do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live [eternally]” (Romans 8:13).
Dying to self is not a once in a lifetime matter, but as Paul put it “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). Every day we will have our fallen, inherited, sinful, human nature to contend with, and every day we must die to its desires and lusts and live to the Spirit by allowing the Spirit to dwell within us (Ephesians 2:3).
Many contend that it is impossible to live in this life without sinning. I have heard ministers from the pulpit tell the congregation that they sin all day. Can you imagine a minister saying such a thing? Living a life of defeat and in servitude to sin. The gospel tells us that “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death [eternal], or of obedience unto righteousness? But Elohim be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (emphasis added). “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to Elohim, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:16-18, 22, emphasis added).
Many are judging what I am saying by their experience which might consist of “sinning and repenting” and would tell me that you cannot stop sinning. But is that what the Bible would tell you? No, it is not what the Bible would tell you. In fact, it would tell you quite the opposite. We are not to judge our lives by what we experience, but we are to bring our lives into conformity to what is revealed in the Bible. 1 John 3:6, 9 have this to say on the matter. “Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him.” “Whosoever is born of Elohim doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of Elohim” (emphasis added). “Ye must be born again . . . so is everyone that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8). This is what Elohim says about sinning and repenting. “Thou hast forsaken Me, saith Yahuwah, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out My hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting” (Jeremiah 15:6, emphasis added).
Many take it for granted that they will continue to sin until Yahushua returns and changes us. John did not think so. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Yahushua the Messiah the righteous” (1 John 2:1, emphasis added). “If any man sin.” Some of us, including myself, have struggled with this concept for many years. I remember the early experience I had when I first became a “child of Elohim.” I had been a drug addict, alcoholic, and so on prior to being told the “gospel.” In Minnesota where I lived at the time, we have what we call “sap oaks.” They are oak trees that retain their dead leaves throughout the winter on their branches. When spring comes along with its warm temperatures the leaves begin to fall from the trees as the sap comes back into branches. So it was with me. As I spent time reading the Bible and praying “the desires and lusts of the flesh and the mind” were falling off from me. My life was changing, and it was not because I was trying to change it or being told to change. It was just happening quietly, but visibly to those who knew me and knew what I had been like. “The kingdom of Elohim cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of Elohim is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). If there was ever someone who Paul was describing in Ephesians 2:1 it was me. “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” We marvel in reading the gospels how Yahushua raised the dead back to life. But here I was being raised back to “life” after being “dead in trespasses and sins.”
Elohim asks this question in the Old Testament “Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). Jeremiah had answered that question ten verses earlier in Jeremiah 32:17. “Ah Yahuwah Elohim Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee” (emphasis added). “I can do all things through the Messiah, which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis added). Elohim does leave us alone to battle with our fallen natures, but with our permission and invitation, He comes to dwell within us by His Spirit. He stands “at the door and knocks” (Revelation 3:20) waiting to be invited in. He will not force Himself upon us but waits politely for our invitation. When we realize our need, we will gladly accept “all” that He offers.
It is the work of Elohim’s Spirit “to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 15). That is where His work for us begins and ends when He by His Spirit has changed us into His likeness. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of Yahuwah, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of Yahuwah” (2 Corinthians 3:18). And that process called sanctification should have already begun prior to the rite of Baptism. There must have been death to self and the Spirit of Elohim must have been invited in, in order for us to “walk in the newness of life.” Each day that needs to take place where we die to self and invite Elohim’s Spirit to dwell within transforming us into His likeness. “I die daily.” Self can arise anytime when given the opportunity. We must stay committed and submitted to Elohim!
This is what is called salvation. Elohim salvages our wreck of a life and restores us back into His likeness.
Part 3 – The rite of Baptism – The proper method of Baptism
This ministry is not opposed to using others’ material which is found to be in harmony with the Scriptures and having obtained permission from the source in order to use that material. We want to thank
Apologetics Press, 230 Landmark Drive, Montgomery, Alabama 36117, USA
Phone (334) 272-8558
for their permission to use the following article. While we are in agreement with this particular article; it may not be the case on other matters produced by that entity. Only Part 3 of this four part article is from Apologetics Press.
Is Sprinkling an Appropriate Mode of Baptism?
By Caleb Colley, Ph.D.
In their definitions of “baptism”, most modern dictionaries include the sprinkling (and pouring) of water. Similarly, many in the religious world teach that “baptism” by sprinkling is acceptable and sufficient, while others disagree. Because of these conflicting messages, questions on the issue of sprinkling inevitably arise. What does the word “baptism” really mean? Does it, by definition, include sprinkling? The answers to these questions have a bearing on the meaning of Jesus’ command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added).
The English word “baptism” is transliterated from the Greek word baptisma, which signifies dipping or immersion (Thayer, 1958, p. 94; Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 132). Immersion and sprinkling are two very different things, and the Greek language bears that out (Jackson, 2002a, p. 31). Forms of the word baptisma appear in various extrabiblical Greek writings, where it consistently carries with it the meaning of immersion. Aristotle, Polybius, Plutarch, Strabo, Diodorus, and Josephus all wrote of things that were “immersed” in water, and they all used forms of baptizo (Martin, 1991, pp. 208-210). In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, there is a passage that plainly shows the clear distinction between the concepts of sprinkling and baptism. Leviticus 4:17 reads: “Then the priest shall dip [baptizo] his finger in the blood and sprinkle [rhantizo] it several times before the Lord, in front of the veil.” In this verse, the word translated “baptize” (or “dip”) is mentioned in the same sentence with the word rightly translated “sprinkle”, so it is clear that in the Old Testament, sprinkling is not baptism. The same holds true in the New Testament. In John 13:16, Jesus “dipped” (Greek bapto) a bread morsel and passed it to Judas. Every time “baptism” is mentioned in the New Testament, it means immersion, never sprinkling. In fact, the practice of substituting sprinkling for baptism was unheard of until A.D. 253 (Thompson and Jackson, 1984, p. 11).
Despite the fact that the word “baptism” has nothing to do with sprinkling, there are several passages of Scripture that frequently are used by advocates of sprinkling to justify their positon.
Sometimes those who defend the practice of sprinkling claim that three of the most common modern “modes” of baptism (immersion in water, pouring of water, and sprinkling) are all authorized in Leviticus 14:15-16. “And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord” (emphasis added).
Observe that Leviticus 14:15-16 was written about the process of purification of lepers after they recover from their disease. This process of purification was the way by which the recovered leper could re-enter Hebrew society (Keil and Delitzsch, 1976, 1:385). Leviticus 14:15-16 is part of the discussion of the second act of leper purification. This process is similar to one described in Leviticus 8:23, when Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests. Both Leviticus 14:15-16 and Leviticus 8:23 are totally unrelated to New Testament baptism (both passages are addressing guidelines of Mosaic law, not Christian law – see Hebrews 7:22-28; Galatians 3:21-29), and thus cannot be used to justify sprinkling as an appropriate mode of baptism.
Some contend that because this passage mentions the word “sprinkle”, the act of sprinkling must be a scriptural substitution for New Testament baptism. We must evaluate the validity of that contention by examining the context of Isaiah 52:15. “So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider” (emphasis added). This verse is couched in a portion of Scripture that discusses the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world, so it is clear that the One Who shall “sprinkle many nations” is the Lord Himself.
The word “sprinkle” in Isaiah 52:15 is translated from the Hebrew word nazah. Every time nazah appears in the Old Testament, it is translated “sprinkle” (in the King James Version – see Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 5:9; Numbers 8:7), but scholars believe that a more accurate translation of nazah here is “startle” (e.g. Hailey, 1992, p. 435; Keil and Delitzsch, 1976, 7:308). Albert Barnes (1950, 2:258) observed that the usage of “sprinkle” in this context is either an allusion to the sprinkling of blood in the Old Testament (and figuratively a link between that sprinkling and the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross), or to the ceremonial sprinkling of water to symbolize cleansing and purity (see Leviticus 14:51; Hebrews 9:19). However if nazah were translated “startle” the emphasis of the verse would change completely. The verse would then tell us that Christ’s suffering was going to “startle” the nations. Many accept that interpretation because the statement in verse 15, “Kings shall shut their mouths.” This interpretation indicates that many were going to be shocked or even speechless when the Word became flesh, died as a sacrifice for sin, and was resurrected from the dead (Hailey, 1992, p. 436; Jackson, 1991, p. 105). No matter which translation of nazah is correct in this context, there is nothing contained in Isaiah 52:15 that has any connection to New Testament baptism, so it cannot be used to justify the modern practice of sprinkling.
Those who suggest that sprinkling is a legitimate substitution for baptism sometimes appeal to Ezekiel 36:25 as a “proof text”. “And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (emphasis added). This verse, however, is not in context concerning baptism. A study of Ezekiel 36 reveals that the language about “washing” is obviously metaphoric. It would have been a fitting metaphor for Ezekiel to use in relating to his audience, because of the Mosaic system of cleansing. Old Testament passages that use language like that used here about “washing” are numerous. For example, Moses recorded in Exodus 30:20: “When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, lest they die.” Exodus 29:4 reads: “And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water.” Numbers 19:18 declares: “A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.” The concept of sprinkling and washing is prevalent in the Old Testament passages, but in such passages (like Ezekiel 36), baptism for salvation is not under consideration. What is under consideration in Ezekiel 36 is, literally, the destruction of one of Israel’s enemies, the nation of Edom, and figuratively, the future destruction of all the Lord’s enemies (Jackson, 2002a, p. 31).
Notice Ezekiel 36:24: “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” Then, immediately following the verse that mentions the sprinkling of clean water, God said: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). These two verses present the immediate context from which many modern religious people remove Ezekiel 36:25 in order to justify sprinkling. If we are to believe that Ezekiel was writing about a literal sprinkling of water in this verse, then we would also be forced to understand Ezekiel’s usage of “heart of stone” in verse 26 as being literal. New Testament baptism is simply not under consideration in Ezekiel 36:25. Wayne Jackson noted that many denominational scholars who defend the practice of sprinkling as an authentic form of baptism do not appeal to Ezekiel 36:25, because it does not aid their cause (2002a, p. 31). The substitution of sprinkling for true baptism cannot be defended, based on Ezekiel 36:25.
At times, those who accept sprinkling appeal to Acts 2 in an attempt to justify their position. Some suggest that the twelve apostles could not have immersed as many as 3,000 people in one day (Acts 2:41 records that “about three thousand souls” were baptized on Pentecost), so the apostles must have sprinkled water on the 3,000. However, if each baptism took approximately a minute, the apostles could have done the job in just over four hours (Jackson, 2002b, p. 32). Also, nothing in the New Testament demands that the apostles had to all the baptizing themselves.
Still others claim that ample water was not available in Jerusalem to accommodate all the immersions. However, there were many pools in Jerusalem, some of which were large. The Virgin’s pool was about 132 feet square and three feet deep. The pool of Siloam occupied approximately 800 square feet, and was more than three feet deep. Lower Gihon covers more than three acres, and can hold a depth of twenty feet of water; plus there were other pools (McGarvey, 1881, p. 201). Without a doubt, on the day of Pentecost, the believers were immersed.
1 Corinthians 10:2
Those who support the substitution of sprinkling for baptism sometimes appeal to 1 Corinthians 10:2 to justify their position. The passage states that “all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” – a direct reference to Exodus 14:22. Baptism into Moses is entirely different from baptism into Christ, but some who defend sprinkling assert that, because Paul called the crossing of the Red Sea a “baptism”, the Israelites must have been sprinkled as they crossed the Red Sea. [Israel certainly was not immersed in water – the people walked on dry ground (Hebrews 11:29).] What did Paul mean when he wrote that our fathers were “baptized into Moses”?
The meaning of baptism in 1 Corinthians 10:2 is both literal and figurative. The Israelites were baptized – in the sense that they were literally surrounded by water, though the water did not touch them. This is a legitimate use of the word “baptism”. When a body is buried in a cemetery, for example, the body is “immersed” in the ground (surrounded by dirt), though a casket prevents any dirt from actually touching the body. In that sense, the children of Israel were immersed in the Red Sea. Paul also wrote of baptism in a figurative sense: the children of Israel were “baptized” into Moses in that they devoted themselves to his leadership and, through him, God’s leadership. G.G. Findlay explained:
“The cloud, shading and guiding the Israelites from above, and ‘the sea’ making a path for them through its midst and drowning their enemies behind them, were glorious signs to ‘our fathers’ of God’s salvation; together they formed a washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5), inaugurating the national covenant life; as it trode the miraculous path between upper and nether waters, Israel was born into its Divine estate. Thus ‘they all received their baptism unto Moses’, entering through him into acknowledged fellowship with God; even so the Corinthians in the use of the same symbolic element had been baptized unto Christ” (cf. Romans 6:3f., Galatians 3:27; n.d., 857).
Baptism into Christ is not mandated by Exodus 14:22, though the example of the Red Sea crossing metaphorically foreshadows baptism into Christ, as does Noah’s ark (1 Peter 3:20-21; see Lenski, 1937, p. 391). In Exodus 14, though, the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea in order to save their physical lives, not to save their eternal [non-Biblical] souls, and the “baptism” of Exodus 14 was instituted by Moses hundreds of years before the baptism of Christ came into effect. There is no identification of the proper “mode” of baptism in either 1 Corinthians 10:2 or Exodus 14:22, so the substitution of sprinkling for baptism cannot be justified based on either passage.
This verse often is cited as proof that people should be sprinkled in order to be saved, but a brief examination of the text reveals another meaning. Hebrews 10:22 reads: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (emphasis added). This verse seems to draw its spiritual meaning from God’s old covenant with Israel. During that period of Mosaic law, the high priests had to wash themselves before they entered the Most Holy Place (see Leviticus 16:3-4). Notice Hebrews 10:19-21: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God…” These verses and verse 22, both deal with how people “draw near” to God, and the message in verse 22 is clear: our hearts must be true. What apparently makes our hearts true is the “sprinkling” of our hearts/ If the hearts of Christians are “sprinkled”, the “evil conscience” is removed and they no longer bear the quilt of sin. The evil conscience is one that does not object to evil (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2). Robert Milligan explained this:
“Every act that we perform contrary to the known will of God defiles our conscience and also our consciousness; we have them both an evil conscience and an evil self-consciousness. And this, so long as it continues, must seriously interrupt our union, communion, and fellowship with God. The child that is suffering from an evil consciousness on account of its having transgressed the known will of its father cannot, so long as the feeling lasts, approach Him with perfect confidence. But when it repents of the evil, confesses the wrong, and feels fully assured that the fault is forgiven, then what a change come over it” (1950, p. 281).
The Hebrews writer did make reference to baptism, but notice how he did it. Verse 22 says our hearts are sprinkled from an evil conscience, but that our bodies are washed with pure water. Sprinkling is indeed under consideration in Hebrews 10:22, but the reader must take care to observe what, exactly, is being “sprinkled”. In this passage, the Hebrew writer illustrates the need to have our hearts sprinkled, so obviously the meaning is not literal, but must be understood as figurative or metaphorical. The only portion of the verse that potentially deals with literal water is the part that mentions a “washing”. What is this washing? It is the same “washing of regeneration” that is mentioned in Titus 3:5 – baptism (Milligan, 1950, p. 282). However, the portion of the verse that deals with sprinkling does not apply to the portion of the verse that deals with baptism. The hearts of Christians are figuratively sprinkled with the blood of Christ, but their bodies are washed (they are buried in water for the forgiveness of their sins; see Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16). The modern practice of sprinkling for baptism in not authorized by Hebrews 10:22.
If the “proof texts” for sprinkling as a substitution for baptism do not prove that sprinkling is a form of baptism, then what is the authentic, scriptural form of baptism? The baptism Jesus authorized and commanded is precisely what is indicated by the Greek word baptizo: immersion. The book of Acts contains multiple accounts of baptism, and in every instance, that immersion was sufficient (See Acts 10:48; Acts 16:31-33; Acts 22:16).
Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Barnes, Albert (1950), Notes on the Old Testament: Isaiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Findlay, G.G. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoli (Grand Rapids, MI, Eerdmans).
Hailey, Homer (1992), A Commentary on Isaiah (Louisville, KY: Religious Supply).
Jackson, Wayne (1991), Isaiah: God’s Prophet of Doom and Deliverance (Abilene, TX: Quality).
Jackson, Wayne (2002a), “Did the Prophet Ezekiel Preview ‘Sprinkling’ As A Form of New Testament ‘Baptism’?”, Christian Courier, 38:31, January.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976a reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament 9Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Lenski, Robert C.H. (19370, The Interpretation of I and II Corinthians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
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