Throughout the history of Christianity, there has been much debate and division over baptism: who to baptize, when to baptize, where to baptize, how to baptize, and why to baptize. Some dismiss its importance while others deem it necessary for salvation, require it for church membership or see it as a badge of spirituality. Ephesians 4:5 states there is “one baptism,” which means the many types of baptism mentioned in the Bible all point to one real baptism: where we go from death to life, from old to new. In this lesson, we will see the following points to better understand water baptism:

  • Baptism is a Picture (of what has already happened)
  • Baptism is a Pattern (of who we follow)
  • Baptism is a Proof (of our new life and calling)

A Picture

The physical act of baptism does not save an individual or wash away their sins; rather it reflects the salvation already received by a believer Ephesians 2:8-9

  1. When we accept Christ into our life, we are spiritually buried and raised with Him to new life Romans 6:3-6, Romans 8:9-10, Colossians 2:10-13
  2. We are also spiritually incorporated into and unified with the Body of Christ 1Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:26-28
  3. The physical act of water baptism reflects the inner truth of what occurred when we believed Acts 10:43-48, Acts 16:26-33, Acts 18:8

A Pattern

Baptism follows a pattern established by our Lord Jesus Christ for any Christian who is submitting themselves to a new life and ministry Philippians 2:5-8

  1. We first see this pattern in Christ’s water baptism Matthew 3:13-17
  2. We also see Paul following Christ’s pattern in water baptism Acts 9:5-6, 17-18
  3. We see this pattern continue as new believers from Paul’s ministry are baptized 1Corinthians 11:1, Acts 16:14-15, Acts 19:1-5, Acts 18:8

A Proof

Baptism provides proof of a believer’s consecration to follow Christ and continue in the faith Acts 16:15

  1. Water baptism was not directly commanded by Paul in his epistles, but he does testify to its occurrence. Baptism was an established practice with believers and was not intended to be divisive 1Corinthians 1:11-17, Ephesians 4:1-6
  2. Water baptism is a public testimony of your new life in Christ (Jesus is your Savior) and your consecration to His calling (Jesus is your Lord) 1Corinthians 15:1-8, 2Corinthians 3:2-6
  3. Water baptism typically precedes ministry Mark 1:9-15, Acts 9:18-20


Digging Deeper – Reflecting on Water Baptism

Someone might still struggle with the question: why do I need to be baptized in water? It is clear in the scriptures that we must walk by faith (2Corinthians 5:7) and that we are justified by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5) without works. Since water baptism is a work, why would we need to do it? Because it is more about wanting to do it rather than needing to do it. So why would you not want to follow the Lord with the act of water baptism? Isn’t it just the first act of consecration or submission to other works of Him, through Him and to Him, i.e. acts being born out of a desire to follow and submit to His Lordship? Consider the following passages and see the pictures of a consecrated servant willing to follow their master/Lord considering water baptism’s simple act of consecration:

  1. Exodus 21:1-6
  2. Mark 1:17-20
  3. Philippians 3:8-10


 Meditating on the Word:

Therefore we are buried with him

by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead

by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life. 

Romans 6:4