March 16, 2015
Acts 8:36, 37
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Our scripture is from Acts 8:36 and 37, and it is in support of adult or believer’s baptism:
And as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch
said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Then
Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered
and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
There is argument against the validity of verse 37 – the second half of our scripture. And that verse is the bolster point I have chosen for today’s emphasis. Researching the question of this verse’s validity, I found this information on http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/manuscript_evidence. html, “Manuscript Evidence for Disputed Verses”:
However, the verse is found in uncial E (6/7th century), the Old Latin (2nd century),
the Vulgate (5th century) and is cited by Irenaeus (180 AD) and Cyprian (250 AD)
….Tertullian (2nd century), Pacian (370 AD), Ambrose and Augustine (4th century)
…[knew] of the verse.
By the way, according to Wikipedia, “A New Testament uncial [mentioned above] is a section of the New Testament in Greek or Latin majuscule letters, written on parchment or vellum.”
But the statement of Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch summarizes the general teaching of the New Testament on Baptism (see Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 2:38, 41; 8:12, 16; 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47, 48; 16:14, 15; 16:31-33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3, 4; I Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12).
Believer’s baptism is just that – one must have active faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before baptism. Baptism is then a testimony of that faith. And water baptism – especially and only immersion in water – shows our identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
• We are identified with His death in that we are plunged into the water.
• We are identified with His burial in that we are completely submerged under the water.
• We are identified with His resurrection in that we are then raised up out of the water to live a new life in Jesus.
But let me be clear on that last statement: Baptism does not save anyone! After all, the Lord told the thief on the cross, after his confession of faith in the Messiah being crucified next to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” No way could the repentant thief have been baptized! He was hanging on a cross and dying! Baptism is a matter of obedience, not salvation! And it should be one of the first demonstrations of obedience by the Christian who has put his or her faith in the Lord!
I contend (humorously) that there are other mediums in which one can be baptized – such as dirt! A hole can be dug in the ground, the believer can be dumped in and buried. But that one might not be dug up in time!!! So water is the perfect medium for a believer to proclaim his or her identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. And water has been used for millennia for such rituals of baptism.
An infant or young child does not have the understanding of the purpose and work of Jesus Christ to put their faith into what He has accomplished on behalf of them. That one has to be mature enough to understand the basics of the of the gospel. Paul summarized those basics in I Corinthians 15:3 and 4:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for
our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose
again the third day according to the scriptures….
I have baptized by immersion a young lady at the age of seven. But she was spiritually precocious, having an understanding of the gospel more advanced than some adults! After careful questioning, I heartily agreed she was ready to proclaim her faith to the world. Thirty years later, my decision is still confirmed – she is a strong and active believer in and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ!
These three blogs certainly do not put to rest the heated discussion that has been part of Christianity for centuries. But perhaps it will stimulate your further interest and study. May God lead you as you do your own reseach and make your own decisions.