When people start attending church and seeking their Creator, one of the first things they wonder about is baptism. It is a rite of most churches and expected of all members. But what is it? Why is it done? What is the purpose? What does it mean? Are there requirements to be met first? Are there precedents of it in the Old Testament?
Why? There are references to baptism/immersion early in the Gospel accounts; John the Baptist – or John the Immerser was doing baptisms. People were going to him and being immersed in the Jordan River.
Mark 1:5 – And all the Judean country, and those of Jerusalem went out to him, and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
Why were they confessing their sins? John had been telling them to repent and be baptized. He was also telling them about the Savior to come.
Matthew 3:1-3,8 1-Now in those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. 2-And saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven has drawn near. 3-For this is he spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Master. Make his paths straight. 8-Therefore, bring forth fruits worthy of repentance
They weren’t to be baptized just because it was the thing to do. Or because everyone else was doing it. It involved more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” The people were to exhibit evidence of their repentance.
While this was going on, before Yahshua ever began His ministry, He came down to the river to be baptized as well. At first, John did not want to do it – he felt unworthy. But Yahshua prevailed upon him.
Matthew 3:15 But answering, Yahshua said to him, allow it for now, for it is becoming to us this way to fulfill all righteous.
Yahshua wanted to do everything in an orderly way and leave nothing out. He had nothing to repent of, but was leaving an example for us to follow.
SACRIFICES AND FORGIVENESS
Are there precedents for this in ancient Israel? We don’t find baptism, as we know it today in the Old Testament. What we do find is ritual cleansings. In the Law there were stringent rules of cleanliness – specific times for the people to wash themselves, clothes or other objects. The high priest had to do specific washings before and after offering sacrifices and so did the people.
The people walked almost everywhere they went. They would get hot and dirty doing so. There were places around the temple for them to do these cleansings. They became known as mikvehs. Note that it was connected with uncleanness and/or sin, repentance and forgiveness, just as baptism is.
In the Old Testament when an individual sinned, there were instructions they had to follow. They were to offer an unblemished animal. They were to take it to the priest, lay their hands on it, confess their sins, and then kill it, with the assistance of the priest. The lesson was that sin necessitated the shedding of blood. They were required to kill an innocent animal because of what they had done. It might possibly make them think twice before committing a sin. It was going to cost them something – the life of an animal. Maybe they had seen the creature born, watched it grow and even observed their children playing with it. Repeated sinning could get expensive, too! But even that didn’t totally absolve them.
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
The ones offering an animal for sacrifice were learning lessons and picturing the one sacrifice that would come to erase and forgive sins. That One did come. Yahshua came as a human, was tempted as a human, and lived a sinless, unblemished life, to qualify as a sacrifice in our stead.
I Peter 2:21-24 21-For you were called to this, for even Messiah suffered on our behalf, leaving behind an example for us, that you should follow His steps. 22-Who did not sin nor was guile found in his mouth. 23-Who, having been reviled, did not revile in return; suffering, he did not threaten, but gave himself up to him who was judging righteously. 24-Who himself bore in his body our sins onto the tree; that dying to sins, we might live to righteousness; of whom, by his wound, you were healed.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest not being able to sympathize with our infirmities, but one having been tried in all respects according to our likeness, apart from sin.
Hebrews 9:14 By how much more the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to Yahweh, will purify your conscience from dead works for the serving of the living Yahweh.
Yahshua was perfect. He qualified to be that offering in our place, like the lambs that were slaughtered daily as sin sacrifices.
John 1:29 On the morrow, John saw Yahshua coming toward him and said, behold, the lamb of Yahweh who takes away the sin of the world.
Galatians 1:3-4 3-Grace to you, and peace, from Yahweh the Father and our Master Yahshua Messiah. 4-Who gave himself for our sins, so that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of our Yahweh and Father.”
John 3:16 – For Yahweh so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten son that everyone believing into him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Yahweh gave His only Son. He was willing for Him to die so that others might receive eternal salvation. We must be willing to accept that sacrifice.
First we must repent. What does that involve? It means more than just to change one’s mind. It means a deep change of heart and mind away from self and sin and towards Yahweh and righteousness. It means for us to look at our lives; to see where we have failed to follow Yahweh’s laws and statutes; to be willing to admit we have done wrong and be sorry for it; and to be willing to change and not repeat the same sins. We need a change of heart that will lead us to follow Yahshua, no matter what; no matter how tempting the world around us appears and to look at Him and His Word for guidance; to be willing to be identified as His and serve Him.
Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., Editor, Page 908 –
“REPENTANCE – a turning away from sin, disobedience or rebellion and a turning back to God (Matt. 9:13; Luke 5:32). In a more general sense, repentance means a change of mind (Gen. 6:6-7) or a feeling of remorse or regret for past conduct (Matt. 27:3). True repentance is a ‘godly sorrow’ for sin, an act of turning around and going in the opposite direction. This type of repentance leads to a fundamental change in a person’s relationship to God.”
We must be willing to confess our sins. Not to another human, as some churches practice, but to our Father in heaven. Our Savior is at His right hand and is the High Priest and intercessor for us. He can plead our case and tell the Father that He understands and knows what it is like to be a human and to suffer the pulls of the flesh.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 4, Page 2558 –
“REPENTANCE” – In the Hebrew “The term, shubh, is most generally employed to express the Scriptural idea of genuine repentance. It is used extensively by the prophets, and makes prominent the idea of a radical change in one’s attitude toward sin and God. It implies a conscious, moral separation, and a personal decision to forsake sin and to enter into fellowship with God. It is employed extensively with reference to man’s turning away from sin to righteousness (Dt 4 30, Neh 1 9; Ps 7 12, Jer 3 14).”
But what is sin?
I John 3:4 Everyone practicing sin also practices lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Which law? Most churches teach that the law was done away. But this was written 50-60 years after Yahshua died! The law was still in effect!!
Matthew 5:17-18 17-Do not think that I came to annul, but to fulfill. 18-Truly I say to you, until the heavens and the earth pass away, in no way shall one iota or one tittle pass away from the law until all comes to pass.
It could be that it is time for us to look at Yahweh’s law and see what it involves. But it isn’t found in the New Testament where the instructions on baptism are. The law is found, believe it or not, in the first five books of the Old Testament, commonly known as the Torah. That is what Yahshua was referring to in Matthew 5:17. In the New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon, it is listed as Strong’s #3551 and specifically says “law: Mosaic.”
Hebrews 10:12 But he, offering but one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of Yahweh.
Romans 8:34 Who is condemning? Messiah is the one who has died, but rather also is raised, who also is at the right hand of Yahweh, who also intercedes for us.
I John 2:1-2 1-My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Yahshua Messiah the righteous. 2-And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Repentance must be the first step. Before we can be baptized, we must understand why we need it. We repent because we are seeking forgiveness. Before we can be forgiven, we must acknowledge our wrongs and ask for forgiveness.
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, repent and be baptized each of you on the name of Yahshua Messiah to forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the set-apart spirit.
Acts 3:19 Therefore, repent, and convert, for the blotting out of your sins so that times of refreshing may come from the face of Yahweh.
Acts 17:30,31 30-Truly then, Yahweh overlooking the times of ignorance, now strictly charges all men everywhere to repent. 31-Because he set a day in which He is going to judge the habitable world in righteousness by a man whom he appointed, having given proof to all by raising him from the dead.
II Peter 3:9 Yahweh is not slow as to the promise, as some deem slowness, but is long-suffering toward us, not having purposed any of us to perish, but all of us to come to repentance.
COUNTING THE COST
New people come into the assembly and want to be baptized immediately. But that is not something to jump into quickly or to take lightly. By undertaking immersion, there is a commitment being made. It needs deep consideration. It is a one-time commitment to follow Yahshua, from that time forward, no matter what. The old sinful path or way of life is not to be returned to.
Hebrews 10:38 But the just shall live by faith: but if he draws back, my soul is not pleased in him.
Hebrews 10:26-29 26-For if we are willfully sinning after receiving the full knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice concerning sins, 27-but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and zealous fire being about to consume the adversaries. 28-If anyone did not regard the law of Moses, that one dies without pities on the word of two or three witnesses. 29-How much worse punishment do you think he will be thought worthy to receive having trampled on the son of Yahweh, and having counted the blood of the covenant in which he was sanctified common, and having insulted the spirit of grace?
This is serious! Does this mean that if we sin once we are immersed that we are condemned? No – notice the wording: “if we are willfully sinning.” The word “willfully” is the Greek Strong’s #1596, hekousios, meaning voluntarily, willingly, of one’s own accord. It would be a sin committed knowing the action to be wrong but doing it anyway, not worrying about the consequences.
It’s like those who say they will do it anyway and repent later. It doesn’t work that way with Yahweh.
Psalms 19:13 (David speaking) And withhold your servant from the presumptuous sins; do not let them rule over me; then I shall be upright, and shall be innocent of great transgression.
“Presumptuous” is the Hebrew Strong’s #2086, zed, meaning arrogant. It all has to do with what is in the heart.
We all commit sins done in ignorance or weakness. Those will be forgiven upon repentance of them.
I John 1:8-10 8-If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9-If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous that He may forgive us the sins, and may cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10-If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (Continues to the next chapter)
I John 2:1-2 1-My little children, I write these things to you so that you do not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Yahshua Messiah the righteous, 2-And He is the propitiation relating to our sins, and not relating to ours only, but also relating to all the world.
Luke 9:62 But Yahshua said to him, no one putting his hand on the plow, and looking at the things behind, is for the kingdom of Yahweh.
Luke 14:26-28,33 26-If any one comes to me and does not hate his father, and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and also his own soul too, he cannot be my disciple. 27-And whosoever does not bear his cross and does not come after me, he is not able to be my disciple. 28-For which of you, desiring to build a tower does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has the things to finish. 33-So then everyone of you who does not abandon all his possessions is not able to be my disciple.
That is really asking a lot, isn’t it? He means that we need to set our priorities. He is not asking us today, at baptism, to walk away from everything we own and everyone we love. What He is asking is that we be willing to do so immediately, if He were to demand it. He must come first in our life – no matter what; our families and possessions come in second place. Without Him, we are nothing.
BAPTISM / IMMERSION
Once the careful consideration and repentance has been done, it’s time for baptism. The next step is to let someone know – a minister, an elder, or someone who can advise and assist. They will discuss the process briefly first. There needs to be a lake, ocean, river, pond, pool, etc with enough water in which a person can totally immerse their body.
The word “baptism” is the Greek Strong’s #908, baptisma.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Joseph H. Thayer, Pages 94-95 –
“1) immersion, submersion
1a) of calamities and afflictions with which one is quite overwhelmed
1b) of John’s baptism, that purification rite by which men on confessing their sins were abound to spiritual reformation, obtained the pardon of their past sins and became qualified for the benefits of the Messiah’s kingdom soon to be set up. This was valid Christian baptism, as this was the only baptism the apostles received and it is not recorded anywhere that they were ever rebaptised after Pentecost.
1c) of Christian baptism; a rite of immersion in water as commanded by Christ, by which one after confessing his sins and professing his faith in Christ, having been born again by the Holy Spirit unto a new life, identifies publicly with the fellowship of Christ and the church.
Part of Speech: noun neuter
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from Gk907
Citing in TDNT: 1:545, 92”
The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, Appendix XII, “On the Baptism of Proselytes”, Pages 245-246 –
“The baptism was to be performed in the presence of three witnesses, ordinarily Sanhedrists (Yebam 47b), but in case of necessity others might act. The person to be baptized, having cut his hair and nails, undressed completely, made fresh profession of his faith before what were designated ‘the fathers of the baptism’ (Our Godfathers, Kethub. 11a; Erub 15 a), and then immersed completely, so that every part of the body was touched by the water.”
Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, Jacob Neusner, Editor-in-Chief, Page 76 –
“The possible relationship between Qumranic practices, John’s baptism, Christian baptism, and Jewish proselyte baptism in disputed. D At the very least, proselyte baptism is a one-time initiatory rite by which a non-Israelite ‘is deemed to be an Israelite in all respects’ (B. Yebam 476).”
The Modes and Subjects of Baptism, Milo P. Jewett- http://books.google.com/books?id=Wcq1LYbYkGgC&dq=protestant+baptism&printsec=frontcover&source=in&hl=en&ei=rRh8S8Gnhttp://www.gocomics.com/pluggers/GYevtweDieH9BA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=14&ved=0CDYQ6AEwDQ#v=onepage&q=&f=false
pg 23 - “III. VARIOUS ALLUSIONS TO THE ORDINANCE IN THE SCRIPTURES, AND THE FIGURATIVE APPLICATIONS OF THE WORD, BAPTISM, confirm the justness of the position assumed.”
“The first passage I notice, is I Cor. 10:2. ‘And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.’ The language is here figurative, and is intended to represent the Israelites, not as being literally baptized, but as submitting themselves to the special authority and guidance of Moses, as Christians, when baptized, submit themselves avowedly to Christ. By baptism, Christians avow their confidence in Christ, their choice of him, and their subjection to him, in all the offices which he sustains. Now, as Christians, in making their profession of allegiance to Christ, are surrounded with water, so the Israelites, when signally showing their allegiance to Moses, by passing through the Red Sea, were surrounded with water. The language is figurative, and can be explained early on the principle, that baptism was performed by immersion. Archbishop Newcome remarks, ‘They were figuratively and typically baptized; they were led to acknowledge the divine mission of Moses, through these miracles expressive of baptism.’ Dr. Bloomfield adds, ‘The material of the cloud and sea, being nothing but water, was well adapted to express this typical representation of baptism.’ And Prof. Stuart admits, that it has a reference to ‘surrounding.’ Well may this admission be made, the sea being on each side, and the cloud above them. Thus the cloud hung over their heads, as the water is over those that are immersed; and the sea encircled them on every side, as the water is around those who are baptized.”
Note that these people walked through this “immersion” under their own power. No other man was there to do it for them.
http://www.pohick.org/sts/ritual.html Article “Ritual Purity” by Donald D. Binder –
“’Then Judas assembled his army and went to the city of Adullam. As the seventh day was coming on, they purified themselves according to the custom, and kept the sabbath there (2 Macc 12:38).’”
“This quotation attests the practice of ritual bathing in preparation for the sabbath from at least the first century BCE (when 2 Macc was written), a century earlier if the document is historically accurate on this point.”
If, as some say, baptism and how it is done is required for salvation, why is there nothing in Scripture to explain? When John the Baptist was calling people to repentance and baptizing, who were those people? They were Jews. What were they accustomed to? Immersion, done on their own. If it be necessary that an individual be laid backward by another, why is there no description of that in Scripture? Some use the following verses to say that it needs to be like a burial.
Colossians 2:10-13 10-and having been filled, you are in Him (Yahshua), who is the Head of all rule and authority, 11-in whom also you were circumcised with a circumcision not made by hand, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Messiah: 12-being buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of Yahweh, raising Him from the dead. 13-And you, being dead in the offenses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made alive together with Him, having forgive you all the offenses.
Who filled you or made you whole? Who did the circumcision without hands? Who raised you through faith? Who makes you alive? Who forgives all your sins? It is not a man. Why all of a sudden, would there be a man in the midst of that to do the baptism?
A Brief History of Christian Baptism: From John the Baptist to John Smyth, By Robert Jones - Acworth, Georgia–1998 http://www.sundayschoolcourses.com/baptism/baptism.pdf
pg8- "We are first introduced to the subject of Baptism in the New Testament through John the Baptist, an (unspecified) relative of Christ. John's baptism, typically practiced by full immersion in the Jordan River, is defined as "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." This concept of a baptism of repentance, and for the forgiveness of sins later becomes an important element (although not, of course, the sole element) of Christian baptism."
"John's baptism attracted enough attention in its time to have been recorded by Jewish historian Josephus 50 years later in his "Jewish Antiquities":
"2. Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing [with water] would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away [or the remission] of some sins [only], but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified before-hand by righteousness..." (Josephus, "Jewish Antiquities", Book 18, Chapter 5)"
pg 9 - Baptism as practiced by the first Christians
"The New Testament gives fascinating clues as to how Christ and the apostles viewed baptism. However, there is no “Handbook on Baptism” in the New Testament. We can only surmise the proper form and meaning of baptism based on various verses that mention the sacrament. The meaning of many of the verses referenced below would be disputed by numerous groups over the next 2,000 years, and remain in dispute today."(emphasis added)
pg12 - The liturgy of baptism"Hippolytus also preserves an early baptismal creed in his writings. Similarities to the Apostles Creed are to be expected, as the Apostles Creed probably started out as a baptismal creed:
“When the person being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say: ‘Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?’ And the person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe.’ Then holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say: ‘Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pi-late, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the living and the dead?’ And when he says: ‘I believe,’ he is baptized again. And again he shall say: ‘Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, and the resurrection of the body?’ The person being baptized shall say: ‘I believe,’ and then he is baptized a third time.” (“Creeds Of The Church”, Ages Software, P. 7)" (emphasis added)
It would seem from the phrase - holding his hand on his head, he shall baptize him once - this alone would indicate that the person was standing in water and by placing a hand on his head the one doing the immersion would be pushing down against the tendency of the human body in water to float because of it's buoyancy, thus causing the entire body to be immersed. This would likely indicate that the individual was not being laid over backwards.
Mat 3:13 ThenG5119 comethG3854 [G5736] YahshuaG2424 fromG575 GalileeG1056 toG1909 JordanG2446 untoG4314 JohnG2491, to be baptizedG907 [G5683] ofG5259 himG846.
The word "to" from free online e-sword Bible software "Strong's with tense and voice" module:
”G1909 ἐπί epi ep-ee'
A primary preposition properly meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive case], that is, over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the dative case) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.: - about (the times), above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside, X have charge of, (be-, [where-]) fore, in (a place, as much as, the time of, -to), (because) of, (up-) on (behalf of) over, (by, for) the space of, through (-out), (un-) to (-ward), with. In compounds it retains essentially the same import, at, upon, etc. (literally or figuratively).”
The word "unto" from free online e-sword Bible software "Strong's with tense and voice" module:
”G4314 πρός pros pros
A strengthened form of G4253; a preposition of direction; forward to, that is, toward (with the genitive case the side of, that is, pertaining to; with the dative case by the side of, that is, near to; usually with the accusative case the place, time, occasion, or respect, which is the destination of the relation, that is, whither or for which it is predicated): - about, according to, against, among, at, because of, before, between, ([where-]) by, for, X at thy house, in, for intent, nigh unto, of, which pertain to, that, to (the end that), + together, to ([you]) -ward, unto, with (-in). In compounds it denotes essentially the same applications, namely, motion towards, accession to, or nearness at.”
The word "of" from free online e-sword Bible software "Strong's with tense and voice" module
”G5259 ὑπό hupo hoop-o'
A primary preposition; under, that is, (with the genitive) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative) of place (whither [underneath] or where [below]) or time (when [at]): - among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In compounds it retains the same genitive applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specifically covertly or moderately.”
The word "of/under" connotes the idea of being in subjection to i.e. a soldier is under the orders of his captain. as found in the story of the Centurion and Yahshua.
The best understanding that comes from this verse and Matthew chapter 3 is that John came preaching Repentance and following repentance the act of immersion as an outward sign of the individuals proclamation of his/her intention to return to following the Law/Torah. John was the instrument used to proclaim the need for repentance and it was through John's preaching that the individual understood the need to repent and the act of immersion was the outward sign of washing away the previous life as shown through the fruits of repentance. The individual made this declaration through the influence of John and before Elohim the Father and those who were present.
As found in Matthew 3:13.......to be baptized of him. --- in other words it can meant to be immersed under the influence of John, through John's preaching of the need for repentance and Immersion.
Some question the idea of people immersing themselves and not having another do it. They often base that question on the following verse.
Acts 8:38 And he (Philip) commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
The last word in that sentence, “him”, is Strong’s Greek #846, autos. The definition from Strong’s Dictionary is: “The reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the compound of G1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun) of the other persons: -her, it (-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-]) self, [your-] selves, she, that, their (-s), them ([-selves]), there [-at, -by, -in, -into, -of, -on, -with], they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which. Compare G8l48”.
The Strong’s definition gives the root word autos, but the spelling in the Greek is hautou.
Greek #848, hautou, is a “Contraction for G1438; self (in some oblique case or reflexive relation): -her (own), (of) him (-self), his (own), of it, thee, their (own), them (-selves), they”.
The spelling in the Greek text of the Bible agrees with G848 and thus it can be read as:
Acts 8:38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he (the eunuch) baptized/immersed himself.
Yahshua was immersed but there is no record, in any of the gospels, of John going into the water or coming out of the water.
Matthew 3:13-16 13-Then comes Yahshua from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized/immersed of him. 14-But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized/immersed of you, and come you to me? 15-And Yahshua answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 16-And Yahshua, when he was baptized/immersed, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.
Now let us look at an event that resulted in a mass immersion of 3000.
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Now a question arises: where did the Apostles baptize/immerse 3,000 individuals when there were no lakes, ponds, creeks or rivers within walking distance of Jerusalem? There is one spring, the Gihon, in Jerusalem. The Gihon feeds the pool of Siloam, a small shallow pool. The Pool of Bethesda is large but after a few steps it drops off sharply 30-40 feet. This would most likely leave the mikveh pools near the Temple.
The mikveh pools are designed for individuals to self-immerse. Due to the small dimensions there is not enough room to do a conventional Protestant lay-them-on-their-back and bury them baptism. And, considering there were only 12 disciples. All the events of that day started around 9am on Pentecost. Now do the math.
The earliest possible start time would depend on how long Peter spoke, so let’s say starting at 9 am Peter spoke for an hour ending at 10 am. And if all immersions were completed the same day, say at sunset 6 pm that gives about 8 hours. If there were plenty of places large enough it would take the following:
If the immersion requires an apostle, let us do the math.
(10am-6pm) = 8 hours x 60 minutes = 480 minutes total
3000 people divided by 12 Apostles = 250 immersions per Apostle
We have 480 minutes divided by 250 immersions = 1.92 minutes per immersion per apostle for 8 hours. Add to that the laying on of hands.
In a article on Immersion found at the website http://www.essene.com/B%27nai-Amen/MysticalImmersion.htm there have been 48 mikvehs found near the Temple and Mount of Olives area.
If the individual does a self-immersion with another person actng as a witness , let us do the math.
3000 converts divided by 48 mikvehs = 62.5 immersions per mikveh or 480 minutes divided by 62.5 = one immersion every 7.68 minutes.
The mikveh self-immersion would allow more than one at a time, also the mikvehs were segregated by gender, then it would depend on the ratio of men to women mikvehs.
Other people who are present were there to be a witness of the immersion to others and to the fact that the one immersing made a lifetime commitment thuis entering into the New Covenant. If that individual later tries to back away and say they did not become involved, there were witnesses of what had taken place. They are to be witnesses for or against the individual.
Strong’s Concordance, Greek Dictionary --
Page 50, under the Greek #907, baptizo: “(4) The phrase in Mt 28:19, ‘baptizing them into the Name’ would indicate that the baptized person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose name he was baptized.”
Page 37, under the Greek #3068 louo: “Apolouo means ‘to wash off or away,’ is used (1) in the middle voice, metaphorically, ‘to wash oneself,’ in Acts 22:16, where the command to Saul of Tarsus to ‘wash away’ his sins indicates that by his public confession, he would testify to the removal of his sins, and to the complete change from his past life; this ‘washing away’ was not in itself the actual remission of his sins, which had taken place at his conversion; the middle voice implies his own particular interest in the act (as with the preceding verb ‘baptize,’ lit., ‘baptize yourself,’ i.e., ‘get thyself baptized’); the aorist tenses mark the decisiveness of the acts; (2) in I Cor. 6:11, lit., ‘ye washed yourselves clean’; here the middle voice (rendered in the passive) again indicates that the converts at Corinth, by their obedience to the faith, voluntarily gave testimony to the complete spiritual change divinely wrought in them.”
The Congregation of Yahweh does not baptize people by laying them backwards in the water as the majority of churches do. The individuals enter into the water, after making a declaration of their full name and their acknowledgement of their act of repentance, acceptance of Yahshua as their Messiah they then submerge/immerse themselves under their own power in the name of The father Yahweh and the son Yahshua. Sometimes it may be necessary to provide a little assistance to be sure of total submersion. Immersion is an individual decision, so the individual needs to be the one to carry it out.
LAYING ON OF HANDS
Once the immersed person comes out of the water, an elder or one previously immersed lays hands on them, and praying, asks Yahweh to bless, guide and to provide the gift of the set-apart spirit that has been promised.
Acts 8:12,14-17 12-But when they believed Philip preaching the gospel, the things concerning the kingdom of Yahweh, and the name of Yahshua Messiah, they were baptized, both men and women. 14-And the apostles in Jerusalem hearing that Samaria had received the word of Yahweh; they sent Peter and John to them. 15-Who going down prayed concerning them, so that they might receive the set-apart spirit. 16-For he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized into the name of the Messiah Yahshua. 17-Then they laid hands on them, and they received the set-apart spirit.
Even here it requires more than a simple desire. The set-apart spirit is a gift; Yahweh demands something from us in return.
Acts 5:32 And we are His witnesses of these things; and also the set-apart spirit, whom Yahweh gave to those obeying him.
It is a wonderful experience – to come out of that water knowing all your past sins have been forgiven and washed away; you have a clean slate to work with and Yahweh’s spirit to help you, dwelling inside you.
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN?
Sometimes the question arises about the proper age for baptism. The Catholic church baptizes, by sprinkling, babies. There is nothing in Scripture regarding that practice. If repentance is to come first, what has a baby experienced or done?
People have approached about baptism for their children, after all, it is done in many of the Christian churches for children as young as 7 or 8. How much does a child understand? Do they grasp the reality of what they are doing? It’s not very likely.
Does Scripture have anything to say? Does it set any precedents? Is there an age or point where one attains the “age of accountability”? There was one established by Yahweh on three different occasions.
Numbers 1:2-3 2-Lift up the heads of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, by their heads; 3-from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel. You shall number them by their armies, even you and Aaron.
There were to be no children or teenagers in Yahweh’s army.
When ten of the spies came back with an evil report of the land, Israel refused to go in and Yahweh pronounced His sentence against them.
Numbers 14:29,31 29-Your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered ones, as to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, in that you have murmured against Me. 31-As for your infants, of whom you have said, They shall be a prey, I shall bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected.
Deuteronomy 1:39 And your infants, of whom you said, They are a prey, and your sons who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there, and I will give it to them, and they shall
Age 20 was once again the cut-off point. Today’s teens, who do pretty much whatever they want, were considered by Yahweh among the babies and little ones. Notice that he said they have no knowledge of good or evil. In other words, they still needed to grow up.
But among the tribe of Levi things were figured a little differently.
Numbers 3:15 Visit the sons of Levi by their families, by their fathers’ house. You shall number every male from a month old and upward.
The babies were counted, but there was still an age of accountability.
Numbers 4:46-49 46-All those numbered whom Moses and Aaron and the rulers of Israel numbered, of the Levites, by their families, and by their fathers’ house, 47-from thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, everyone who is going in to do the work of the service in the tabernacle of the congregation, 48-even their numbered ones were eight thousand, five hundred and eighty: 49-one numbered them by the mouth of Yahweh, by the hand of Moses, each man according to his service, and according to his burden; even they were numbered by him, as Yahweh commanded Moses.
Numbers 8:23-26 23-And Yahweh spoke to Moses saying, 24-This is that which pertains to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward he shall go in to do the service and the works of the tabernacle of the congregation. 25-And from the age of fifty years they shall return from the service of the work, and shall not serve any more. 26-But he shall serve with his brothers in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge; only he shall not serve at a service. So you shall do to the Levites concerning their charge.
Apparently there were ways to assist and chores to do that were not exactly waiting on the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. This Scripture mentions age 25. Could the young men have spent five years in training and learning before their actual service began? As for those over 50, could it be that some of the work was getting too strenuous for them? But they could still serve in the capacity of assisting and counseling, couldn’t they? We don’t understand all the things they had to do and what needed to be done.
WHAT WE DO
People contact the Congregation of Yahweh, Irving, TX, seeking to be immersed. For many of them immersion is something they have heard needs to be done, but they have no deep concept of its meaning or exactly what they are agreeing to. An elder will spend some time helping them to see that immersion is serious and that they are actually making a commitment, not to the church or to the elder, but to Yahweh. It is a commitment to be Yahweh’s servant and to follow and obey Him.
The Congregation has a homemade immersion tank that is about four feet deep and thirty inches in diameter. The person desiring immersion gets into the water in the tank. The elder asks for The individual to enter into the water, after making a declaration of their full name and their acknowledgement of their act of repentance of past sins, and their acceptance of Yahshua as their Messiah they then submerge/immerse themselves under their own power in the name of The father Yahweh and the son Yahshua. At that point, the one being immersed bends their knees and sinks below the surface of the water totally, including all the head and hair. Failure to totally submerge will require the repetition of the immersion. They are allowed to do it on their own because they are the one making the commitment. In some cases the individual is unable themselves to be completely immersed the Elder will place a hand on their head and push down, only until the individual is completely immersed, and then they are released to stand under their own power. For an elder or another individual to take the action to bend them backwards into the water and pull them back up would be as though the action is that of the elder and not the individual making the commitment. There is no need for any human to come between another person and Yahweh.
The newly immersed person climbs out of the tank. Then the elder(s) lay their hands on the person and pray for Yahweh to send His Spirit upon the individual.
Acts 8:17 Then they (Peter and John) laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Once immersion takes place, don’t assume that everything will go easily and smoothly. It seems to open the door to even more trials and tests. Be aware that they will be coming. If all went smoothly, we would not grow in the Master, but would become complacent and neglect study and prayer. But the trials and tests are there to exercise our faith so that we may become more steadfast and stronger. Just like your muscles, you must exercise them for them to become stronger. The human nature and the pulls of the world are still with us. It is up to us to fight against them. The Apostle Paul understood that.
Romans 7:18-20 18-For I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good. For to desire is present with me, but to work out the good I do not find. 19-For what good I desire, I do not. But the evil I do not desire, this I do. 20-But if I do what I do not desire, it is no longer I working it out, but the sin dwelling in me.
Romans 8:6–9 6-For the mind of flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace. 7-Because of this the mind of the flesh is enmity towards Yahweh, for it is not subject to the law of Yahweh, for neither can it be. 8-And those being in the flesh are not able to please Yahweh. 9-But you are not in the flesh, but in spirit, since the spirit of Yahweh dwells in you. But if anyone has not the spirit of Messiah, this one is not his.
There will be times we do sin, and maybe don’t realize it until later. All people do that. But we do have hope. To repeat a Scripture:
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
All we have to do is call on Him. Repent and ask forgiveness. He will forgive, but expects us to try harder.