We should not deal here with the baptism with the Holy Ghost (John 1:33), nor with the blood shed on the cross (Luke 12:50), or with the baptism of Moses (1 Cor. 10:1-2). We will deal only with the water baptism. The general idea about the water baptism is that it is a symbol and does not have any regenerating power. And this concept is based on the baptism of John. We agree, for this baptism was not for the purpose of regenerating anyone, but of forgiving. Peter said to the Jews: “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38). Peter declares that in the baptism the Christian receives forgiveness of sins. John also said: “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). Of course, for he is baptized in the name of Jesus, who has died for our sins (Gal. 1:4). Peter says: “Who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Paul, after falling off the horse of the Old Testament (Acts 9:4), was taken to a man called Ananias, who told him: “Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Now, if whoever is baptized is forgiven and washed of his sins, this one is regenerated in the eyes of God, even though, in the eyes of theology, he may not be. The truth is that, in baptism, Jesus said to John: “For this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15-16). The righteousness of faith is fulfilled in the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
And what about the baptism of John? The baptism of John is the baptism of repentance, and the baptism of Jesus is the baptism of burial (Acts 19:4; Rom. 6:3-4). They are, therefore, two different baptisms. The baptism of John was already practiced before Jesus was manifested; therefore it was done under the law. The baptism of Christ, in the Church, is not under the law (Rom. 6:14; 7:6). As John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament (Luke 16:16), he baptized Jesus in the name of Jehovah, the only god that the Jews knew. Therefore, the baptism of John was the baptism of Jehovah.
In the New Testament baptism was in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:14-16). Let us proceed to biblically prove that the baptism of Jehovah, which John the Baptism ministered, did not have any value in the eyes of Jesus: Apollo was an eloquent and powerful preacher of the Scriptures, but he knew only the baptism of John, which was the baptism of repentance, for they blamed Jehovah for their misfortunes. There was a blasphemous proverb passing from father to son, which said: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Jer. 31:28-29; Ezek. 18:1-3). This mockery was because Jehovah blamed the sins of the fathers on their children. It said: “Prepare for slaughter of his children because of the iniquity of their fathers” (Is. 14:21). The second commandment of the law of Jehovah already spoke of that: “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me” (Ex. 20:5). And the same Jehovah contradicted itself, saying: “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers” (Deut. 24:16). But he killed David’s newborn baby. It is too much confusion for one who calls himself god. He forgave David when he sinned, but did not forgive an innocent and pure child (2 Sam. 12:13-14). In the face of such cruel and unjust acts, the people created proverbs of contempt. They could, then, repent from these blasphemies and offenses to Jehovah to be reconciled. This was the baptism of John, in other words, the baptism of repentance.
In this baptism men ceased to be the judge, and Jehovah ceased to be the accused. The gospel of Luke clarifies the issue, saying: “When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the counsel of God, not being baptized by him themselves, having been baptized with John’s baptism” (Luke 7:29-30). To justify god is to declare him innocent from his injustices, by confessing oneself to be wrong and unjust.
In John’s baptism, the one who was baptized was reconciled through repentance; therefore the merit was of men. This is so true that, if anyone was not baptized, this one was condemned for not repenting, and so he continued to be cursed of Jehovah for the sin of blasphemy.
In the baptism in the name of Jesus, ?? takes on the sins of the people and goes on to be the cursed one. Paul says: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Thus it is fulfilled what the angel said to Joseph: “She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Acts 13:23). “And so all Israel will be saved. Even as it is written, ‘There will come out of Zion the Deliverer, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob’” (Rom. 11:26). Let us look at what happened to Jesus:
Because they did not know Jesus, for they were blind (Is. 6:10; 29:10-12), the people and their princes condemned him and killed him (Acts 13:27-29). But God resurrected him from the dead. And Paul declares that the resurrected Christ was not the Christ born in flesh: “Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more” (2 Cor. 5:16). In another place: “Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead” (Rom. 7:4). Why does Paul affirm that the resurrected Christ is someone else? That is because he did not come to this world to rule in flesh over Israel, but to buy those who believe, so that they may enter in the kingdom of heaven (John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Tim. 4:18; 1 Pet. 1:3-4). This is why Jesus declared: “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). He also declared to the Israelites: “You are from beneath. I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world” (John 8:23).
The baptism in the name of Jesus is the baptism that reveals Jesus as Lord absolute. The baptism of John was in the Old Testament; therefore it was the baptism of Jehovah. Let us compare the two baptisms by reading the text of Apollos’ disciples: “It happened that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul, having passed through the upper country, came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples. He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They said to him, ‘No, we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ He said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe in the one who would come after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with other languages and prophesied” (Acts 19:1-6). John the Baptist is the author of the rite of baptism. Jehovah sent him (John 1:33). Now, John was sent by Jehovah to realize the baptism of repentance. Those who were baptized by John and Apollos were not accepted by Paul, and for this reason he baptized them again. Let us go to the differences between these two baptisms:
- Those who were baptized by John were reconciled with Jehovah and heirs of the earthly Canaan. Those baptized in the name of Jesus have their sins forgiven, are saved from this world, and go on to be heirs of the kingdom of heaven (Acts 2:38; Matt. 25:34; Heb. 11:8-11).
- In the baptism of John, man, by repentance, justifies Jehovah and is reconciled (Luke 7:29). In the baptism in the name of Jesus, the death of Christ justifies man before God. In the baptism of John, man’s repentance is valuable in the sight of Jehovah, but it does not have value before God the Father, for, in order to be saved, he has to accept the sacrifice of Christ. So John said: “He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God” (John 3:18).
- In the baptism of John they believed in a Jesus Christ who would come (Acts 19:4). The Jews have crucified Christ as an impostor and are waiting for Mashiah Ben Yosef (messiah, son of Joseph) up until today. In the baptism of Christ, those who are baptized are convinced that the Christ has already come, has all the power in heaven and on earth, forgives sins, heals the sick, raises the dead, and is going to take us away from this rotten world of corruption, hatred, war, plagues, pestilences, demons, injustices, and treason into a kingdom where there dwells love and righteousness (2 Pet. 3:23-24). Amen.
By Olavo Silveira Pereira