The Biblical Origins of the Baptism Ritual

Acts 2:23, Be baptized. (Also see notes at Matt 28:19.) The term baptism in Hebrew is tevilah meaning “immersion” which occurs at a mikveh meaning “a gathering of waters.” For those coming from a Christian background baptism is something that occurs at the beginning of a believer’s spiritual walk and involves baptism (immersion) in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom 6:3–6; 1 Cor 15:29; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21). Yet the Paul the apostle talks of baptisms (plural) in Heb 6:2. Evidently, in Jewish thought immersion for the remission of sins is but one of many such ritual immersions.

Indeed, in the Testimony of Yeshua we not only read about baptism for the remission of sins, but the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist (Acts 1:5; 10:37; 13:24; 19:4); baptism (immersion) of the Set-Apart Spirit (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 8:16; 11:16); baptism with fire (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). Here we see the four types of immersions spoken of in the Testimony of Yeshua.

The concept of ritual immersion for a variety of reasons stems from commands in the Torah relating to ceremonial washings signifying spiritual and physical cleansing (Lev 14:1–4, 7, 9; Exod 19:10; Lev 8:6; 15:5, 8, 10–13, 16–18, 21; 16:4).

Moreover, the prophet Ezekiel speaks of YHVH sprinkling his people to cleanse them from their impurities, which is a picture of the new spiritual life of which immersion is e a type (Ezek 36:25).


2 thoughts on “The Biblical Origins of the Baptism Ritual

  1. The water baptism signifies the death of the Old (carnal) man through the immersion under water and the birth of the New (spiritual) man by coming up out of the water. Baptism by the Holy Spirit also signals that the New Man has been born (“born again”) and the Old Man has died.

    Though Yeshua was sinless, his baptism by John in the Jordan River, foreshadowed His subsequent death on the cross for corporate Israel as their representative King (substitutionary atonement). This is why He told John to baptize Him instead of Yeshua baptizing John, in Matthew 3:15.

    • Actually, He was baptized by John as a flesh and blood Man (as our corporate sinful representative – 2nd Adam) though He himself was Divine and sinless.

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