If the validity of
baptism depends upon who the baptizer
is, we would effectively have a system of priesthood whereby a man's
salvation depends not upon his own understanding of and obedience to
God's word, but on another human being. This is quite contrary to the
spirit of New Testament Christianity. No brother has any more God-given
right to baptize others than any other brother. We have earlier
demonstrated that the command to go into all the world preaching and
baptizing applies to every one of us; and therefore we each
have a mandate to baptize others (Mt. 28:19). If we say that only some
have the right to baptize, we are saying that only some have a right to
preach. It helps in considering this kind of question to think about
the hypothetical case of a man on a desert island with a Bible. He must
theoretically be able to come to the knowledge of Christ and be
baptized, without the intervention of any other human being. Whilst the
desert island case may be hypothetical, the case of men in prison with
no right to be visited, or those in such isolated places that they
cannot be visited because the would-be baptizers lack funds to do so-
these are real life situations. Self baptism is the only option for
them. The conclusion of the following study is that we should do all we
possibly can to visit, examine and baptize candidates for baptism; but
we must recognize that theoretically self-baptism is quite acceptable,
and we should recognize the self-baptized as our brethren and sisters
(after, of course, ascertaining that they shared our beliefs at the
time of baptism).
New Testament Record
Of the forty or so
NT references to baptism, it is
significant that there are only two references to the actual process of
the baptizer baptizing the convert (John the Baptist and Philip). And
there is no condemnation of self baptism. This is not to say that the
converts dipped themselves under the water; but the point is, the focus
of the narrative is on the fact that the convert was baptized into
Christ, rather than on the
person who did the baptizing. Even when
Peter decided to baptize the first group of Gentile converts, he
commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:48)- he isn't recorded as doing
it himself. The NT emphasis is that at baptism, the believer calls upon
himself (Gk.) the name of the Lord Jesus- this is a personal act. The
man holding your shoulders has no part to play in this. The meaning of
baptism depends upon the believer of the Gospel going under water,
symbolizing his death with Christ, and coming up out of the water,
connecting him with the Lord's resurrection. The person holding his
shoulders as this happens is irrelevant to the symbolism.
The Old Testament
types of baptism do not feature a
- The priests
laver; they were not washed by anyone else
- The cleansed
leper likewise washed himself
- Naaman dipped
himself in Jordan
- Israel crossed
the Red Sea with the cloud of water
above them, water on either side of them, and with their bodies
dripping wet from the pouring rain (so we learn from the Psalms). This
is the clearest figure of baptism (1 Cor. 10:2); but there is no
'baptizer' in the type. Indeed, Bullinger comments that " they were all
baptized into Moses" can be literally rendered 'they baptized
themselves'. The same verb form occurs in Luke 2:5, where Joseph went "
to be taxed" , literally 'to enrol himself'.
However, it ought
to be clear enough that we should do
all that is humanly possible to avoid cases of self-baptism. Baptism is
only valid if there is an acceptable level of knowledge of the Gospel
first of all. It is very difficult for a new convert to discern whether
he is 'ready' or not; there really needs to be some discussion with a
more mature believer to establish whether or not the person does
understand or not. For this reason alone we would ask those who are
themselves new converts to not baptize their contacts until a more
mature brother can be present. This is not because there is any command
that a new convert cannot baptize, in the same way as there is no
command that baptism must be performed by another believer. I am not insisting
on this point- for ultimately, I can't. But baptism is a serious thing,
and if someone is baptized without enough knowledge, their eternal
salvation is at stake. We therefore ask all of us to accept this and
work with each other in mutual submission so that the spiritual house
we build is on a sure foundation.
Into The Body
It should also be
remembered that baptism is not only
entry into covenant relationship with the Father and His Son; it is
also baptism into the body of Christ, i.e. the body of believers (1
Cor. 12:13). This is where self baptism shouldn't be used too
liberally. Thus the record in Acts describes baptisms as believers
being " added" to the body of believers (Acts 2:41,47); but also as
them being " added" (s.w.) to the Lord Jesus (5:14; 11:24). It is
therefore appropriate that there are other members of the body of
Christ present at the baptism; baptism is entry into relationship with
the community of believers, as well as into a personal relationship
One of the many
problems at Corinth was that they placed
too much significance on the brother who baptized them; those baptized
by Paul or by Apollos or Peter formed into different groups. Paul
tackles this problem head on by saying that baptism is into Christ, and
that the meaning of the baptizer is utterly irrelevant. " Christ sent
me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel" (1 Cor. 1:13) is probably
hyperbole (i.e. grossly exaggerated language to make a point). The
command to preach and baptize as given in the great preaching
commission was just one command; preaching-and-baptizing went together.
It seems to me that Paul did
baptize; but using the figure of
hyperbole, he's saying: 'My emphasis is on getting on with the work of
preaching the Gospel, the fact I've held the shoulders of many men and
women as I pushed them under the water is irrelevant; Christ didn't
send me to just do this, but more importantly to preach the Gospel'.
And may this be our attitude too.
For those who wish,
it's possible to go a bit deeper
into this issue of self baptism and who baptizes. " For by
Spirit are we all baptized into
one body" of Christ (1 Cor.
12:13). The Spirit seems to be the baptizer. But how? The Lord Jesus
baptizes by the Spirit (Jn. 1:33), although He didn't personally hold
the shoulders of those He baptized (Jn. 4:2- doubtless to show that who
does this is irrelevant). We obeyed the Truth (through baptism) " by
the Spirit" (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:22). This doesn't necessarily mean
that the Spirit made us obey the Truth. Rather is the idea that as
Christ died and was raised by
the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 1:4),
so we go through the same process in baptism, being likewise
resurrected (in a figure) by the Spirit (1 Pet. 3:18-21). It is
therefore the Spirit which raises us up out of the water, as it raised
Christ; the man holding our shoulders is irrelevant. It is therefore
through / by the Spirit that we have our hope of salvation (Gal. 5:5).
There is only one resurrection, ultimately: that of the Lord Jesus (1
Cor. 6:14,15). By baptism into Him, we have a part in that. God in this
sense resurrected us with Christ (Eph. 2:5,6), we even ascended into
heavenly places in Him, as He rose up into the literal Heavens. And
this whole process was achieved by the Spirit.
So " the Spirit" is
as it were our baptizer, whether
through self baptism or traditional baptism; the Spirit is the power
which raises us out of the symbolic grave of baptism and gives us new
life. This makes the role of the human 'baptizer' purely incidental.
But what does " the Spirit" mean in this context? The Lord Jesus
Himself is the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). The Spirit is what
quickens us; but consider Jn. 6:63: " It is the Spirit that
quickeneth...the words that I speak unto you, they
spirit, and they
are (what gives) life" . The process of
coming alive with Christ by baptism, the raising out of the grave which
the water represents, is therefore due to the work of the Lord Jesus
through His Spirit and His word. He is " the Lord the Spirit" (2 Cor.
3:18 RV). At baptism we are born of (or by) water-and-spirit (Jn. 3:5;
the Greek implies one act, combining water and spirit). We were washed
by baptism " in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our
God" (1 Cor. 6:11). " He that is joined to the Lord (Jesus) (by
baptism) is one spirit (with Him)" (1 Cor. 6:17). We are saved " by the
washing (baptism) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit;
which he shed on us abundantly by Jesus Christ" (Tit. 3:5,6).
What all these
lofty ideas mean to us in practice needs
personal meditation. For much as we may fight shy of any mention of the
Spirit's work, the fact is that these verses stand true for us today.
In our present context I simply make the point that the Lord Jesus,
through His Spirit, is the One who resurrects us out of the water of
baptism to new life in Him. It is demeaning to Him, and the work He
does, to suggest that the efficacy of this depends upon a human being
lifting a man or woman up out of the water. He, not a man, is our
Saviour. Therefore self-baptism is valid as much as traditional baptism.
is Christ, not the
actual baptizer, who actually does the moral washing of a person from
their sins when they are baptized. Consider these simple parallels
within John’s Gospel:
born of water and Spirit
not wash you
cannot enter into the Kingdom
have no part in me
this reflect the crucial importance of baptism; it indicates that it is
the Lord Jesus who does the moral washing of a person when they are
baptized. Once we accept that, then who
emails about self-baptism
On 29/08 23:55,
> How does one do self-baptism?
That's so great you are willing to baptize yourself! You must be a very
strong individual to have this understanding and personal relationship
your Lord, to be baptized into Him and see the significance of it 100%
without the distractions which come whenever you are baptized by someone
else or a church. Well done, I so respect you for it!
My suggestion for baptism is to pray; read Romans chapter 6; meditate on
the chapter, that by going under the water you are sharing in the death
and burial of Christ; coming up out of the water, you are identifying
His resurrection. And "repent", the Greek word means literally to
re-think. To think again. I understand repentance as a recognition
God that we are sinners. It will be unwise to promise God never to sin
again, because 1 Jn. 1:8-10 says that if we [as baptized believers] say
do not sin, then we are liars. In fact we get baptized exactly because
realize we are the sick who need a doctor, rather than those who think
they have no need of any healing.
Then, pray again, go into the water or bath tub and say "I am being
baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins" and
then put yourself under the water.
Then pray when you come up out of the water.
I am happy to talk with you before or after it, but maybe you would
to keep it completely private, and I would understand that. But if you'd
like, let me know your phone number. Or
we can talk on Skype.
I was baptized myself in a bath tub. ANd I baptized many since then in
bath tubs. It is easier to lie on your side with your head towards the
taps, pull your arm right up so you can get under.
I am so excited about your decision and I pray it works out!
On Thu, Aug 30, at 3:23 PM, Roger wrote:
Well, I baptized
myself earlier today in my bath tub.
I am a part of
Christ in His Body of baptized
this event and I have made the right
decision that I will never regret
as long as I live
in the flesh on earth until the day
I rest in the Lord and be raised
to life in even
now as I will be raised to eternal
life on the last day.
Thank you for
supporting and encouraging me in Christ
to make this decision and
to have followed
through with it. Now, the real life
begins to unfold a whole new
chapter in Jesus,
by following Him as a true belever.
Have a great Friday tomorrow.
brother. May we discuss more of Christ and
On 31/08/ 23:31,
I am so happy to be baptized and be a
Christian now. Ever since I received my Bible from you and began
reading it, I realized that I believe in all that it presents and I was
able to be self-baptized, in knowing that it is valid. Also, I am
reading the New Testament in Hebrew and in Yiddish. I
other translations of the Bible. Even the Catholic Bibles
versions I have in hard copy seem to disprove the Trinity and
denounce un-Biblical concepts.
Also, I have learned to not really keep
much of any holidays, but I do feel that each and every day is sacred
as well as the First Day of the Week, being a day of worship and
breaking of bread with wine. Came to deny the concept of the Trinity,
since it is un-Biblical and rather false of a belief since I came to
believe in the Bible and real Christian way of living.
Read about the websites and that came
with the Bible you sent me and they are very good and nice educational
sites with lots of Biblical Christian information. It is really great
to have made the covenant and to have baptized myself in Jesus for
forgiveness of my sins. Thank you, brother.