Some churches encourage new believers to delay their baptism for a month or for a special time of the year. However, the believers in the Bible were baptized immediately. Why were believers baptized immediately in the Bible? What does instant baptism reveal about the importance of baptism?
Here are examples of baptism in the Scripture:
- When the church was established at Pentecost, Peter preached the Gospel and instructed the people to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). Three thousand souls were baptized and added that day to the church (Acts 2:41).
- When the evangelist Philip joined an Ethiopian official on his chariot, he “preached to him Jesus,” and the eunuch’s immediate response was, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” The Ethiopian stopped the chariot, and they both went down into the water where Philip baptized him (Acts 8:26–40).
- When a Roman centurion named Cornelius and his household believed, Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” Peter commanded them to be baptized in Jesus’s name (Acts 10:47–48).
- In Philippi, Lydia and her household were baptized before they could convince Paul and Silas to stay with them (Acts 16:11–15).
- When a Philippian jailer and his household heard and believed the Word of the Lord, the jailer and all of his family were baptized at midnight (Acts 16:25–34).
- In Ephesus, Paul met twelve men baptized in John’s baptism, and when they heard of Jesus, they were baptized immediately in Jesus’s name (Acts 19:1–7).
- When Paul himself was converted, Ananias urged him, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
Believers must have been baptized immediately in the Bible to accomplish something urgent. What is the purpose of baptism that required believers to be baptized at once? According to the Bible, believers were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col 2:12–13). They were baptized for salvation (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet 3:21). This does not dismiss that salvation is by grace through faith, but baptism presents God doing the work of raising the repentant believer to new life (Eph 2:8–9; Col 2:12–13). This is why believers were baptized immediately.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He commanded His apostles to make disciples by baptizing them and then teaching them all things that Jesus taught them (Matt 28:19–20). Baptism is the beginning of being a disciple — a follower of Christ. There is one baptism (Eph 4:5). The baptism that Jesus commanded is the baptism that the apostles commanded in the name of Jesus, in water, and to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:47–48; 1 Cor 6:11). Repentant believers are the only people who were baptized in the Bible (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
Baptism means immersion and the Bible describes baptism as a burial (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12–13). As a burial, baptism partakes of the reality of salvation as signified in Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3–6; Col 2:12–13). The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is of first importance as the Gospel that saves believers (1 Cor 15:1–4). The apostle Peter proclaimed, “This is now an example to you, baptism saves — not the removal of dirt from the flesh — but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21). Through Jesus’s resurrection, believers are born again to a living hope (1 Pet 1:3).
May God bless those who read these scriptures.