Chapter 1THE MEANING OF "BAPTIZO" "The author has frequently spoken with many immersionist friends who always assume that he adheres to affusion (or aspersion) merely as a consequence of tradition, supposing this to be a remnant of superstition which the Reformation failed to lop off. Nearly all expect me to defend my views on the basis of history, or the extra-biblical usage of the word baptizo. When I declare that all this is entirely wrong, and that my convictions and arguments are grounded solely upon biblical exegesis, they are usually astounded. In a very real sense, this first chapter is not strictly necessary to the discussion; it but attempts to clear away the specious arguments which immersionists themselves frequently raise. The outcome of the debate hangs entirely upon the teaching of the Scriptures, and nothing more. It has been both interesting and most instructive to notice that in discussing the question biblically, immersionists seem unprepared for this sort of discussion as though they never expected anyone to argue for sprinkling from the Scriptures. After much discussion, it is my studied conclusion that immersion is propagated as a biblical mode more by repetition and assertion than from conviction stemming from careful Bible study."
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Reference has been made to the fact that a Jew, fulfilling law and prophecy, in baptizing Jews, would of course have complied with the Old Testament requirements. No other argument should be needed to assure Bible students that John, a Jew, in baptizing the Lord Jesus, also a Jew, did it in the only way known to law and prophecy—by sprinkling. The Lord Jesus (the Jehovah of the Old Testament) had given the directions to Moses, and we may be sure He complied with His own detailed and repeated command about sprinkling.
Since our Lord was about to enter upon His priestly ministry, not being of Levi, the priestly tribe, He would “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:16) by obedience to His instructions (as the Jehovah of the O.T.) to Moses for the setting apart of the Levites to their special office. These are found in Numbers 8:7: “Sprinkle water of purifying upon them.”
The Levites began their ministry at “thirty years old” (Num. 4:23, 30, 35); and the Holy Spirit has preserved for us this detail in our Lord’s life: just after His baptism, “about 30 years of age” (Luke 3:23).
Aaron and his sons were also anointed with oil (typical of the Holy Spirit). “Moses took of the anointing oil...and sprinkled it upon Aaron...and upon his sons”—Lev. 8:30. So “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost” (not with the type but with the reality, Acts 10:38).
The whole original ceremony was done by sprinkling. Would the Lord Jesus have permitted a new method with absolutely no instructions about it? ...
What It All Means
Do not the synonyms of baptism and the Bible examples of water baptism all verify sprinkling as the Bible mode of baptism?
Since ceremonial purifying or cleansing with water was invariably done in one way in the Old Testament—by sprinkling—any change of that mode in the New Testament for the same ceremony would surely be described and explained. There is no suggestion nor intimation anywhere in the New Testament of any command to change the mode. Then there is no escape from the conclusion that a ceremony which was not changed in its character, its nature, nor its signification as it passed from one dispensation to another, could not have been changed in its mode in silence; it must still be by sprinkling.