The final words of Christ to His apostles on the Mount of Olives commanded His followers to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Specifically, Christ detailed that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The apostles taught the gospel and that through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins one would be saved and added to the church (Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:21). Jesus required His apostles to teach the necessity of baptism for salvation and without being baptized, one cannot be saved. While some who claimed to be Christians refused to teach this command of Christ through the centuries, many who did teach baptism for salvation twisted the method of baptism to the desires of the general public.
Since the first century, the world has created many forms and teachings on baptism. Today, baptism has been used and taught through various forms, such as: infant baptism, thrice baptisms, baptisms because one is already saved, miraculous baptisms, metaphorical baptisms of the heart, etc… The question arises, which baptism is biblical? Which baptism did Christ teach? One must study the requirements and processes of baptism to understand which baptism out of all the baptisms taught in the world saves a person from hell (2 Tim. 2:15).
God provided numerous examples to aid in the believer’s understanding of proper baptism in the book of Acts. In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked Philip the evangelist, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). What could the reader assume from the question and context?
Firstly, the eunuch had already been taught Jesus (vs. 35), so a person must know the story and life of Christ to be baptized. One cannot be baptized in the name of Christ if one does not know Christ (Rom. 10:13-17). God made belief a prerequisite for baptism, which then voids any infant baptisms (Mark 16:16; Heb. 11:6). Obviously, a baby cannot comprehend the gravity of Christ’s sacrifice and message.
Secondly, the eunuch knew that “water” was required (vs. 36), so one must use actual water. Peter further made this aspect clear when he clarified that this cleansing in water was not a reference to taking a bath, proving that baptism requires literal water (1 Peter 3:21). Peter blatantly stated in Acts 10:47 in the baptism of Cornelius and his family, “Can any man forbid water?” Saving baptism required physical water, which ruled out metaphorical baptism in obtaining salvation.
Likewise, the eunuch’s question implied that a believer must know the process of baptism. Paul taught the process and mechanics of baptism in detail in Romans 6. As Paul proclaimed to the Romans, baptism represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 6:3-6). The sinner was completely buried in water to represent the death of sin and the raising from the water symbolized the newness of life in Christ (Rom. 6:7-10; Acts 10:47; 1 Peter 3:21). Paul’s explanation of the mechanics of baptism excluded any sprinkling or pouring. A repentant believer must be completely submerged in water to be properly baptized, as the word “baptism” implied in the Greek (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
Thirdly, the fact that the eunuch asked to be baptized implied that the man knew he needed what baptism provided, which was the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16). A person had to know what baptism did and must know that he/she was lost in sin and damned without access to the blood of Christ through baptism (Rev. 1:5; Isa. 59:2; Acts 3:37). Paul encountered several individuals in Ephesus who were baptized, but they had been baptized for the wrong reasons and from the wrong teachings (Acts 19:1-5). The example of Paul in Ephesus taught the world that there was a wrong way to be baptized, one must know the reason for baptism and what baptism does for the submerging to be saving! Only the baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to “wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” can save a person from hell (Acts 22:16; Matt. 28:20).
Philip the evangelist replied to the eunuch’s question, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he [the eunuch] answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). Philip told the eunuch that one must believe the message of Christ that was preached unto him, that one must believe and trust that what Christ said was the truth and that it was the Lord’s truth that sanctifies the soul (John 8:24; 17:17; Heb. 11:6).
A biblical baptism is one done in faith and action through repentance and confession that the submersion under the water in the name of Christ will wash one free from sin and be saved (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9; Mark 16:16)!