Monday, October 08, 2018

Baptism: candidate, mode, administrator

We Baptists usually stress three or four ingredients[i] in combination that make up what we call scriptural baptism: (1) the proper candidate, (2) the proper mode, and (3) a proper administrator.[ii]
  • The proper candidate must be a believer, who gives evidence of the new birth[iii]
  • The proper mode must be by immersion in water, plunging into and raising from the water
  • The proper administrator must be one authorized by the Lord[iv]
The Acts 8:26-40 pericope of Philip and the eunuch helps put this in perspective.

The proper candidate must be a believer:
See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

The proper mode must be by immersion in water:
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip…”

The proper administrator must be one authorized by the Lord:
“And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went…”

The candidate must be a believer before being baptized. If not, the baptism is not valid regardless of the mode. The mode must be immersion. If not, the baptism is not valid regardless whether the candidate is a believer.

“...See that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee...”

[i] Sometimes this idea is expressed in different numbers of ingredients because some ingredients may be expressed together or individually. For example, one might divide the following category into two rather than one:  the proper element is water and the proper mode is immersion. The candidate and meaning may also be expressed together or separately.
[ii] The concern is not what definitions of the word “baptism” are common in the English language, but what scripture defines as baptism.
[iii] Thereby encompassing the proper purpose, putting “blood before water,” and “the altar before the laver.”
[iv] This ultimately puts baptism in the context of church authority (Matthew 28:18-20). A proper administrator should have been himself a partaker of the ordinance, attached to the church of God, and sent to preach & administer the ordinances. “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?” “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” “ And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” Today’s authority is not direct, as Aaron’s or John’s, but derivative, through the power or authority of Christ given to the church (“All power is given unto me...Go ye therefore…,” Matthew 28:18-19).

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