Q. Who baptized the apostles?
A. The Bible does not provide a specific answer, so that one can quote “John baptized X.” Nevertheless, it provides information to lead to a reasonable conclusion. Consider the following biblical evidence. The Bible is not explicit that John the Baptist baptized the 12 apostles, yet there is more reason to believe that he did than to believe he did not. The reason to believe that he did not is based on silence (i.e., saying that we cannot find a passage in the Bible that explicitly says “John baptized X”). The reasons to believe that he did are from putting together the implications of scripture.
John was a prophet sent from God (John 1:6; Luke 7:28). John was not operating in a priestly role under the Jewish law, but came with a new message authorized by God. John came to make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:16-18). He preached the kingdom of God and baptized disciples. Those who obeyed John’s message received John’s baptism. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3-6; Matthew 3:1-6; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 3:3-4, 21) and those who received his message were baptized. Apparently, the apostles and other early disciples of Jesus received John’s message. The other option would be that they rejected John’s message, yet followed Jesus anyway (which is not plausible).
John’s baptism was from heaven (Mark 11:29-31). Submitting to John’s baptism “justified God” – probably signifying that they acknowledged God’s truth by submitting to the baptism of the man that God sent. John Gill says, “they expressed their sentiments by their obedience.” They declared God was right by receiving baptism. Luke 7:29-30 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. It seems true that (1) the disciples were there among those that heard him, and (2) that those whom Jesus called to follow him had not rejected the counsel of God against themselves!
John’s baptism divided the people into two classes – those that “justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John” and those that “rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” Those that justified God were numerous. Luke writes, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized…” (Luke 3: 21). Those who rejected the counsel of God were usually the religious leaders and teachers. It makes nonsense of the Bible to conclude that Jesus’s disciples rejected the baptism of John (see Luke 7:30).
Two of John’s disciples followed Jesus after John identified Jesus as the Lamb of God. One of these was Andrew, an apostle. John 1:35-37, 40 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus…One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. John baptized Andrew. Following the first chapter of John leads further to the implication that
Even after the disciples of Jesus began to baptize (under his authority) John continued to baptize. His commission to baptize continued until his death. John fulfilled his course (Acts 13:23-25). John 3:22-23 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judæa; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Ænon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. John 4:1-3 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) he left Judæa, and departed again into Galilee.
An apostle to replace Judas was chosen from those who had been with them from the time of John’s baptism. Acts 1:21-23 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. The phrase “baptism of John” (βάπτισμα Ἰωάννου/ βάπτισμα τὸ Ἰωάννου) is never used to refer only to the baptism of Jesus by John, but to the baptizing that John did (Matthew 21:25; Mark 11:30; Luke 7:29; Luke 20:4; Acts 18:25).
The apostle John affirms of himself and the other apostles (us) that they saw and heard things “from the beginning.” Mark characterizes the beginning with the proclamation of John the Baptist, which he styles ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1: 1; see also Luke 1:1-2). 1 John 1: 1-3. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
John baptized his disciples, and John’s disciples followed Christ. It is difficult – to the point of deliberate – to reject this as the scriptural conclusion of the matter.