Calvin vs. Murray on Baptism

Who is right concerning baptism- Calvin or Murray?

  • Calvin is right, of course.

    Votes: 6 20.7%
  • Murray totally proves Calvin is wrong!

    Votes: 9 31.0%
  • I am a Baptist.

    Votes: 14 48.3%

  • Total voters
    29
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N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
Today in Sabbath School I was teaching about John's baptism and how it differed from Christian baptism.

One of our members reminded me that in John Murray's Christian Baptism, he says they are different- but this member claimed that he was the 'inventor' of the differences between John's and Christian baptism.

He quoted Calvin who apparently believes that John's baptism and Christian baptism are the same.

Any thoughts?

I had read Christian Baptism about 10 years ago, but had forgotten the distinctions between Calvin and Murray.

Who else disagrees with Calvin? How about Murray?

Discuss:
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
It does not appear that the disciples of John that later became Jesus' disciples received a new baptism. Nor did Jesus. Further, those in Acts that learned the "baptism of John" had never heard of the Holy Spirit. John was constantly referring to the Holy Spirit (from the sermons recorded), and therefore, they had not been baptized by John, or instructed in his baptism. At least that is how it appears from my reading.

Cheers,
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Question: Why are Baptists given their own option? Shouldn't both Presbyterians and Baptists approach this question pretty much the same way?


BTW, I voted for Calvin.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Remind me of the differences.

Isn't it the case that when John's baptism is called "a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" it is not being contrasted with Christian baptism, but with previous Jewish baptisms including proselyte baptism ?

John's baptism was surely for those who showed signs of faith in the One of whom he spoke and showed signs of repentance, and their children.

We do not know what the formula was for John's baptism.

It appears as Adam says that the Ephesian disciples of John, had something wrong in their baptism, as it is the only instance we have of a re-baptism. We don't read of e.g. the disciples who were baptised by John being re-baptised.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It does not appear that the disciples of John that later became Jesus' disciples received a new baptism. Nor did Jesus. Further, those in Acts that learned the "baptism of John" had never heard of the Holy Spirit. John was constantly referring to the Holy Spirit (from the sermons recorded), and therefore, they had not been baptized by John, or instructed in his baptism. At least that is how it appears from my reading.

Cheers,

Apollos was:

19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.
 

CharlieJ

Puritan Board Junior
Timing?

Couldn't the timing have been an issue with the Apollos baptisms? It's not that John's baptism was a different thing than Christian baptism, but rather that after Jesus' ministry had started, and especially after Jesus had risen and given the Great Commission with the instructions to baptize with the Trinitarian formula, baptizing John's way was anachronistic.

So John's baptism was fine in its time frame, but not acceptable after the command to baptize in the name of the Trinity.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Concerning Acts 19:5, is there any indication that Paul has ceased speaking and the narrator has resumed his narrative of events? The beginning of verse 6 appears to be a more natural way of introducing what occurred after the speech of Paul.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
But the problem that I see with Calvin's interpretaion is that the Scripture specifically says that certain ones who had John's baptism were re-baptized
"
19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all."

I suppose it could be argued that the ones claiming to have been baptized into John's baptism were confused and were in fact not baptized into that name. And as a result Paul has to baptize them properly. This could be considered because he actually has to explain to them the meaning of that baptism. If this interpretation is taken Calvin is right. If we believe that they truly were those baptized in John's baptism then Murray is the correct one.
 

TaylorOtwell

Puritan Board Junior
Concerning Acts 19:5, is there any indication that Paul has ceased speaking and the narrator has resumed his narrative of events? The beginning of verse 6 appears to be a more natural way of introducing what occurred after the speech of Paul.

John Gill also understands the passage in this way.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But the problem that I see with Calvin's interpretaion is that the Scripture specifically says that certain ones who had John's baptism were re-baptized

A more integrated reading of the text would suggest the opposite -- that Paul teaches those who were baptised by John were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Concerning Acts 19:5, is there any indication that Paul has ceased speaking and the narrator has resumed his narrative of events? The beginning of verse 6 appears to be a more natural way of introducing what occurred after the speech of Paul.

John Gill also understands the passage in this way.

Yes, he would have received it as the common reformed interpretation from the 17th century.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Concerning Acts 19:5, is there any indication that Paul has ceased speaking and the narrator has resumed his narrative of events? The beginning of verse 6 appears to be a more natural way of introducing what occurred after the speech of Paul.

Very interesting...
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
The connection is that Apollos was at Ephesus previously and that both he and the disciples there had only received the baptism of John:

24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.
As for Acts 19:5, Matthew Henry clearly takes it to be taking place in Ephesus with Paul, not a part of Paul's statement in 19:4,

They own that they were baptized unto John's baptismeis to Ioannou baptisma that is, as I take it, they were baptized in the name of John, not by John himself (he was far enough from any such thought), but by some weak, well-meaning disciple of his, that ignorantly kept up his name as the head of a party, retaining the spirit and notion of those disciples of his that were jealous of the growth of Christ's interest, and complained to him of it, John iii. 26. Some one or more of these, that found themselves much edified by John's baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, not thinking that the kingdom of heaven, which he spoke of as at hand, was so very near as it proved, ran away with that notion, rested in what they had, and thought they could not do better than to persuade others to do so too; and so, ignorantly, in a blind zeal for John's doctrine, they baptized here and there one in John's name, or, as it is here expressed, unto John's baptism, looking no further themselves, nor directing those that they baptized any further.

5. Paul explains to them the true intent and meaning of John's baptism, as principally referring to Jesus Christ, and so rectifies the mistake of those who had baptized them into the baptism of John, and had not directed them to look any further, but to rest in that. Those that have been left in ignorance, or led into error, by any infelicities of their education, should not therefore be despised nor rejected by those who are more knowing and orthodox, but should be compassionately instructed, and better taught, as these disciples were by Paul. (1.) He owns that John's baptism was a very good thing, as far as it went: John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance. By this baptism he required people to be sorry for their sins, and to confess them and turn from them; and to bring any to this is a great point gained. But, (2.) He shows them that John's baptism had a further reference, and he never designed that those he baptized should rest there, but told them that they should believe on him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus,—that his baptism of repentance was designed only to prepare the way of the Lord, and to dispose them to receive and entertain Christ, whom he left them big with expectations of; nay, whom he directed them to: Behold the Lamb of God. "John was a great and good man; but he was only the harbinger,—Christ is the Prince. His baptism was the porch which you were to pass through, not the house you were to rest in; and therefore it was all wrong for you to be baptized into the baptism of John."

6. When they were thus shown the error they were led into, they thankfully accepted the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, v. 5. As for Apollos, of whom it was said (ch. xviii. 25) that he knew the baptism of John—that he rightly understood the meaning of it when he was baptized with it, though he knew that only—yet, when he understood the way of God more perfectly, he was no again baptized, any more than Christ's first disciples that had been baptized with John's baptism and knew it referred to the Messiah at the door (and, with an eye to this, submitted to it), were baptized again. But to these disciples, who received it only with an eye to John and looked no further, as if he were their saviour, it was such a fundamental error as was as fatal to it as it would have been for any to be baptized in the name of Paul (1 Cor. i. 13); and therefore, when they came to understand things better, they desired to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and were so: not by Paul himself, as we have reason to think, but by some of those who attended him. It does not therefore follow hence that there was not an agreement between John's baptism and Christ's, or that they were not for substance the same; much less does it follow that those who have been once baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (which is the appointed form of Christ's baptism), may be again baptized in the same name; for those that were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus had never been so baptized before. (Emphasis added)
One of the reasons being that if one is baptized into Christ, it cannot be that one has no knowledge of the Spirit:

Paul enquired how they came to be baptized, if they knew nothing of the Holy Ghost; for, if they were baptized by any of Christ's ministers, they were instructed concerning the Holy Ghost, and were baptized in his name. "Know you not that Jesus being glorified, consequently the Holy Ghost is given? unto what then were you baptized? This is strange and unaccountable. What! baptized, and yet know nothing of the Holy Ghost? Surely your baptism was a nullity, if you know nothing of the Holy Ghost; for it is the receiving of the Holy Ghost that is signified and sealed by that washing of regeneration. Ignorance of the Holy Ghost is as inconsistent with a sincere profession of Christianity as ignorance of Christ is." Applying it to ourselves, it intimates that those are baptized to no purpose, and have received the grace of God therein in vain, that do not receive and submit to the Holy Ghost. It is also an enquiry we should often make, not only to whose honour we were born, but into whose service we were baptized, that we may study to answer the ends both of our birth and of our baptism. Let us often consider unto what we were baptized, that we may live up to our baptism. (Henry on Acts 19:3)

Calvin would also appear to take verse 5 with 6 and not verse 4, but applies a different import to the word baptism, taking it to mean baptism of the Spirit rather than water baptism:

Other some deny that baptism was repeated; because they were baptized amiss by some foolish enemyjavascript:toggle('fnf_vii.i-p23.1'); of John. But because their conjecture hath no color; yea, the words of Paul do rather import that they were the true and natural disciples of John, and Luke doth honorably call them disciples of Christ; I do not subscribe to this opinion, and yet deny that the baptism of water was repeated, because the words of Luke import no other thing, save only that they were baptized with the Spirit. First, it is no new thing for the name of baptism to be translated unto the gifts of the Spirit, as we saw in the first and in the eleventh chapters, (Acts 1:5, and Acts 11:6) where Luke said, that when Christ promised to his apostles to send the Spirit visible, he called it baptism.

I think that there are good theological reasons to take Calvin's view of John's baptism, but not because we take Acts 19:5 to go with Acts 19:4. Even if it did, we would have the odd construction that they were baptized "into John's baptism," and that it would also be referred to as "in the name of the Lord Jesus." There are clearly two acts referred to here, even if the second is extraneous or of a different import (per Calvin).
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
But the problem that I see with Calvin's interpretaion is that the Scripture specifically says that certain ones who had John's baptism were re-baptized

A more integrated reading of the text would suggest the opposite -- that Paul teaches those who were baptised by John were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Yes you're right. I was being a bit rhetorical when I said that. If you notice in the rest of that post I give more options for interpretations.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
But the problem that I see with Calvin's interpretaion is that the Scripture specifically says that certain ones who had John's baptism were re-baptized
"
19:1 And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John's baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all."

I suppose it could be argued that the ones claiming to have been baptized into John's baptism were confused and were in fact not baptized into that name. And as a result Paul has to baptize them properly. This could be considered because he actually has to explain to them the meaning of that baptism. If this interpretation is taken Calvin is right. If we believe that they truly were those baptized in John's baptism then Murray is the correct one.

Well there are at least two other possibilities now:-

(a) They weren't properly baptised anyway for some reason.

(b) And the one suggested by Rev. Winzer, that the text isn't being read properly.

This the only possible evidence of rebaptism in the New Testament. If everyone baptised by John needed rebaptism, you think there would be more evidence for that.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Wouldn't another possibility be that John's baptism was valid before Trinitarian baptism was established (viz. Matthew 28), but once Trinitarian baptism was established, it became the exclusive practice, except in rare cases like that in the disciples of Acts 19? That would be why those particular disciples would be rebaptized, but the apostles were not (assuming that from silence).
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Pastor Fred is correct.

Prior to the introduction of christian trinitarian baptism there were MANY baptisms performed under the old covenant. One of which was the baptism of repentance as performed by John.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Prior to the introduction of christian trinitarian baptism there were MANY baptisms performed under the old covenant. One of which was the baptism of repentance as performed by John.

This does ot accord with NT facts, namely, that the baptism of John was from heaven (extraordinary), not from men (ordinary). Further, the law and the prophets were until John; from the time of John's ministry the kingdom of heaven advanced militantly. Also, the Gospel of Mark tells us the gospel commenced with John as the messenger of Christ.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Prior to the introduction of christian trinitarian baptism there were MANY baptisms performed under the old covenant. One of which was the baptism of repentance as performed by John.

This does ot accord with NT facts, namely, that the baptism of John was from heaven (extraordinary), not from men (ordinary). Further, the law and the prophets were until John; from the time of John's ministry the kingdom of heaven advanced militantly. Also, the Gospel of Mark tells us the gospel commenced with John as the messenger of Christ.

Heb 9.

QED
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Heb 9.

QED

Your point is far from being demonstrated in Hebrews 9. It does not mention John's baptism. You must assume John's baptism is included in the OT washings in order to make that passage apply. The mere fact that John's baptism was from heaven is sufficient to overcome this assumption.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
1) Heb 9 references the "many" baptisms of the Old Covenant. I take this to mean that the author has all of them (OT baptisms) in mind. Johns baptism occures under the OC & passes muster when examined by the "OT heresy police".

2) John is baptising "for repentance" & not in the name of the trinity. This is a recognised OT priestly function.

The alternative is to posit Johns baptism as a sort of "no man's land" sacrament between the 2 covenants.

(BTW I have learned so much from your posts on the sacrament's & the covenant I can't believe that I am differing with you here...:D)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
1) Heb 9 references the "many" baptisms of the Old Covenant. I take this to mean that the author has all of them (OT baptisms) in mind. Johns baptism occures under the OC & passes muster when examined by the "OT heresy police".

This assumes the point in question. As noted, the NT teaches the law and the prophets were until John and John's baptism is from heaven. Unless you have exegetical proof to the contrary, John's baptism cannot be construed as an OT administration.

2) John is baptising "for repentance" & not in the name of the trinity. This is a recognised OT priestly function.

John's baptism of repentance was to prepare the way of "the Lord." The Trinity is implicit.

The alternative is to posit Johns baptism as a sort of "no man's land" sacrament between the 2 covenants.

No, the alternative is to see it as New Testament baptism, which sufficed for the apostles of the Lord.

(BTW I have learned so much from your posts on the sacrament's & the covenant I can't believe that I am differing with you here...:D)

That's OK; men are at best helpers of our faith, not masters of it. I'm more concerned with the point of difference.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Heb 9.

QED

Your point is far from being demonstrated in Hebrews 9. It does not mention John's baptism. You must assume John's baptism is included in the OT washings in order to make that passage apply. The mere fact that John's baptism was from heaven is sufficient to overcome this assumption.

BTW I DO ASSUME that Johns baptism is included in the OT washings. WHY NOT?

He was a hereditsry High Priest, the son of a High Priest. He was examined for his orthodox practice, on this very issue, and passed. His function as a forerunner necessitates that he Preceedes the New Covenant, by definition.
 

Grillsy

Puritan Board Junior
So from what I am gathering from Richard and ArmourBearer...John's baptism used the Trinitarian formula? If this can be proven, i'll be convinced of their and Calvin's interpretation.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from Kevin
John is baptising "for repentance" & not in the name of the trinity. This is a recognised OT priestly function.

Quote from Grillsy
So from what I am gathering from Richard and ArmourBearer...John's baptism used the Trinitarian formula? If this can be proven, i'll be convinced of their and Calvin's interpretation.

I don't think I - or armourbearer? - are professing to know John's formula for his baptism. But whatever it was, it was approved by God.

As far as I'm aware the Ephesian disciples passage is the only one that gives any creedance to the idea that John's baptism had to be supplemented by another baptism. And there are plenty of good explanations for the Ephesian case that show that John's baptism was (ordinarily) enough.

Also

(i) We read of no others, e.g. any of the Apostles, being re-baptised.

(ii) It is of the imagery of baptism, that it should be only once. Washing in Christ's blood/ regeneration / baptism by/with the Spirit by Christ into His body is only once.

(iii) Is this not a bit like placing a difference between "the circumcision of Abraham" - which happened before the complex of foundational events in the Exodus and Sinai - and "the circumcision of Moses" - which happened after the complex of foundational events in the Exodus and Sinai.

In the New Testament John's baptism (and the baptism of the disciples; they baptised, but Jesus didn't) prepared a people for the complex of events of the New Exodus, Christ's crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and Pentecost (which corresponded to Sinai).

"Abraham's circumcision" prepared and set apart a people for the Exodus and Sinai.

Did circumcision take on an added meaning after the Exodus and Sinai ? No doubt.

Did the baptism of those who had been baptised by John and the disciples of Jesus take on new meaning after the Crucifixion/ Resurrection/Pentecost, et al ? No doubt.

Why did Jesus not baptise? Surely because He was going to baptise with the Spirit into His own body, the New Covenant church, and this was to be done from the right hand of Power, in Heaven. This was the reality to which John's and subsequent baptism point.
 

brianeschen

Puritan Board Junior
BTW I DO ASSUME that Johns baptism is included in the OT washings. WHY NOT?

Mark points to John's ministry as the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Mar 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
Mar 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Mar 1:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
Mar 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
 
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