Jews Got Baptized - why?

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C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
Here is a question I often am asked at APM on CT and the covenant sign.

I am always interested in how others think through and respond to questions about CT. I don't think I've asked this one yet to the board.

Presbyterians - How would you handle this?

If baptism is the New Testament sign & seal of the covenant, then why
did jews (refering to those jews who were circumcised before baptism
was instituted), having already recieved the Old Testament Sign &
seal of the same covenant (circumcision), need to recieve the sign &
seal of that same covenant through baptism?

Note that this fellow added the word "need" in his question.


Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Obviously because of the Altar Call!

Two reasons I think we've discussed recently:

1. This was a new administration of the COG. The prior sign, a bloody one, only given to the males and had special significance in terms of pointing forward to the Seed. Christ's coming fulfilled the promise and the new sign was no longer a bloody one and included women.

2. Related to the first is the expansion of the adminstration to include Gentiles who would no longer have to be circumcised in the flesh to join the Covenant community. There is consistent reference to the idea of "one baptism" so there is no difference between Jew and Greek. I believe that if God had allowed the Jew to be exempted from the new sign then it would have been an even increased level of division. It's one of Paul's strongest arguments in Galatians countering the Judaizers who were trying to get Gentiles to apply an old sign. Do you think the kids of such Jewish parents wouldn't have found some way to say "...I want to be circumcised too instead of being baptized..." One faith, one baptism.

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Mt 3:2 "Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. "

It must be tied somehow to the covenant lawsuit. Abraham's children are coming out from under the curse which is ready to fall on Christ? :2cents:


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Israel was already circumcised (nlt Ex.12) when they went to Sinai. And it was there that the next phase of the CoG was inaugurated, Ex.24. See in particular vv. 5-8, with the people being sprinkled with "the blood of the covenant."

Fast forward to Hebrews 9 & 10. New phase, new duty.

Jesus Christ brought in the New Covenant era, final earthly phase of the CoG. His work is the inauguration (Heb. 10:20). See verse 22 for allusions to baptism, 23 new confession (cf. Ex. 24:7), in conjunction with all the Temple significations of vv 19-23 that are shown fulfilled in Jesus.

Bottome line: New Covenant inauguration and new covenant-sign are brought together. See verse 29 for repeat of the phrase "blood of the covenant" (see also Heb. 9:18-20) which sanctifies.

Further bottome line: Matt, this can't be answered justly in a couple mini-paragraphs. I hope I've pointed you in the right direction for your further meditation. The only reason I'm able to whip this off is because in my sermon Sunday, I was knee deep in this passage, preaching on the CoG. Consequently, I've actually too much data upstairs to let it out quickly AND coherently. Sorry.
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