John's baptism is different

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blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
I was just wondering if anybody had any thoughts about John the Baptist's baptism and how it relates to us today? Clearly, there's a distinction made between John's Baptism and the baptism of Matthew 28. In Acts we see those who had only been baptized into John's baptism rebaptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

What are things that we should and shouldn't glean from John's baptism?

In some circles, its said that John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. Since this baptism is different than today's baptism, we (say they) therefore shouldn't preach repentance anymore, but just tell people they need to believe in Jesus (as in Acts 16:31).

Others look at how John reacted to the pharisees - "Think not to say within yourselves that ye have Abraham as your father" - as changing the way God dealt with people and making things more individualistic.

John said that he baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. How are the sign and the thing signified the same or different than today's baptism?

[quote:8b2444f0db]Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: [/quote:8b2444f0db]
These people were told to repent and believe in Jesus. They did so and were baptized. Spiritually speaking, were they regenerated at this point or did that come when they were baptized by Jesus with the Holy Ghost? Is this an example of somebody being baptized before being regenerated?

What things do you think we should and should not glean from John's baptism?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
The biggest difference between Christian baptism and John's baptism is that John's baptism is fixed positively in the Old Testament ritual system. Remember Jesus' words at the Jordan, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Obviously, Christian baptism carries over and is related to Old Testament baptism, after the same manner that our whole Faith is inextricably tied to its OT roots. However, such a connection and similarities does not make different things identical.

Christian baptism, as a sign, is specially connected to the thing it [i:8c8fce056a]principally[/i:8c8fce056a] signifies, namely spiritual baptism, i.e. baptism by and of the Holy Spirit. John's baptism, while certainly signifying spiritual truth and by implication work by the Holy Spirit, did NOT signify the Holy Spirit's outpouring and his indwelling of New Testament believers. Of those who submitted to John's baptism, some were regenerate, some were elect but not yet regenerate, and many were simply caught up in the exotic, exciting phenomena that was John the Baptist and had no true calling from God. John's baptism was primarily a baptism of repentance (and by implication, for the true believer, of the cleansing work of God).

Christian baptism [i:8c8fce056a]expands,[/i:8c8fce056a] massively, the signification (even of cleansing) that John's baptism possessed. This is perfectly in keeping with what we typically find of the fullness of revelation in the New Testament age. Christian baptism is the baptism of fulfillment, John's the baptism (still) of prospect. The reason we find the disciples of Jesus already baptizing before Matt. 28, in Jn. 4:2 (though not yet with the full-blown fulfillment), is because they are baptizing primarily people already baptized by John, and directed by him to Jesus--the object of John's forerunner ministry. The fulfillment is already breaking into history.

Here's a question to ponder: Who administered Christian water baptism to the Apostles? If it wasn't Jesus, who did? And when? I submit that (as in everything else) the disciples were imitating [i:8c8fce056a]not John[/i:8c8fce056a] but Jesus in Jn. 4:2, when they (and [i:8c8fce056a]not[/i:8c8fce056a] Jesus) were baptizing some distance physically removed from John the Baptist. Jn. 20:22-23 seems to me to have some related, perhaps completing, aspect to an earlier, implied baptism of them by him.

I hope these observations are helpful...
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Patrick:
John was a Levite (a priest actually) after his father. Numbers 8:6-7 we read: "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of expiation upon them." Whether or not this ritual was repeated over and over in each generation, all the Levites [i:62a8ba4cdc]in history[/i:62a8ba4cdc] were represented at this one cleansing act.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Bruce,
Thanks for your response.

[quote:2abc581106="Bruce"]Of those who submitted to John's baptism, some were regenerate, some were elect but not yet regenerate, and many were simply caught up in the exotic, exciting phenomena that was John the Baptist and had no true calling from God.[/quote:2abc581106]
This may be true, but I'm trying to think how we know this from the scriptures. Is it simply because such great numbers flocked to John's baptism and so few seemed to be onboard after the resurrection?

Luk 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.

Its interesting to think about John's baptism of repentance as it relates to Jesus vs everybody else. For everybody else, the baptism helped divide those who needed to repent from those who didn't think they had anything to repent of. In Jesus' case, of course, he was baptized but had nothing to repent of.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Bob,
You asked: "Is it simply because such great numbers flocked to John's baptism and so few seemed to be onboard after the resurrection?" We can point to the great numbers beforehand (shown in Mark 1:5, e.g.), and that despite this reaction Paul has to defend the gospel in the face of massive Jewish rejection of it (cf. Rom. 9; I Thess 2:14-16). Jesus himself knew better than to trust the verbal and visible expressions of people who flocked to him (Jn. 2:23-25; 6:66-71; 8:30-31, and to the end of the chapter; 12:42-43). The last reference indicates something of the internal conflict within many regarding Jesus. Some of these were elect but unregenerate at the time. Compare to Acts 6:7: "And the Word of God increased ... and a great company of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith."

Jesus indeed had nothing of his own to repent of, but his mission was to identify intensely with those he came to save. By submitting to the law of God, even here, he shows himself both consumately submissive and acutely aware of the necessity of repentance on the part of so many he intends to save. In addition, this inaugural act (symbol), accompanied by the Spiritual outpouring upon him (reality) as he formally undertakes his ministry, constitutes nothing less than the historical moment of his annointing. Not that he wasn't the "Annointed" (Messiah/Christ) from before all worlds, but here he is annointed to the Office before our eyes.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
If I recall correctly, Reformers typically equated the baptism of John with Christian baptism.

A patristic writer, John Chrysostom, I think rightly understands that the baptism of Jesus participates in and completes Jewish baptism and simultaneously inaugurates Christian baptism. This is similar to the Last Supper participating in the Jewish passover and simultaneously inaugurating Christian Eucharist. BTW, Calvin Chrysostom was one of the two favorite authors quoted by Calvin (the other being Augustine).

Here is an excerpt from Chrysostom's sermon on the baptism of Jesus in the Gospel According to Matthew:

[quote:6ef3b0363c]On this very account the Jewish baptism ceases, and ours takes its beginning. And what was done with regard to the Passover, the same ensues in the baptism also. For as in that case too, He acting with a view to both, brought the one to an end, but to the other He gave a beginning: so here, having fulfilled the Jewish baptism, He at the same time opens also the doors of that of the Church; as on one table then, so in one river now, He had both sketched out the shadow, and now adds the truth. For this baptism alone hath the grace of the Spirit, but that of John was destitute of this gift. For this very cause in the case of the others that were baptized no such thing came to pass, but only in the instance of Him who was to hand on14 this; in order that, besides what we have said, thou mightest learn this also, that not the purity of the baptizer, but the power of the baptized, had this effect. Not until then, assuredly, were either the heavens opened, nor did the Spirit make His approach.15 Because henceforth He leads us away from the old to the new polity, both opening to us the gates on high, and sending down His Spirit from thence to call us to our country there; and not merely to call us, but also with the greatest mark of dignity. For He hath not made us angels and archangels, but He hath caused us to become "sons of God," and "beloved," and so He draws us on towards that portion of ours.[/quote:6ef3b0363c]

The whole sermon is here:
http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-10/npnf1-10-18.htm#P1135_379652
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
John Murray [quote:9b8dbe1805]John's baptism is not to be identified with the ordinance instituted by Christ on the eve of his ascension....

John the Baptist contrasted his own baptism with water with the baptism Jesus was to dispemse.... Without question there is an express allusion to Pentecost.[/quote:9b8dbe1805] [i:9b8dbe1805]Christian Baptism,[/i:9b8dbe1805] pp. 1, 20

Murray acknowledges that he disagrees at points with Calvin (see [i:9b8dbe1805]Institutes,[/i:9b8dbe1805] IV, xv, 7, 18; & IV, xvi, 27). He expressly disputes Calvin's interpretation of Acts 19:1-7, which speaks of them that had known only the baptism of John being baptized anew.

We also see no distinctions being made at Pentecost, or other mass additions to the Church, between groups of those previously baptized by John and those receiving the apostle's ministration.

Chrysostom's observation holds true, I think, no matter whose interpretation is taken. Clearly, good men can differ on the issue.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I like Murray on many things, but his work on baptism was a disappointment, especially regarding sacramental efficacy.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
[quote:7169b23b7a="Contra_Mundum"]Patrick:
John was a Levite (a priest actually) after his father. Numbers 8:6-7 we read: "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them. And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of expiation upon them." Whether or not this ritual was repeated over and over in each generation, all the Levites [i:7169b23b7a]in history[/i:7169b23b7a] were represented at this one cleansing act.[/quote:7169b23b7a]

So would John's baptism be an extension of the levitical baptism then? Or perhaps a broader application of it?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
[quote:314df9092d="puritansailor"]So would John's baptism be an extension of the levitical baptism then? Or perhaps a broader application of it?[/quote:314df9092d]

In a way, yes. And in the latter prophets we even find that theme of the "widening" of the priestly/Levitical identity picked up several times.

But my original aim was simply to answer the question: had John ever undergone a baptism? John didn't invent, nor was it a new Holy Ghost innovation, that John should be baptizing. Baptism goes back straight into the OT ceremonial system. John didn't have to be "baptized" by another agent [u:314df9092d]in this case[/u:314df9092d] in order to become God's ordained baptizing agent [u:314df9092d]in this case.[/u:314df9092d] (We can speculate whether Jesus ever conceded to John's implied request, Mt. 3:14, but we shall not know until heaven.)

Hebrews 9 speaks of the figures of the OT system. Verse 10 speaks [i:314df9092d]expressly[/i:314df9092d] of "diverse baptisms" [literally], referring to the different ceremonial washings or cleansings of the the OT administration, and the Hebrews writer points to several examples. Jay Adams draws attention to the following cross-references:

Hebrews 9:13 --- Numbers 19:17-18 "sprinkling"
Hebrews 9:19 --- Exodus 24:6, 8 "sprinkling"
Hebrews 9:21 --- Leviticus 8:19; 16:14 "sprinkling"

All this to say that considered [i:314df9092d]of itself[/i:314df9092d] externally, baptism is a ceremonial cleansing ritual. Baptism spoken of in the NT is of the same "order" or classification as those like things spoken of in the OT.
 

daveb

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thinking out loud here: John's baptism was given to those who already had a covenant sign. Could this indicate that there is a change in whom the sign is given to (i.e.: it is now for spiritual descendents and not physical)? Does the inclusion of women receiving the sign support that things had changed in this way? There was a change in the sign, was there a change in the recipient?

[quote:46e834f387]
Romans 9:6-9

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named." That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.[/quote:46e834f387]
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
David, a few points in response:

1) There's some disagreement here (see above), but I don't think John's baptism = Christian baptism. John the Baptist is an OT figure. He is transitional, yes, but Jesus himself places him firmly in the OT context (Mt. 11:9-11).

2) The whole OT nation--women and children included--were baptized, and received thereby one of the signs of the Old Covenant (Ex. 24:8; cf. Heb 9:10 [note the word baptismois] & 19). They could also partake of the Passover sign; they certainly did at the Exodus! Baptism, by its nature, is a universally applicable sign; circumcision is not.

3) There is the matter of imputing, by way of meaning, all the import the NT gives to Christian baptism. We pull the theology of baptism from the whole biblical witness. The matter of spirituality that you point to is, in fact, a matter of real significance as it relates to the NT church. Internals [i:4eda8f29e2]more obviously[/i:4eda8f29e2] take precedence over externals (not that the other is discounted under either administration). That fact, however, does not obviate the NT evidence that children of believers ought to be baptized.

4) While women were not "physically" and ritually circumcised (they could not be), yet they were were "circumcised" in the people considered as a whole, and they needed circumcision-of-the-heart just as much as any man. And while there may have been some things from which they were excluded in OT worship (and it seems they were "fenced" away more and more as time went on, perhaps even unscripturally), yet they were fully engaged in the religious life of Israel.
 

daveb

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the reply Bruce.

[quote:5098eb2a69]
1) There's some disagreement here (see above), but I don't think John's baptism = Christian baptism. John the Baptist is an OT figure. He is transitional, yes, but Jesus himself places him firmly in the OT context (Mt. 11:9-11).
[/quote:5098eb2a69]

I understand John's baptism to be baptism existing under the old covenant. What we know about it was that it was a baptism of repentance and this was not for everyone. It was only for those who repent before God alluding (at least to me) that there is a shift. I do not know a lot about OT baptism per se....was it also a baptism of repentance?

[quote:5098eb2a69]
2) The whole OT nation--women and children included--were baptized, and received thereby one of the signs of the Old Covenant (Ex. 24:8; cf. Heb 9:10 [note the word baptismois] & 19). They could also partake of the Passover sign; they certainly did at the Exodus! Baptism, by its nature, is a universally applicable sign; circumcision is not.
[/quote:5098eb2a69]

Not sure about equating the throwing of blood on the people in Ex. 24:8 with baptism. The Heb 9:10 is interesting with baptimois being there. I guess the question that comes to mind is whether or not this is ceremonial washing or there is something more to it.

[quote:5098eb2a69]
3) There is the matter of imputing, by way of meaning, all the import the NT gives to Christian baptism. We pull the theology of baptism from the whole biblical witness. The matter of spirituality that you point to is, in fact, a matter of real significance as it relates to the NT church. Internals [i:5098eb2a69]more obviously[/i:5098eb2a69] take precedence over externals (not that the other is discounted under either administration). That fact, however, does not obviate the NT evidence that children of believers ought to be baptized.
[/quote:5098eb2a69]

I'm at the point where I question whether or not baptism replaces circumcision directly. If so I can then look at circumcision in the OT and that would help me understand baptism better. Right now I see a correlation between the circumcision made without hands and baptism in Col. 2:11, not a straight replacement without change as to the recipients.

I believe in Romans 9 there is a physical Israel and a spiritual Israel. Physical Israel were all those who received the sign but out of that ethnic group God called a true spiritual Israel. The Church today is not a continuation of the physical Israel but only the spiritual which is why the sign's recipients would change. It is not made up of the children of flesh but of promise.

[quote:5098eb2a69]
4) While women were not "physically" and ritually circumcised (they could not be), yet they were were "circumcised" in the people considered as a whole, and they needed circumcision-of-the-heart just as much as any man. And while there may have been some things from which they were excluded in OT worship (and it seems they were "fenced" away more and more as time went on, perhaps even unscripturally), yet they were fully engaged in the religious life of Israel.[/quote:5098eb2a69]

I agree, good thoughts.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Folks,

What would you say to this position?

John's baptism pointed to the baptism of the Holy Spirit - something that would commence when Christ's work was done. It signals inclusion within the internal covenant with God.

Circumcision = covenantal baptism (that occurs when an infant is born into a covenant family or when an adult is converted and comes into the church). It signals inclusion within the external covenant with God.

Regards,

Matthew
 
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