What is the MAIN picture of baptism

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Hello,

There are several pictures given of baptism in the NT. Such as burial and a washing or a bath.

Example:

THE BURIAL IMAGE:

(Col 2:12) having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

(Rom 6:4) We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

THE BATH/WASHING PICTURE:

"Be baptized, and wash away your sins..."




Is there a main picture of baptism, and would this be one of a burial or of a bath or something else?

Maybe I have gravitated towards mainly remembering the burial imagery due to my baptist beliefs and also because the phrase "wash away your sins" made me a little uncomfortable at first as a young Christian (and sometimes still does).
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Thanks for making the thread, Pergs. It sounds like a good starting point for a good discussion.
 

anotherpilgrim

Puritan Board Freshman
How about 'identification' with Christ and the covenant community?

'baptized into one body' 1 cor 12:13
'baptized into Christ' rom 6:3, Gal 3:27

And then washing and burial can be subsumed into the identification concept..?
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
There is also these verses which show that baptism and purification (washing) were linked.

John 3:22-25
After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He was spending time with them and baptizing. John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there; and people were coming and were being baptized— for John had not yet been thrown into prison. Therefore there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a Jew about purification.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Is there a main picture of baptism, and would this be one of a burial or of a bath or something else?

I'm not sure there is a "main picture" of baptism. In my humble opinion we may inadvertently marginalize the ordinance by trying to categorizing it in that way. Scripture clearly teaches what baptism represents. The verses you quoted are a good place to start.
 

anotherpilgrim

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm not sure there is a "main picture" of baptism.
That's a good point... how do we objectively decide on a 'main picture'...? Number of reference to one image vs number of references to another...? (That seems a bit shaky) Or maybe there are many of these images (burial, washing, identification, judgment, etc.) that in one way or another all come into play when the word is used.
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
Historically speaking, most pre-18th century Reformed theologians saw a twofold symbolism in the act of water baptism, and gave both relatively equal footing: (1) spiritual cleansing, and (2) the death and burial of a person’s old sin nature, followed by a resurrection to a new life in Christ (often denominated under the term "regeneration"). For instance, in his Institutes Calvin wrote:

It remains, therefore, to inquire into the nature and efficacy of baptism, as evinced by the promises therein given. Scripture shows, first, that it points to that cleansing from sin which we obtain by the blood of Christ; and secondly, to the mortification of the flesh which consists in participation in his death, by which believers are regenerated to newness of life, and thereby to the fellowship of Christ. To these general heads may be referred all that the Scriptures teach concerning baptism, with this addition, that it is also a symbol to testify our religion to men. (4.16.2)​

Some, such as the Westminster divine Thomas Goodwin, gave the latter symbolism preeminence:

The eminent thing signified and represented in baptism, is, not simply the blood of Christ, as it ‘washeth’ us from sin; but there is a farther representation therein of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, in the baptized’s being first buried under water, and then rising out of it; and this is not in a bare conformity unto Christ, but in a representation of a communion with Christ, in that his death and resurrection. Therefore it is said, ‘We are Buried with him in baptism,’ and, ‘Wherein you are Risen with him.’ It is not simply said, ‘like as’ he was buried and rose, but ‘with him.’ So that our communion and oneness with him in his resurrection, is represented to us therein, and not only our conformity or likeness unto him therein.

And so baptism representeth this to us, that Christ having once in himself sustained the persons of all the elect, in his burial and resurrection; that now, upon the party himself who is baptized, is personally, particularly, and apparently reacted the same part again in his baptism; thereby showing what his communion with Christ before was, in what was then done to Christ; that he then was buried with Christ, and rose with him; and upon that ground is now, in this outward sign of baptism, (as in a show, or representation) both buried and also riseth again. (Works, 4:41f)​

So too Luther:

It is therefore indeed correct to say that baptism is a washing away of sins, but that expression is too mild and weak to bring out the full significance of baptism, which is rather a symbol of death and resurrection...The sinner does not so much need to be washed as he needs to die, in order to be wholly renewed and made another creature, and to be conformed to the death and resurrection of Christ, with whom he dies and rises again through baptism...It is far more forceful to say that baptism signifies that we die in every way and rise to eternal life, than to say that it signifies merely that we are washed clean of sins. (Works [Fortress], 36:68)​
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Thanks for the info.

I do have a confession; mainly that the talk of "washing away your sins" in baptism has always conjured up images of medieval sacerdotalism. Because of this, I have probably gravitated towards making the burial picture as a new believer publicly identifies with Christ as the main picture of baptism.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Water baptism is a symbol of the baptism of the spirit.

of course more is involved, but if I was to name only one symbol that is the most scriptural.
 
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Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I do have a confession; mainly that the talk of "washing away your sins" in baptism has always conjured up images of medieval sacerdotalism.

That's only a problem if you fail to think of baptism as signifying what God has done for you. Baptism is not chiefly something you do. Nor is it chiefly what the officiating minister does. It's about your entering into the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are the ones Jesus instructed us to make much of when performing the rite.

(I'm a good Presbyterian. I say cleansing is very prominent in the symbolism.)
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
I do have a confession; mainly that the talk of "washing away your sins" in baptism has always conjured up images of medieval sacerdotalism.

That's only a problem if you fail to think of baptism as signifying what God has done for you. Baptism is not chiefly something you do. Nor is it chiefly what the officiating minister does. It's about your entering into the work of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are the ones Jesus instructed us to make much of when performing the rite.

(I'm a good Presbyterian. I say cleansing is very prominent in the symbolism.)

While I would agree that a pouring out of the Holy Spirit can certainly be seen in baptism, I would disagree with the cleansing part. I believe that was the point that Jesus was trying to make when he turned the water into wine. "Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” Notice the water that Jesus chose to turn into wine, this was not accidental. Jesus turned the water that the Jews believed would cleanse them through ritual into wine which symbolized his blood, which is the only thing that can truly make anyone pure. Just a thought.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Heb.10:22 and 1Pet.3:21 both contain allusions to the inward cleansing action of the Spirit in parallel with the outward exemplar of baptism as a sign.
 
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