The rite (Or act and it's significance) of baptism, closely associated with the Christian passover both in use and

in it's meaning, was from the most primitive times the mode of formal initiation into the eschatological (Defined as: A branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankind; and specifically : any of various Christian doctrines concerning the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead, or the Last Judgment.) community of God's people in Christ. The use of washing in water (H2O) to symbolize penitence and purification had ample precedent in Jewish (not to mention pagan) tradition. Quite apart from the various lustrations prescribed in Leviticus and those ritually employed in the Qumran community, there is the probable use of washings in the making of a proselyte (convert) to Judaism. The immediate precursor of Christian baptism, however, was that of the one practiced by John "The Baptizer". His baptism signified repentance and conversion and is so described in Mark 1:4 as being for the forgiveness of sins. John's was appearantly a rite which looked forward to the Messianic era and to the renewal of the Holy Spirit, which that would bring. It was an act that aimed to prepare a people to greet the Messiah. The Christian use of baptism began, as biblically reported, only after the experience of the resurrection. It differed from John's, therefore, because it signified entry upon the new relation to God that had been realized in the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus, and so conferred the eschatological endowment of the Holy spirit to all believers. This is much evident from one of our earliest witnesses, Paul. As seen Romans 6:4 and Colossians 2:12. In spite of his assertion that his own calling was to preach and not to baptize, (In 1 Cr 1:17) Paul knows that all his converts were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. (In 1 Cr 6:11, Acts 18:8) Which means to him (And us today, Hebrews 13:8) is that in this washing (Even as he did the same in Acts 22:16) and the confession of faith which accompanies it, (Acts 8:26-40) believers have put on Christ. They have been buried with him in baptism into death. (And risen with him in the newness of life.) Hence, they are no longer enslaved to sin but in baptism have made the crucial transition to a new order of existence. One must consider theirself dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. This participation in the death and the new life in and of Christ, moreover, is effected by the reception of the Holy Spirit. By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body and all have been made to drink of one spirit, with the result, Paul says, that the community of believers is God's temple, in which he dwells. (1Cor 3:16) In the light of this Pauline understanding (And application as well) of baptism, it is not surprising that later writers also take a serious view of it. John, the author of the Fourth Gospel, baptism means being born again of the water (H2O) and and the (Holy) Spirit, and apart from it none can enter into the kingdom of God. In the first Epistle (letter) of Peter, the water of baptism (In the like figure whereupon "Baptism does also now save us", and it is through one's faithful obedience, which clears our conscience) is compared to the waters of the flood which saved Noah and his family. Hermas, in his Shepard, records a church which is built upon the waters (of baptism) for the reason that your life was saved and shall be saved by means of water. (Hermas, The Shepard "Visions" 3:3-5) For Justin Martyr too, baptism is rebirth into a new mode of life, which he explains to his readers by contrasting the condition of children of necessity and ignorance with that of children of choice and knowledge, whose sins have been forgiven. Baptism for him is a liberation which frees people from sin and by enlightenment ( Which is receiving the Holy spirit even as Jesus did in Dove form, as it lit upon him, showing that our baptism would allow for God to enter in and our renew fellowship with him.) enables them to do the will of God. In all these testimonies, from Paul to Justin Martyr, there is a conviction that baptism represents a decisive moment of transition between the old and new identities, between death and life. And it is in this sense that it was universally understood in Early Christianity. The Acts of the Apostles (In Acts 2:38) understands this process to consist of three elements: repentance, baptism "In the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (Or today's in today's wording and equal, forgiveness) of

sins", (By faith in action, see Mark 16:16 and James 2:15-25) and the reception of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 6:4, Galatians 3:27, and Colossians 3:17) God bless us all in the saving name of Jesus! ( Matthew 28:18 and Acts 4:10-12)