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Kingdom ways
LESSON 17: Baptisms The Verb Baptize
The logical way to begin this study is to discover, if possible, the correct, original meaning of the word baptism or, more accurately, of the verb phrase to baptize, from which the noun baptism is formed. Upon examination, this word is not an English word at all. It is a Greek word, transliterated into letters of the English alphabet. If we write out the original Greek word in English letters, as accurately as it is possible to do, this gives us baptizo. Then, with the change of final o to an e, we have the word in the form which has now become familiar baptize. The Greek word baptizo comes from a root word bapto means to dip something into a fluid and then take it out again then baptizo can have only one possible literal meaning. Logically, it must mean to cause something to be dipped into a fluid and then taken out again. More briefly, baptizo - from which we get the English word baptize means to cause something to be dipped. This brief analysis of the meaning of the word baptism brings out two distinctive features which are found everywhere that this word is used in the New Testament. Every baptism, considered as an experience, is both total and transitional. It is total in the sense that it involves the whole person and the whole personality of the one being baptized; it is transitional in the sense that, for the person being baptized, it marks a transition a passing out of one stage or realm of experience never previously entered into. The act of baptism may thus be compared to the opening and closing of a door. The person being baptized passes through a door opened up to him by the act of baptism, out of something old and familiar, into something new and unfamiliar. Thereafter the door is closed behind him, and there is no way of returning back through that closed door in to the old ways and the old experiences.

Four Different Baptisms


Bearing in mind this picture of the nature of baptism, let us turn back once again to the passage where baptism is specified as one of the foundation doctrines of the Christian faith that is, Hebrews 6:2. We observe that the word baptism is here used in plural, not in the singular. It is the doctrine of baptisms (plural), not the doctrine of baptism (singular). This indicates plainly that the complete doctrine of the Christian faith includes more than one type of baptism. Following this conclusion through the pages of the New Testament, we discover that there are actually four distinct types of baptism referred to at different points. If we set out these four types of baptism in chronological order, conforming to the order in which they are revealed in the New Testament, we arrive at the following outline. First, the baptism preached and practiced by John the Baptist a baptism in water - is directly connected with the message and experience of repentance (see Mark1:4). Second, there is a type of baptism which is not precisely described by any one word in the New Testament, but which we may call the baptism of suffering (Luke 12:50; Mark 10:38). It is plain that Jesus here refers to the spiritual and physical surrender that lay ahead of Him as He trod the path to the cross the surrender of His whole being, spirit, soul and body to the appointed will of the Father that He might take upon Himself the guilt of the worlds sin and then pay by His vicarious sufferings the price required to expiate that sin. By these words Jesus indicated to His disciples that the fulfilment of His plan for their lives would in due course demand of them also a like total surrender of their whole being into the hands of God even , if need be , for the suffering of death. 1

The third type of baptism revealed in the New Testament is Christian baptism in water. Christ told His disciples in Matthew 28:19. The primary feature which thus distinguishes Christian baptisms from the baptism of John the Baptist is that Christian baptism is to be carried out in the full name and authority of the triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit, this was not so with Johns baptism. The fourth type of baptism revealed in the New Testament is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks about this baptism in Acts 1:5 and carefully distinguishes it from baptism in water. Jesus also reveals the basic purpose of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8. Primarily, therefore, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a supernatural enduement with power from on high to be a witness for Christ. Of the four types of baptism which we listed, there is one - the baptism of suffering - which belongs to a more advanced level of spiritual experience than the rest and therefore does not come within the scope of this series of studies, which is deliberately limited to the basic doctrines and experiences of the Christian faith. For this reason we shall say nothing more about this baptism of suffering, but we shall confine our attention to the other types of baptism. We shall deal with these in the order in which they are unfolded in the record of the New Testament: 1) the baptism of John the Baptist, 2) Christian baptism in water, 3) the baptism in the Holy Spirit.