Should a new believer be baptized immediately

Baptism in the New Testament

Around the year 28 after the birth of Christ: A man stands in a watery place by the Jordan and admonishes his many listeners (“all Judea and all inhabitants of Jerusalem”, Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verse 5) to repent and be baptized. Since so many are baptized by John, he is nicknamed “the Baptist”. John exhorted the people to believe in the one who would come after him, “in Jesus” (Acts chapter 19, verse 4: “Paul said: John baptized with the baptism of repentance and taught the people that they should go to him believe he who comes after him: in Jesus. ”).

Jesus is baptized

Jesus Christ was also baptized by John in the Jordan, as the Gospel of Mark (chapter 1, verse 9) further reports. Then Jesus begins his public ministry. All four gospels tell of the baptism of Jesus. The whole message of the New Testament is then summarized like in a burning glass in the Jesus word: “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel ”(Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verse 15). This conversion is then connected with baptism from Pentecost.

Through baptism, the old person is supposed to "perish" (in the water) in the truest sense of the word and emerge as a new person (out of the water). Jesus is baptized in order to “fully fulfill the righteousness which God demands,” as Mark says (chapter 3, verse 15). Jesus, the completely sinless, undergoes this baptism, which was actually intended for sinners. The spirit, who already hovered over the waters of the first creation (Genesis, chapter 1, verse 2), sits down on Jesus; God the Father testifies to Jesus as his “beloved Son” (Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verse 17).

Jesus further way

Jesus did not continue the baptism of John. The evangelists Mark, Luke and Matthew know nothing about the fact that Jesus himself baptized. The Gospel of John struggles with its statements. In the third chapter, verse 22, it says: “Thereupon Jesus and his disciples went to Judea. There he stayed with them and baptized. ”However, the following fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 1 to 2, knows:“ Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was winning and baptizing more disciples than John, but Jesus himself did not baptize but his disciples. "

How can that be explained?

John primarily proclaimed the judgment (Gospel of Luke, chapter 3, verses 7 to 8: "The people went out to him in droves to be baptized by him. He said to them: You brood of snakes, who taught you that you can escape the coming judgment? Bring forth fruits that show your repentance and do not begin to say: We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you: God can make children of Abraham out of these stones. " Jesus, on the other hand, presented his listeners with the good news, salvation (Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, verses 14 to 15: “After John was thrown into prison, Jesus went back to Galilee; he preached the gospel of God and said: The time is fulfilled "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel." That is why Jesus should not have taken over the baptismal practice of John the Baptist.

Baptism in the name of Jesus

The practice of baptism by believers in Christ in the New Testament period differs fundamentally from the baptism of John. The final salvation event in Jesus Christ becomes present in baptism (for example “baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus”). Thus it says in the book of Acts, chapter 8, verse 16: “For he (the Holy Spirit) had not yet come down on any of them; they were only baptized in the name of Jesus the Lord. ”Furthermore, early Christian baptism is associated with the gift of the Spirit. This spirit determines the new life of Christians, as it says in the book of Acts (chapter 9, verse 17): “Ananias went and entered the house; He laid his hands on Saul and said, Brother Saul, the Lord has sent me, Jesus, who appeared to you on the way here; you shall see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit. ”Finally, the baptized are accepted into the Christian community and thus belong to the church, to the body of Christ, as Paul writes in the First Corinthians (chapter 12, verse 13):“ By the one Spirit we were all received into one body in baptism, Jews and Greeks, slaves and free; and we were all soaked with the one spirit. "

Baptism is a one-time event

“Baptism” means from the Greek word meaning “immerse, immerse, immerse, wash”. In the word “baptize” there is the Old High German relational word “deep”. So “bring it down, immerse yourself”. Baptism is a unique event both with John the Baptist and with Christians and therefore cannot be repeated.

This immersion symbolizes the being buried of the candidate for baptism, the baptismal candidate, in the death of Christ, from which he emerges through the resurrection with Christ as a "new creation" (so it is said in two letters of Paul: Second Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17; Galatians letter , Chapter 6, verse 15).

Baptism is later referred to in the New Testament, in the letter to Titus (Chapter 3, Verse 5), as the “bath of new birth and renewal in the Holy Spirit”. Immersion in water is a symbol of death and purification, but also of rebirth and renewal. To put it simply, the two main effects of baptism are cleansing from sins and being born again in the Holy Spirit (Gospel of John chapter 3, verse 5 and Acts chapter 2, verse 38).

Paul's letter to the Galatians (chapter 3, verse 27) knows that the believers have "put on Jesus Christ (as a garment)": "For all those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."

Go to all peoples

After his resurrection, Jesus entrusts the apostles with a worldwide mission to all people: “Go to all peoples and make all men my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you, ”says the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 28, verses 19-20).

On the so-called day of Pentecost, Peter said to the many listeners, who were very excited by his sermon: “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts chapter 2, verse 38). In the following years, during the first great mission in church history, the apostles and their many co-workers offer baptism to all who believe in Jesus: at that time they were Jews, God-fearing and Gentiles. Baptism and faith are closely related. “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your house,” Paul says to his jailer in Philippi (Acts chapter 16, verse 31). And he "was immediately baptized with all his relatives" (Acts, chapter 16, verse 33).

Live as new people

In the letter to the Romans (chapter 6, verses 3 and 4) the apostle Paul, who was baptized himself in Damascus (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9, verse 18), develops a profound baptismal theology. “Don't you know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? We were buried with him through baptism to death; and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so too are we to live as new people. ”Here in Romans, Paul writes to Christians who were baptized as adults. They had a concrete idea of ​​it because they consciously experienced their baptism and also understood the symbolism: immersion in water as a sign of immersion in death, emergence in turn as a sign of leaving the grave, as a sign of resurrection. With a view to the present, the Apostle of the Nations then writes: "This is how we should also live as new people."

Baptism, sacrament of faith

That baptism is the sacrament of faith is emphasized in the Gospel of Mark (chapter 16, verse 16), where Jesus says: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ”After baptism, faith must begin to grow. Of course, this looks different with small children than with adults who are baptized.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians (chapter 12, verses 12-14), Paul shows the great connection between baptism and church, which incorporates baptism into the church: “For as the body is a unity, yet has many members, all members but of the body, although there are many, form a single body: so it is also with Christ. By the one Spirit we were all received into one body in baptism, Jews and Greeks, slaves and free; and we were all soaked with the one spirit. The body, too, does not consist of just one member, but of many members. ”What does this mean? According to this picture, all belong to one body. Like the bodily organs, they all depend on one another in order to be able to live. Through baptism all are called into the discipleship of Jesus, into the church, in order to build up the church, to live the church. Christianity can be experienced in the community of the church. No one is a Christian by himself. The church writer Tertullian (after 150 to after 220 AD) sums up the topic as follows: "A Christian is not a Christian."

Nobody can baptize themselves

Another, not insignificant reference to the divine gift of baptism can be found in language. In the Acts of the Apostles, for example, the verbs that deal with baptism are all in the passive form. “John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts chapter 1, verse 5). "Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts chapter 2, verse 38). "... they were baptized, men and women" (Acts chapter 8, verse 12). “Immediately it fell like scales from his eyes, and he (Saul) saw again; he rose and was baptized ”(Acts chapter 9, verse 18). "And he (Peter) ordered that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts chapter 10, verse 48). What does that mean in concrete terms? Nobody can baptize themselves. One is baptized, one is baptized: this is the consistent testimony of Scripture from the beginning.

Infant baptism and Bible

Children were probably baptized as early as the early days of the Church. It is not certain whether they are already babies. No specific biblical instruction for infant baptism can be found. However, important clues can be found in the New Testament formulations such as "whole houses". So show i.a. the Acts of the Apostles and the First Corinthians epistle that whole families came to the faith or were baptized. For example, the apostle Paul baptized "the house of Stephanas" in Corinth (First Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 16). The whole family should be included. In Philippi, “Lydia and her house” were baptized (Acts, chapter 16, verse 15); In Corinth then the synagogue ruler Crispus comes "with his whole house to the faith" (Acts chapter 18, verse 8). These are indications that the children were probably also baptized. In Judaism, children were accepted into God's people on the eighth day through circumcision. Then what could not be more obvious than baptizing the little Christian children and accepting them into God's people, the Church? So often people were baptized with their whole house. It can be assumed that all residents of the house (men, women, children and slaves) were baptized.


  • The Bible (standard translation)
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church (KKK)
  • Udo Schnelle, "The first 100 years of Christianity 30-130 AD"
  • "Handouts for baptismal pastoral care" from the diocese of Basel
created by: Stefan Kronthaler / Der SONNTAG