How Was Baptism Administered in First Century?

Question: Baptize means to fully immerse. Why doesn’t the Catholic Church follow the words of Jesus? Why place tradition above scripture? As is the concept “age of reason” your idea or is it Catholic?

Bread From Heaven: Clearly, TRADITIONS (The Teaching of the Apostles) were handed down for many years before, what we know today as the New Testament, was actually written. Therefore, the New Testament was given birth OUT OF the Teachings of the Apostles. But there was more to it than what got written down. That is why St. John says the “world could not contain the books” if it all was written down. Because of this, all the teachings of the Catholic/Christian Church was used to decide what got canonized and what did not get canonized. Therefore, all that the Church teaches is NOT contradicted by scripture. I submit to you, that despite the strict definition of baptizo, by the time the NT was canonized the method and meaning of baptizo had expanded to include pouring because the Church had been baptizing validly using this method for years already.

It was never an issue until Protestants came along and were motivated to find fault with the doctrine of the Catholic Church (in addition to Catholic who sin) as an excuse to separate from the Church founded by Jesus.

I would like to suggest to you that if the Catholic Church taught that baptism by full immersion was wrong, then this would clearly contradict scripture or nullify the word of God. And what the Catholic Church teaches does fit into scripture much more cohesively that any of the Protestant teachings I was familiar with. There were always scriptures that just didn’t fit Protestant doctrine, and Protestant explanation or commentary on those things just did not ring true to me.

That the “born of water” refers to natural birth is an interpretation. Since the scripture does not specifically say this refers to the waters of natural birth. And this interpretation is not universal among Protestants. It actually derives from those sects to deny the necessity of baptism or want to make it completely optional.

What I am trying to communicate to Protestants is in regard to this very discussion we are having. You are convinced that baptism is by full immersion based ONLY on the definition of the word baptizo in Scripture.OK I understand that. But, what did the Christian Church of the first century do? How did they baptize? Before those words in the New Testament were ever even written, how were converts being baptized?

Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) 90A.D.

So, you see that the Oral Traditions preceded the New Testament. This is settled practice it is not a new instruction. If Satan had actually been able to destroy proper baptism, then that would mean that Jesus was unable to keep His promise.
” and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (His Church). Mt 16:18
The age of reason is a Catholic concept. It is usually around 7 years of age but can vary. Until this time, even though a child is born with a sin nature they are not judged to have committed their own sin until after the age of reason. They must first of all know that a certain behavior is a sin and then freely consent to sin. If what is done is very serious the sin is mortal. If it is less serious it is deemed to be venial sin.
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9 Responses to How Was Baptism Administered in First Century?

  1. SR says:

    You “Go.” This is really, really good and I enjoyed reading it. The thing of it is Protestants believe the “Bible” came first and it did not. The Church, her teachings, and the traditions did. So there is no concept of these said “teachings” and “traditions” which make them fully rely on Scripture. That is not an ever ending “bad thing.” It just makes for at times, “wrong interpretations” of Scripture. When this happens then it becomes “who is right or wrong?” What the question needs to be is, “Where do Catholics get these “traditions” and “teachings?” Good post. God Bless, SR

  2. H.Davis says:

    All the inspired writers had to do was use rantizo from Greek which means to sprinkle/pour,but they use baptizo which means dip under ,plunge under or make fully wet or immerse.I have studied Greek since ’63 and any where where baptism is mentioned it means to immerse and no one had a right to change it. Immersion more fully reflects or pictures the death ,burial and resserction of Christ.It speaks of baptism being in the LIKENESS of his death.It says being BURIED in bpatism.Romans 6:4,5

    • bfhu says:

      H. Davis,
      No one is disputing the use of the word “to immerse”. You may have missed the beginning of this conversation. Please see this post to better understand the post you just commented on. Here is an except from Baptism:

      Bread From Heaven: And yes, baptismo means immerse. So, immersion is certainly a fuller sign of dying to self and rising to new life. But, if baptism initiates us into Christ and is necessary for salvation (Jn 3) then what of conversions on a sick/death-bed? What of infants close to death? Haul them miles and miles away to a body of water deep enough to fully immerse? They might die on the journey. For many reasons the Church compassionately and for practical reasons decided that a valid baptism could be accomplished without full immersion. A lake or river with moving, (living water) is preferred but at least the pouring of water on the head was required three times, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

      CCC-1278 The essential rite of Baptism consists in immersing the candidate in water or pouring water on his head, while pronouncing the invocation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

      This is an except from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But the whole entry is very beautiful. You can read it here Baptism.

  3. H.Davis says:

    I say this in all love-I like your site-Yes,IF baptism or the blood of Christ through faith is necessary for salvation. Either HE is fully capable of saving us or He is not.He does not need water, wine or bread to save.
    We can pour for the sick,etc.,but those capable of being immersed in a church baptistry(and many have been discovered from the first century on);
    I don’t see the word for baptism in John 3. Everyone Jesus saved in the NT was told their ‘faith had saved’ them.I went through each case in the gospels.Nothing about baptism.The thief on the cross a prime example.The Gk.word water is there.Jesus was clearly talking about ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit and that which is born of the flesh is flesh.’ This is why Nicodemas asked if he ‘had to go back into his mother’s womb and be born again!’ He knew Jesus was talking about mans’water birth-not baptism into this life, but couldn’t grasp how to be born a second time!!! A person is born of water and enters the world,but at some point they must be ‘born from above’a seconf but,spiritual birth this time to ‘enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Also “born again” in Greek is ‘regenerated from above.’It can’t be addressing water baptism which is on earth not from above.The source of the new birth is solely from above not below.”…NOT by works of righteousness (Jesus called baptism a ‘righteousness’ work in Matt.3:14-16) which we have DONE, but according to His mercy he saved (perfect tense … a past completed act having present permanant results Gk.) us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (or ‘from ABOVE’)Titus 3:5
    Peter says baptism is”…NOT for the putting away of the filth of the flesh (sin Gk.)but the answer of a good conscious towards God.’
    Baptism is a type(tupos Gk.) or picture as he says in Greek. Baptism ‘saves’ us in ‘type’ as the ark saved the 8 of Noah’s time says Peter.
    “Being buried WITH Him in baptism says Paul.We are already “WITH” Christ by faith if we have truely repented with total faith in Jesus THE only Saviour.Romans 6:4
    Thanks for letting me post.It is kind of you.

    • bfhu says:

      HDavis I say this in all love-I like your site-Yes,IF baptism or the blood of Christ through faith is necessary for salvation. Either HE is fully capable of saving us or He is not.He does not need water, wine or bread to save.
      Bread From Heaven Of course He is fully capable of saving us. He did not NEED Jesus to die either. God could have saved us any way He wanted to. But since He has chosen to save us through the death of His son, and our faith and baptism, I will submit to Him. Jesus said to be baptized so that is who we obey. We do not look for pholsophical arguments to work around baptism.

      HDavis I don’t see the word for baptism in John 3.

      Bread From Heaven We must be born of water and Spirit.

      HDavis Everyone Jesus saved in the NT was told their ‘faith had saved’ them.I went through each case in the gospels.Nothing about baptism.The thief on the cross a prime example.

      Bread From Heaven Water baptism, in obedience to Christ is the ordinary entrance into the body of Christ. But many will be saved through Christ without ever knowing Christ or His baptism. This is left up to God for those in all ages who responded well with what little they knew. We do not believe everyone before Christ is going to Hell and everyone who never heard of Jesus after His life and death is going to Hell. These we leave to the love and mercy of God. But, for us more is required.

      HDavisThe Gk.word water is there.Jesus was clearly talking about ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit and that which is born of the flesh is flesh.’

      Bread From Heaven This is not clear at all. That is why we interpret it as a euphemism for baptism and Protestants often say it is birth water. But , in my opinion that doesn’t make sense. Why would Jesus even need to mention water of birth? I find this very doubtful when water baptism has always been a Christian sacrament of intitiation into the Body of Christ until the Protestants came alon 15oo years later and reinterpreted this verse to fit their theology.

      HDavis It can’t be addressing water baptism which is on earth not from above.

      Bread From Heaven That is merely your opinion and unhinged from historical Christian teaching for 2000 years. I am going with Christ and His apostles and what they taught and have practiced for 2000 years. If you prefer a 500 year old tradition, ok.

      HDavis Peter says baptism is”…NOT for the putting away of the filth of the flesh (sin Gk.)but the answer of a good conscious towards God.’
      Bread From Heaven True. We agree. The sacrament of baptism cleanses from sin not from dirt from the body. The Greek word is rhupon meaning dirt it is not the word for sin; that Greek word is hamartia.

      HDavis Baptism is a type(tupos Gk.) or picture as he says in Greek. Baptism ‘saves’ us in ‘type’ as the ark saved the 8 of Noah’s time says Peter.

      Bread From Heaven This is true. But it is a spiritual and authentic sacrament. It is not merely symbolic as so many Protestants teach.

      HDavis “Being buried WITH Him in baptism says Paul.We are already “WITH” Christ by faith if we have truely repented with total faith in Jesus THE only Saviour.Romans 6:4
      Thanks for letting me post.It is kind of you.

      Bread From Heaven I agree with the verse but not the timeline you impose upon it. The Bible is not a book of systematic theology and it was never meant to be. It must be interpreted in union with the beliefs of the Church founded by Jesus. If a person could sit down and infallibly interpret scripture in 2011 and consider their interpretation to be more authentic than the interpretation of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ Himself, I would consider that somewhat arrogant. And i know you don’t mean to be. But I was once in your position as a zealous Protestant. I KNOW I was arrogant.

  4. H.Davis says:

    Hi!
    When you read John up to Chapter 3 everywhere it mentions baptism this is what this rite is called. Right (no pun!) after after the Discourse with Nicodemus at verse 21 in v.22 it says baptizing and on from there throughout the Gospel of John.
    So all of a sudden in Jn.3:5 the word “water” means baptism when He is speaking to Nicodemus when in all other verses pre and post 3:5 the actual word baptize(immerse gk.) is used?
    Nicodemus was well aware of ‘baptism’ as practiced by John and his disiples and Jesus’disciples so Jesus would have used this word bapto or baptizo gk. meaning baptism and it would not have been so puzzling for Nicodemus to understand what He was saying!!!

    The Jews had turned God’s animal sacrifies as well as rites of Moses into a means of salvation instead of a picture of the coming One Who would forgive their sins.They believed in the thing or ritual,laws,etc.,plus God not totally in the the One. Jesus castigated them for this. Matt.23
    A Jewish scholar a Christian whom i wrote has said many things in Jewish culture then were called ‘born again’ like birth (he said ‘water birth’ into the world was born again-when he first read Jn.3 as a new believer he knew what Jesus was saying i.e.’born of water’ or child birth-he could see right away how Nicodemus misunderstood Jesus’ words as he missed ‘being born from above’ which Jesus was really saying to him (in Greek it says “from above”.;becoming a son of the law was ‘born again;’becoming a Rabbi was being ‘born again,’getting married ‘BA,’etc.
    Nic thought I was born of water and as a Jew so I don’t understand I have to be born a second time! As aJew he thouhgt this first water birth and being Jew brought him into the concenet and salvation,etc. John says in Jn.1:12-13 “But as many as did receive Him ,He gave to them authority to become children of God -to those that BELIEVE in his name.-who were born NOT of blood [as Nicodemus thought],nor of the will of the flesh[the religious authorities,nor of the will of man[the individual],but were BORN of God [not baptism].”
    We Westerners or just all non Jews think a certain way, but we must know their culture to fully understand.
    ‘I have been born of water now you say to get saved I have to enter into my mother’s womb [proof he thought 'born of water' meant water or the flesh birth] and be born a second time? How can this be?’
    Jesus was realy sating being born or water as a Jew is not enough to take you to the kingdom. I am most assuredly sayting to you this second birth is FROM above only.’It is not earthly in any way.’That which is born of the flesh [water birth]is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”v8
    Nicodemus still ‘couldn’t understand’!!! like a lot of so called believers that have been ‘herded’ through church doctrine today!
    Note earthly thing/s is pl.This would mean water birth was, of course, ‘earthly’ and the ‘wind’ v.8 He mentions so TWO earltly things or pl.!

    Jn.3:v 15-18 so that Nicodemus would not misunderstand He told Nicodemus “…so that everyone who BELIEVES on Him [Jesus] may NOT perish [go to hell] but have everlasting life…whoever BELIEVES on Him should not perish…He that BELIEVES on Him is NOT condemned…”
    First century Romans 5:1:”So being justified BY FAITH we have peace toward God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ.”
    Today 21 st century ‘Being jusified by faith,baptism,works,church membership,assisted by minister or priest,Lord’s Supper,etc.,etc.!

    • bfhu says:

      You have made a case for your interpretation of John 3. I understand. However, historically that is not how Christians understood or interpreted this scripture.Since, we have seen how much division is caused by differing interpretations and stubborn insistence upon a certain interpretation to the point of leaving a church and starting another, I say to myself:
      How did the people in the early Church interpret this? That is much more likely to be true and much closer in time to what Jesus taught. And what Church has been in existence since Jesus founded His Church on Rock? I have found the answer to both questions in the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches for the most part. Here is what Justin who died for his faith said in 151 A.D.

      “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true . . . are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God the Father . . . and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit [Matt. 28:19], they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, ‘Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:3]” (First Apology 61).

      Around 190 A.D., Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, wrote, “And [Naaman] dipped himself . . . seven times in the Jordan’ [2 Kgs. 5:14]. It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [this served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions, being spiritually regenerated as newborn babes, even as the Lord has declared: ‘Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]” (Fragment 34).

      In the year 252 A.D., Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage, said that when those becoming Christians “receive also the baptism of the Church . . . then finally can they be fully sanctified and be the sons of God . . . since it is written, ‘Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ [John 3:5]” (Letters 71[72]:1).

      Augustine wrote, “From the time he [Jesus] said, ‘Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5], and again, ‘He that loses his life for my sake shall find it’ [Matt. 10:39], no one becomes a member of Christ except it be either by baptism in Christ or death for Christ” (On the Soul and Its Origin 1:10 [A.D. 419]).

      Augustine also taught, “It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated . . . when that infant is brought to baptism; and it is through this one Spirit that the infant so presented is reborn. For it is not written, ‘Unless a man be born again by the will of his parents’ or ‘by the faith of those presenting him or ministering to him,’ but, ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5]. The water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was generated in Adam” (Letters 98:2 [A.D. 408]).

      I do not trust myself to infallibly interpret scripture. I don’t trust you either, no offense. I trust the Church founded by Jesus 2000 years ago. If I am wrong, I also trust the mercy of God. But He knows I honestly sought the truth and went where it led me….to the Catholic Church. Have you read my conversion story? Click–>My Conversion

  5. H.Davis says:

    I want also to say that “born again”or born or generated from above’ is aorist in Greek which means a one time act that takes place at a given time.It happens as in this case once and is not necessary to repeat again.This refutes those who use this section of scripture to teach past lives as did Edgar Caycle. I told his grand son that this means one is born again only once period -not multiple times as Edgar taught in trance!
    ,

    • bfhu says:

      Absolutely! And the Catholic Church accepted the first of my three Protestant baptisms, refusing to baptize me again. I had to be baptized to join a Baptist church.

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