What is Baptism & How to Baptize
Mode of Water Baptism
The following notes reveal the reasons of my change of mind from a strong immersionist to the practice of pouring. I
set out to prove the affusionists wrong; but discovered the evidence was on their side. I am very aware of the history of
immersion having been raised a Baptist and studying the subject thoroughly.
1. What is Baptism?
-It is “ritual washing” as opposed to “actual washing”
-It is “ceremonial cleansing” as opposed to “actual cleansing”
-It is “symbolic purification” as opposed to “actual purification”
**Actual purification is by the blood of Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit
Titus 3:5-6 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus
Christ our Saviour;”
1. The Jews expected the coming Christ or Elijah to Baptize
John 1:19-27 19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? 20
And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou
Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou?
that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying
in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of
the Pharisees. 25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias,
neither that prophet? 26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye
know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
Compare with Matt. 3: 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is
mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
2. Baptism was not a new concept to the Jews – they saw it as a rite of purification
A. Messiah would baptize – where did they get this idea?
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek,
shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come,
saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is
like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons
of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Isa. 32: 15 Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be
counted for a forest.16 Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.17
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Isa. 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy
seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Isa 52:13-15 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many
were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall
he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see;
and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
-This is where the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading when he met Phillip.
-When was this fulfilled? How?
Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your
daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the
servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Ez. 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your
own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your
idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to
walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
-When and how was this fulfilled?
Ez. 39:29 Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith
the Lord GOD.
B. The Jews understood that baptism was Ceremonial cleansing and purification.
John 3:25 “purifying”
“Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 26 And they came
unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold,
the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. 27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it
be given him from heaven.”
-Compare Jn. 2:6 “manner of purifying”
-“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews,”
-This is how the Jews washed and bathed (2 Sam. 11:2)
2 Kings 3:11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of
the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son
of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.
-They didn’t immerse their hands or they would have fouled the water.
-Compare Luke 11:37-38
37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to
meat. 38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
–“did not baptize himself” in the Greek the word is “baptizo”
-Do they foul their water supply by immersion? or do they pour water over their hands?
Mark 7:4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there
be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
–“unless they baptize” again it is “baptizo”
-Mark 7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and
cups: and many other such like things ye do.
-Mark 7:4,8 “washing” “baptismos”
So, the Bible defines “Baptizo” as “washing”, and a rite of purification well known to the Jews, who did this by pouring
water over the object – thus it was baptized WITH water, not IN water.
3. Jesus’ Baptism – Not for repentance, but for ordination and anointing as Prophet, Priest,
John 1: 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before
me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I
knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit
descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record
that this is the Son of God.
Compare: Luke 20:1 And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught the people in the temple, and
preached the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes came upon him with the elders,
2 And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this
authority? 3 And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: 4 The baptism of John,
was it from heaven, or of men? 5 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say,
Why then believed ye him not? 6 But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us: for they be persuaded that John
was a prophet. 7 And they answered, that they could not tell whence it was. 8 And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I
you by what authority I do these things.
-John’s Baptism of Jesus was Jesus’ earthly anointing and authority to minister as He did.
-He was 30 yrs. old – the age of a priest at his anointing
-John was the son of a priest, and of the priestly line.
-Daniel 9:4 “anointing of the most high” dates to Christ’s baptism
-How was this done?
Ex. 29:4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash
them with water. 5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the
ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod: 6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his
head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre. 7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and
-Washed and anointed
Lev. 8:4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the
tabernacle of the congregation. 5 And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded
to be done. 6 And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. 7 And he put upon
him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he
girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. 8 And he put the breastplate upon
him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. 9 And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the
mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses. 10 And
Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. 11 And he
sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to
sanctify them. 12 And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
-The washing was done at the door of the tabernacle in the audience of the people – most likely wasn’t the whole
body, but a ceremonial washing – like baptism. It was probably done similar to the cleansing of the Levites:
-Numbers 8: 5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 6 Take the Levites from among the children of
Israel, and cleanse them. 7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying
upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves
Ex. 30:17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass,
to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water
therein. 19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: 20 When they go into the tabernacle of
the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn
offering made by fire unto the LORD: 21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a
statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
-They would not immerse the dirty hands or feet into the laver and foul all the water, but have someone dip the
water and pour it on their hands and feet (see above 2 Kings 3:11)
Examples of ceremonial washing by sprinkling:
-Numbers 8: 5 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 6 Take the Levites from among the children of Israel,
and cleanse them. 7 And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them,
and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.
-Nu 19:18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon
all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one
dead, or a grave:
-Psalms 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
This hyssop was dipped in the water and used to sprinkle the unclean – it was considered as a ceremonial
-Heb. 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to
the purifying of the flesh:
4. John baptized with water, but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost
-What Mode did Jesus use? What did the water baptism signify?
-Acts 1:4-8 Baptized with water — Baptized with Holy Spirit – the little Greek word “en” must be translated
consistent with both “water” and “Holy Spirit” baptism for they are a parallel; and we know without doubt what
the mode was in Spirit Baptism.
-“Holy Spirit is come upon you”
-Titus 3:5 “washing…and…Holy Ghost…shed on us”
-Acts 2:1-4; 16-18 “sat upon” “pour out upon you”
-Acts 2:33-38 “shed forth” “be baptized…and ye shall receive the…Holy Ghost”
-Acts 8:16 “As yet he was fallen upon none of them”
-Acts 10:37,38; 44-47; “God anointed Jesus”, “fell on”, “poured out”
-“forbid water… being brought in to baptize”
-Acts 11:15,16 “fell on” “baptized with water…baptize with Holy Ghost”
-Peter was reminded of John’s words, John’s baptism, and the Pentecostal outpouring when he saw the
Holy Spirit poured out upon Cornelius and his friends.
-Acts 19:2-6 “unto what then were ye baptized?” “…if you weren’t baptized to receive the Holy Spirit, unto
what then were you baptized?”
-The parallel is inescapable
-What did the water baptism of John signify?
-Pouring out of the Holy Spirit!
What mode did Jesus use to Baptize with the Holy Spirit?
Jesus was the Christ (anointed one) – when was his anointing?
-At His Baptism Luke 4:18; Acts 10:37,38
We are called Christians (little anointed ones) (I John 2:27) – When is our anointing?
-At our Baptism
Why would the mode of “baptized with Water” be different than “baptized with Holy Spirit” when water baptism was
to signify and parallel Spirit baptism?
We are baptized to signify the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon all believers as the earnest of our inheritance.
-We are identifying with Christ’s life, teaching, suffering, crucifixion, and burial in faith of being resurrected with
Are you ready to go without the camp bearing His reproach?
Are you ready to put on Christ?
-Ga 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
–Ro 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also
glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.
Some additional thoughts:
-“Baptizo” is a word that deals with RESULT, not MODE. Like the word “paint” or “wet” or “wash” — these words
deal with result, not mode.
-In Extra Biblical Greek literature when this word is used, we are told that the element is always moved and
put on the object. The object is not dipped into the element.
Baptism in the name of a person is identification as a disciple of that person’s teaching and example.
-1Co 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
-They had come under Moses’ leadership and teaching.
-What was the mode? Sprinkling and pouring – only the Egyptians were immersed.
-Same with I Peter 3:20-21 Those in the ark were separated from the old life by water pouring over them
and washing the world away. Only the wicked were immersed, not Noah.
Baptism as a disciple of Christ is identification with His life, teaching, stand, rejection, crucifixion, death, and
burial, in faith that we will then also share in his resurrection and glory!
-See Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:11-13; Gal. 3:27 & 5:24; I Cor. 1:13; 10:2 & 12:13
-Water baptism pictures being baptized with the Holy Spirit
-The mode of Spirit baptism is pouring…
-…But the RESULT of Spirit baptism is:
-Crucifixion with Christ to the world and flesh (Gal.2:20 & 6:14)
-Washing of regeneration
-Circumcision of the heart – “made without hands” (Col. 2)
-Entering into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection
-Being placed into the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13)
-Putting on Christ (Gal. 3:27)
“Buried with Him by baptism into death” has led many to use immersion as a mode of baptism; and this idea is
probably where immersion came into use as a mode. It doesn’t seem to be the original mode used by the apostles,
which was before they understood Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, as we have demonstrated. All early Christian
art shows baptism by pouring. Jesus was not “buried into death”, but crucified. In our baptism we are “putting on
Christ” (Gal. 3:27) in every aspect of his life and death (Gal. 2:20; 5:24; 6:14; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 13:12,13)
Jewish burial was not in the ground, but in a tomb. Greek and Roman burial was by cremation. Being
immersed in water does not picture Jesus’ burial any more than pouring water on someone. When we bury people, we
do it by pouring dirt over them, not immersing them in the dirt; but this is useless arguing, for the Jews did neither.
They entombed, which is what “buried” means in the Bible. The preparation for burial or entombing was pouring oil –
anointing the body with oil and spices with clothe to mummify. This is interesting in light of the following verses.
-Mt 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
-Mark 14: 3 “…there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she
brake the box, and poured it on his head… 8. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint
my body to the burying.”
-John 12:7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.
-John 19:39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of
myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen
clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
Water baptism did not symbolize death, burial, and resurrection; but Spirit baptism RESULTED in regeneration, which
was a death, burial, and resurrection to new life. The MODE of Spirit baptism was pouring, the result was spiritual
regeneration. To say we, in our baptism, put on Christ, is correct; to say we were crucified with Christ is correct; to say
we died with Christ is correct; to say our old life is buried, and now we walk in newness of life through his resurrection is
correct; to say we were circumcised in heart at baptism is correct; but the mode of water baptism doesn’t have to
picture all these, as it pictures the reception of the agent (The Holy Spirit), which produces all these.
The first time in history we find immersion used as the mode of baptism it is not to picture the death, burial, and
resurrection, but as a washing; — It was trine immersion forward (sometimes unclothed), accompanied by the “sign of
the cross”, “anointing with oil”, “blessing the water”, and other superstitious rites. Single immersion backwards to
picture the death, burial, and resurrection was not used or recorded until the reformation.
We accept those with believers baptism, even if by immersion, because MODE is not the most important issue,
but the application of water in Jesus’ name to a truly repentant believer. Continuing in this repentant, obeying, faith is
even more vital to the salvation of the soul. If one understands immersion as a whelming with water, rather than a
dipping into water, then the symbolism is not totally lost. [Pastor Mark Mark Bullen]