Into, At, or Nearby

“And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:4-6)

“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:38)

What does Biblical baptism look like?

I heard a story once of young preacher right out of seminary preaching at his first appointment. He chose the subject of baptism, and used the above two verses and a few others to make his point.

He taught in his sermon, “The translators here used too strict a translation of the Greek. That word “into” can mean ‘into, at, or nearby’ the water.”

After services, a devoted elderly sister invited him to lunch in her home. Upon arriving, she asked, “Would you like some coffee?”

He replied, “Why yes, thank you very much.”

So, she proceeded to set his cup on the table in front of him and then pour the coffee all over the table, into his lap, and a little in the cup.

The young preacher exclaimed, “Why didn’t you pour the coffee into the cup?!?”

The wise sister replied, “I did! I poured it into, at, or nearby!”

My point is this, words having meaning. One of the most ridiculous paintings I have every seen is supposedly of John baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan. They are both standing there waist deep in the river, but John is taking up a hand full of water to pour it on Jesus’ head. This is not what the Bible says in Greek, English or any other language!

Baptize means to “dip” or “fully immerse” an object in liquid. It’s that simple.

Incidentally, there is a text from a Greek poet and physician named Nicander who wrote in Greek about 200 B.C. He uses the same Greek word, baptizo, when describing how to pickle various vegetables. I don’t know much about pickling and canning, but I do know that to pickle something, it has to be fully immersed in the solution to work!

Moreover, immersion is the only method that accurately portrays what it should. Baptism should look like the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

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