Malankara World

What Shall I Do To Be Saved?

By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil

Question 45. What is the procedure for baptism?

There are two arguments. A minority believes that the recipient should be immersed in water while a vast majority believes in just pouring of water over the body.

We have to note many issues here:

  1. When the apostles baptized people, did they perform it by immersing in water or by sprinkling water?

  2. During the time of the apostles, infants were baptized (evidence follows). How can someone immerse infants in water?

  3. When did the argument one should be baptized only after believing? - begin?

  4. Some people argue that through baptism one does not receive any Gifts from God, but is only a process of witnessing or a process of dedication.

(Even the previous section of people have a rigid procedure during baptism. Isn't this contradictory? If baptism is unimportant, why have such a rigid procedure?)

The Baptisms Described in the Book of Acts:

  1. Acts 2:41 - 3000 people were baptized on the day of Pentecost.

  2. Acts 8:16- The people of Samaria were baptized by Philip

  3. Acts 8:38, - Philip baptized the man from Ethiopia

  4. Acts 9:17,18 - Ananias baptized Saul

  5. Acts 10:48 - Cornelius and his family were baptized by Peter.

  6. Acts 16:15 - Lydia was baptized by St. Paul .

  7. Acts 16:33 - Prison Keeper was baptized by St. Paul .

  8. Acts 18:8 - Crispus was baptized in the house of Justus.

(Paul also baptized many other people)

Let us examine each of the above Baptisms in detail

1) 3000 People were baptized on the day of Pentecost, in Jerusalem:

There are only two small ponds in Jerusalem (Ref: Geography of the Bible). They are Bedsaida and Shebham?. There is a small stream, called Kidron. Visitors even today, walk through this stream during the months of April-May to the Olive Mountain. During this time of the year, there is no water in the stream. Jesus was crucified during the month of April-May (month of neezon). He crossed this stream to reach the Gathas Seemon garden. Obviously, there was no water in the stream during this time. The day of Pentecost was 50 days after His Resurrection (i.e. June-July). During these months, there is not even a single drop of water in the stream. It is certain that 3000 people were baptized there, when there was no water at all. The other two ponds were located in heavily populated areas occupied by the Jews (Jewish settlement). So it is impossible to think that, the apostles took all these people to such a hostile place in order to baptize them. Besides, it is hard to imagine that the Jew's, who did not even permit the apostles to preach, would give permission to baptize such a large crowd in their area. So there is no possibility that the apostles immersed these people during their baptism.

2) The baptism of the people of Samaria

In the Bible there is no record of any rivers being present in Samaria. The rivers referred to in the Bible are:

1) Abna (in Syria) Referred in - (2 Kings 5:12)

2) Pharpar - (2 Kings 5:12)

3) Khebar in Chaldea - (2 Gen 2:14)

4) Jabbok - (Gen. 32:22)

5) Arnon in Moab - (Num. 1:13-15)

6) Jordan - (2 Kings 5:10)

7) Kishon - (Judges 4:7)

8) Gihon - (Gen. 2:13)

9) Tigris - (Gen. 2:14)

10) Hirucon - (Gen. 2:14)

11) Kereeth Brook - (1 Kings 17.5)

12) Pison - (Gen. 2:11)

But none of these rivers are in Samaria.

There were deep wells in Samaria (John 4:11). So there was no source of water where one could be immersed during their baptism.

3) Acts 8:38

Philip baptized the eunuch of Ethiopia - Let us see where this happened. The angel asked Philip (8:26) "Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert. In Acts 8:36 - "As they went down the road they came to some water, the eunuch said". According to the Bible, this happened in a desert, and the baptism took place when they found some water. Since this was a desert, it is almost impossible to find ponds, lakes, rivers or even streams. He was baptized when they found some water. It doesn't mean that the eunuch was immersed in water during his baptism.

4) Acts 9:17 and 18 Baptism of Saul (Paul).

After the vision, he was led to the house of Judas. The place was?.... (To Ananyas) Arise and go to a street called Straight (Acts 9:11). Ananyas went to that house (Acts 9:17) and baptized in the house (Acts 9:18). Can any one say that this house in Damascus had a pool to immerse a person in? Impossible, during that period in time.

5) Acts 10:48

Cornelius and his family were baptized by Peter. - The sequence of events that took place were:

Cornelius was waiting for them. He had invited his relatives and close friends (Acts 10:24, 25)

Peter went inside the house (Acts 10: 27)

Peter preached to them (Acts 10:33 - 43)

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Lord. (Acts 10:48)

It is very unlikely that this house had a pool inside to immerse and baptize.

6) Acts 16:15 - St. Paul baptized Lydia

This was at a riverside. But it is not known if the river at that time had enough water to immerse a person. Some rivers will dry up during the summer season.

7) Acts 16:33 - St. Paul baptized a Jailer

This too was in the 'prison keeper's house.' It is almost impossible to have a pool in a house. There could be a pool in the king's palace, but not likely in a prison keeper's house.

8) Acts 18:8

Crispus, was baptized in the house of Justus ? This baptism also took place in a house.

We can see from the book of Acts that, when the apostles baptized, they did not immerse the people in water. With all these examples in the Bible, it is astonishing that some people argue for a different procedure like 'immersing' etc... At the same time they argue that baptism will not result in the remission of one's sins, and thereby will not be eligible for the kingdom of God.

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