Is Baptism An Immersion?


Albert E. Farley

In Matthew 28:28-30, Jesus Christ gave this commission to his apostles: "... All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." This command is also recorded in Mark 16:15-16. "... Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." The apostle Peter began carrying out this charge in Acts 2:37-38. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Baptism is the common action and command of these three scriptures. The English word baptism is, however, an unfortunate translation of the original words of the Bible. In fact, the translation baptism is, actually, the result of a process called transliteration. That is, instead of translating the original word (in its various forms) into its English equivalents, the translators substituted English letters for the Greek letters of the original words! Thus, baptisma became (Anglicized) baptism! If, in fact, the translators had translated baptizw, they would have written, "dip," "immerge (plunge or immerse)," or "submerge." (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, translated by Joseph Henry Thayer, p.94) Therefore, Matthew 28 would read, "... Go ye therefore and teach all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Mark 16:16 would read, "...He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved ..." Acts 2 would read, "... Repent, and be immersed every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins ..."

Why, then, did the King James translators of A.D. 1611 not properly translate baptizw (and its various forms)? Remember that the King James Version is the product of a charge given by King James of England, the Head of the Church of England, to produce a "Common" version of the scriptures. In the original edition, under the heading "The Translators To The Reader," the translators wrote (in the original spelling), "Lastly, wee haue on the one side auoided the scrupulositie of the Puritanes, who leaue the olde Ecclesiasticall words, and betake them to other, as when they put washing for Baptisme, and Congregation in stead of Church: ..."

The translators considered the words "Baptisme" and "Church" to be "olde Ecclesiasticall words." In the Church of England, the ecclesiastics (clergymen) had long believed and taught that infants were to be baptized and that the mode of baptism was immaterial; it could be by dipping the infant in water or by pouring water upon him. Therefore, when the translators made the King James Version, they preferred not to translate baptizw (and its various forms). To have translated it would have actually opposed their practice of pouring water upon their infants.

Dear friends, do you not see what this means? We will probably never stop using the English word baptism, but do you not see what confusion and false doctrine is avoided if baptism is properly understood? In the New Testament of Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ was to be preached to all; those who believed were commanded to repent and to be buried with Christ in water (baptized) for the remission of their sins. Romans 6:1-6; Colossians 2:12. Those who did so had their sins washed away in the blood of Christ and were added to the church by the Lord. Acts 2:36-47. Infants were never baptized.

Yes, New Testament baptism is always an immersion. "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized (immersed), and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." Acts 22:16. Rt. 5 Box 1468, Salem, WV 26426.


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