Albert E. Farley

On the birthday of the church, about three thousand souls were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. Acts 2:37-47. Where were all of these people baptized? The Bible does not say. However, there are a few things we do know.

The Bible teaches that the baptism commanded by Jesus Christ is a burial in water. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:38-39; Romans 6:3-6; Colossians 2:12. Jerusalem was located high in the hills of Judea. There were no rivers nearby, but there were three notable pools of water in the city when the events of Acts chapter two occurred. The pool of Bethesda was located near the sheep gate, north of the temple area. John 5:2. It is sometimes spelled "Bethsaida," "Bethzatha," or "Bezatha." It had five porches. It is said to have been 365 feet long and 131 feet wide. (A Commentary on Acts of Apostles, J. W. McGarvey, Seventh Edition, p. 45.) The pool of Siloam was approximately fifty-eight feet long, eighteen feet wide, and nineteen feet deep. John 9:7. Josephus gives its location in War, v. 4, 1 and 2. It is also called "Shiloah" and "Shelah." The pool of Gihon is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 32:30 and 33:14. In fact, historians believe there were two pools of Gihon an upper and a lower located about 400 yards from the pool of Siloam. In addition to these, water was brought into Jerusalem from the reservoirs at Etam. (A Dictionary of the Bible, "Pools," by John D. Davis.)

Baptism may be administered wherever there is sufficient water: oceans, rivers, lakes, creeks, ponds, swimming pools, whirlpools, etc. (Acts 8:36-39, 10:48). The likelihood is that the baptisms in Acts chapter two were done in man-made pools of water in Jerusalem. I do not think it probable that all of these thousands of people walked from Jerusalem down to the Jordan River to be baptized there on that same day. Also, there is no Biblical support for the idea that baptism must be done in "living" or running water.

Believing that baptism is vital to our submission and obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21), we ought to insure that places of baptism are convenient and kept ready at all times. Why is it, then, that some congregations of the Lord's church, through neglect, allow their baptisteries to become almost unfit to be used for baptism? We have witnessed baptisteries with shallow, insufficient water and stale water that is covered with scum and algae! This, I believe, is inexcusable. The New Testament teaches us not to be slothful in business. Romans 12:11. If we are not going to have clean baptisteries, we should not have them.

We appeal to all churches of Christ to make close examinations of their baptisteries today. Clean and repair them if needed. Keep them filled with clean, fresh water. Every humble baptistery can be kept ready.


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