What Is Baptism?
“Baptism” comes from the Greek work baptízō, which means “to submerge, dip under, immerse.” So put simply, baptism is immersing an individual in water and raising them up again from it.
Biblically-speaking, baptism signifies the following:
Baptism portrays the death and resurrection of Christ. (Rom. 6:3-4)
Baptism symbolizes deliverance from judgment. (1 Pet. 3:20-21)
The waters of baptism remind us of the waters of God’s judgment unleashed upon the earth during the days of Noah, upon the Egyptians as they attempted to cross the Red Sea, and upon Jonah as he was hurled into the sea and raised from it three days later. Peter says that baptism “corresponds to” Noah and his family being kept safe from the flood by the ark that God commanded him to make. Therefore to baptize a person means that just as Noah was delivered from the flood, just as the Israelites passed safely through the waters of the Red Sea, and just as Jonah emerged safely from the water, so too he or she has passed through the waters of God’s judgment and emerged as a new creation, and only because of the merits of Jesus. Salvation is our appeal to God that he would take us into Christ as Noah was taken into the ark and delivered.
Who Can Be Baptized?
In light of what baptism signifies, it can be concluded that baptism is to be administered to those who give a sincere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. The New Testament gives further support for “believer’s baptism”:
The New Testament only describes the baptism of believers.
Of the numerous baptism accounts in Scripture, it is only ever those who have repented of their sins and turned to Christ that we see being baptized. Belief is consistently seen as the prerequisite for baptism. (See Acts 2:38; 2:41; 8:12; 8:35-36; 9:18; 10:48; Acts 16:14-15; 16:33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16)
Paul and baptism
In Galatians 3:27, Paul clearly assumes that those who have been baptized have “put on Christ” (have been saved). His question in Romans 6:3 carries the same assumption: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”