Monday, April 12, 2010
John MacArthur on Baptism by Immersion
Baptizo is an intensified form of bapto. The Greeks had ways of sticking in a few extra letters and intensifying a word. Baptizo is used many, many times in the New Testament; many, many times. It means "to dip completely" and it's the Greek word for drowning; that shows you how complete the dipping is, potentially. It's the word "to submerse" or "immerse". In fact, the Latin equivalent is immersio or submersio. The noun baptism, baptismas, is used always in the book of Acts to refer to a Christian being immersed in water. It's always used to refer to a Christian being immersed in water. So, that is what baptism is: it's a ceremony by which a person believes the gospel and is then immersed into water.
In fact, the terms bapto and baptizo, the verb, and baptismas, the noun, could have been translated immerse; and probably would have solved a lot of problems, but the translators chose to transliterate the Greek baptizo into baptise. They transliterated it rather than translate it because it had become such a technical term for immersion. So, they just transliterated it across, but that doesn't change the meaning. It means, to immerse.
In fact, the Greeks had a different word for sprinkling and that word rhantisanti is used of sprinkling or splattering with water. It's a different word altogether. We're not talking about sprinkling. There's no such thing as a ceremony of sprinkling in the Bible, or pouring or any application of water to the individual. Whenever you find baptism in the Bible, it is the word immerse; or submerse and it means, putting the person under the water. Every New Testament use these terms, requires or permits the idea of immersion. This is so obvious that even John Calvin, who basically came down on the side of infant sprinkling or infant baptism, says this, he writes, "The word `baptize' means `to immerse.'" No linguist can come up with anything else. Calvin says, "The word `baptize' means `to immerse'; it is certain that immersion was the practice of the early church." There really is no argument, there's no debate at that point.
The verbs bapto, baptizo, are never used in the passive. That is to say, water is never said to be baptized on someone such as sprinkling or pouring or touching with water which is done in a great, great portion of the church today. They sprinkle, they pour, or they dip and just touch the water to the forehead or to some other part of the head. Never are those verbs used in the passive sense of water being placed on someone. They're always used in the sense of someone being placed in water. Whenever you read in the New Testament about a baptism, an actual occasion of baptism, immersion is the only possible meaning.