1) A Dispensational Study of Baptism and the Priesthood
1. What is the meaning of the word Baptism? 907 to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet) ceremonial ablution from 911 overwhelm cover wholly with fluid, moisten, stain, immerse, dip, garment.
2. Is there more than one type of Baptism? Mat. 3:11-12 Water, spirit, and fire are mentioned in these two verses. There are several others in the New Testament. Some others are: Into Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), Christ into death (Luke 12:50), Noah’s ark (1 Peter 3:20-21), Into Moses (1Corinthians 10:2), For the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29).
3. Who was John the Baptist? Luke 1:34-45 A relative of Jesus Luke 1:5-18 His mother Elizabeth was a descendant of the first High Priest Aaron, his father Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. (Luke 1:5)
4. Why did John come baptizing? John 1:29-34, “ that he should be made manifest (appear) to Israel”, “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
5. How was Jesus Christ revealed to Israel? Mark 1:9-11 “The spirit like a dove descending upon him.”, “a voice from heaven saying Thou art my beloved Son.”
6. What was John’s message about baptism? Mark 1:1-8 “Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mat. 3:2 “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
7. Why was Jesus baptized? Mat. 3:13-15 “To fulfill all righteousness” Strong’s 1343 righteousness equity (of character or act) justification whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man, religious duties.
8. When did Jesus begin his ministry? Luke 3:21-23 At 30 years of age.
9. What are some of the scriptures relating to people and Priest washing in the Old Testament?
(a) Exodus 19:6-10, “(6) And ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of priest, and a holy nation.” “(10) And the Lord said unto Moses, “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.” Sanctify (Strongs 6942) to be clean ceremonially or morally, to be holy, set apart for the work of God.
(b) Exodus 28:40-41, “(40) And for Aaron’s sons thou shalt make coats,.., for glory and for beauty. (41) And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, and shalt consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”
(c ) Leviticus 16:3-4, “(3) Thou shall Aaron come into the holy place: …(4) He shall put on the holy linen coat,…these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.”
(d) Exodus 40:12-13, “(12) And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. (13) And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”
(e) Zechariah 13:1, “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.”
(f) Others: Numbers 8:1-14, 19:9, 31:19-24, 2 Chronicles 4:1-6, Jeremiah 4:11-14, Isaiah 1:16, 4:4.
10. What are some of the similarities between Christ’s ministry and the ministry of a priest?
(a) Priest are required to wash before entering the office (Exodus 40:12-13) and before and after making sacrifices (Leviticus 16: 4, 24). Christ was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Mat. 3:13-15).
(b) Priest must be anointed with oil (Exodus 29:7). Immediately after being baptized, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power:” (Acts 10:38, Mark 1:9).
(c ) Priest enter the office at thirty years of age (Numbers 4:3). Jesus Christ was “about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23) when he began his ministry.
(d) Priest are required to wear “holy garments’ (Leviticus 16:4) when conducting their office “for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:40) At Christ’s transfiguration “his raiment was white and glistering.” and Peter, John, and James “saw his glory” (Luke 9:28-32) and his “majesty” (Strongs 3168 splendor, magnificence) (2 Peter1:16-18).
(e) Priest are required to make sin offerings to make atonement for “he that sinned” (Leviticus 5:9-11). Christ, “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26), and, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Note: “(4) For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.” Although Christ could start his ministry on earth, and perform the sacrifice on earth, his blood had to be offered at, “(2) the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man” (Hebrews 8:1-4) which is in heaven.
11. Did Jesus baptize? John 4:1-2 No
12. Was Jesus baptized more than once? Luke 12:49-50 Yes he was baptized into death. (Also see Mat 20:22 and Mark 10:35-40)
13. Is there another name for baptizing? John 3:22-26 Strong’s 2512 Purifying meaning washing off and Levitical cleansing.
14. Do people receive the Holy Spirit when they are baptized in the Book of Acts?
(a) Acts 8:14-17 received word of God, baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus, received the Holy Ghost by laying of the hands.
(b) Acts 10:34-48 Hear Christ died and was raised, received Holy Ghost, baptized in the name of the Lord.
(c ) Acts 19:1-7 Believed, baptized by John’s baptism, baptized in the name of Lord Jesus, received Holy Ghost by laying on of hands.
(d) Acts 9:1-9 Lord spoke to Paul, (v.17) Ananias put hands on him, (v.17) Paul filled with the Holy Ghost, (v. 18) baptized (Acts 22:16 “to wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”).
People received the Holy Ghost before baptism (b, d) and after baptism (a, c) With laying on of hands (a, c, d) and without laying on of hands (b), at the time of believing (b) and after believing (a, c, d). Paul states, “after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”. (Ephesians 1:13-14), which indicates you are sealed with the Holy Spirit when you believe. The explanation for the differences in Acts may be that these were cases of being filled with the Holy Ghost which can even happen more than once (Acts 1:4-5, 4:31).
15. Was Paul baptized? Act 9:17-19 Yes
16. Did Paul baptize others? 1 Corinthians 1:13-17 Yes, Paul also stated here, “Christ sent me not to baptize”. Note the other 12 Apostles were sent to baptize (Mat. 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-18).
17. How many baptisms does Paul say there are? Ephesians 4:4-6 One
18. How does Paul say we are baptized? “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
19. Is real water the only way to be washed? No Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), Water through to Word (Ephesians 5:25-27), Clean through the word (John 15:3), Blood cleanse our consciences (Hebrews 9:11-14), Pure Water (no physical water is pure) (Hebrews 10:19-22), Blood (Revelation 1:4-6)
20. What are a few of the scriptures some people use to teach water baptism is required for salvation?
(a) Mark 16:16 “He that believith and is baptized shall be saved” Some suggest that this states you must believe and be baptized to be saved. Others present the next line, “but he that believth not shall be damned” to say it only states you will be damned if you do not believe, not if you are not baptized. From a dispensational view water baptism is part of the gospel of circumcision and not the gospel of uncircumcision (Galatians 2:7-9), and it has always been faith that ultimately saves you (Hebrews 11:6).
(b) John 3:5 “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God”
Some suggest this indicates you must be born of water baptism to enter the Kingdom of God. Others suggest that water is symbolic of the word of God (Ephesians 5:25-27, John 15:1-3) and is done by God as foretold in Ezekiel (Esekiel 36:25-27). From a dispensational point of view if this did mean water baptism it would be for Israel as a “Kingdom of Priest” (Exodus 19:6) and not for the uncircumcision.
(c ) 1 Peter 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us” Some suggest this states baptism saves us. Peter states in Acts, “And God…put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:8-9). If, “eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:21) in the days of Noah we know the salvation of their souls would have to be by faith and not the water of the flood. We should not deny though that water baptism is important to the priesthood of Israel as Peter writes to “a
royal priesthood, an holy nation” (Peter 2:9 compare Exodus 19:6).
Note: Priesthood is used by Peter twice (1 Peter 2:5-9) and Priests is used three times by John in Revelation (Revelation 1:6, 5:10-20) but it is never used by Paul in his epistles in the KJ version.
21. What are a few scriptures some people use to show baptism is not required for salvation?
(a) Luke 23:43, “today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Some claim this proves you can enter paradise without being baptized. Others say the thief could have been baptized before he went to the cross, or that God made an exception in this one case. Either way we know that we are now baptized by one Spirit into one body. (Corinthians 12:12-13)
(b) Acts 10:44 “ the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Some say this proves the Holy Ghost can come on you before you are baptized with water so this proves baptism is not required for salvation. Others say that God made this one exception so that Peter and the others could see that God was now going to the Gentiles because, “on the Gentiles also poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 10:45) From a Dispensational point of view we ask since Peter and the others had been told to go, “unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” about nine years before why “they of the circumcision which believed were astonished” (Acts 10:45)? Was this the first time they had seen the Gentiles receive the Holy Ghost after nine years? Cornelius may have been a Jewish proselyte before this occurred as indicated by “his fasting” and prayer time, “about the ninth hour” (Acts 10:30) which is the same time the Jews would pray (Acts 3:1). When, “the Holy Ghost fell on them which heard the word” (Acts 10:44) they encountered the same experience that happened at Pentecost (Acts 2:11, 10:46) because as proselytes saved through the priesthood of Israel they experienced the signs of the last days (Acts 2:17) which was the filling of the Holy Spirit and not the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). See question 14 above and other studies here for more information.
Note: Numbers in parenthesis below refer to questions above.
Most people that become Christians believe the purpose of water baptism is to, “be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16) and, “we are buried with him by baptism into death” (Romans 6:4) that it represents our death, burial, and resurrection with Christ. If the understanding of the meaning of baptism is really this simple, why is the importance of baptism one of the most debated subjects within Christianity? As shown above there are several types of baptism, and many disagreements are about whether some verses like Romans 6:4 mean water or Spirit baptism. Other disagreements are related to what people think the Bible says based on tradition verses what it really does say. John the Baptist did not say he came baptizing to wash away sins (4), Christ who was “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15) did not say he was baptized to wash away sins (7), and the Jews were already performing sacrifices for sins (10c). Although part of the purpose of baptism and washing is purification from sin, if that is its primary purpose then do we need to be baptized again if we sin after we are baptized? If baptism is for our identification with the death of Christ, why were the Jews being baptized before he died, and when they did not even know he was going to die? (Luke 18:31-34) The word baptism is not in the Old Testament and first appears in Matthew 3:7, but the origin of ceremonial cleansing (13) was an important part of the Jewish Priesthood and the ministry of Israel in the Old Testament. Disagreements and confusion about water baptism come primarily from the lack of understanding of its origin and meaning.
In Exodus 19:6 Israel is told, “ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of Priests”, then in verse 19:10 Moses is told, “sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes” (9a). They where washing their clothes as part of being sanctified, that is made holy and set apart for the work of God in the priesthood. Priest were required to wash their flesh before entering office and wash before conducting the office of the priesthood (9 c, d). In Exodus 20 the Jews were given the Ten Commandments, and they accepted the covenant of the law and were sprinkled with blood in Exodus 24:1-8, Jeremiah 31:31-33 foretold that God would make a covenant with Israel and Judah (the Jews) because, “my covenant they brake”. In preparation for acceptance of the new covenant and fulfilling the mission of Exodus 19:6, they were told by John the Baptist to repent and be baptized (washed and sanctified) (6). John was a descendant of Aaron through his mother, and his father was a priest. John was a voice calling in the desert, “prepare the way for the Lord.” (Mat.3:3, Isaiah 40:3), and he was preparing the Jews for acceptance of the new covenant by sanctifying them as Moses had done in Exodus 19:10.
One of the reasons Christ was baptized is so that he could be revealed to Israel as the Messiah as stated by John the Baptist (4). John said, “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God.” The other reason that Christ was baptized was to fulfill all righteousness (7), meaning it was required to be sanctified for the office of the priest (9b, c, d). Immediately upon coming up out of the water he was anointed by the Holy Ghost (10b), and he began his ministry at thirty years of age which is the time a priest would normally start their ministry (10c).
So what would water baptism into the Jewish Priesthood have to do with the Gentiles? The following scripture may help to understand, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals there of: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God Kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10) This group are priest from all nations, but they are specifically, “These are they which come out of great tribulation” (Revelation 7:9-14). The people in these verses are saved during the tribulation by the gospel of the Kingdom and Circumcision. Everyone (Jew and Gentile) saved during the tribulation that dies as a martyr will be, “Kings and Priests” and will rule with Christ during the Millennium. Many people believe that anyone saved by the Gospel of uncircumcision during this Dispensation of Grace become priests, although Paul never mentions the word priest in any of his epistles (KJV). The confusion about the requirement of water baptism and the priesthood is due to the lack of understanding that those saved by the ministry of Israel during the tribulation will become proselytes of the gospel of the circumcision. Those saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom (Circumcision) were told to repent and be baptized, they must believe that Christ is the promised Messiah and King, and they believed they were required to be circumcised and obey the law (Acts 2:38, 3:11-26, 15:5, 21:20-25). Even though Peter, James, and John understood the twelve apostles had been given a mission to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all the nations, baptizing them” (Mat.28:19), they also understood that Paul, “should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Jews).” (Galatians 2:7-9) The Jews mission also includes those that may become Proselytes like Cornelius (21b), the Samaritans (Act 8:12), and the Ethiopian eunuch who, “had come to Jerusalem to worship.” (Acts 8:27) The primary mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Circumcision) with the requirement of water baptism will not take place until the tribulation (Mat. 24:14), it is Paul’s Gospel of the Uncircumcision that is preached to all the world during this Dispensation of Grace.
Paul was baptized as a Jew (15) saved by the Gospel of the Kingdom, and he baptized others (16). Although Paul said, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), and his epistles are written primarily to the Gentiles, his mission was to “the Gentiles, and Kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul taught the Gospel of the Salvation originally (Acts 9:20), he may not have revealed the full message of the Gospel of uncircumcision to mixed crowds of Jews and Gentiles at first (Acts 13, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2), some Gentiles may have been Proselytes like Lydia, “which worshipped God” (Acts 16:14), or he may have baptized a few people originally to keep peace with the Jews. (1 Corinthians 9:20, Acts 21:21-25) For what ever reason he baptized a few people in Acts he never recommends water baptism in any of his epistles. Paul states, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17), in contrast to the twelve apostles that were sent to baptize. Paul states we are now baptized by one spirit (18), there is one baptism (17), and that, “ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) In the Dispensation of Grace it is all done by the Spirit through faith (Ephesians 1:13-14).
So what is wrong with being baptized by water? Nothing unless you believe it is required for your salvation, or it is a required act of obedience. If you do not understand grace, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that you are saved by faith alone in the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), and that you are washed, sanctified, and justified by the Spirit of God by faith, then you may not understand the grace that saves you. If someone does not accept God’s grace as it is only fully revealed in Paul’s epistles, “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12) then you may be putting yourself under the law. “Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) “And account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)