Jesus Christ Baptism
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Jesus Christ Baptism
Page 67

Philippian Jailer

WavesBaptism was the initiatory rite into the Christian Faith and was modeled on Jesus Christ baptism at the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Baptism was also the practice of the Early Church from the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by the Apostle Philip to the baptism of the entire family of the Philippian jailer. Baptism was one of two sacraments commanded by Jesus himself. Baptists practice believers' baptism of an adult by full immersion whereas Anglicans and Roman Catholics conduct infant baptism generally by sprinkling of either a baby, an infant or even an adult. Some denominations practice immersion as well as sprinkling as required.

Which Kind of Baptism?

Water of BaptismThere was no essential difference between the two except for the role of the godparents in infant baptism. In Mainline Churches (Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Episcopalians and Lutherans) godparents promise to lead the child to faith as they grow into adult life and are able to make their own decisions at some kind of Confirmation Service.

Early History

Baptism in the Early Church was initially for all the adults, infants and children. The whole household in the case of the Philippian jailor was baptized. Later, during the first and second centuries it became the norm for parents to baptize their infants and babies. Remember that society in early times was dominated by patriarchs who had control over every aspect of their families and slaves. The head of the household therefore decided what religion should be followed and who should be baptized. This was demanded for every member of the Household. Having said this it is only fair to say there were almost certainly different practices among various groups of Christians around the Roman Empire at the same time.

Immediately Baptized

Painting of Early BaptismWe were told in Acts 16.33 of the Philippian jailor that when he believed in Christ "he and all his family were immediately baptized." The jailor's family would certainly have included all ages of people including grandparents, teenagers, servants, slaves and even relatives in his home as well as many infants and babies who would have been under the control of the head of the household, the Philippian jailor himself.

"Jesus Christ Baptism"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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