Jesus Christ Baptism
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Jesus Christ Baptism 67

Philippian Jailer

WavesBaptism is the initiatory rite into the Christian Faith and is modeled on Jesus Christ baptism at the River Jordan by John the Baptist and also by 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 is 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 adult.

Which Kind of Baptism?

Water of BaptismThere is no essential difference between the two except for the role of the godparents. 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. Baptism in the Early Church was initially for adults, infants and children in fact the whole household in the case of the Philippian jailor. 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.✞

Immediately Baptized

Painting of Early BaptismWe are 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 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 © 2017

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