Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Thought: Apostolic Pre-credo baptism?

The Scriptural record: The Twelve Apostles were baptized by John the baptist before they were yet called by Jesus and had first believed in Him.  They hadn't even been introduced to the Lamb of God!  Their's was a pre-faith baptism and their only baptism as far as we know. There is no record of their re-baptism post-faith. That given, their one-time, pre-faith baptism, by God's grace, was indeed effectual unto their salvation through faith.  It seems their subsequent faith in Jesus confirmed the sign and seal of their baptism given by God under John, which flowed from God's sovereign and wholly gracious election in Christ. They didn't choose Jesus and then announce their choice and commitment via baptism.  They were baptized... and Jesus their Savior having already chosen them, effectually called them to Himself (John 15:16; Eph. 1:4).


  1. Jack. Can you show me how you know that "The Twelve Apostles were baptized by John the baptist"?

  2. Hudson, good question. It is an inference (and think a good one) and I may be inferring too much to say that all twelve were baptized by John. Here's my case:

    In John 1:35-42 we find two disciples of John who then follow Jesus. Being disciples of John they would have been baptized by him. We do read that one if them is identified as Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.

    John "came baptizing in water" (John 1:31b); "John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins" (Mark 1:4-5); "Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus was also baptized" (Luke 3:21). "Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were)" (John 4:1-2).

    I think it is a good assumption that most if not all the twelve were baptized under John's ministry along with all of Judea and Jerusalem. We know that Jesus did not do any baptizing and that John came as the one ordained of God to baptize with the baptism of "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" to "prepare the way of the Lord." All of Judea and Jerusalem responded. When Jesus came on the scene the way is prepared. Disciples (initially the twelve) were then called by Jesus. They followed and over time came to believe that Jesus was indeed "the Christ, the Son of the living God."

  3. Let me add - being devout Jews the twelve would most certainly have gone to be baptized by John with all the country of Judea ... and all the people of Jerusalem.

  4. Are you saying that before Jesus, John's baptism was tantamount to Christian baptism, and thus there was no need for those baptized by John to be re-baptized "into the name of Jesus"?

    Personally, I would say that all real Jews (who were Jews by election through faith) became Christians, that these were baptized in the waters of the Noahic flood, the Red Sea and while crossing the Jordan when entering the Promised Land. As such, they were baptized with a baptism that points to the Messiah, and this is what John was saying. I think that John would have said that his baptism was in remembrance of the grace that follows the Lord's beloved, and therefore that baptism in all ages is the baptism of Christ.

    How does your view fit with the disclosure that John was the last of the Old Covenant prophets? I would say that John prepares the way for the NT by providing both a sacrament and a catechesis (word) that links the covenants. Is there any reason why we should not regard baptism as the sacrament that joins the covenants?

    It is not clear to me that you and I would say the same thing. What do you do with those that received John's baptism but were yet not Christians? I would say it is a matter of catechesis.

  5. Yes, I'm saying that. In the same way that circumcision was tantamount to Christian baptism. There are outward differences, yet it was for a time the rite (transitional) or sacrament of entrance into the covenant.

    O.T. circumcision looked forward to the death of Jesus on the cross. N.T. baptism from Pentecost forward looks back to the cross. John's baptism was a transitional yet an ordained rite of entrance into the new covenant. That is why there is no re-baptism of the twelve or the 120 on the day of Pentecost.

    Additionally, to support the claim that the Twelve were baptized by John is this from Acts 1:

    21 Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us— 22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”

    If John's baptism was invalid for a follower of Jesus during his earthly ministry or if they hadn't been baptized by him, then way would that be a requirement for the selection of someone to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle?

    Also the case of Apollos: Interestingly it says he was "acquainted only with the baptism of John" (Acts 18:25), yet upon being taught more accurately by Priscilla and Aquila there's no record of his being re-baptized. Why not? He was baptized by John during the days of Jesus' earthly life. All he needed was further catechism. Whereas those in Ephesus who had been initially taught by Apollos were re-baptized by Paul in the name of Jesus. They had been baptized only into John's baptism (post-Pentecost) and had been given an insufficient gospel. They had not been baptized by John himself.

    Granted, a bit speculative. But all of that wasn't really the point of my post. Rather that the efficacious sign and seal of their baptism under John (and ours post-Pentecost) flowed from God's sovereign and wholly gracious election in Christ, not whether John's baptism was identical in circumstance to post-Pentecost baptism or, for that matter, circumcision in the O.T.

  6. To answer your last question: Yes, I would agree - catechism is what is needed for those baptized by John who hadn't yet believed in Christ. In a sense could it be said that was really the situation of all those baptized by John? And catechism is likewise necessary for one who first believes and then is baptized.

    When did the disciples come to faith in Christ for their salvation from sin? Hard to say. But we know they (and all other of Christ's sheep) were chosen by him, given by the Father of which none were lost.

  7. Jack, for those who have never had any water, is there also a promise that, if they believe the gospel, they will be saved from God's wrath. Does promise salvation to "as many as God calls"?

    Is this promise to those who never had any water a "covenant promise" or merely a "gospel promise"? What is the difference? Is the difference that "the covenant" promises that all (or most) will indeed believe the gospel?

    If some of those without the water believe the same gospel as some of those with the water, I need to see what exceptionally effectual about the water promise.

  8. Why would people who are already circumcised need the water of John the Baptist?

    Andrew Webb writes:

    John Calvin resisted the urging of the Anabaptists that he, having been baptized by the Roman Catholics, should be (re)baptized (Institutes 4.15.16-18)... The effect that this situation had upon him can be seen in his insisting that Paul did not really baptize the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus and in his insisting that the baptism of John the Baptist is Christian baptism.

    most American Presbyterians confessionally uphold the principle of the spirituality of the church, deny Constantinianism, and do not acknowledge that the Civil Magistrate has the power to prosecute for heresy, maintain the order of the church, call synods and so forth. They changed their version of the WCF to reflect that belief.

    This change better reflects the true teaching of the Bible. The 1648 version of the Westminster Standards reflected not the teaching of the bible regarding the civil magistrate, but the lingering presence of Constantinianism within the church of Christ. So too, I believe that the overwhelming decision of the 1845 Old School GA better reflects the true teaching of the bible regarding Roman Catholic baptism.

  9. Anonymous (Mark?),

    Water baptism isn't so linked to salvation as to be the thing that actually regenerates or saves a man. That is the RCC error. It is an outward sign and seal of the inward reality of God's promise of salvation (to be united to Christ in his death and resurrection) which He alone sovereignly accomplishes by His grace, effectual to all who are elect, a salvation received through faith:

    John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


    Romans 10: 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

    Westminster Confession of Faith: 28.5 puts it well regarding baptism and salvation -

    Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

    Why are we baptized? Christ commands it for our benefit, not as an exclusive means but ordinary means of grace.

  10. Why would the disciples who were already circumcised need water baptism?

  11. Mark, what do you mean by "need water baptism?"

  12. Sorry for the unclear question. Why did jews who were already circumcised also receive water baptism from John, if the symbol (seal, you would say) stands for the same thing. I have read Doug Wilson's answer to that question (To a Thousand Generations), but would be interested in yours. And why did the practice of both (circumcision and water) stop at some point for jews? mark

  13. Mark, I suspect the main reason that the disciples received baptism was that they recognized that John's baptism was from God. Upon following Christ they had that belief verified. Jesus himself submitted to it that all righteousness might be fulfilled.

    Later, Jesus commands the apostles, and by extension the church, to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." I know that verse is somewhat contended, but Acts bears it out. Peter responding to the hearers of his gospel message declares, "“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."

    So first and foremost I understand baptism as an act of obedience to Christ's covenantal command for both Jews and Gentiles. I think the Jewish Christians continued circumcision as their cultural/religious practice. Yet they understood baptism as the sign of Christ's new covenant. And I don't know that circumcision for Jewish believers ever stopped (later adopted by Gentiles for non-religious reasons). But it seems apparent that Paul, as well as the writer to the Hebrews, makes an effective case to Jewish believers that the old covenant which was entered by circumcision was no longer in effect.

    So... new covenant, new sign of the convenant.