“Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?”

Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?

Wade Webster

Those in the religious world differ on the acceptable mode of baptism.  Some support sprinkling, while others promote pouring.  Some insist that immersion is the only way, while others argue that any mode will do.  How do we determine which answer is right?  Let me suggest that we go to God’s word and let it be our authority (Col. 3:17).  After all, we will one day be judged by it (John 12:48).

Although modern usage of the word baptism, such as that found in an English dictionary, may include sprinkling and pouring as possible meanings, New Testament usage does not do so.  The Greek word for baptism means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse.”  Although an understanding of Greek is helpful, one does not have to be a student of New Testament Greek to arrive at the proper meaning of baptism.  The meaning of the word is clearly established in a number of New Testament passages.    Please consider the following:

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12).  Please note that baptism is referred to as a burial.  As you know, when someone is buried, they are completely covered with dirt.  Sprinkling or pouring a little dirt on them is not burying them.  In like manner, baptism is a burial in water.  Those who are baptized must be completely covered with water.  When we are baptized, we obey a form or pattern of doctrine (Rom. 6:17).  We die, are buried, and rise to walk in newness of life just like our Lord did.  Sprinkling and pouring will not fit this pattern.  Our Lord was placed in a sepulcher with a huge stone sealing the door.  Above, below, behind, and in front of him was stone.  He was buried.

“And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized” (John 3:23).  Please note why John was baptizing in Aenon – “because there was much water there.”  Why did John need “much water?”  Would sprinking or pouring require “much water?”   Clearly, they would not.  However, immersion would.

“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38).  Clearly, for sprinkling or pouring it would not have been necessary for anyone to get into the water.  However, a burial or immersion in water would have required such.

I wish space would allow me to elaborate on this important matter, but it will not.  Hopefully, these verses are enough to help those seeking truth to understand that immersion is the correct mode of baptism.