Baptism: A Response of Faith

By: Owen Olbricht

Publisher: Gospel Light Publishing Co.

Used by permission of author.
Owen Olbricht



1. Baptism, a Bible Topic

2. Review of Baptism

3. Love, Grace, Mercy, and Baptism

4. Faith and Baptism

5. Knowledge, Belief, and Resolve in Baptism

6. Changes That Occur in Baptism

7. The How, Who, and Why of Baptism

8. Baptism and Newness of Life

9. Baptism and Being Clothed With Christ

10. Baptism and Spiritual Circumcision

11. The One Baptism

12. Restoration Leaders and Baptism

13. Study Bibles and Baptism


And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ (Matthew 28:18,19)

Several years ago, I visited with a woman who had been studying her Bible and had some questions. She asked about baptism, and I told her that we need to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. When she did not believe me, I asked her to read Acts 2:38. She replied that no such passage was in her Bible. I reached for her Bible and opened it. I quickly turned in her Bible to Acts 2:38. Sure enough, it was not there. She has literally cut it out of her Bible!


John identified God as “He who sent me to baptize in water” (John 1:33). Jesus implied that John’s baptism was from God by asking, “The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men?” (Matthew 21:25a).

Luke also presented baptism as part of God’s plan by commenting: “But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John” (Luke 7:30; emphasis mine).

The Pharisees recognized the importance of baptism and asked John, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Pro phet?” (John 1:25). They rightly related baptism to the process of becoming identified with great people of God.

Entire religious groups deny the necessity of baptism for forgiveness. Some do not baptize at all. While most Protestant groups practice baptism, they may not place great importance on it. Those who are familiar with such groups may wonder if the Bible has much to say about baptism or gives any prominence to baptism. Thus, as we begin our study, let us first examine the words “baptize” and “baptism” in the Bible. What importance is given to these words in the Scriptures?


Baptism is not an Old Testament concept; it was not taught in the law of Moses or mentioned during that period of history. Not until we come to the New Testament do we find teaching concerning baptism. God used John, the one who immersed, to introduce baptism.

The words “baptize” and “baptism” are transliterations of Greek words. The verb baptizo appears seventy-nine times, and the noun baptisma is found twenty-two times—101 times in all. The word baptistes is used fourteen times to refer to John as the one who baptized. John is improperly called “John the Baptist.” He was not the “Baptist,” but instead was the “immerser”–the one who immersed, according to the meaning of the word baptistes.

The New Testament speaks of baptism in seven different contexts:

1. The baptism of Israel in the cloud and in the sea–only once (1 Corinthians 10:1,2).

2. Baptism in fire (Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16)0–twice.

3. The baptism of suffering endured by Jesus (Mark 10:38,39)–seven times.

4. Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11)–six times. (This total can be reduced to three because of parallel statements in the Gospels [Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33] and quotations of Jesus’ statements [Acts 1:5; 11:16].)

5. The water baptism which John administered (Mark 1:4,5)–thirty-nine times. This number can be diminished to ten because of duplications in the parallel Gospels, including six references made to John’s administering baptism to Jesus.

6. The water baptism which was taught by Jesus during His ministry and was administered by His disciples (John 3:22, 26; 4:1,2)–four times. (This may have been for the same purpose as John’s baptism [Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3], for those seeking to become disciples of John or Jesus.)

7. The water baptism taught in connection with the new covenant (Matthew 28:19)–thirty-four times.

Those who teach a “baptism of the Holy Spirit” for all Christians may be surprised that such terminology is not used in the Bible. The Bible does not say “baptism of the Holy Spirit” or “baptism of water,” but rather refers to baptism “in” or “with” the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11) and baptism “in the Jordan River” (Matthew 3:6). John said that Jesus would baptize in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit did not baptize (Jesus did the baptizing) but was the One with whom–or in whom– people were baptized.


All of the following word comparisons are based on the way they are translated in the updated edition of the New American Standard Bible.

77 times
32 times
56 times
483 times

The seventy-seven times “baptize” and “baptism” appear in the New Testament when referring to water baptism indicate that baptism has some importance. However, the number of occurrences does not necessarily show the relevance of baptism to our relationship with God. The number of occurrences indicates importance but tells us nothing else. What is significant is the fact that none of the many passages in which baptism appears indicate that baptism was administered to the people who were already saved. Concepts like “forgiveness of sins” and “saved” always appear after–never before–baptism (Mark 1:4; 16:16; Luke 3:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; COLOSSIANS 2:12, 13; 1 Peter 3:21).

“Confess” (Gk. verb: homologeo) appears twenty-six times, and “confession” (Gk. noun: homologia ) is found six times. At most, these word forms are used seven times to refer to confessing in order to make things right with God.

“Repent” (Gk. verb: metanoeo) appears thirty-four times, and “repentance” (Gk. noun: metanoia) is used twenty-two times. These word forms occur nine times in reference to Jews under the old law, seven times as a requirement for John’s baptism, four times as needful because the kingdom was near, fifteen times as a requirement for those who are already Christians to become right with God, and twenty-one times as a response for the lost (non-Christians).

“Believe” (Gk. verb: pisteuo) occurs 240 times, and “faith” (Gk. noun:” pistis) is found 243 times. These are key words in the Bible: Christianity is based on faith in God, Jesus, the acts of God, and His Word. “Faith” (Gk. : pistis) and “believe” (Gk.: pisteuo) are not two different concepts; the only difference is that :”believe” is a verb (indicating the acceptance that takes place in the heart and motivates action), while “faith” is a noun identifying what is in the heart of the one who believes.


Salvation Forgiveness New life Eternal life Justification
Confess 2 0 0 0 0
Repent 0 3 0 0 0
Believe 6 1 2 7 4
Have Faith 2 1 0 0 15
Be Baptised 2 3 2 0 0

The term “believe” occurs with other biblical concepts the following number of times: salvation–six times, eternal life–seven, new birth–two, obtaining righteousness–three, being justified–one, and forgiveness of sins–one.

“Faith” is mentioned in connection with other concepts the following number of times: righteousness–seven, obtaining justification–eight1 , salvation–two, and forgiveness–one.

Almost all those who believe in Jesus agree that God requires belief in Jesus, repentance, and confession as prerequisites to salvation and forgiveness of sins. Acceptance that these are requirements is based on the frequency with which they are mentioned in the Bible in relationship to receiving these blessings. (See the chart for comparison of terms.) Many do not realize that baptism is linked with forgiveness and salvation for the non-Christian more times than is repentance or confession, and almost as many times as “believe” or “faith.”

“Confess” is used only twice, both times as a requirement for the non-Christian to obtain salvation:

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation (Romans 10:9, 10; emphasis mine).

Timothy’s “good confession” most likely was the one he made when he became a Christian (1 Timothy 6:12). Those seeking John’s baptism came confessing their sins (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5). Jesus stated that He will confess before the Father those who confess Him before men (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8). He may have meant the initial confession that is made in becoming a Christian, but statements of faith in Jesus made in the face of persecution may also be included.2 John, the apostle, mentioned confession of sins that is required of Christians so that they can be forgiven (1 John 1:9).

After the new covenant was dedicated by the death of Jesus, “repentance” is mentioned three times as a requirement for forgiveness:

And [Jesus]said to them, “Thus it is written, that…repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).

Peter said to [the Jews], “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Repentance is never discussed or mentioned along with the new birth, salvation, justification, or righteousness. It was required by John (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8) in association with baptism and sometimes for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4). Both John and Jesus preached repentance because the Kingdom of God was near (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15). The apostles preached repentance when they were first sent out by Jesus (Mark 6:12). Jesus said that He came to call sinners to repent (Luke 5:32) and that heaven rejoices over sinners who repent (Luke 15:7). Paul encouraged people to repent (Acts 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). Repentance is mentioned as being desired by God (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Romans 2:4; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 3:9) for those under the new covenant. It is also stated as a requirement for those who have become Christians (Luke 17:4; Acts 8:22; 2 Corinthians 7:9, 10; Hebrews 6:6; Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19).

Jesus twice said that we are to believe the Word, the gospel, to be saved (Luke 8:12; Mark 16:16). We see four times that Paul taught we must believe in order to be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 1:21). On two occasions being born again is mentioned with believing (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 5:1). Eternal life is seven times associated with believing (John 3:15, 16, 36; 6:47; 11:26; 20:31; 1 Timothy 1:16). Once “believe” is used in stating what is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43); and four times it is linked with dikaios (or one of its cognate Greek forms), which is translated “justification,” “freed from,” or “righteousness” (Acts 13:39; Romans 10:4, 10; Galatians 2:16).

The necessity of faith in order to be saved is mentioned twice (Ephesians 2:8; 1 Peter 1:9), and once we read of cleansing of the heart (Acts 15:9). Righteousness and justification (both words translated from dikaios or its cognate Greek forms) are associated fifteen times with faith (Romans 3:22, 26, 28, 30: 4:5, 13-16; 5:1; 9:30; Galatians 2:16; 3:8, 24: Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 11:7; James 2:24) and appear three times in New Testament quotations from Habakkuk 2:4.

Baptism is associated with salvation in two passages (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21), with forgiveness and cleansing from sins three times (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Colossians 2:12, 13: see also Ephesians 5:26), and with the new life twice (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12, 13). Further, Jesus associated water, which is an allusion to baptism, with the new birth (John 3:3-5; see also Titus 3:5).

Clearly, baptism appears as often or more often in association with salvation, forgiveness, and new life than confession and repentance. Therefore, those who accept confession and repentance as essential to salvation should also view baptism as necessary. Forms of the word “baptize” are associated more often with forgiveness and the new life than is either “believe” or “faith.”


Various required responses are mentioned together. On one occasion people were reported to “confess” in association with John’s “baptism” (Mark 1:5). Paul twice used “confession” with “believe” (Romans 10:9, 10), and Philip mentioned “confession” with new covenant “baptism” in one passage which may not have strong manuscript support (Acts 8:37). “Confess” does not appear with “repent.”

“Repent” appears with “believe” once (Mark 1:15), with “faith” once (Acts 20:21), in connection with John’s “baptism” four times (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4), and in connection with new covenant baptism once (Acts 2:28).

The word “believe” appears in conjunction with John’s “baptism” once, looking forward to the coming of the Christ (Acts 19:4). It also appears four times in direct statements concerning new covenant baptism (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12, 13; 18:8). (It appears twice by implication [Acts 2:38, 44; 16:33, 34.]). It appears one other time (Acts 8:37), but with questionable manuscript support. “Faith” appears with baptism twice (Galatians 3:26, 27; Colossians 2:12).

A comparison of the Bible terms above reveals that “believe” and “faith” most often appear along with baptism, and less often with repentance and confession.


Not only does the word “baptism” appear often in the New Testament, but the concept of baptism originated with God and was taught by Jesus.

Once can only conclude that baptism is more than a minor subject of the New Testament. It is mentioned more often than other requirements which are generally accepted as being important. Even a brief study of the New Testament confirms that baptism was taught by Jesus and appears repeatedly.

1 This does not include the three times quotations from Habakkuk 2:4 appear in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galations 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) to show that those who are righteous live by faith.
Denying Him before men must have meant denying Him in order to escape persecution (See Matthew 10:33; Luke 12:9). Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away..(Acts3:19).

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