Baptisms / Immersions / Purifications
I thought baptism was particularly — “new testament” — doctrine .
The author of Hebrews spoke of a doctrine of baptisms (Heb 6:2),
ie. Christian initiations, which were depicted as being quite elementary (ABC’s)
in comparison to the things he wished he could teach them.
And yet in our day and hour these basic truths are rarely understood, if at all.
Baptisms / Immersions / Purifications
I begin this with my position towards bible interpretation of truth .
The new testament ” reveals ” what the old testament ” concealed ”
Biblical principles are always established first in some manner in Torah.
It might be a specific command by God that later is brought out in its totality
in the life and teachings of YAHushua.
Or it might be in a historical event that foreshadows a fulfillment later on.
Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven
is like unto a man that is an householder,
which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.Baptism is Jewish
Not everyone knows the Jewish cultural background of baptism, including most Jewish people.
I , myself , didn’t understand that baptism takes us all the way back to Genesis 1 .
I thought baptism was particularly “new testament” doctrine .
This is especially evident in the way that baptism is commonly perceived today.
On the other hand, if we return to the Bible, it’s another story.
Who were the first Baptists? They were Jews!
This would include Yochanan ben Zechariah, better known as John the Baptist.
It would also involve all the Jewish talmidim (disciples) of YAHushua
who subsequently baptized new believers.
Moreover, it goes all the way back into the Tanach* many centuries earlier.
There will be a separate Doc. with consideration to the present view of baptism .
One of the recurring themes of life is how things that are good by nature
become turned into something corrupted and distorted.
Such was the case with the beautiful relationship between God and Adam and Eve in the Garden
being broken because of sin.
Likewise, the long-promised coming of Messiah, when it actually occurred,
was twisted from a wonderful blessing into a perceived act of blasphemy
and a threat to the religious system of that day.
This was also true with some of the ways of worship and righteous living, including the act of baptism.
More will be presented in a following document , for those interested in pursuing this view .
This document will focus primarily on the principles and history of baptism or immersions .
The Biblical Principles of Baptism
Exodus—the historical foreshadowing
After the culmination of the story of Passover, the Israelites were released from slavery in Egypt. Exodus 14 tells about how Pharaoh changed his mind and his army pursued after them. When they reached the Red Sea, Moses worked a miracle and parted the waters.
The people followed God’s pillar of fire that was leading them and then we are told:
( Ex. 14:29)
“But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea,
and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”
At this point I want to introduce the word Mikveh
Mikveh is the gathering together of any waters
where any form of washing or passing through
is considered an act of cleansing and sanctification.
The term arises from the creation account when God gathered the waters and separated the land from the sea. From this springs the idea that in all acts of Mikveh there is a separation made by the water.
It is said when the children passed through the Red Sea on the way to the promised land
and were thus separated and sanctified unto Moses from Egyptian defilement, that this was a mikveh.
The passing through the waters of the Red Sea is called a mikveh by Jews.
Scripture speaks of numerous things that make a person “tomeh” – ritually unclean, defiled
and a number of processes of purification.
The one act required in all purification processes was immersion or “mikvah”.
The earliest biblical usage of the specific word “mikveh” is found in Genesis 1:9
where God called for the collection of the waters during the creation week.
We will look further into mikveh later , at this time however , I think we need to look at one of the controversial , and to many a contradictory point of new testament scripture .
and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
But remember the word “baptisms” is plural in the Hebrew passage,
while it is singular in the passage in Ephesians.
This is due, in part, to the fact that there are different words used in these two passages.
Strong’s Number: g907 Greek: baptizo – Verb
Strong’s Number: g908 Greek: baptisma – Noun
In Hebrews the word is “baptismos”, g909
which is normally used for “washings” or “purifications”
of which the initial immersion which accompanies faith is but one of many .
In Ephesians, the word used is “baptizma” g908
which refers primarily to the act of baptism.
Paul is speaking of unity in the body, and the context indicates
he is referring to the thing that identifies all believers as belonging together.
Here in Ephesians , Paul is referring to one of the many immersions –
this one in particular beingthe immersion into Messiah,
which we read about in Romans 6:3-4 among other places.
(from bapto, “to dip”)
and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
Well, let’s see if we can figure out where we get the connection between mikvah and baptism.
The Hebrew word for immersion is tevilah and means literally, “to totally immerse”
It is used specifically to refer to immersion in a mikvah
The closest word in Greek for tevilah is baptidzo.
Baptidzo is derived from the industry of dying cloth in Lebanon.
It carries the connotation of something being immersed into a liquid,
so that the thing immersed takes on the characteristics of that which it is immersed into,
such as cloth into dye or leather into tanning solution.
Baptidzo g907 is where we get our word “baptism”.
We have to realize that John the Baptizer g910 didn’t simply have a heat stroke in the Judean desert
and suddenly invent the idea of baptism in his delirium .
Apparently it was something they were familiar with.
Notice that John was not suspect, by anyone, as to where he received the doctrine,
nor did anyone question the validity of the teaching.
Never did anyone ask him why was he immersing.
They all seemed to accept the teaching, even in light of Deuteronomy 4:2, and 12:32
stating that the Word could not be added to , or taken away from , without dire results to anyone who did .
Why do you think this is?
It is because the concept of ceremonial washings is as old as the Torah itself.
The mikvah/ritual bath was of great importance to the first century Jew.
Any passing through waters of separation by any means of cleansing is called a mikveh.
How important was the mikveh ?
It was understood that if a community or village
had only enough money for a synagogue or a mikvah,
the mikvah would be built first.
In this time and culture, this was a critical part of life in the daily routine of Jewish religious society.
The mikvah took precedence over the temple !
Join with me for part 2 of this series .