Baptism Comes First, thenTeaching

It has long been my contention that new converts ought to be baptized shortly after they profess faith. In fact, baptism is one’s profession of faith and so baptism should happen when they actually come to faith, or as close to it as possible.

Though I admit I have wavered in that conviction from time-to-to time, I keep coming back to it because it fits the pattern of the New Testament. Though I have been taken to task by some Reformed brethren in attendance at our church (who thought it was their place to “set me straight”) and even by some on this blog (if I have time I’ll look for the post and put a link; it was a few years ago), I keep going back to the pattern set by the Lord in the Great Commission and followed by the preachers of Acts.

I know, I know…several well-known pastors don’t do it this way. Pastor So-and-so who speaks at the big conference every year won’t baptize anyone under the age of 16 and Pastor You-know-who makes new converts take a six-week class, etc., etc. (I’m told this presumably because the person telling me has concluded these men are smarter than I or better ministers than I or both and they are probably correct in both these conclusions.) But I can’t get away not only from Jesus’ words in the Great Commission but also from the pattern set in the New Testament.

No offense to these guys (some of whom have helped me immensely through their books, lectures, etc.), but I’d rather stick with the words of the Lord.

David Alan Black, a Greek professor who has authored several notable books (I own and have read most of them) has written on this same thing. I cite him not because he is better than the rest of us with his Greek chops and all (and I think he would agree with me on this), but simply to demonstrate that it is not just little old me who thinks this way. And also to show that it is not naivete that leads me to practice this pattern in simple submission to the biblical text.

David Alan Black: Teach, then Baptize?

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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