Pouring, Sprinkling, or Immersion?

By Royce Frederick

There is no example in the New Testament of pouring or sprinkling water on sinners as a substitute for baptizing. They were baptized, which means immersed, in water.

The first recorded occasion of pouring as a substitute for baptizing was about 150 years after the Bible was completed. In 251 A.D. - without any authority from God - a man poured water over Novatian as he lay sick in bed. But that did not cause men to immediately adopt pouring as a substitute for baptizing. For many years after that, pouring was not widely practiced by people who believe in Christ.

Eventually, some men began to merely sprinkle water on people and call it baptism. But sprinkling was not widely accepted by men until several centuries later. In 1311 A.D., a council of twelve men at Ravenna, Italy, declared that sprinkling was sufficient for baptism. That occurred about 1200 years after the Bible was completed. Those men did not have any authority from God to make that change.

A person who has merely had water poured or sprinkled on him has not obeyed the Lord’s command to be baptized. In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, “baptizo” meant “immerse, dip, plunge.” It still does. Even in English, several scriptures show that baptism means immersion. Consider three of these:

“So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38).

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).

To be saved from sin, a sinner must hear the gospel, believe it, repent (decide to turn away from sin), confess that he believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and be baptized in water for the remission (forgiveness) of his sins (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 22:16; Rom. 10:9-10).

Have you been baptized in water for the remission of your sins? If not, you need to obey this command of the Lord without delay. There is nothing more important than surrendering your life to Christ.