Why Was Jesus Baptized Since He Was Sinless?

Why Was Jesus Baptized Since He Was Sinless? March 29, 2017

Why would Jesus, the Son of God, need to be baptized since He was without sin?

Baptism

Baptism has been debated as being necessary for salvation for a very long time and some even believe you can’t be saved without being baptized, but what does baptism really mean? There is no special property to water because it’s only by the precious blood of the Lamb of God that we’re really saved and our sins are cleansed from us, but a person that’s been saved should be baptized because it is commanded of believers. If I were to put it in my own words I would say that it is an outward expression of an inward profession of our faith in Jesus to save. Baptism does not make you a believer but it shows you that you are a believer. It does not save a believer; it shows the believer has been saved. It is often done in the presence of family members or in front of the church like when a person has joined the church, but it is an inward expression of an outward faith. Baptism is also symbolic of our identity with one another in the church. We are united with other brothers and sisters who are already in the faith-family of God, thus we are identified with Christ and with the Body of Christ, the church in baptism (1st Cor 12:13). The Greek word used for baptized is “baptizó” which means to dip or sink, but in the noun form, it literally means “to submerge” or to be completely submerged. This certainly differs from being sprinkled. The vast majority of times that the New Testament mentions salvation, it does not mention baptism. Examples are Acts 4:12, Acts 13:38-39, Acts 16:30-31, John 3:16-17, Eph 1:13-14, Romans 1:16 and 10:9-13. Only a handful of Bible verses contain the expression “repent and be baptized,” but these few verses are not saying we need to “repent and be baptized in order to be saved.” Baptism is important, but baptism never saved anyone.

Baptized into Moses

Baptism is what the Greeks used as identifying something in particular. If they submerged (baptizó) a cloth into purple dye, the cloth would be identified with the color purpose, not the water that the dye was in, so baptism is being identified with Christ, not with water. The ancient Israelites were said to be baptized under Moses, which means they were identified with him. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1st Cor 10:1-2). They weren’t identified with the water in the Red Sea but with Moses, so baptism identifies us with Christ and with His church. To make sure we understand this, Paul asked, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3), so “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). If you’ve been baptized, then you’ve been identified with Christ, and not saved by Christ through water. That’s what Jesus meant when He told the disciples to baptize them into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19), without even mentioning water. Jesus wanted believers to be identified with Him, so while we’re in public, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to Who we belong too and are associated (or identified) with.

Do-you-not-know-that-all

Jesus’ Baptism

To think that we are saved by Jesus + baptism is to add to the work that was completed on the cross by Christ when He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meaning it is paid in full or brought to a close (Greek, “teleō”), so it’s like saying, Jesus + Baptism = Eternal Life, which is not what the gospel teaches (Eph 2:8-9). Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness because we cannot. At first, John the Baptist didn’t want to baptize Jesus (Matt 3:14) but rather thought He should baptize him, “But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented” (Matt 3:15). We can identify with baptism because we who were dead in our sins were made alive in Christ (Eph 2:1-4), therefore we were buried with Christ but risen with Him to new life, so we are new creations in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17) once we’ve been born again. Jesus’ baptism fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the Law of God because it was not possible that we could. We are incapable of fulfilling God’s Law, so Jesus kept the Law for us, and for our sake, became sin for us (2nd Cor 5:21), breaking the curse of the Law that was against us (by law breaking). I believe Jesus’ example of being baptized should compel us to be baptized (if not already). The Apostle Paul writes, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4), and “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5).

Ceremonial Washings

Some see Jesus being baptized as a means to fulfill the legal requirements for entering into the priesthood (Psalm 110:4; Heb. 5:8-10; 6:20). God told Moses that the priests in the Old Testament are to undergo a ritualistic and thorough washing, as directed in Exodus 28:4, where it says they are to bring “Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting, and wash them with water,” and later, “Moses had Aaron and his sons come near, and washed them with water” (Lev 8:6), so only until they “wash their clothes, they shall be clean” (Num 8:7). When a person outside of the nation of Israel wanted to become an Israelite, they had to undergo seven washings, which typified baptism, but these washings never assured the person being washed that they wouldn’t stray or fall into sin. The custom of baptizing proselytes seven days after their circumcision was also part of this tradition. Today, people often use the day of their baptism as the mark of their new birth, but wasn’t regeneration necessary before baptism? A person without the Holy Spirit isn’t likely to seek baptism. If you ask someone if they are saved or not, and they tell you, “I was baptized in (fill in the year),” tell them, “I wasn’t asking about when you got wet, but when did you repent and believe.” They are equating their baptism + Jesus with their salvation, so it’s not whether they got wet, but if they’re repented and believed the gospel as Jesus requires (Mark 1:14-15).

Conclusion

There is so much confusion over baptism and it has caused many Christians to divide and debate over this issue. It’s sad because I believe when people think that baptism is necessary to be saved, it’s like telling Jesus, “Thank you Jesus for dying for me…it’s almost done…but I need to get baptized first.” Human nature, being what it is, seems we want to “complete” our salvation by being baptized. Many even mark that event as the day of our new birth, however, that is something we do, isn’t it? Doesn’t that rob God of glory? Salvation is fully a work of God and not of water. It’s not Jesus and our getting into the water; it is repentance and faith. A person that’s saved should be baptized, but not in order to finish the work of God in us. That’s already been done (John 19:30). It is paid in full!

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also host of Spiritual Fitness and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • SamVBar

    Jesus died for our sins but that didn’t mean we were automatically saved. It gave us a window of opportunity to accept Christ as our savior but it didn’t save us all at once. There was still things to be done to complete the act of accepting Jesus Christ as our savior. The Bible speaks to Baptism as saving us. “Baptism doth also save us,” “Baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but showing of a good conscience toward GOD.” We cannot circumvent these without denying that GOD wanted man to confess of his sins and to accept Jesus as his savior and to be Baptised into Christ.

  • SamVBar

    Jesus died for our sins but that didn’t mean we were automatically saved. It gave us a window of opportunity to accept Christ as our savior but it didn’t save us all at once. There was still things to be done to complete the act of accepting Jesus Christ as our savior. The Bible speaks to Baptism as saving us. “Baptism doth also save us,” “Baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh but showing of a good conscience toward GOD.” We cannot circumvent these without denying that GOD wanted man to confess of his sins and to accept Jesus as his savior and to be Baptised into Christ.

  • Samuel Tolbert

    I have two questions.
    The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? Matt 21:25

  • Samuel Tolbert

    I have two questions.
    The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? Matt 21:25

  • pud

    Who would win a fight Batman or Spiderman?

    Same ridiculous waste of words.

    There is NO extra biblical evidence for the existence of THE most important figure in human history…none. There is no evidence whatsoever for any of the nonsensical claims you make your living from as you lie to children and the credulous.

    Why did your “god” have to send himself as a sacrifice to himself as a loophole for rules he himself created? This is factual and yet despite its total absurdity you don’t care! You keep making up stories and peddling fiction to the dim witted and gullible.

    Tell us “pastor” why is human blood sacrifice so critical? Tell us the actual mechanics behind this. Tell us too why any sane rational decent human being should revere human sacrifice. Tell us how it’s any sacrifice at all since it was in reality just a bad 3 day weekend!

    Never mind validating the truth of ANY of this superstition…tombs, angels, sun standing still, earthquakes etc etc etc ….all hogwash!

  • pud

    Who would win a fight Batman or Spiderman?

    Same ridiculous waste of words.

    There is NO extra biblical evidence for the existence of THE most important figure in human history…none. There is no evidence whatsoever for any of the nonsensical claims you make your living from as you lie to children and the credulous.

    Why did your “god” have to send himself as a sacrifice to himself as a loophole for rules he himself created? This is factual and yet despite its total absurdity you don’t care! You keep making up stories and peddling fiction to the dim witted and gullible.

    Tell us “pastor” why is human blood sacrifice so critical? Tell us the actual mechanics behind this. Tell us too why any sane rational decent human being should revere human sacrifice. Tell us how it’s any sacrifice at all since it was in reality just a bad 3 day weekend!

    Never mind validating the truth of ANY of this superstition…tombs, angels, sun standing still, earthquakes etc etc etc ….all hogwash!

  • TimmAnderson

    Good morning Pastor Wellman,

    Thank you for the good things you are doing on God’s behalf and for asserting Jesus in the face of increasing secularization in the church. I am writing you about an article posted yesterday (3-29-2017) to patheos.com under your name entitled ‘Why was Jesus Baptized Since He was Sinless?’ I must say that the article distressed me. Would you be interested in exploring this topic in more detail with me? If so, then I would like to start by sending you a Word document I wrote on the subject. Is there an email address I could send it to? If security is an issue, then I can convert it to a pdf format first. Respectfully,

    Timm Anderson

    • pud

      “on gods behalf”? Since when does an all powerful, timeless, transcendent, omnipotent “god” need a superstitious old man to do things on his behalf? Did you bother to think this out for more than 30 seconds?

      • Doug Barron

        Never mind PUD, his hay wagon left the fafm a long time ago..with no hay in it.

        • pud

          Are you still trying out for a role in Duck Dynasty? Hurry along….I hear their serving whipped cream on jello in the main dining hall now!

    • pud

      “on gods behalf”? Since when does an all powerful, timeless, transcendent, omnipotent “god” need a superstitious old man to do things on his behalf? Did you bother to think this out for more than 30 seconds?

  • TimmAnderson

    Good morning Pastor Wellman,

    Thank you for the good things you are doing on God’s behalf and for asserting Jesus in the face of increasing secularization in the church. I am writing you about an article posted yesterday (3-29-2017) to patheos.com under your name entitled ‘Why was Jesus Baptized Since He was Sinless?’ I must say that the article distressed me. Would you be interested in exploring this topic in more detail with me? If so, then I would like to start by sending you a Word document I wrote on the subject. Is there an email address I could send it to? If security is an issue, then I can convert it to a pdf format first. Respectfully,

    Timm Anderson

  • pud

    How your brain creates delusion of god…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrmxjaJu0bc

  • pud

    How your brain creates delusion of god…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrmxjaJu0bc

  • tovlogos

    I don’t see any confusion about “water” baptism — far too much is made of it.
    In John 1:30–34, it is stated plainly . Neither John, nor Israel would have recognized the Messiah, Jesus. It is very well known that water rites were an indelible aspect of Jewish religious observation — John’s baptizing would be surely recognized as an important event (Jn, 1:24-25).
    “31 I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water. Verse 32 depicts the Spirit descending from heaven and “remained” on the Lord’s shoulder.”
    It’s also interesting that Jesus did not baptize anyone in water John 4:2) — obviously having a much higher purpose).

    In Matthew 3:15 when Jesus said to John (who was surprised that Jesus came to him to be baptized), “Permit it at this time; for in this way in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill.” Yes it was fitting to the Jews, through whom the promises came; and only they would have recognized the significance of what was going on.
    Take Matthew 8:4, for example — after Jesus healed a leper, early in His ministry, He said to the leper: “…[G]o, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded…” Something He would certainly not have said to a Gentile.

    Moreover Paul became well known as the apostle to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-2).
    Moreover it’s no accident that 1 Corinthians 1:17, was included in the Scripture, where Paul said he was not here to baptize; but to preach the gospel.

    In conclusion, when I weight both sides of this issue, repeatedly for years, without bias, water baptism in the final stage of this world order doesn’t make theological sense.

  • tovlogos

    Hi Jack — I would like to make an additional point… First, the Scripture will undergird my position. The translation of Matthew 28:19 is not
    a solid translation. There are editorial remarks and there are translations — for example, Genesis 4:1, the last sentence is not an editorial…
    the preposition or prepositional phrase after the word, man, makes it a mistranslation. John 2:8,10 are typical examples of a legitimate editorial.
    So, what is Jesus looking for in a disciple? For example, Luke 14:33; 9:23; John 8:31; John 13:34-35***; and obviously many others.
    Jesus gave numerous commands — Repent, Follow Me; Be reconciled, do not lust and so on. In every command He gave it was necessary
    to bolster one’s salvific support — yet to achieve those commands it was strictly an affair of the heart, never a ritual involved.
    What was required of one of His disciples was sacrifice, faith, love (John 21:15-17) etc.
    Furthermore, the word ‘make’ is not in the Greek; so if one wants to include it is the translation it must be demanded by the context
    and the extended context as well. Yet the extended context, comparing scripture with scripture…Acts 17:11, we find the opposite — 1 Corinthians 1:17/Romans 11:13.
    Looking at the requirements of a disciple of Jesus do people really believe that a mere man could ‘make’ one? Well that translation
    has led to mankind believing he could do only what the Holy Spirit was assigned to do. Paul, or a John could teach but they make a disciple that Jesu would approve — the Holy Spirit could indwell and engage him and therefore Jesus would recognize him.
    Could Paul have made Judas a disciple that Jesus could use? No because the Holy Spirit did not want him. So in that case how would mankind
    have made him a disciple? Thus it appears that that translation bolstered mankind’s ego and accomplished nothing spiritual.

    The translation that’s accepted as Gospel put man in the driver’s seat in making disciples when the only command in that sentence is to
    bring the Good News to the world, period — f anyone received the News, the Holy Spirit would take care of the rest.
    Protestants say it can’t save you but it’s a command — the only command that has no salvific purpose;
    and if we say it does…then we are not saved by grace through faith alone. And so on. One of the strongest contrasts separating these two positions
    is in John 1:19-34 where John, who was more informed than anyone, thought it absurd that God would come to him to partake in a utterly meaningless
    rItual (Matt. 3:14-15; cf, Jn. 4:2). It would be counterintuitive for mankind to become spiritual so he could be born from heaven — John 3:3, and receIve the Spirit through metaphoric water John 3:5, cf. 1 Peter 3:21.