Baptism is an important part of the faith of a believer. It has been a part of Bible based religion for a long time. However, there is a lot of confusion over the purpose of baptism in Christianity today. We want to answer the question of re baptism. Specifically, can you get baptized more than once, and what does the Bible say about second baptism? In this article we are dealing only with water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism or other kinds of baptism.
What is a Christian baptism?
A Christian baptism is the water immersion of individuals who believe in Christ. In fact, baptism simply means “immersion”. This is why the examples of baptism in the bible tells us that baptism is immersion in water. However, there is more to baptism than simply immersion. It is also a commitment, as discussed in my article about the question of baptism’s necessity for salvation. In fact, baptism is how we accept the new covenant. This is also a more lengthy topic which I may write an article dedicated to it another time.
In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul describes baptism as a burial with Christ. Such a person goes down into the water, and comes back up a “new creature”. It is equated to as a death that occurs to the sinful self, and a resurrection to new life in Jesus Christ. Additionally, we find that all Biblical examples illustrating water baptism involve immersion. Immersion in water and a change of heart best fulfill the picture of baptism in the Bible.
What happened in your first baptism?
If you agree that the biblical picture of baptism involves both immersion and a commitment, does this picture line up with your previous baptism? A commitment, in other words, involves repentance. This is the idea of a person who, as described earlier, has put to death the sinful man. Such a person’s life is no longer under control of passions and desires of the flesh (Romans 6, Galatians 5, 2 Peter 1). Instead, they are controlled by the will of Christ and the Holy Spirit. True repentance involves a change that results in the bearing of fruit.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.2 Corinthians 7:10-11
Did you experience repentance in your first baptism? If not, perhaps this was not a real baptism. True baptism is both commitment (a change) and a burial of the old man and resurrection (immersion). Other verses describe the process of change as being born again (John 3:5), which is a very profound statement. In other words, to follow Jesus involves more than on a one-time statement.
Why were you baptized in your first baptism?
Perhaps a better question than what occurred in your first baptism is, why did you get baptized? I personally know several people who got baptized simply because that’s what they were told to do. They did not understand the meaning of the act, and they also did not understand the reason for baptism.
The Biblical picture of baptism suggests that forgiveness and remission of sins occurs at the point of baptism (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16). Additionally, baptism may also be the means by which we enter the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:13). I believe this is the case, however from other more nuanced verses. Admittedly, this could simply refer to a philosophical concept of immersion, not physical water immersion. Regardless, ask yourself, was I baptized for the remission of sins? If not, perhaps considering receiving baptism a second time is for you.
Are there any examples of a second baptism in the Bible?
There is at least one example of a second baptism in the Bible. This re baptism event is documented in Acts 19:1-10. In this example, Paul finds some disciples in Ephesus and asks them if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed. Their reply of “no” (actually that they didn’t even know there was a Holy Spirit) sparked Paul’s further questioning and eventual instruction for re baptism.
There is a lot going on in this section of scripture, but focus your minds on what they say regarding their previous baptism, which was of John:
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.Acts 19:2-4
The disciples admitted they were baptized for repentance. However the Apostle Paul thought this was not enough to represent the “one baptism”, a true baptism. Therefore he has them baptized a second time, after which he grants them a measure of the Holy Spirit.
I believe the reason for this is because of my earlier point, that baptism is more than repentance. Although repentance is an incredibly major reason and should be given the weight it deserves in baptism. However when one is baptized into Christ, he accepts the new covenant through faith. This is why in 2 Peter 3:21 describes it as an “appeal to God”. I believe a similar reason explains why Jesus Christ was baptized.
Regardless of the reason in Acts 19, at least you can now identify the Biblical precedent that exists for receiving water baptism more than once. Hopefully this evidence helps you determine if it is necessary in your life.
Is being baptized twice a sin?
Being baptized twice is not a sin. In fact, I’m not exactly sure how one could defend an idea such as re baptism being sinful. For starters, why would Paul have instructed it if baptism a second time was sinful? It may be helpful to view water immersion from my earlier idea of accepting the covenant. In this way, it is simply our first act of faith that is our method of accepting God’s grace. Romans actually describes faith this way. That is, that faith is the way in which we have access to God’s grace:
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Romans 5:2
The idea of “incorrect baptism” being sin, however, is a moot point. If we understand the Biblical picture of the act, one could say that water immersion not from faith is simply getting wet. It is no different than jumping into a swimming pool, or any other circumstance that involves immersion. In this way we are already living in our sins without God’s grace. Therefore the potential “adding” of sin to our list, if you will, does not matter. In other words, if you are not in Christ, you already have a sin problem, are not saved, do not have eternal life, and need forgiveness.
How many times should you get baptized?
Ideally, you should get baptized only once. However a person may decide that re baptism into the one baptism is necessary for reasons described above and below. The realization of this need may come about from a deeper understanding of doctrinal errors. Therefore resulting in a desire to be water baptized in a proper way, to be baptized a second time according to the “new life” described in Romans.
Should I be re baptized if I don’t understand baptism?
If you do not understand baptism, you should not be re baptized. An analogy to this question could be, should I drive a car if I don’t know how? The obvious answer to that question is no. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, baptism that is not from faith is nothing more than getting wet. The good news is that God’s word illustrates the meaning and purpose of water baptism. God didn’t leave us with a generic command and no information on how to fulfill it. Instead, He gave us a clear picture of what it means to get baptized into Christ.
Should I get re-baptized if I was baptized as an infant?
If you were baptized as an infant, you must be re baptized. Scripture does not command or suggest the practice of baptizing infants, such as performed by the Catholic church. In reality, water immersion should take place once the person has learned the value of repentance and trust in Christ.
A child cannot commit their lives to Jesus (or anything) nor can they accept anything in faith. In fact, a child has no faith. Furthermore, a child is innocent and without guilt. Therefore, a child has nothing to repent from or change to make in its life. Furthermore, an infant cannot repent as it cannot decide anything. Infant baptism is simply the practice of getting a baby wet. In fact, most infant baptism is done by sprinkling, so the practice does not even include immersion, the very meaning of baptism.
Which Apostle followed this command to get baptized?
The only baptism of an Apostle recorded in the Bible is that of Paul (Acts 9:10-21). However, it is reasonable to assume that all of the Apostles were baptized. The reason for this is because Jesus commanded that they evangelize and baptize (Matthew 28:19-20). It would be odd for Jesus to instruct the Apostles teach something for others that they are not also to apply themselves.
In the early church, followers of Christ were baptized everywhere the Apostles and others went as they preached the Gospel. In fact, in Acts it is described synonymously with the phrase “the Lord added to the church” (Acts 2:41-47). Although we are not in the early church, the new testament Christian church (those who follow Christ) must still emphasize that followers get baptized.
Should I get baptized again after backsliding?
You may need to get baptized again after backsliding. It depends on why you were baptized the first time. Most of the time, a person who backslides was not fully committed to Jesus Christ the first time. In other words, they never died to the flesh, as we have discussed before (Romans 6). In such a case, it is easy to understand the reason why a person may “fall away” from Jesus Christ. However, if you are certain you were baptized for the right reason, but faltered in your commitment, you may simply need to “course correct”. In other words, a re-commitment to Jesus Christ. That said, I have friends who decided to get baptized again, even though they were baptized for the right reasons the first time.
It’s important to note that backsliding denotes a person who has rebelled against Jesus Christ. This is different than a momentary sin. God’s grace covers us for the momentary sin, but outright rebellion is the same as rejecting the grace of God. If you find that you are a rebel, you may want to consider being water baptized again even if you were already baptized.
Does the “one baptism” mean a person can only get baptized once?
The one baptism in Ephesians 4 does not mean that a person can only get baptized once. Rather, it refers to the baptism into Jesus Christ as the only one that matters. In other words, believers who get baptized for any other reason than committing to Jesus Christ, or being a following Jesus are not baptized into the one baptism. This is true even if they are water baptized and actually immersed.
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Ephesians 4:4-7
Whatever the reason you were baptized, if it wasn’t baptized into the one baptism, I would suggest considering being water baptized a second time for salvation. When you are water baptized in combination with true repentance, you will accept the gift of grace that God has offered to you. This is the one baptism, one hope, one Lord, one faith, and one God.
Biblical, New Testament baptism happens in water and means immersion. But do you have to be baptized by another person or can you baptize yourself?