As I point out in other articles relating to baptism, this topic is sometimes controversial. I believe that Jesus, the Apostles, and other early church leaders placed a lot of emphasis on the act, so it is definitely something we should pay close attention to. However, many still disagree on its purpose and necessity for salvation. So why do people get baptized?
The necessity of baptism for removing the sins from a believer is a debate that professing followers of Christ should participate in. However, the intent of this article is not to join in that debate. Rather, my goal is to simply illustrate that baptism is a topic that is important and that we should study diligently. I will attempt to do this by referencing many of the scriptures in the new testament that deal with the concept, with some commentary.
There are at least 7 types of baptism in the Bible. This article deals specifically with water baptism (immersion in water). If you have questions about this topic, or any of the verses below, please consider leaving a comment below.
Why do people get baptized?
People get baptized for two reasons. Some get baptized because they believe baptism provides salvation. Others get baptized because they believe it is a sign of the salvation they have already received.
These two reasons, however, poorly summarize the wide array of answers to this question listed in the New Testament verses.
What reasons for baptism does the Bible provide?
I will now list several Biblical reasons for baptism starting with the beginning of the New Testament. There are certainly other concepts relating to the topic, but this should provide you with a fairly comprehensive list of reasons to get baptized.
Before reviewing the following list, it’s important to note that each of these reasons for baptism can stand on their own. However, they are not the only reasons to be baptized. For example, the first reason below attributes baptism to obedience of Jesus’ command. While this is a strong reason, it is not the only reason a person commits to being baptized. You should examine this list as a whole, and do your own study.
Jesus Commands to Be Baptized
Our first in our list of reasons for baptism is the fact that Jesus Christ commanded it. In fact, not only did Jesus command it, but so did His Apostles. Therefore, by participating in baptism, we engage in an act of obedience. This is an important aspect of the life of a Christian. That is, anyone who claims to be a follower of another, must submit in obedience to their leader. Otherwise, how can you consider them a follower?
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:19-20
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.Acts 10:48
Baptism Is Tied to Salvation
Second in our list of “why get baptized” is how closely tied to salvation baptism seems to be throughout the New Testament. While other verses draw this out in similar ways, we will refer to two examples for this example.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.Mark 16:16
Because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ1 Peter 3:20-21
By Rejecting Baptism, The Pharisees Rejected God’s Purpose
Interestingly, Luke records that the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the “purpose of God” for themselves by not submitting to baptism. Specifically dealing with the baptism of John at this point, I wonder if this principle also has application to us today?
But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.Luke 7:30
Baptism Is Tied to the Removal of Sins
Probably the most well-known verse relating to baptism is in Acts chapter 2. Although the meaning of “for the remission of sins” is a hot debate, one can’t deny the involvement of immersion in water in the process of removal of sins.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:38
And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.Acts 22:16
Accepting Baptism Is Tied to Receiving the Holy Spirit
In the verse mentioned previously (Acts 2:38) we see another potential answer to the question of “why people get baptized?” That is, it somehow relates to the believer’s “receiving” of the Holy Spirit. This is another hotly debated topic in Christianity, and frankly there are a wide array of beliefs about what this means.
The short of it, however, is that believers gain a benefit or advantage of the Holy Spirit in their life. The extent or mechanics of how that benefit actually play out, however, is up for debate. I have my own thoughts on this (as do most others). Regardless of where you fall on the debate, the Apostle Peter clearly communicates the importance of being baptized.
Baptism Is Part of a Commitment to Christ
In a future article elsewhere on this site, I plan to dive into this topic in more depth. Overlooking this aspect of baptism happens often. However, it plays a vital role in understanding its purpose. We see that the individuals here were baptized into a state of repentance, which is good. Apparently though, this was not enough, they needed to be baptized into Christ Jesus. This is one justification for being baptized twice.
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 19:4-5
Baptism is Like the Death and Resurrection of Christ
There is a lot of information in the verse below. However, we can at least take away one simple principle from the text. That is, the death and resurrection of Jesus is comparative to what happens with baptism.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.Romans 6:3-5
This is one of my favorite sections of scripture. I particularly like Paul’s description of the “new life” that a Christian has when they are baptized into Christ. He expounds upon this deeper through the rest of chapter 6 through 7 and the first part of 8.
There is quite a bit more that Paul has to say about this topic, so I encourage you to read through this section of scripture and the surrounding context. After reading this verse, what do you think about baptism? Does it sound like it is an important part aspect of the Christian’s salvation?
A Christian is Added to the Body of Christ When They are Baptized
In the previous of our list of reasons to get baptized, I recommended you read the context surrounding the verse. So I also recommend that with this one. There are a lot of claims that the Apostle Paul makes in 1 Corinthians, most especially in chapter 12.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Do you feel you can answer the question “why do people get baptized” yet? Clearly the act of submitting to baptism is important. However, we are not done exploring this topic yet.
“Putting On Christ” Is Related to Baptism
Similar to the previous reason (baptism adds a Christian to the body of Christ) Paul asserts that putting on Christ happens in baptism. It’s also possible Paul is simply saying that every baptized person is in the category of those who put on Christ. Either way you look at it, clearly, baptism is a mark for Paul to identify those who have put on Christ (or not).
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.Galatians 3:27
God Works in Baptism
This verse is an indicator that Baptism isn’t a work of man, at least not entirely. Instead, God does the work in us through our submission to Him. Regardless of your view, does this verse lend you any clues to answer why do people get baptized?
Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.Colossians 2:12
Similar to the passage above in Romans 6, here is another comparison of the baptized person to the burial and resurrection of Christ. Again, the idea is that resurrection denotes a person live a new life. This is the Christian life – a contrast to the old life a person lives before they are baptized.
Believers and Followers of Jesus Christ Were Baptized
As I mentioned at the beginning of this list, you should not take individual reasons listed here alone as why you should be baptized. Instead, take a look at the list as a whole. From there, you can determine if it makes sense why a lot of emphasis is placed upon baptism .
That said, consider the examples of those who hear the gospel. Example after example, listeners immediately accept the teaching and get baptized. Indeed, Jesus’ call for the Apostles (and us by extension I think) was for us to go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything he commanded.
Jesus Himself Was Baptized
Albeit for a different reason, the example of Jesus’ own baptism is striking. That’s because Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law, and followed the will of the Father. Therefore, as a follower of Jesus Christ, does it make sense that I also fulfill his desire to “observe everything I have commanded”?
Why Get Baptized?
Having read through this list of Bible verses dealing with immersion in water, I hope you can at least see the importance of the act. Of course, there is much more to be said on the topic. Do you want to know more? We have a growing list of articles dealing with the topic.
It’s important to note that, while the act of immersion by water is important, simply going under the water is not the full picture of baptism. As is always the case in our relationship with God, our mindset and the character of our heart also play a role. If you would like to know more about this, or have other questions (for example, can you baptize yourself) please reach out in the comments or contact me.