7 Baptisms In The Bible

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

Normally when we talk about baptism we are referring to what we call believer’s baptism. But there are at least seven different baptisms mentioned in the Bible.

Some of these baptisms happened in the past to illustrate a future truth. Or, they are Old Testament predictors of New Testament events. We call this typology. When looking at types, it is important to remember that they are usually limited to a certain aspect of the item or person that typifies another item or person. Therefore we should not read more into the “type” than what the Bible mentions. This is also an important principle to remember when explaining parables. When taken too far, parables and types either break down in their equality to the thing being illustrated or conclusions are drawn that are unbiblical.

Baptism of Moses

Moses is considered a type of Christ. This means that Moses represents Christ in some way. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 the Israelites are said to have been baptized unto Moses. This is talking about how the children of Israel were led by Moses and judgment came by water. However, the judgment was not on those “baptized unto Moses”; they passed through on dry ground. The judgment by water was against the armies of Pharaoh.

Baptism of John

This is a baptism that identified the participants with the coming Messiah. It was a physical baptism into water that signified a spiritual repentance in the heart of the believer (Matthew 3:6-11).

Acts 19:1-5 shows how this baptism has ended. People are not baptized for the sake of repentance today, but are baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ.

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:1-5)

Baptism of Fire

There are several views as to what the baptism of fire is as mentioned in the Bible. Three of them are: eternal torment, trials and testing, and conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Torment

Fire is often used as a symbol of judgment in the Bible. We see this when God struck down the prophets of Baal with fire as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Future cleansing by fire will come during the time of Revelation (2 Peter 3:10). Those who are judged eternally will be judged by fire (Revelation 20:13-15).

Trials and Testing

A second interpretation is that baptism by fire refers to trials and testing in the life of Christians. 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that the trying of our faith purifies us as gold tried in fire. 1 Corinthians says that our works will be tried in fire, not in punishment, but for the purpose of sorting out our reward.

Conviction From the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit convicts believers of their wrongdoing. This conviction comes from a God who is a consuming (purifying, cleansing) fire (Hebrews 10:19). Later in Hebrews (chapter 10) the Christian is told he will be convicted and chastened by the Holy Spirit of God.

Baptism of Jesus

Jesus was physically baptized by John in the Jordan river. He did not need to repent. He also did not need to identify with the coming Messiah. So why was Jesus baptized and what was different about His baptism and ours today? The baptism of Jesus was a public submission to the will of God. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:37, 38) at His public water baptism.

As Prophet, Priest, and King, Jesus was anointed in obedience to the Old Testament Law (1 Kings 19:16; Exodus 28:41; 1 Samuel 10:1). Jesus showed obedience to the will of God and the fulfillment of the law.

Baptism of the Cross

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

" ... our baptism into Christ is not a physical death, burial and resurrection. Rather, it is a spiritual one."

” … our baptism into Christ is not a physical death, burial and resurrection. Rather, it is a spiritual one.”

God judged the sins of mankind on the cross of Christ. He bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).

Jesus asked His disciples if they could drink of the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism as He (Mark 10:38). They answered that they could in verse 39. Jesus confirmed that they could; however, we know that these men did not take on the sins of the world. Then to what was Jesus referring?

Romans 6 says that Christians are baptized into Jesus’ death. We are buried and raised to new life. But our baptism into Christ is not a physical death, burial and resurrection. Rather, it is a spiritual one. We are dead to the world and walk in new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-11). Sin no longer has the power over our bodies.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit

At salvation we are placed into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). Acts 1:5 makes a separation between water baptism and baptism by the Holy Spirit. Water baptism (or believer’s baptism) was an outward expression of repentance and identification with Christ, but it did not save a person (1 Peter 3:21). The regenerative work of the Holy Spirit came when He indwelt believers (John 7:39; 14:16, 17, 26; Acts 1:8).

Believer’s Baptism

We are placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit at salvation. This is a separate event from believer’s baptism in water which is used as a physical representation of a spiritual truth. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection are what is necessary to save us and guarantee our resurrection. Believer’s baptism is a way to identify with the death of our Savior and to show the world an internal repentance and spiritual regeneration (Romans 6; Matthew 28:19).

Believer’s baptism is also done as a step of obedience. It is not done to earn salvation, but as a way to show commitment to Christ and His will. We see baptism as a form of obedience in Acts 2 when looking at the formation of the early church. The new believer’s heard the Word of God; repented of their sins; and believed Christ was the answer to their sins. Then they were baptized and joined the church (Acts 2:37-42):

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Various Baptisms

There are different types of baptism mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to apply every reference of baptism in the Bible to only one type of baptism. When you come across the word ‘baptism’ or the concept of baptism in the Bible, take some time to evaluate to which type of baptism the Bible is referring.

Want to learn more about the baptism of Jesus? Take a look at this article:

Baptism of Jesus: Bible Story and Importance

Reference – The Holy Bible, King James Version. YouTube video “Jesus Messiah” by Chris Tomlin

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Addis June 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Great work!!!

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Jack Wellman June 26, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I certainly agree with Addis…great work David. I always learn from what you write and I can never get enough of the Bible. Thank you sir.

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vickie August 13, 2013 at 12:25 pm

I was Baptized in water in 1978. I am now going to a new church and want to become a member, but they are telling I can’t become a member unless I get baptized by water to make sure that I was baptized correctly. Is it wrong for me to get baptized again?

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Jack Wellman August 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

I agree Vickie that you should not have to get baptized again but I would do it anyway. There is no sin in this and even Jesus was baptized when He didn’t need to be and did so to fulfill all righteousness. Sadly, many churches require this, even if you have been baptized once, which is wrong but I would do it just to not make a big issue of it. Paul wrote in Eph 4:4 that “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” That is proof that you need only one baptism and the word for baptism in the Greek indicates submersion and not sprinkling. Maybe they are concerned it was sprinkling. You might ask the about Eph 4:4. Let me know how it works out Vickie.

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Karl March 20, 2014 at 5:43 am

Well, if one is going to ACTUALLY believe the Holy Bible, completely believe all that G_d had inspired in the book, there are ACTUALLY eight (8) baptisms – Jonah was TOTALLY baptized.

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Dwayne Lofters April 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

If I believe and practice what was taught by Jesus and repent and had belief in the Father but did not baptize with water will I see Father?
My interpretation is that to baptize with Fire is to accept the words of the Father written with fire which were the Commandments. Also, my interpretation to be baptize by in the name of the son is to gain the character of the son in accepting the words in your heart thus having the heart purified to be like Jesus. Also, I interpret holy spirit to be Special words of the son and the Father as I think Spirit relates to special breath of speech which are the special words.

Can someone be baptized with fire in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit(Special words) without being baptized with water even though the water is a symbol of the metaphor to baptize with water?

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THOMAS COLLIER August 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm

What is referred to here as “Believer’s Baptism” is the “one baptism” in effect in today (Eph 4). According to Scripture (but not according to denominations) it is essential to salvation, as Peter said in Acts 2 when he explained that baptism is where our sins (the ONLY thing on earth that God said will cause our damnation) are washed away. Paul was told the same thing in Acts 22 when Annias told him to “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord”; and as Christ said in Mark 16 when he said to the Apostles “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved”.

Christianity would be so much stronger in America if Christian denominations would get their doctrines aligned with Scripture and teach that baptism is simply obedience to the Word of God, and to the command of Christ. Obedience to the Word of God is essential to salvation, and thus, so is baptism as it is taught in the Word of God.

1 Peter 3 ” . . . once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.)

We all want to get to Heaven!

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Jack Wellman August 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Then Jesus death was not enough. We must add to it like with baptism/ What of the man who had a “death bed” conversion and was in no condition to be baptized in such a state of physical deterioration that he could not even be lifted up out of his bed due to the risk of fracture of his vertebrae? That dying man’s conversion was not enough then to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved? (Acts 4:14, Rom 10:9, Acts 16:30-31). We could not baptize him yet he came to saving faith just before he died so he is headed to hell? How can another woman in a nursing home who accepted Christ also on her death bed not be saved after professing saving faith in Christ? She too is headed to hell? There are also scores of people who in car wrecks who professed faith in Christ. Once with a pastor who included it in his lifetime experiences and came to the scene after the accident. Remember that these three people who were dying and not able to be baptized professed with their tongue faith in Christ. The two elderly people understood the plan of salvation as I explained it clearly to them. And this was clearly in the New Covenant…this was just last summer! This was one of the most awesome experiences of my entire life and yet you say because they were not baptized they are not saved and headed to hell for eternity. I disagree.

The New Covenant was clearly established by Christ but it was actually BEFORE the cross if you believe Jesus: “And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples…. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:18-28 ). He repeats this phrase THREE TIMES “this is the new covenant” during the Passover.

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the new covenant, which IS (is meaning it already is in effect) poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. He did not say, this “will be” the new covenant but “is”.

What would you say to those two death bed conversions of those two who had clearly believed in Jesus Christ before they died? Are the headed for hell then? What do you say about them?

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Sue Muehlfeld Lynn October 27, 2017 at 11:52 am

I always refer back to the thief on the cross. Jesus said “today you will be with me in paradise “

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