BASIC TEXT: Therefore leaving the [first, Heb. 5:12] principles of the doctrine of Christ, ... Of the doctrine of baptisms (Hebrews 6:1, 2, KJV)

The Baptisms of Moses. 1. The translators of the New Testament apparently believed that the word “baptism”i was interchangeable with the “washings”ii that was used in the Old Testament (Mark 7:4; Hebrews 6:2 + 9:10). 2. The New Testament uses “washing” (Greek apolouoG626iii) to refer to Biblical baptismG909iv (Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 10:22).

The Mosaic Law along with its washings/baptisms lasted for about 1500 years. The priests were the only ones authorized to have it administered by others to them. All others were washings of oneself.

The Baptisms Of The Pharisees. Secular historical records show that after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, patterns of the Law’s washings for the priests was adopted by the ruling elders for proselyting Gentiles. The washings for lepers, uncleanness, etc., was extended and legislated for all Jews in their everyday lives (e.g., before they ate). The scribes and Pharisess called these requirements “traditions of the elders.” “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matthew 15:2). “And when they come from the market, except they wash (baptizōG907), they eat not” (Mark 7:4). Jesus said that these added washings or baptisms were sinful: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3; 1 John 3:4).

The Protestant movement has erroneously interpreted Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees as being against their “strict adherence to the Law of Moses.” But these washings were not of the Law but of the “tradition of the elders.”v Jesus was condemning their additions (i.e., human creeds) to the Law of Moses. Maimonides, a revered Jewish scholar, summed up the “Talmudic tradition” of proselytizing: When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice.”vi The tradition of baptizing Gentiles would have then been included in Jesus’ condemnation:Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

Intovii John’s Baptism(Acts 19:3). The prophetviii John's ministry began its rapid but brief rise in "the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar" (Luke 3:1-6). “Tiberius became emperor in about 14 AD; the fifteenth year of his reign was within a year of the beginning of the ministry of the Christ. John's public [baptizing] would therefore have lasted only months before King Herod took him and killed him [Luke 3:20). But during that brief time, John prepared the way for the Messiah [Christ,gw], just as he was prophesied to do.”ix

Intox The New Baptism (Acts 19:5). John’s baptism and the contemporary baptizing by Jesus’ disciplesxi (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; John 3:22, 26-30; 4:1, 2) remitted sins by looking forward to Jesus shedding His blood at the cross (Hebrews 9:15-17) (just like the animal sacrifices of Moses). The Law of Moses with its authorized washings is nailed to the cross.xii The New Law takes effect with Jesus death.xiii After the cross, the resurrected Jesus, having “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matthew 20:18), commanded the new baptism. It was unique from John’s baptism because it was predicated upon believing that Jesus is the promised Christ, the Son of God (into His death, burial, resurrection and coronation to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, Acts 2:14-41, 3:12-26; 1 Corinthians 15:1-9).

No other Biblical washing is described as having this basis. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3, 4). “Ye are washed (apo-louoG626), but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

1. Baptized into Jesus’ death. 2. Buried with Jesus by baptism. 3. Raised up from baptism to walk in newless of life. 4. Washed, sanctified, justified. 5. In the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God.

After the cross and after instruction an Ethiopian wanted to be baptized. “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. ...and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8:37).

An Important Baptism. Few truths are so clearly taught in the New Testament as the teaching about this water baptism. Again and again, the sacred writers tell us that it is in baptism that we are saved, buried with Christ, incorporated into his body, washed of our sins, regenerated, and cleansed (e.g., Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:1–4; 1 Corinthians 6:11, 12:13; Galatians 3:26–27; Ephesians 5:25-27; Colossians 2:11–12; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:18–22, etc.). This baptism is the only one taught by the Holy Spirit for Jesus’ apostles to teach and perform.

At the last supper, Jesus told the apostles, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). At the end of the supper, Jesus prayed to the Father to sanctify His Word through the apostles and that they and the believers of that Word “may be one” (John 17:20, 21). From the day of Pentecost, a month or so later, the Spirit came upon the apostles in Jerusalem and commenced guiding them in this Truth. This truth taught, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

After His resurrection Jesus taught the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until endued with power by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). Then they were to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel and baptize [with the new authorized baptism] and teach” (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-16).

The baptism that has been in effect since the coming of the Holy Spirit’s Truth to the apostles is this new baptism. It is not the same baptism as that of John or of the Pharisees or of the Law of Moses.

This baptism is the effectual baptism, is authorized by Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, and affirmed by the Spirit through the sacred writers.




i baptizoG907: “immersion” compare with note ii.

ii louoG3068: “bathing the whole body” and niptoG3538: “washing a part”

iii louoG3068: “bathing the whole body”; apolouoG626

iv baptizoG907: “immersion” compare with note ii.

vWhy do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” (Matthew 15:2). “...tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market-place, except they bathe (baptizeG907) themselves, they eat not; and many other things there are, which they have received to hold, washings (baptismG909) of cups, and pots, and brasen vessels” (Mark 7:4).


viiεἰςG1519. “to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time, or (figuratively) purpose (result, etc.).”

viiiAnd thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76).



xiJesus’ total ministry is calculated from the mention of three annual Passover feasts.

xiiBlotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14).

xiiiAnd for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth(Hebrews 9:15-17)