LEAVING THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISMS #3
THE DOCTRINE OF “BAPTISMS”
BASIC TEXT: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms (βαπτισμων, baptismosG909), and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1, 2, KJV)
Although the word “baptisms” in this passage is plural, it is a basic principle of the doctrine of Christ. Does that not mean that there are “teachings of (many) baptisms” in the doctrine? If so, what kinds of baptisms are there? Was John the Baptizer the first in the Bible to command baptism? Were any in the OT required to be baptized? What makes an act be called “baptism”? If there are “baptisms”, why does the New Testament also say that there is but one baptism (singular) just like there is but one God the Father, one Spirit, and one Lord (Ephesians 4:5)?
3. Thereafter, the priests were required to wash (νίπτωG3538 a different word than λούω)vi but only their hands and feet prior to each service.vii νίπτωG3538 specifically means “to cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face).” “Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash (νίπτωG3538) their hands and their feet thereat when they go into the tabernacle ...to minister” (Exodus 30:18-19).viii Jesus is thought to have referenced this in His answer to Peter during the foot washing at the “last supper” when Peter asked to be bathed wholly. Jesus said that he “that is washed (λούωG3068) needeth not save to wash (νίπτωG3538) his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean...” Here Jesus surely confirms that the baptism that the apostles had from John was the antitype of the Aaronic Priesthood.ix Note: this is not to claim that the baptism of John was identical in all points as the post-crucifixion baptism taught by the Holy Spirit through the apostles. Acts 19:5 clarifies this. At Ephesus, disciples who had not heard that the Holy Spirit had come were told by Paul to obey that baptism commanded by the Holy Spirit. Which they did. That’s why they were re-baptized. In other words, after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, all new disciples were to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18-20).
OT Others Washed λούωG3068 Themselves
Oddly, the general Levite population were not cleansed by bathing for service like the priests. Rather, they shaved their own bodies after having been sprinkled with the “holy” water that had been made from the red heifer’s ashes (Numbers 8:7; 19:9, 10).
The purifications that required one’s bathing oneself: skin disease (Leviticus 14:8, 9; Numbers 19:7, 8); genital discharges (Leviticus 15:5-24; 27); those officiating on the day of atonement with the bullock ashes, etc., and goat (before and afterward, (Leviticus 16:1-4; 24, 26, 28; 19:7-10 [each bathes himself]), anyone touching the unclean before he can eat holy things (Leviticus 22:6), anyone contaminated by a carcass and unclean flesh (Leviticus 11:40 [ABP+V]; 17:15,16; 22:6), the corpse-contaminated priest (Numbers 19:19). I think I’ve listed all of them.
The rites of purification washings were extended in the post-Babylonian Period by the Jews to a variety of unauthorized cases. Jesus called them the Pharisees’ “traditions.” Cups and pots and brazen vessels, chairs, and their bodies were washed as a matter of ritual observance (Mark 7:4).
There are those in certain religions that claim to follow Jesus when in truth they are not leaving the washings of the OT but are rather reviving the figures and shadows of the past system that were only types of Heavenly Things in Christ Jesus. If Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adding washings, how would He look at those today that prefer the things imposed on the Jews prior to Jesus’ time of reformation (Hebrews 9:10).
There were other baptisms that we are to “leave.”- Gaylon West
iii (νίζω being used of the hands and feet, πλύνω of clothes).
ivλουτρόνG3067: according to Strong’s Dictionary: “a bath, that is, (figuratively) baptism.”
v Acts 19:1ff tells of “disciples” who had been baptized with John’s baptism after the death of Christ and the new testament was in force (Hebrews 9:15-17).
vi Strong’s Dictionary: νίπτωG3538 nip'-to To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution: - wash. Compare λούωG3068 which means to bathe the whole body.
viiAn exception is where the priest involved in the burning of the heifer bathes himself (Numbers 19).
viii When the Laver was finished its waters were used to give Aaron and his sons a bath for ordination, Exodus 40:12-15; and after this they had only to wash their hands and feet in it each time they entered the Tabernacle, ‘lest they die,’ 30:20.
ix Note: In Solomon’s Temple “the Sea” and “ten lavers” were added for the washings. “He made (in Solomon’s Temple) also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in” (2 Chronicles 4:6). T
x The Hebrew 'erwah (Greek aschēmōnG809) that occurs in Deuteronomy 23:14 as 'erwath dabhar, "unclean thing" (Deuteronomy 24:1; also in Leviticus 18 and 20) is translated "uncleanness” in the King James Version. However, this word is not related to the ceremonial akatharsia (Heb. tame’) but has to do with moral and Law violations. It is translated many times as “nakedness” (Greek aschēmōnG809) in Leviticus 18 which is interpreted by the New Testament as “fornication” (1 Corinthians 5:1f).
xi The Pharisees are erroneously accused of being “too strict” in observing the Law by some religiounists. In fact, Jesus condemns them for adding to the Law and stressing such. An example is baptizing themselves after shopping (Mark 7).