The Bible commands everyone: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Baptism is clearly a requirement — it’s not optional.
However, the religious institutions of this world are in great confusion regarding how to baptize. Some are content with just pouring or sprinkling water on a baby’s head, while others ardently argue that a person must be fully immersed in water.
So what is the truth? In seeking the truth, there is only one source that we should consult. It is the living word of God, the Bible. We need to seek what God says, not what human beings would love to believe.
So let us explore what the Bible really teaches about the proper way to baptize.
The Meaning of Baptism
Among the most common methods of baptism practiced by professing Christianity today is sprinkling.
The Greek word for sprinkling is the verb “rhantizo” [G4472]. When we examine the Bible, we don’t read any passage where sprinkling — “rhantizo” — is used to refer to any baptism of persons. In fact, the word sprinkling is often connected with the ceremonial rituals concerning the blood and ashes of sacrificial animals in the Book of Hebrews. This word (used as a verb) is referred to in the following verses: Hebrews 9:13; 9:19; 9:21; 10:22.
Another method popularly used in some baptism ceremonies is pouring. However, the Bible also never connects this word to the baptism of a person. The English word “pour” is the equivalent Greek word “ballo” [G0906], referring to poured liquids [oil or water] as stated in Matthew 26:12 and John 13:5. Another root word for “pour” is the Greek word “cheo” and usually combined with a prefix. Examples are: “katacheo” [G2708] = “to pour down upon”; “ekcheo” [G1632] = “to pour out”; “epicheo” [G2022] = “to pour upon.”
But the English word “baptize” comes from the Greek verb “baptizo” [G0907]. It literally means: to “dip into,” to “immerse,” “to plunge into,” and “put into.” It was NEVER used to mean to “sprinkle” or to “pour.”
[References: Bible Works 5 and W.E. VINE’S COMPLETE EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, Copyright 1996, Thomas Nelson Publishers, pages 50, 478, 597.]
With these in mind, we can see that baptisms through sprinkling or pouring are simply rampant SATANIC DECEPTIONS. Biblically speaking, baptism is an act of being placed completely underwater. Baptism symbolizes the burial of the old carnal and sinful self. You can’t bury a body just by mere sprinkling or pouring some water on it! Please read the clear symbolism of baptism in Romans 6:3-6.
The Example of Jesus Christ
If there’s one person that we should all examine, it is the life of Christ. As our Lord and Master, Christ showed us the proper way of being baptized even if He did not need to (Matthew 3:13-15). Christ knew that people would try to change the baptism ritual into some kind of humanistic invention and tradition. So He gave us an example. (His baptism is recorded in all the four Gospels: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; and John 1:29-34.)
Here is an exact quote:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him… When He had been baptized, Jesus CAME UP IMMEDIATELY FROM THE WATER; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
~Matthew 3:13, 16
From these verses, it is evident that Christ was fully immersed in water when He was baptized. It is ridiculous to think that He “came up” from the “sprinkling” water. Notice also what the Bible says:
Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was MUCH WATER there. And they came and were baptized.
Obviously, John would need just a cup of water if he was baptizing by sprinkling or pouring. However, John was obliged to baptize in rivers or bodies of water where it was possible to FULLY immerse a person into the water.
This is also supported by the way Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch:
So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And BOTH Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.
~Acts 8:38, 39
If Philip was baptizing the eunuch by sprinkling, then there was no need for him to go down into the water with him. All he needed to do was scoop some water and pour it down upon the eunuch. Obviously, this wasn’t the case, since we read that both of them came up out of the water!
There’s no doubt — it is as bright as the sun — that baptism by sprinkling or pouring is NOWHERE found in the whole Bible. It is unbiblical, false, and misleading. It INSULTS the very Authority that instituted the baptism ritual.
Complete immersion in water was the ONLY method of baptism practiced by the true believers and followers of God. It is an outward sign of our inward repentance and cleansing from all sin. It symbolizes our commitment to bury our old and sinful nature. God showed us how to baptize a person. We ought to follow that — not any humanly devised method.
2 thoughts on “Biblical Baptism: Sprinkling, Pouring, or Only Immersion?”
This is nothing but the truth and teaching of the Bible
Thank you, Richard.