The writers of the New Testament present several images for baptism. Just as with the images of the church, a picture or image can really help to drive a point, and it is really no different with these top five images for baptism. Baptism has always been part of the Jewish culture. It was even Jesus’ cousin’s name-sake (John the Baptist). However, the purpose for baptism under the new covenant was different, and the images for baptism helped to communicate its effect and purpose.
How Scripture answers "Top 5: Images for baptism?"
Our top five images for baptism in the New Testament illustrate that an individual – through baptism – is…
- …Reborn1: Jesus shares this image as a condition to “enter the kingdom of God” while describing it happening not through a womb but through “water and the Spirit”1, both of which Peter addresses when asked on the Day of Pentecost, “What shall we do [to be saved]?”10 This image is later used to both motivate (Paul7,11) and encourage (Peter6) Christians.
- …Circumcised2,14: Similar to being born again, Paul uses this image to illustrate a “putting off of the body of the flesh”2,11. The physical practice, long-held among Jews, was a God-ordained sign of His covenant promises to His people14.
- …Washed3: The conscience is cleansed3,13 and sins are washed away5,10, not dirt13! Promised during a time when the temple was lost9, this emphasizes a Christian’s ability to come before God as one of His own, just as the priest had to wash before entering the Holy Place of the Jewish temple.
- …Buried4 and raised12,13 with Christ: Just as Jesus was buried and raised bodily, so the Christian is resurrected (the “first resurrection”) in baptism. Baptism signifies dying to sin (putting off the flesh2,4,6,11) to be born again1 to lead a new life4, seeking after “things above”12,13.
- …Clothed8 in Christ: Simply put, if you haven’t been baptized you have not “put on” Christ!
These powerful images for baptism1,2,3,4,8,12 all work together to convey the significance – even necessity – of baptism14. Without being baptized, one cannot enter the kingdom of God1 since they have neither been raised with12,13 nor clothed in8 Christ, nor have their sins been washed away5,10,13 to even draw near to Him3.
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