Baptism has been the root of quite a bit of contention in the Body of Christ. It is a transliteration of the word Baptizo, which bears a manifold definition.
- to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)
- to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe
- to overwhelm
Not to be confused with 911, bapto. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change. When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mark 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptised shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle! Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989.
Is baptism necessary for salvation and if so, which definition best illustrates the method?