Ariel Ministries New Zealand

We asked Arnold ....

Are post-Pauline churches still required to practice water baptism?

Q: Some say that baptism pointed to the identification with Messiah’s death and resurrection, reenacted by the immersion of a believer in water, up until the Apostle Paul phased baptism out as a rite (1 Cor. 1:14-17; 15:1-4). Is it exegetically correct to conclude that post-Pauline churches are not required to practice water baptism anymore because baptismos or “immersion” is to be understood in a spiritual sense of identification with Messiah’s death and resurrection only, without the need for water immersion as an act of obedience symbolizing this truth?

A: There is nothing in Paul’s writings that teaches that water baptism was no longer necessary once he came on the scene. This includes the passages in 1 Corinthians because Paul actually stated that he had baptized some people in Corinth. He made this point because the Corinthians were taking pride depending on who happened to baptize them at some point in their spiritual history. Since he did not want to be part of this kind of division, Paul simply stated that he was glad he had not baptized many of them. Yet, he never said that there was no need to baptize any of them. While baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is necessary for discipleship. The second passage in the Corinthian letter does not mention baptism because Paul was strictly dealing with what one must do for salvation, and baptism has nothing to do with salvation. 
In conclusion, nothing in the New Testament states that water baptism has been discontinued, and while it is not a necessity for salvation, it is necessary for discipleship.

Back to blog