One common objection to the practice of infant baptism is that there are no New Testament passages that speak of infants being baptized. This, however, is simply is not true. There are, in fact, two such passages.
The first is I Corinthians 10:2. There the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea is described as a baptism - a baptism which clearly included infants (Exod. 10:9; 12:37). Indeed, it would be difficult to deny that there were children among the Israelites at this time, for over 2 million of them went out of Egypt (Exod. 12:37, 38).
The point here is that this is a baptism by the NT definition of that word and, in fact, the NT word “baptism” is actually used to describe this event. The Baptist objection that this happened in the Old Testament cannot change that. (It is also proof that the NT word “baptism” does not everywhere and always mean “immersion” as the Baptists assert).
What is more, the fact that this happened in the OT only emphasizes the important point that baptism is not something new in the NT. There were many baptisms in the OT as Hebrews 9:10 clearly shows. And that they were real baptisms is evident from the NT references to them as such.
Nor will the Baptist objection that these were typical baptisms hold any water. The fact is, of course, that all baptisms are symbolic and picture something. Not only that, but those of the OT as well as those of the NT symbolize exactly the same thing, the washing away of sins by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ (cf. I Cor. 10:4; I Pet. 3:21; and especially Heb. 9:13, 14, 22).
Hebrews 9:10 and 19 is the second passage. What needs to be noted here is that the word translated “washings” in verse 10 is the NT word “baptisms.” One of these baptisms is described in verse 19 as being applied to “all the people,” and again we know from Scripture that this included children (Exod. 20:12).
These verses are especially important, however, because they show that these OT baptisms had exactly the same meaning as those of the NT. They both signified purification and remission of sins by the shedding of blood Heb. 10:22, 23. To be baptized in the OT had exactly the same significance as in the NT, the only difference being that in the OT it looked ahead while in the NT it looks back.
The thing that needs to be remembered in all of this, then, is that there is no fundamental difference between the OT and the NT, even in the matter of baptism. To think otherwise is to go in the direction of Dispensationalism and to make a principle difference between the OT and the NT.
No more, therefore, than baptism was something new and unheard of to the Israelites when John began baptizing at the River Jordan, is the thought of baptism in the OT a surprise to us. There is but one people of God, one covenant and one way of salvation.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 3
Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: November 1979
Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002Website: www.lyndenprc.org/sermons/
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