The purpose of this web site is to reveal the original intent of both water baptism and Spirit Baptism, and to explain grave errors about baptism that have beset the Christian world since the beginning.
Though surprising we will see that Luke carefully recorded in the book of Acts the fact that the full meaning of baptism was not understood by the very twelve Sh'lihim (the 12 Apostles) for years, and that Apollos, a later successful evangelist, had deficient knowledge as well.
Since the days of Acts further complicating factors have made baptism one of the most controversial issues among Christians.
Without a doubt the single greatest error is the belief that the resurrected Christ commanded a universal water baptism in Matthew 28:19.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
We will see that Yeshua had not the slightest intent to found a new water rite. Rather Yeshua commanded Jewish Sh'lihim to purify unclean, idol worshipping first-century gentiles by a true knowledge of the living God of Israel.
The first followers of Yeshua the Messiah were loyal Jews. They practiced many different Jewish rituals called baptisms. Their Messianic hope was to see the fulfillment of prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures, certainly including the national purification with pure water in Ezekiel 36:25.
This site proposes that Ezekiel’s promised purification to enter the Kingdom is the Scriptural source of the greatest water ritual revealed to Israel, none other than John’s end-time Messianic baptism.
Moreover, those first Jewish followers were also promised a change of heart through the supernatural workings of the Spirit in the last days.
The prophet Joel promised an out-pouring of the Spirit on all humble believers in God. Even Ezekiel 36:27 specifies that God would put His Spirit within the people of Israel. Both John the Baptist and Messiah Yeshua described this miraculous event as the Supreme Baptism of the Messianic age.
That wonderful experience was expected and received by those first believers, and not long afterward, by non-Jewish believers who looked to Jewish apostles for guidance.
All knew of a personal experience with the love of God through the out-poured Spirit of God. For the first believers, Spirit baptism, the most magnificent of all baptisms, had also been promised in the Hebrew Scriptures.
On the other hand, the leadership and the greater part of the Jewish nation would not repent, would not receive Yeshua as Messiah and thus could not share in this end-time Gift.
Moreover, only decades later certain circles of Christians abandoned the Jewish backdrop of the New Covenant. As a result they misinterpreted the Jewish Scriptures. Concerning baptism, an experience with water replaced the promised experience with the Spirit and that water baptism, touted as the gateway to God’s favor, was based on misinterpretations of end-time promises to Israel.
It is impossible to rightly interpret the crucial details of the New Covenant without factoring in the Messianic aspirations of the Jewish people.
In modern times a growing appreciation of its Jewish character by wide sectors of the Christian world is reversing a centuries-long obsession. Still, recent Jewish scholar Ralph Marcus made a perceptive comment on the teachings of Paul which can be applied to the entire New Covenant.
"Perhaps historians of Christianity have not sufficiently appreciated the fact that Paul’s...frequent elliptical references to Scriptural narratives...and...rabbinical method of interpretation, would have been practically unintelligible to the gentile members of his audience had there been no learned Jews around to supply the missing links in Paul’s involved and hurrying argument."1
It is hoped that this book can provide some of those "missing links" for the difficult Jewish subject of baptism.
The Good News was first proclaimed as the direct fulfillment of prophecies to the nation Israel. Unfortunately too many later Christians divorced themselves from the Jewish foundation of New Covenant Scriptures causing no end of harm to the advancement of the Good News of Messiah. Baptism is one of the crucial subjects that must be returned to its Jewish background.
1Ralph Marcus, 'The Hellenistic Age,’ Great Ages and Ideas of the Jewish People, Modern Library, Random House, N.Y., 1956, p 128.
To help clear up the confusion about baptism that plagues the Christian world, the following misguided views are addressed at this web site:
The Christian world believes that Christ, after His resurrection, commanded Christian water baptism for all of His followers.
Though a breathtaking challenge to Christian theology, we will see that Yeshua the Messiah, known to millions today as Jesus Christ, did not command a new water baptism. Rather, He continually and fully endorsed the end-time Messianic baptism to the repentant of the Jewish people, promised in the Hebrew Scriptures, initiated by John, and that was not intended for believers from the nations. Go here.
Messiah’s post-resurrection instructions in Matthew and Mark, which include use of the word baptize, are actually to be understood as meaning something far beyond a water ceremony. Such an interpretation should not be a surprise in light of many of Messiah's symbolic teachings, including, for example, His warning to avoid the ”leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” that had nothing to do with physical bread.
The Christian world believes John’s end-time Messianic baptism for Israel has been superseded by the Christian water baptism supposed to have been instituted by Christ.
This site shows that John’s end-time baptism for Israel is the only Messianic water baptism that there ever was. John performed the end-time baptism to reveal Messiah to Israel. The Jewish disciples performed it for new Jewish believers after Messiah’s resurrection by the authority of Messiah, i.e. in the name of Messiah.
The Christian world, by and large, does not see John’s baptism as the specific fulfillment of end-time promises to Israel.
This site shows that John’s baptism began the fulfillment of the promised end-time purification of the nation Israel, prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) in Ezekiel 36:25. Go here.
The Christian world usually takes the word baptize in the New Covenant Scriptures to mean a water ceremony, with many holding the belief that baptize specifically means immerse.
This site shows that in ancient times Jews and Greeks used the Greek verb baptizo (baptize) in a highly flexible way to describe various events that caused a complete change in a person or object. Usage was by no means limited to the idea of immersion, much less immersion in water. Go here. For example, Greeks and Greek speaking Jews like Philo and Josephus wrote that a man drunk from wine was a man baptized.
Philo, On a Contemplative Life
"And I know some, who when they become slightly intoxicated, before they are baptized (completely drunk), provide, by contribution and tickets, a carousal for the morrow."
Josephus, Antiquities 10:9:4.
"Seeing him in this condition, and baptized by drunkenness into stupor and sleep, Ishmael leaping up, with his ten friends, slays Gedaliah and those reclining with him at the banquet."
The Jewish people also used the word in a religious sense to describe a change in status before God, which is especially evident in Paul's epistles, and is often associated with the idea of renewed or elevated purity.
In addition to the many conflicting ideas on the meaning and practice of water baptism between the denominations, the Christian world is deeply divided on the meaning and interpretation of Spirit baptism.
This site shows that God's desire, revealed in the Hebrew Scripture, is to pour out His Holy Spirit of Promise on all who have repented. Go here. This sublime, yet powerful miracle was not only anticipated by the first Jewish believers, but was a longed-for personal experience.
All who would seek to enter the Messianic Kingdom must be baptized with the Holy Spirit, an indelibly discernible spiritual experience beyond repentance and distinguished from it.
Unfortunately, today there are many grievously inept interpretations of Scripture about this powerful experience.
For example, the Sacramental world says that specially-blessed holy water actually bestows the Holy Spirit, holding to the principle of ex opere operato. Sacramentalists hold that infants sprinkled with holy water have in all actuality been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Other Christians from a Reformed heritage say a person who repented automatically received the Holy Spirit whether he knows it or not, or whether he experienced anything or not. Cessationists believe that after the first century the Holy Spirit is received without an accompanying experience such as miracles like prophesy or "tongues."
Yet others in Charismatic circles say this spiritual experience is identified primarily by the utterance of "tongues." In other words, in this widely pervasive view, a person who has uttered "tongues" has been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Promoters of this belief simply encourage congregants to initiate vocal noises and then assure them that they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In contrast to these terrifying "simulations" of divine work, Scripture shows rather that the astonishing experience of being newly filled with the Holy Spirit impelled people to prophesy and praise God by the power and leading of the Spirit. This wonderful order of God's grace in Messiah began on Shavu'ot (Pentecost), and continues to the present, and for as long as the "last days" continue.
Beyond that, we will see that in Acts the lesson learned by Jewish followers of Messiah in the gentile house of Cornelius is that Spirit Baptism provides the true and ultimate purification before God, not water baptism. This baptism is for all disciples of Messiah and is the universal ”one baptism” mentioned by the apostle Paul.
This book concludes that God initiated Messianic promises to Israel by sending John to purify Israel with water, beginning the fulfillment of Ezekiel 36:25. In other words, John's baptism IS the purification of Ezekiel 36:25. There has never been any other end-time Messianic water baptism. Neither Messiah nor the apostles performed anything other than John's baptism, in other words, Ezekiel's promised purification.
After Messiah ascended into heaven the disciples performed John's purification in Messiah's name and for His sake. Indeed, Messiah had publicly endorsed John's baptism to the leadership of Israel in Jerusalem in the very week before His crucifixion, expecting them to agree that it was "from Heaven."
Nevertheless, John, Messiah, the apostles and all disciples knew that Messiah would perform a much greater purification by pouring out the Holy Spirit, as promised further in Ezekiel 36 and especially in Joel 2. Messiah's Spirit baptism is the supreme baptism of this era.
Unless otherwise indicated Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version Copyright © 1982 Thomas Nelson, Inc. Liberty has been taken to substitute Messiah and Yeshua for Christ and Jesus, and Torah for law.
Other translations used:
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001, Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, The Lockman Foundation
American Standard Version Copyright © 1901, Public Domain
New International Version Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society
The Greek text used is most often the UBS4, however other texts are noted.
Biblos.com can be used to view many translations, as well as Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin texts.