How Many Baptisms Are There?

Carrol R. Sutton

There are a number of baptisms mentioned in the Scriptures. The Hebrew writer mentions "the doctrine of baptisms" (Heb 6:1). Note the fact that "baptisms" is plural. Let us consider different baptisms that are mentioned in the New Testament Scripture. There are at least six.

1. BAPTISM UNTO MOSES: In 1 Cor 10:1-2, Paul made note of the fact that all the Israelites who passed through the sea "were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and to the sea."

2. BAPTISM OF JOHN: The baptism of John is mentioned a number of times in the Scriptures. Here are some of the passages: Matthew 3:1-2; 21:23-27; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 3:3-17; and Acts 19:1-7. John baptized "with" and "in" water. He baptized where there was "much water" (John 3:32). John's baptism was "for the remission of sins."

3. BAPTISM WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT: Both John and Jesus Christ mentioned Holy Spirit baptism (Matt 3:10-12; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16-17; John 1:30-34; and Acts 1:1-8). John promised Holy Spirit baptism to some people of his generation. His promise did not extend beyond that generation. Jesus Christ was the administrator of Holy Spirit baptism. It was limited and temporary.

4. BAPTISM OF SUFFERING: This baptism is referred to in Matthew 20:22-23; Mark 10:38-40; and Luke 12:50.

5. BAPTISM OF FIRE: This baptism is mentioned in Matt 3:11 and Luke 3:16. In view of the general context as well as the immediate one, it seems to me that this probably referes to the wicked being cast into hell.

6. BAPTISM OF GREAT COMMISSION: This is the baptism that Jesus mentioned when he commissioned His disciples to go and teach all nations (Matt 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16). This baptism would be administered by the disciples in water "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). It is a baptism that puts penitent believers INTO Christ (Gal 3:26-27).

From the above information we can see that at least six baptisms are mentioned in the scriptures. The baptisms served (or will serve) different purposes. They were given for different reasons. However, by the time the apostle Paul penned Ephesians 4:5 (probably about A.D. 64) he declared that there is "ONE baptism."

How many baptisms are there now? When we consider all that God has spoken on the subject in the New Testament, we must conclude that there is ONE baptism today! If you believe there is more than one baptism in effect today, you need to study God's Word (the Bible) carefully to "rightly divide" the words God has provided, which we must accept and live by, regardless of what we may LIKE!