Article: Losing the Faith (7/22)


Baptism continued, after apostolic times, to be the means of entering the household of faith, and for many years it was administered in the apostolic fashion. That is, baptism implied submersion, and the candidates were believers who had been instructed in the one faith.

Early Witness – Baptism Essential

Barnabas (AD 100): “We descend into the water full of sins and uncleanness, and we ascend bearing reverence in our heart and having hope in Jesus in our spirit” (Epistle of Barnabas, xi).

Justin Martyr (AD 150): “… in order that we might not remain children of ignorance and necessity but become children of choice and knowledge and might obtain in the water the forgiveness of past sins” (The First Apology, lxi).

Melito, Bishop of Sardis (AD 170): “Are not gold, silver, copper and iron, after being fired, baptized with water? One in order that it may be cleansed in appearance, another in order that it may be strengthened by the dipping” (On Baptism).

Clement of Alexandria (AD 193): “It is the washing through which we are cleansed of our sins … Instruction leads to faith, and faith [to] baptism … We have repented of our sins, renounced our faults, and are purified by baptism…” (The Instructor, ch. vi).

Evidence – Baptism by Submersion

Didache: “Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, ‘baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,’ in running water. If you do not have running water, baptize in other water” (On Baptism).

Tertullian (AD 200): “Baptism itself is a bodily act, because we are immersed in water, but it has a spiritual effect, because we are set free from sins” (On Baptism, vii).

Origen (AD 230): “… you descend into the water … having washed away … sin, you come up a ‘new man’” (Homilies on Exodus, v:5).

Basil of Caesarea (AD 350): “How then do we become in the likeness of his death? We are buried with him through baptism … How then do we accomplish the descent into Hades? We imitate the burial of Christ through baptism. For the bodies of those being baptized are as it were buried in water” (On the Holy Spirit, xv:35).

Ambrose (AD 375): “So therefore also in baptism, since it is a likeness of death, without doubt when you dip and rise up there is made a likeness of the resurrection” (On the Sacraments, iii).

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