Topic(s): Baptism, Bible Study

Todd Clippard

One of the qualifications of being an apostle was to have been a part of the ministry “beginning from the baptism of John” (Acts 1:22). 

In Matthew 21:23-27, Jesus encounters a test from the chief priests and elders of the Jews concerning the authority behind His teaching. In response, Jesus asks them to determine the authority of the baptism of John. In their deliberation, they realize that if they say it was from heaven, Jesus would ask why they did not obey it.

Consider John 4:1-2: “When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples).” This means that Jesus himself did not baptize, but His disciples baptized those who responded to His teaching.

It seems to me the only logical conclusion in relation to these texts is that the apostles were baptized under the teaching of John. It is unthinkable that both John and Jesus would teach baptism, and Jesus’ apostles would administer baptism, with none of them ever submitting themselves to it. In fact, it would be impossible for the apostles to be called disciples if they had not submitted to the divinely given teaching on baptism.

If Apollos was teaching others to submit to the baptism of John (Acts 18:25), which some of his listeners submitted to (Acts 19:3), why would anyone assume Apollos himself had not been baptized? Here is a man who was so zealous that he had traveled hundreds of miles, perhaps more than a thousand, to preach the message of John the Baptist. How could one logically assume Apollos never submitted to the baptism he preached?

Though not asked, allow me to add one more thought. The reason Apollos was not rebaptized like those men in Acts 19 is this–the men of Ephesus submitted to a baptism that was no longer in force. Apollos submitted to John’s baptism while it was still valid. According to Paul’s statement in Acts 19:4, men were to submit to John’s baptism (while valid) then believe on Jesus who would come after. Apollos believed in Jesus after receiving a valid baptism and then being taught the way of God more perfectly (v 26).

This is why there was no need for the apostles or the 120 to be re-baptized after the resurrection of Jesus and the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). They had submitted to the baptism of John and continued in faith all the way through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Note how those who baptized on the day of Pentecost were added to the number. What number were they added to? The apostles and the 120.


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