What is Baptism?


What is Baptism?  What is Repentance?  What is the Kingdom of God?  What is …

Great questions.  Sometimes I wish I could just get a good, short answer that I could get my brain around.  How about you?

The is the first post in a series dealing with the definition of key concepts found in the Bible.   The answers come from highly-respected New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright.

The first topic that we hope to define is Baptism.  This is a relevant topic for Journey Church of the Nazarene, because we are having several people being baptized tomorrow.

Here is how Wright defines Baptism in the glossary of his commentaries:


  • Literally, ‘plunging’ people into water.
  • From within a wider Jewish tradition of ritual washings and bathings, John the Baptist undertook a vocation of baptizing people in the Jordan, not as one ritual among others but as a unique moment of repentance, preparing them for the coming of the kingdom of God.
  • Jesus himself was baptized by John, identifying himself with this renewal movement and developing it in his own way.
  • His followers in turn baptized others.
  • After his resurrection,  and the sending of the Holy Spirit, baptism became the normal sign and means of entry into the community of Jesus’ people.
  • As early as Paul it was aligned both with the Exodus from Egypt ( 1 Corinthians 10.2) and with Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 6.2-11).

What I love about Wright’s definition is he brings in the Jewish understanding of the term, helping us understanding what that term meant to people in the Bible.  When we understand these topics in context we can better find its meaning for us today.

Do you find this definition of Baptism helpful?


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