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The Institute of Bible Doctrine

For those interested in the Word of God

"Therefore, having left the discourse of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to full growth, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God of the doctrine of baptisms, [KJV, also R. B. Thieme, Jr.], and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2)



The word “baptize” is not an English word at all. It is a Greek word, baptizo, which means to identify. The verb “baptizo” occurs 80 times in the New Testament, while the noun form “baptism” occurs more than 20 times. Almost every time the word “baptize” (verb) or “baptism” (noun) is found in the New Testament it refers to one of seven baptisms in scripture, within the category of either a Real identification or Ritual identification, as follows:


A. Real identifications: Somebody is being directly identified with somebody or something else. In historical (chronological) order these occurred as follows:

  1. The baptism of Israel into Moses and the cloud. (1 Cor. 10:1-2)

  2. The baptism of the cross. (Also called the baptism of the cup in Matt. 20:22)

  3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)

  4. The baptism of fire. (Matt. 3:11)


B. Ritual identifications: A ritual is being used to symbolize (represent) a real identification that has already, or will take place. In historical order these occurred as follows:


  1. The baptism of John. (Matt. 3:1-10)

  2. The baptism of Jesus. (Matt. 3:13-17)

  3. The baptism of believers. (Matt. 28:19)



Defining the word 'Baptism'

The basic meaning of baptism means to dipHomer (an ancient Greek poet) used the verb ‘bapto’ to describe an ironsmith ‘dipping’ a piece of hot iron into water.

"Since the mass of iron, drawn red hot from the furnace, is plunged (baptized) in water; and the fiery glow, by its own nature quenched with water, ceases.” (Homeric Allegories, ch. 9.]

In the Septuagint (LXX, the Greek translation of the Old Testament), Jonathan dipped (bapto) his staff into the honeycomb (1 Sam. 14:27), and in Luke 16:24 the rich man suffering in torments asks Abraham to send Lazurus in order that he might “dip [bapto] the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue.”


In ancient times, “baptism” or “baptize” was often used in a metaphorical sense.

In the following examples an appropriate word to use in the English translation would be ‘overcomes’ or  ‘overwhelms’. Please note the following examples:

  • In Evenus of Paros, Epigram XV we read “Baptizei d hupnoi geitoni tou thanatou” :  “He overcomes [baptizes] in sleep, neighbour of death.”


  • "And he, overwhelmed (baptized) by anger, sinks; and desiring to escape into his own realm is no longer free, but is compelled to hate the object beloved.” Achilles Tatius, book VI. ch. 19.


  • "The second part the kings have received for public revenues;...and on account of the abundant supply from these, they do not overwhelm (baptize) the common people with taxes.” Diodorus, the Sicilian, Historical Library, I. ch. 73.]


  • "Knowing him to be dissolute and prodigal, and overwhelmed (baptized) with debts amounting to fifty millions.” Plutarch, Life of Galba, XXI.]


Baptism means identification or association.

Xenophon said that the Spartans baptized (bapto) their spears by dipping them into a bowl of pigs blood.  In this way the graduating soldiers were identified with their new status as soldiers ready for combat. In another passage Xenophon described soldiers baptizing a sword and a spear in blood before entering into a military alliance. The baptism of the weapons signified unity between the two sides, they were being ‘identified’ as members of a pact:

“Then, while they halted under arms in line of battle, the generals and captains had a meeting with Ariaeus; and the two parties—the Greek officers, and Ariaeus together with the highest in rank of his followers—made oath that they would not betray each other  ...   ...These oaths they sealed by sacrificing a bull, a boar, and a ram over a shield, the Greeks dipping (bapto) a sword in the blood and the barbarians a lance.” (Xenophon: The Persian Expedition, Book 2, Chapter 2, section 8-9).

Baptism also represents a change:

The word baptizo was especially prominent in the dye trade. Cloth would be dipped or immersed into a vat of dye. The material was “baptized” in dye.  When the cloth was removed from the vat of dye, it had a distinct and new appearance.  It was identified in a new way. Red cloth would come out of a vat of red dye. Blue cloth would come out of a vat of blue dye. Because of the dipping, the old cloth was now “identified” with the dye, leading to a permanent change in the cloth.


This is also used in Revelation  19:13  :

“And I saw Heaven opened. And behold, a white horse! And He sitting on him was called Faithful and True. And in righteousness He judges and makes war.  And His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head many crowns. And He had a name written, one that no one knew except Himself. And He had been clothed in a garment dipped [βάπτω / bapto] in blood, and His name is called ‘The Word of God’.”

In the context of this verse we see Jesus Christ is setting forth to wage His war of righteous violence upon the enemies of the house of Israel (i.e. the Jewish people). The dipping [NOT “sprinkling” or “splashing” as some manuscripts and translations would have us believe] ,of His battle robe in blood signifies Christ’s identity as Lord of Saboath (Also: ‘Jehovah of Hosts’, or ‘God of the Armies of Israel’), the One who returns at the end of the Tribulation to destroy His enemies and save His people (1 Sam. 17:45; Ps. 59:5; Is. 13:9-11; 29:6; 63:2,3; Mal. 4:1:3).


Another clear example showing the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both ‘bapto’ and ‘baptizo’. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped'(bapto) into boiling water and then afterward  'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is for a short time, a ‘temporary immersion’. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, is more permanent, and produces a long lasting change.

So "baptize" in the classical Greek also came to mean to identify one thing with another thing.  Through this identification the characteristic of the original thing takes on the characteristic of the second thing. (For example, the Spartan ‘cadet’ becomes a ‘soldier’; a piece of plain cloth becomes colored, a fresh vegetable becomes a pickle). Therefore, the implication and interpretation of the word "baptism" in many contexts is “identification”.


Real Baptism No. 1

The baptism (identification) of Israel into Moses and into the cloud (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)

"For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized [middle voice] into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." 

In this passage the apostle Paul speaks of the people of the Exodus generation (“our fathers”), all of whom were baptized into Moses, who was in turn identified with the Pillar of Cloud and the sea. Because Moses was God's appointed leader, by baptism unto Moses they were identified with Moses and God’s purpose for Israel through Moses.

The usage of the Middle Voice

In George G. Kline’s article “The Middle Voice in the New Testament” he summarizes the three kinds of voice as such: “The active voice represents the subject as performing the action of the verb. The passive voice represents the subject as acted upon, and does not act. However, the middle voice denotes that the subject is in some special manner involved or interested in the action of the verb."

In other words, the middle voice means they were benefited by this baptism. The indicative mood expresses the reality of this baptism and/or identification.

Moses was the only one who trusted in God and His promises to the people of Israel.

With the exception of Moses all the people rebelled against God at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:10-31). It was because of the faith-rest technique of Moses that caused the divine response of opening the sea. What was the motivation for Moses to keep applying the Faith-rest drill, even under great pressure? His occupation with Christ!

"By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, but he endured, as [as long as/ while] he kept on seeing the invisible one." (Heb 11:27)

“By faith [of Moses] they [the people of Israel, incl. the ‘mixed multitude’] passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, which the Egyptians attempting to do were drowned.” (Heb. 11:29)

“Our fathers [the Jews of the Exodus generation] did not understand Your wonders in Egypt; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled at the sea, even at the Red Sea.” (Ps. 106:7)

Baptized into The Cloud and The Sea

The cloud spoke of the Lord and divine guidance. The cloud is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). The cloud instructed them to move across the dried up sea, which is exactly what they did. The sea, which God parted, spoke of divine omnipotence. That is, they actually walked through the dried path of the sea, and then God destroyed the Pharoah and his army. God’s reputation spread throughout the land because of the what He did at the sea (Jos. 2:10). This story is remembered throughout history, and so the people of Israel are ‘identified’ with the sea: the story of how God parted the sea and delivered them from the Pharoah.



In the “Baptism of Moses”, no Israelite got wet! Because the Jewish people were identified with Moses they were able to pass over the Red Sea and so were delivered from the Pharoah of Egypt.



Real Baptism No. 2

The Baptism of the Cross (also called the Baptism of the Cup)


The mother of James and John had come to Jesus asking that her sons could sit one on each side of Jesus in Heaven. (However, the Greek grammar tells us that James and John were complicit in her request). Salome has fallen into the common error of ambitious mother. Ambition on the part of parents for the children can often ruin the children. However, Jesus answers them all politely:

“But Jesus said to them, You do not know what you ask. Can you drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said to Him, We can.” (Mar. 10:38, 39a; also Matt. 20:22)

The analogy of the cup

In certain passages in scripture we see that the cup is a symbol of judgment upon the evil doers:

“On the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone; and a horrible tempest shall be the portion of their cup.” (Psa 11:6)

“For so says Jehovah, the God of Israel, to me, Take the wine cup of this wrath at My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I shall send you to drink it.” (Jer 25:15)

On the other hand, the cup that Christ will drink from speaks of judgment of the sins of the entire word. The analogy of ‘the cup’ for the sins of the world is clearly manifest in the following passage:

“And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will. “ (Matt. 26:39; also 42)

This refers to the judicial imputation of personal sins to Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ was identified with our personal sins and judged for them, so that Christ became our Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21; cp. 1 Peter 2:24).

 “I have come to send fire on the earth [the baptism of fire at the end of the Tribulation]. And what will I do if it is already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am pressed down until it is accomplished!” (Luk. 12:49, 50)

If we translate the contextual meaning of baptize (i.e. “to be identified”) and the noun baptism (i.e. “identification”) rather than just transliterate the words themselves, we understand that Jesus is going to “be identified [with the sins of the world] by means of an identification process [imputation of the sins of the world by God the Father]”. In other words, Jesus is saying to James and John: “Are you able to be imputed with the sins of world, to be made sin on behalf of mankind, and then be punished for those sins?” – and James and John say: “Yes”!

Jesus goes on to say that they [James and John] will indeed be baptized [identified], but here He is speaking of retroactive positional truth – the baptism by the Holy Spirit in which believers are identified with Christ’s death on the Cross, and His subsequent burial, and resurrection.

“And Jesus said to them, you shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized with you shall be baptized.” (Mar. 10:39b)

“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized [identified/placed in union with Christ] into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been joined together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:3-5)

“...buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead.” (Col 2:12 )

Being our sin-bearer, Christ was immersed in our sin [imputed with our sins] and judged for our sins, thereby paying the penalty for our sin and guilt. Our identification with Christ during this process is further explained in 'Real Baptism no. 3.'


Real Baptism No. 3

The Baptism [identification] of the Holy Spirit


The baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place for every believer at the moment of faith in Christ, whereby the Holy Spirit identifies each Christian with the body of Christ (1 Cor.12:13; Gal. 3:26-28; Col. 1:18; 2:12).

 “For as many as were baptized into Christ, you put on Christ. There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is no male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27,28)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a personal experience [i.e. it is not an event you can perceive as it takes place], it is simply one of the 40 things that are given to the believer at the moment of salvation. 1 Corinthians 12:13 explains the mechanics of this baptism:

“For by one Spirit are we baptized [identified/entered into union] into one body [i.e. the body of Christ] whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Cor. 12:13)

This baptism is God the Holy Spirit identifying us with the Lord Jesus Christ forever.

The key verb here is "εβαπτισθημεν" (ebaptisthymen) from the root verb "βαπτίζω" (baptizo). The form of the verb is:

  1. Aorist tense: The Greek aorist tense of the verb baptizw / baptizo indicates a “once and for all time” event.

  2. Passive Voice: Passive tense says we are being acted upon by the Holy Spirit. We don’t do anything to be baptized. God the Holy Spirit does the work.

  3. Indicative mood: Declares a statement of fact.

  4. First person plural: “We” meaning all believers in Christ.


The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the means of forming the royal family.

“Christ” comes from the Greek word ‘Christo’. This translates the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ which means “Anointed King”. Only Church Age believers (both Jews and Gentiles) are entered into union with Christ. Jesus has three royal titles: Son of God, Son of David, and King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

Copyright R.B.Thieme, Jr.

The "Body of Christ" is identified as "The Church"

The "Body of Christ” refers to all believers in all locations at all times since the Day of Pentecost when the Church began to the day of the rapture, which will make the end of the Church Age. This is the “universal Church” (in contrast to a local church consisting of its own pastor-teacher, deacons, and congregation) and is made up of all believers everywhere throughout the Church Age (Colossians 1:1824).

“There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Eph 4:4-5)

This baptism is the basis of positional sanctification.

By the baptism of the Holy Spirit we are sanctified (made Holy) because of our union with Christ (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; Eph. 1:4). By being in union with Him we share in His divine attributes, as follows:

  1. His Righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)

  2. His Eternal Life (1 Jn 5:11-12)

  3. His Sonship (Jn 1:12; Gal. 3:26)

  4. His Royalty (Rom. 8:16-17; 1 Pet. 1:4)

  5. His Priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9)

  6. His Election (Eph. 1:4)

  7. His Destiny (Eph. 1:5)

  8. We are sanctified in Him (1 Cor. 1:2,30; Eph. 1:4)

Retroactive Positional Truth

 “Retroactive positional truth” describes our entrance into union with Christ going back in time to the Cross. We are identified [baptizo] with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Eph 4:5; Acts 1:5).

Into His Death:

Rom. 6:3 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been identified/placed into union [through baptism by the Holy Spirit] into Christ Jesus [referring to all believers in Christ] have already been identified/placed into union [baptized by the Holy Spirit] into His death?”

Rom. 6:4  “Therefore, we have been buried with Him through identification [baptism by the Holy Spirit] into [His] death, so that as Christ was raised from the deaths [plural in the Greek, referring to both substitutionary spiritual death, and subsequent physical death] through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

Into His burial and resurrection:

Rom. 6.5 “For if we have become planted together [σύμφυτος / sumphutos] with Him in the likeness of His death [First class conditional sentence is a statement of fact: “...and indeed you have”], then not only this - we shall also be [united with Him] in the likeness of His resurrection.”

συμφυτος / sumphutos

  1. The word σύμφυτος / sumphutos is a compound word from “sum” = together (later appearing in English as: “sum” as in the result of two addends in an equation, ‘sum total’ etc.) and the verb φύω (also: φυτεύω) meaning ‘to plant’. The meaning is “plant together”.

  2. The word ‘sumphutos’ is a hapaxlegomenon, i.e., it appears only one time in the entire New Testament. This is a very specific and technical event – Christ and the believer are both bought into ‘newness of life’ through His burial and resurrection. In this case, it is because of our union [baptism] into Christ that we are buried and resurrected with Him, though the Holy Spirit choses to use this word as a synonym for ‘baptizo.’ 

  3. Therefore, we see the analogy of the seed: first it must be planted [‘buried’] before it can spring to newness of life - the resurrection (Rom. 6:4).

  4. Other planting analogies related to being in union with Christ found in the New Testament:  Matt. 15:13; John  12:24, 32, John 15:1-8

  5. The believer is identified (in union with Christ) in His Ascension and Session at the Right Hand of God the Father:

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in trespasses—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus." (Eph. 2:4-6)

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is directly related to the term “in Christ” 

The Greek phrase “εν χριστω”  (“en Christo / in Christ”) appears 78 times in the New Testament, referring always to the believer’s irrevocable, eternal position in Christ. Because our position in Christ came about as a direct result of the baptism [identification] of the Holy Spirit we should therefore look at them as being two intimately connected events.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit = Identification with Christ = Union with Christ = Positional Sanctification = Sharing in the Attributes of Jesus Christ = Entry into the Body of Christ (the universal Church)!

The baptism of the Holy Spirit ensures that believers in the Royal Family have a permanent relationship with the King of Kings and will live forever in the New Jerusalem. (John 14:1-3; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:15-18; 1 Pet. 3:21; Rev. 21:2; 22:14, 16, 17)

We become new creations “in Christ”

“So that if anyone is in Christ [by FAICA – “Faith Alone in Christ Alone”], that one is a new creature [or: a new creation]; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

This is a very familiar passage, one which is often distorted in meaning, to make the new believer think this verse is talking about some kind of behavioral change. (For example, the Chinese Bible mistranslates the words ‘new creation’ as ‘a newly created person’ which also leads the reader to think the Bible is emphasizing a behavioral change.) Many new believers receive some legalistic bullying of some kind – being told they need to change their behavior or else they will suffer bad consequences either from God or from the church – or, they are simply impressed with certain Christians displaying moral behavior. Because of these things they think this verse emphasizes what we are doing (or should be doing) for God, instead of understanding that this verse is really teaching what God has done for us.

For the first time in history we have something that no group of believers will ever have again. As Church Age believers we are a part of the body of Christ, we have the phrase “in Christ Jesus,” and we are a new (spiritual) species. We are NOT a new species because we have given up anything or changed our behaviour pattern. We are a new species because at the moment of salvation we were picked up by God the Holy Spirit and entered into union with Jesus Christ, sharing in his characteristics of (Perfect) Righteousness, Eternal Life, Sonship, Heirship, Royalty, Priesthood, Election, Destiny and Sanctification.

To continue in 2 Cor. 5:17,  let’s now look at the phrase “old [ancient] things have passed away. ” The word ‘old’ here is ἀρχαῖος (archaios) from which we get the English word ‘archaic’ meaning ‘really old’ or ‘from the beginning.’

The above mentioned false teaching (emphasizing human works) also wrongly teach that the phrase ‘old things have passed away’ refers to the sins and bad habits that the believer has learned to control (or at least hide from other people). However, the context of positional sanctification (the baptism of the Holy Spirit placing us into union with Jesus Christ) does not allow for this interpretation. The ‘archaic’ or ‘really old’ things that are passing away is the power of the sin nature (called the Old Man in Rom. 6:6; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9 because it is as old as the original sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden), and Adam’s Original Sin. These things ‘pass away’ (along with God’s condemnation) at the moment a person believes in Christ as Savior (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22).

We are positionally changed. We go from the position of a condemned sinner (“in Adam” : 1 Cor. 15:22)  to one who is in eternal union with the Son of God, sitting at the right hand of God the Father – higher than the angels! (Heb. 1:3,4)

Characteristics of the baptism of the Spirit:

The baptism of the Spirit is not an experience. In other words, the believer cannot see, feel, hear, smell or taste it. It is a spiritual ‘event’ that we can only know of through faith perception – the study of Bible doctrine.

  1. The baptism of the Spirit is not emotional activity, feelings, or ecstatics.

  2. It is not speaking in tongues.

  3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an absolute act of God completed in a moment of time. It is not progressive, meaning it does not start at some time after salvation due to some behavioral change, neither does it improve or “get deeper” through the spiritual growth of the believer.

  4. It is not related to human merit or works, but given in grace, because of faith in Christ alone. In contradistinction to the above (point no. 4), no amount of sinning or wrong-doing on account of the believer will nullify the Baptism of the Holy Spirit nor terminate his position in Christ.

  5. The baptism of the Spirit is not a matter of the believer's volition. (You don’t decide whether you believe in, or want to receive the baptism of the Spirit or not! – it is given to you at the moment of faith in Christ.)

  6. This is the Church Age believer’s identification with the strategic victory of Jesus Christ in the angelic conflict. (Col. 2:13-15)

  7. Being "in Christ" means we are trophies of God’s grace, to be presented by Christ to God the Father (Eph. 1:3-6; Col. 1:22).

  8. This baptism/identification makes the believer a member and priest  of the “Royal Family” of God forever. (1 Pet. 2:9)

  9. This baptism provides equality in the Royal Family of God, not possible through physical birth. (Gal. 3:26, 27)

  10. This baptism did not occur in any previous dispensation (Col. 1:25, 26), nor will it occur in any future dispensation. (For while the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was prophesized by Jesus Christ just before the beginning of the Church Age (John 14:16-20; Acts 1:5), there are no prophecies in scripture to tell us of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in future dispensations.)

  11. This baptism unites all members of the Body of Christ. (Eph. 4:3-5)

  12. This baptism interrupts the Dispensation of Israel and begins the Church Age. (Matt. 16:18; Acts 1:5; 2:3; 11:15-17)

  13. No water is involved in this baptism.


The Analogy of Noah, the Ark, and the Flood:

In 1 Pet. 3:18-21, Peter shows that Noah's experience of full deliverance in the ark was an analogy of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

“For Christ also once suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, indeed being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit...   ...when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared (in which a few, that is, eight souls escaped [the Greek word is διασώζω /  diasozo, this word is never used in scripture for eternal salvation] by means of water); which  represents to us [ἀντίτυπον /antitupon] the baptism that now saves [referring to the baptism of the Holy Spirit]; not [negative conjunction ἀλλά (alla) shows a strong contrast] a putting away of the filth of the flesh [i.e. not water baptism], but the answer of a good conscience toward God [positive volition at Gospel hearing], by the resurrection of Jesus Christ;”


The Ark speaks of God's perfect provision for all who place their trust in Jesus Christ. Noah and his family were all believers and therefore placed in the ark and delivered from the judgment of the flood. Just as there was one door into the Ark through which Noah and his family entered to obtain salvation from the flood (judgment), so too does  Jesus Christ represent the only “door” (John 10:7-9) into which we enter into eternal life - by means of union with Jesus Christ - and deliverance from eternal judgment.

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