History of Baptism

The word baptize comes from the Greek word Baptizo. Greeks used this word to mean dip or submerge. It was used to describe the process of making pickles or dyeing cloth.

As a religious practice, baptism was uncommon in many ancient religions as part of ceremonial washings. In Judaism, people who weren’t Jewish would baptize themselves as part of the process. During the life of Jesus, John the Baptist also baptized people, but the baptism he practiced was something new. John was baptizing people who were already Jewish but who recognized that being Jewish wasn’t enough and they needed to change their lives and begin obeying God from the heart.

In its original context, baptism symbolized cleansing from an old, wrong way of acting or thinking and identifying with a new, God-honoring lifestyle. The baptisms also took place in public places so everyone in the community could see the difference Jesus had made in a person’s life.

In Romans 6:1-4, the apostle Paul explains the symbolism of Christian baptism — that just as Jesus died and was raised from the dead, we have died to our old way of life and have been raised to a new life as a result of trusting in Jesus.

That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus.