Vol.XII No.II Pg.6
April 1975

Not "Scotch" About Water

Robert F. Turner

First of a series of quotes from Archibald McLean, Scotch Baptist, re. The Great Commission, publ. 1786. We will give source in next issue.

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Baptize (Baptidzo) is Greek word which our translators have only anglicized, but never translated, when expressive of this ordinance. It signifies properly to dip, plunge, or immerse; and that in distinction from every other mode of washing, as well as from sprinkling or pouring, which are expressed in the original by other words. This sense of the word is admitted by all the Pedobaptists of any note; and no instance has yet been produced, either from scripture or any ancient Greek writer, where it must necessarily bear another sense.

Neither the words, pour nor sprinkle, make sense when substituted in the place of baptize; for the original expression is always baptizing in or into a thing. For instance, en or eis, in or into Jordan; in water, in the Holy Ghost; into the name, into Moses, into Christ, into his death, (Matt. 3:6,11; 28:19; 1 Cor. 10:2; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3) As, therefore, baptism is always represented as being performed in or into a thing, it must be immersion, and not sprinkling or pouring; for persons cannot be sprinkled or poured into water though they may be dipped or immersed into it.

The English reader may be fully satisfied from other circumstances, that baptism is immersion. Jesus, having been baptized in Jordan, went up out of the water, which shows he had been down into it. After Philip and the eunuch had already come unto a certain water, we are told they went both down into the water, that he might baptize him; and when this was performed, they came up out of the water. John required a large quantity of water to baptize in, and so we find his using the river Jordan for that purpose. He also baptized in Enon near to Salem, for this very reason.... (Matt. 3:16; Acts 8:36-39; Mk. 1 :5; Jn. 3:23). Now there was no need for much water, or for going down into it, in order to pour or sprinkle a little of it on the face; but these circumstances were absolutely necessary in order to dip or immerse the whole body, which therefore, must have been the action originally performed, as all the judicious and candid Pedobaptists have acknowledged.

The allusion made to baptism as the sign of a burial and resurrection clearly point as the manner of administering it. Believers are said to be baptized into the death of Christ, to be buried with him by baptism, and therein also to be risen with him, Now, in what ever sense Christians are buried and risen with Christ, it cannot be in baptism, if there is no exhibition of a burial and resurrection in that ordinance; but if baptism is a burial in, and resurrection from water, then the sign strikingly corresponds with the thing signified, and the allusion to it is pertinent and just. Upon the whole, therefore it is clear, that the action enjoined is immersion; and that any other action is not merely a different mode of baptism, but a different thing altogether. It is not baptizing, and so not Christs institution.