Actually, baptism is not a religious ceremony or sacrament feat that was derived from Christianity. Baptism was a Jewish tradition. The ceremony was held for non-Jews who wanted to convert to Judaism. They must be circumcised and baptized and gave sacrifices to Yahweh. This baptism was known as a proselyte baptism. The word proselyte designated to those non-Jews who embraced Judaism, also known as the religion of Moses. In Hebrew, proselyte baptism is referred to as tevilah (טבילה). This word comes from Hebrew verb taval (טָבַל) that means being immersed or dipped. This word appeared when Naaman was being dipped in the river Yordan.1 The word taval is parallel to the word baptizo (βαπτίζω) in Greek.2 In principle, baptism refers to the life of someone who is committed to entering a way or a new lifestyle. Since one is baptized, he must be willing to leave the “old” way or lifestyle and put up a new way of life.
In the days of John the Baptist, apparently baptism had become merely a religious ceremony or ceremonial that had lost its significance or essense. Its meaning was about willingness to live a new life according to God’s law. That was why John the Baptist dared to say to many of the Pharisees and Sadducees that came to his baptism: “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance.3 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” John clearly told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.” Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us – what should we do?” John told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.”4
Baptism that was performed by Lord Jesus in the beginning was actually the continuation of baptism by John the Baptist. Baptism that was performed by Lord Jesus through His disciples principally is baptism of repentance the same as baptism by John the Baptist. Lord Jesus Himself did not baptized, but His disciples did.5 After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the order for baptism was performed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was done by the church. And baptism became one of the important sacraments of the church. When baptism is done in the name of the Lord Jesus, one who is baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus is compulsory or a must for him to apply a new life as taught by Lord Jesus.
Baptism in Christianity is a symbol of death. A person who is baptized should leave the way of life that is the same to the world’s children, and put up the lifestyle of the Lord Jesus. So, people who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus must live like Jesus lived. This was also confirmed by Paul in Romans 6:4, Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For believers, baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ means the willingness to live as populace of the Kingdom of Heaven with His Kingdom’s law, which is the will of God. Therefore, we should regard baptism by not viewing the technical question -whether it be spattered or dipped- but the essence of baptism. Technical debate can obscure the meaning of baptism that is supposed to be the insight force of importance. When a person is baptized, then he is willing to die from the way of life that he has been lived in and apply the way of life of Lord Jesus.
1) 2 King 5:14; 2) Matthew 3: 6; 3) Matthew 3: 7-8; 4) Luke 3: 12-14; 5) John 4: 2