G907 baptizō appears 80 times in the NT.

ESV Mat 3:11

I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Mar 10:38

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

1Co 10:2

and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea

What do the above usages of the word baptize have in common?

  • (-1) There's not really enough detail here to explain why anybody should be exegeting these verses in parallel - Three different passages by three different authors in three different contexts. I'm not really seeing any rhyme or reason for how these three verses are related, out of the 80 usages that could have been chosen. Cherrypicking unrelated passages like this tends to lead to more eisegesis than exegesis.
    – Steve Taylor
    Jul 22 at 19:20
  • Thanks for the pointers :)
    – Tony Chan
    Jul 22 at 19:28
  • No problem, hope that's helpful!
    – Steve Taylor
    Jul 22 at 19:32
  • Indeed, I have learned something new which always makes me happy :)
    – Tony Chan
    Jul 22 at 19:34

The literal meaning of the Greek bapto is to "dip", "dye" (e.g. change color by dipping into a dye) or "immerse" (e.g. John 13.26) whereas the intensive baptiso is used in the NT only in the religious sense. From the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:

The NT uses βάπτω only in the literal sense, in Lk. 16:24; Jn. 13:26 for “to dip in,” and in Rev. 19:13 for “to dye”; on the other hand it uses βαπτίζω only in the cultic sense, infrequently of Jewish washings (Mk. 7:4 K D for ῥαντίσωνται in Lk. 11:38), and otherwise in the technical sense “to baptise.” This usage shows that baptism is felt to be something new and strange. The use of → βάπτισμα, βαπτιστής is similar. Oepke, A. (1964–). βάπτω, βαπτίζω, βαπτισμός, βάπτισμα, βαπτιστής. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 1, p. 530). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

In this way, baptism is an initiation into something new, it is transformative and thus symbolizes the death of the old and birth of the new. It is the passing from one life to another.

Israel as a nation was born ("baptized into [the law of] Moses") when it went through the red sea and was engulfed by the cloud, thus symbolic of baptism via water and spirit. Christ baptizes with the holy spirit and with fire, as seen on Pentecost with speaking in tongues and flames above their heads.

Christ's own baptism was crucifixion and death in the grave followed by being raised from the dead and placed at the head of all things by the Father -- another transformation.

In the NT, baptism by fire is symbolic of a trial in which those things that don't last are burned away and the purer parts within are refined and made visible, thus it is again transformative, passing from old to new, with the death of the old and the birth of the new.

Even in secular English usage, if one were to be thrown into a new job in which they had to learn everything on the spot as well as unlearn harmful things, that episode might be referred to as a "baptism of fire" for the new worker, thus this idea has passed even into common English parlance long ago (no doubt from the New Testament).

One of the most eye opening experiences I've had on this site is how the plain meaning of English words seems to have been lost, and I'm not sure whether this is because many don't have English as their native language, or these common words are just being forgotten, but it is a recurring theme. Many of these questions are not even questions about Biblical Hermeneutics, they are questions about the meaning of english words that have been correctly and unambigously translated, but are simply not understood by the reader, and thus a theological dictionary is not needed, a regular dictionary will do to answer the question.

  • +1, Very good and thorough answer.
    – Dottard
    Jul 22 at 21:37
  • @Robert The ancient text on pickles makes it clear that baptiso is a permanent condition, yet we do not leave them in the water. They are dipped in the water and raised into the air/Spirit who leads us in all truth as we live not by the bread/cross (symbolic death with Christ) but by every word. We remain in his Spirit not in his death. This is the symbol of baptism of the Spirit, being raised from the water where you remain. Incidentally, vinegar is leaven חמץ which is teaching. We are holy pickles.
    – Bob Jones
    Aug 11 at 3:35

Baptized is the opposite of filled. Filled is inside you. Baptized is you inside it. They are not completely foreign to each other. Spirit also means breath and wind. Thus, a sail is both baptized (surrounded by the wind, and the sail is filled with the wind.

While the children of Israel crossed the sea on dry land, they were essentially in (surrounded by) the sea. Apparently, the cloud was seen in a similar manner.

The immersion was complete for all of them in the sea around them and the cloud over them. Moses was their leader then as Christ is now and so Paul uses εἰς [eis] concerning the relation of the Israelites to Moses as he does of our baptism in relation to Christ (Gal. 3:27). -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (1 Co 10:2). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

  • +1, how do you image "baptized into Moses"?
    – Tony Chan
    Jul 22 at 17:23

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