Were Apostles baptised

by JV Jevalois 

How and when were the Apostles baptised? 

If it was before the crucifixion then were their baptisms valid? Also, why did Paul not accept the baptism of John?

Worthy question indeed.

We do not know how nor when the Apostles were baptised; there is no direct evidence in the Bible. Early in the Lord’s ministry and around the area of Galilee would be an educated guess – but it is only a guess. The one quote we have of interest on this is found in John 3:22-23

After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.”


We note here that John was baptising right up until the time at which he was imprisoned by Herod. John clearly states that John and Jesus were baptising at the same time, all of those baptisms were prior to the death of John and Christ. If they both made such an effort and did not think their activities were in vain then what is this difference between these baptisms and those after the death and resurrection of Christ?

Firstly, the central point of baptism is that it is for repentance. Yes, one must believe, and in that belief are many things that reach to many areas of hope and salvation - but the first objective of baptism is the recognition of and death of sin.


Could John offer this? Yes.


Were the baptisms of John recognised by God? Yes.


Therefore, if Christ baptised on the same basis as John, even before his death, did these baptisms also accept the repentance of the baptised from sin? Yes.


The question on Paul's opinion I venture are gained from an astute study of Acts 19 and is likewise worthy of consideration. “And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Note first that Paul, having discerned the understanding of the Ephesians, asks them further of their faith. Having done so Paul then enlarges, expands their understanding of "John's" baptism (not Christ's) - but of course in doing so it was necessary to enlarge on the baptism of Christ ‘Name’ also. For this reason, knowing what God had encouraged through John, the disciples were then able to secure the followers in this greater knowledge.


It is an important exercise for the spiritual mind. It is not a matter of contradiction it is a matter of fulfilment. As always when we are drawn by righteous curiosity to look into these things we are led to the great example in Christ. This was the same in Paul's day as it is now - he really is a good brother for us to learn with.


But! It is not true to say that 'Paul did not accept the baptism of John'. Paul did accept it, in fact he had to. Why? Firstly, he credited the purpose of John's baptism, “John really baptised with the baptism of repentance”. Paul, to say this, also recognised that God approved and accepted this baptism.


So then, our minds are led to the 'difference' between the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus. If it was true that the baptism of John was acceptable and the baptism of Jesus was more desirable then what can we surmise? Simply that, like the apostle Paul, the baptism of Jesus 'fulfilled' more than the baptism of John. How? A greater depth of understanding was required and with it came knowledge of 'fulfilment' with the principle of repentance.


Here is an important principle - Jesus baptised people 'before' he himself was crucified - was their baptism less than those who were baptised after? No, and this was the important part of Paul's comments, baptism to repentance in the Name of Christ was more 'filled' with meaning than a baptism simply 'away' from sin. John's baptism was 'away' from something, Christ's baptism was 'into' something.


Again, a second principle - when Christ was baptised of John he remarked - 'it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness'. Was this a game? Was Christ entertaining John knowing he would later baptise others himself? Not at all. In baptising Christ, John was fulfilling the ultimate calling for which his baptism was necessary. Baptism required the rejection of flesh and its tendencies. Did Jesus have such a nature? Yes. Is it wise that he too put it to death? Certainly. In fact, and this is by now a bold question in your mind, did Christ repent in being baptised of John. No - in that he had nothing to repent of. Yes - in that all flesh will die because of sin and that because Christ had flesh, his flesh needed the same effect of repentance. This very principle was powerfully ‘reinforced’ at the crucifixion but it was taught everyday of his ministry


Now... we come to a place. A dark moment a few years removed... at the foot of the cross we stand. We look upward and take in the pitiful sight of the son of man stretched painfully upon the cross. We wonder, we plead, we beg... but God, he was baptised! He repented! He was forgiven though he did no sin! Aha, then my friend we really understand. A baptism from repentance is one thing but a baptism into a Name that is above all is really superior... not in its quality - but in its understanding.


To ‘get out of’ something takes the mere human feeling of desperation - such appeals to repentance. To ‘get into’ something takes an incredible amount of belief - such appeals only to the spiritually robust of God's creation.


Again, let me give you another of Paul's examples, perhaps to yet again reassure his acceptance of the great principle of baptism – “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1 Cor 10).


Paul did not 'reject' the baptism of John, neither did he reject a baptism 'unto' Moses. Instead he inspired and encouraged baptism of a nature that was eternal because it was the only one that 'covered'. Baptism by such association is greater than any other, John understood this - he practised its fore-runner, Paul understood and ‘enlarged the waters’ for the Ephesians and Corinthians. And nothing sinks in those waters faster than a rock... and that Rock was Christ!


Christ himself said, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!”