The Doctrine of Baptisms

Therefore leaving the word of the beginning of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrew 6:1

According to the text of chapter six of the Epistle of Hebrews, the correct theme of this doctrine is, the doctrine of baptisms, in plural, and not in singular, as if it were making reference to water baptism, or baptism in the Holy Spirit.

And it is that, indeed, in the doctrine of the apostles is contained the existence of several baptisms, some still in force, of which it is necessary to know about their use.

The first baptism of which we are aware is the Baptism of John;

And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. Luke 7:29

This baptism is by immersion in water, and was also known as baptism of repentance,

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. Acts 19:4

Its main characteristic was that those who came to John to be baptized by him, before being submerged, each in turn publicly confessed their sins. This baptism is no longer in force.

And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. Mathew 3:6

The next baptism that follows John’s is water baptism, also known as the baptism of Jesus, or baptism in the name of Jesus,

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Acts 8:16

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5

This is the baptism that we all know, which is still in force, and which the reader can study in detail in the section: What is water baptism?

Then, the third baptism that arises is the Baptism with the Holy Spirit; it arises precisely on the same day as the Solemn Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost).

For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. Acts 1:5

It is a spiritual baptism operated by the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, as we observe in the cases of the baptism of the apostles on the day of the celebration of Shavuot (Pentecost),[1] and in the case of Cornelius and his house when the apostle Peter visited them.[2] On other occasions there is an indirect intervention of a minister, as we observe in the case of the apostles who traveled to Samaria and prayed for their converts under the ministry of Philip,[3] and the case of the apostle Paul who prayed for the converts of Ephesus.[4]

Baptism with the Holy Spirit means the immersion of the person in the Holy Spirit. Since “baptism” means “immersion in”, the person who is baptized with the Holy Spirit is immersed within the Holy Spirit, of course, in a spiritual operation. Baptism with the Holy Spirit should not be confused with the “fullness” of the Spirit.

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is once in a lifetime, henceforth similar processes are known as the “fullness” of the Holy Spirit. We have a clear example with the case of the apostles; in chapter 2 of the book of Acts of the Apostles we read about their baptism with the Holy Spirit,

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

Whereas, in chapter four, we read about one of the many times they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It is not to be confused although both events may be similar.

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

This baptism is operated by Jesus himself who introduces the person into the bosom of the Holy Spirit; as we have already pointed out, it is a spiritual baptism accompanied in many cases with the impartation of tongues. This baptism is still in force.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Mathew 3:11

Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Acts 11:16

When there is indirect intervention of a minister, the baptism with the Holy Spirit is imparted with the laying on of hands,

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:17

The fourth baptism referred to in the Bible is Baptism in the body of Christ,

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4

Like the baptism with the Holy Spirit, this baptism is also a spiritual baptism; it is the baptism of the New Birth, of which Jesus referred to Nicodemus the night he visited him. Jesus referred to this baptism as being born of the Spirit.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3:6-8

This baptism means immersion in the body of Jesus; it is not a simile, it is an operation of the Holy Spirit on the person in the process of the new birth, so that it is executed on the person, as the apostle Paul expresses, the body of sin die and rise in newness of life according to the image of Jesus.

This baptism is still in force, and is operated by the Holy Spirit who introduces the person into the body of Christ. The evidences of this baptism are seen in the transformation of the sinful nature of the person.

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:21-24

The person walks in newness of life, and no longer belongs to himself; according to the teaching given by the apostle Paul, the person is hidden within the body of Christ,

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

It is precisely because of this kind of baptism that the apostolic teaching emphasized that all the born-again in turn form the body of Christ.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1:22-23

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1st. Corinthians 12:27

In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Colossians 2:11

The fifth baptism presented in the Bible, and it was Jesus himself who presented it, is Baptism in fire.

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Matthew 3:11 (Luke 3:16)

This baptism is identified by Pentecostalism as the same baptism with the Holy Spirit. However, John was not referring to the same baptism, but to two different baptisms: baptism with the Holy Spirit, and baptism with fire.

Baptism in or with fire is a trial baptism.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1st. Peter 1:7

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 1st. Peter 4:12

It is a baptism operated by Jesus Himself, according to the instruction of John the Baptist: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Matthew 3:11). It is a baptism, of which even in the Law we find reference,

Everything that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water. Numbers 31.23

It is a baptism that is still in force, and can be repeated so many times in the life of the person, particularly whenever the person allows, tolerates, and shares with apostasy and/or doctrines that present life in Christ as a life of personal gain,

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 1st. Corinthians 3:13

Finally, the sixth baptism that the Bible presents is a historical baptism, presented by the apostle Paul as Baptism in the cloud and in the sea,

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 1st. Corinthians 10:2

It is an exclusive baptism for the people of Israel; it is a baptism of divine provision and salvation. It is a baptism of deliverance, which is still in force and has been, and will be, available to every generation of the children of Israel.

The doctrine of baptism was an important doctrine for the apostolic church of the first century, the evidence is found in the reference that the writer of the Epistle of Hebrews makes of it.

And this demonstrates that for the apostles and early believers, baptism was not simply a religious rite, or something similar, but part of the doctrine of the salvation of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:16


All biblical quotations are taken from the King James Version.

Pastor Pedro Montoya

Twitter: @pastormontoya

[1] Acts 2:1-4

[2] Idem 10:44-46

[3] Idem 8:15

[4] Idem 19:6