Is baptism a burial?

In this writing we would like to think about what baptism is in relation to the amount of water. Is sprinkling sufficient?
Or does it have to be an going under water?

1. A word study:

The word baptism:
The word itself can tell us much about the concept.

Below is the comment on this word from Strongs:

G907 βαπτίζω baptizō


From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: - baptist, baptize, wash.

And the comment from Thayer:

G907 βαπτίζω baptizō

Thayer Definition:

1) to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (of vessels sunk)

2) to cleanse by dipping or submerging, to wash, to make clean with water, to wash one’s self, bathe

3) to overwhelm

Part of Speech: verb

A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number:
from a derivative of G911

Citing in TDNT:
1:529, 92

From these two entries we understand that the word means:

  • To make whelmed. That is fully wet.
  • To dip
  • To submerge
  • To overwhelm

These words give us an indication of what this word in its original meaning meant to the listeners of the Gospel and the readers of the Greek New Testament.

The word translated "baptized" or "baptism" is used in several other places.

Luk 16:24 And 2532  he 846  cried  5455  and said, 2036  Father  3962 Abraham, 11 have mercy 1653 on me, 3165 and  2532 send  3992 Lazarus, 2976 that  2443 he may dip  911 the 3588 tip 206 of his 848 finger 1147 in water,5204 and 2532 cool  2711 my  3450 tongue;  1100 for  3754 I am tormented  3600 in  1722 this  5026 flame. 5395

In this verse a related word is used. The word translated "he may dip" is word (number 911) and related to the word translated "baptism" (number 907)

Dip here also means that the finger would be going into water.

Joh 13:26 Jesus 2424 answered,611 He1565 it is,2076 to whom3739 I1473 shall give1929 a sop,5596 when I have dipped911 it. And2532 when he had dipped1686 the3588 sop,5596 he gave1325 it to Judas2455 Iscariot,2469 the son of Simon.4613

The same is true for this verse. Dipping is implied.

Rev 19:13 And2532 he was clothed with4016 a vesture2440 dipped911 in blood:129 and2532 his848 name3686 is called2564 The3588 Word3056 of God.2316

And also true for this verse.
The word "dip" implies a going into.

When we consider this word then we can see that sprinkling does not fit this picture.
We conclude to say that baptism is like the word says, it is a dipping in water, it implies much water. (John 3: 23)

A related word.
Baptismos - ( Baptismous ) to cleanse, purify


Mark 7:4-8
Mar 7:4 And2532 when they come from575 the market,58 except3362 they wash,907 they eat2068 not.3756 And2532 many4183 other things243 there be,2076 which3739 they have received3880 to hold,2902 as the washing909 of cups,4221 and2532 pots,3582 (2532) brazen vessels,5473 and2532 of tables.2825

Hebrews 9:10
Heb 9:10 Which stood only3440 in1909 meats1033 and2532 drinks,4188 and2532 divers1313 washings,909 and2532 carnal4561 ordinances,1345 imposed1945 on them until3360 the time2540 of reformation.1357

So we see that wherever this word "Baptizo" or a related word is used, it always implies much water.

2. The testimony of the early church fathers.

These thoughts do not have any authority but do have some bearing on the thoughts presented.

110-165 AD Martyr "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs, is manifest to all... And for this we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe." (Justin Martyr, "First Apology," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 183)

110-165AD Martyr "Those who are convinced that what we teach is true and who desire to live accordingly are instructed to fast and to pray to God for the remission of all their past sins. We also pray and fast with them. Then we bring them to a place where there is water, and they are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were regenerated. They then receive the washing with water in the name of God (the Father and Lord of the universe) and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, 'Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven"' [John 3:5]. (Justin First Apology chant 61)

140-230 AD Tertullian "Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins" (Baptism 7:2).

200 AD HERMAS "And I said, 'I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received remission of our former sin.' He said to me, 'That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case.'" (Hermas, "The Shepherd," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, pg. 22)

From these entries we understand that they believers that were baptized were brought to the waters, they were brought to a place where there is water. If sprinkling would suffice there would be no need for that. Water is everywhere, but no, they had to be taken to a place where there would be water and they descended into the water.

3. The testimony of the scriptures.

Joh 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
This verse testifies of the concept that much water was needed in order to baptize. This testifies of the fact that it was a going under water.

It is not known where "Enon" was located but it was a place of springs.
G137 Αἰνών ahee-nohn'

Of Hebrew origin (a derivative of [H5869], place of springs); AEnon, a place in Palestine: - AEnon.

Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

Col 2:11 in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ;

Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Both these verses talk about a burial.
A burial implies a going under the ground. So baptism became a baptism in water and being raised out of the water.
In Romans 6 Paul shows the "photograph" of Jesus death, burial and resurrection in the death to sin, burial in water and being raised to a new life. Go to a local cemetery and see how much dirt it takes to bury someone. Even when a mausoleum is used above ground, the body is completely enclosed. We do this to dead bodies to prevent smelling them as they decay. It would seem appropriate that the entire body be "separated" from those around the baptism to separate us from the "stench" of our sins. Obviously this is a figurative statement but one that I believe is in harmony with the intent of the scriptures.

The word "burial" and "buried" in these verses give us insight into what this means. It is a dipping, it is a going under water.

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