In one of the earliest known writings of the Christian church, we see clear evidence that the practice of baptism was understood to be by immersion as the normative practice of the Church. It goes against basic exegetical practices when church traditions (such as Presbyterians) who practice sprinkling as the normative mode of baptism eisegete the Scriptures by saying that when Jesus was said to have gone down into the water that it just means he walked out a bit and was then sprinkled and then “came up out of the water”. Furthermore, if that is how they truly believe that Christ (and the early Christians) were baptized – by walking into water to be sprinkled – why do they not have baptisms in this same way? Why do they stand on a stage and sprinkle or pour water onto a dry person? Why not have a baptismal font into which one can walk and be sprinkled? If they agree that this was how Jesus himself was baptized, as well as the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:38), then why not do this same thing? If anything, this series on baptism will demonstrate that the early church were unabashedly practitioners of the Biblical mode of immersion unless there was a serious reason not to do so.

And again He says in another prophet, The man who does these things shall be like a tree planted by the courses of waters, which shall yield its fruit in due season; and his leaf shall not fade, and all that he does shall prosper. Not so are the ungodly, not so, but even as chaff, which the wind sweeps away from the face of the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in judgment, nor sinners in the counsel of the just; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. Mark how He has described at once both the water and the cross. For these words imply, Blessed are they who, placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water; for, says He, they shall receive their reward in due time: then He declares, I will recompense them. But now He says, Their leaves shall not fade. This means, that every word which proceeds out of your mouth in faith and love shall tend to bring conversion and hope to many. Again, another prophet says, And the land of Jacob shall be extolled above every land. [Zephaniah 3:19] This means the vessel of His Spirit, which He shall glorify. Further, what says He? And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever. [Ezekiel 47:12] This means, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. And whosoever shall eat of these shall live for ever, This means: Whosoever, He declares, shall hear you speaking, and believe, shall live for ever.

The Epistle of Barnabas

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