WHAT 1ST & 2ND CENTURY CHURCH FATHERS HAD TO SAY ABOUT

 

BAPTISM

 

 

Ignatius wrote about 90 AD in his Epistle to Polycarp, v. 6: "Let your baptism abide with you as your shield; your faith as your helmet; your love as your spear; your patience as your body armour. Let your works be your deposits, that ye may receive your assets due to you." 

 

 

A collection of miscellaneous writings called Didache 9,written about 100 AD, says, "No one is to eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord. For also concerning this the Lord has said, 'Do not give that which is holy to the dogs.' "

 

 

Justin Martyr wrote in his Apology I, 65 about 150 AD, "After we thus wash [baptize] him who has been persuaded and agreed entirely with our teachings, we take him to the place where the brethren have gathered together you make fervent prayers in common on behalf of themselves and of the one who has been illuminated in baptism and of all others everywhere. We pray that we who have learned the truth may be counted worthy and may be found good citizens through our works and keepers of his commandments so that we may receive the eternal salvation. When we cease from our prayers, we salute one another with a kiss.

 

 

"Next there is brought to the presider of the brethren bread and a cup of water mixed with wine. Taking these he sends up praise and glory to the Father of all through the name of his Son and of the Holy Spirit and makes thanksgiving at length for the gifts we are counted worthy to receive from him. When he completes the prayers and thanksgiving, all the people present sing out their assent by saying 'Amen.'....give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water for which thanksgiving has been given, and they carry some away to those who are absent.

 

 

 

 

 

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GRADUAL CHANGES IN FORM

A HISTORY

 

 

 

120 AD, Egypt, Barnabas, 11:1,8,11 - "Let us inquire if the Lord was careful to make a revelation in advance concerning the water and the cross....Blessed are those who placed their hope in his cross and DESCENDED into the water....We DESCEND into the water full of sins and uncleanness, and we ascend bearing reverence in our heart and having hope in Jesus in our spirit." 

 

 

 

130 AD, Rome, Italy, Shepherd of Hermas, Vision III.iii.3; Mandate IV.iii.1; Similitudes IX.xvi.3-6 - "Your life was saved and will be saved through water....there is no other repentance except that one when we DESCENDED into the water and received the forgiveness of our former sins....Before a man bears the name of the Son of God he is dead, but whenever he receives the seal, he puts away mortality and receives life. The seal then is the water. They DESCEND then into the water dead and they ASCEND alive. The seal itself, then, was preached to them also, and they made use of it in order that they might 'enter into the kingdom of God.'...They DESCENDED therefore with them into the water and ASCENDED again. The former went down alive and came up alive, but the latter who had fallen asleep previously went down dead but came up alive."

 

 

150 AD, Rome, Italy, Justin Martyr, Apology I,61 - "As many as are persuaded and believe that the things taught and said by us are true and promise to be able to live accordingly are taught to fast, pray, and ask God for the forgiveness of past sins, while we pray and fast with them. Then they are led by us to where there is water, and in the manner of the regeneration by which we ourselves were regenerated they are regenerated.

 

 

 

"For at that time they obtain for themselves the washing IN water in the name of God the Master of all and Father, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ also said, 'Unless you are regenerated, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.' "

 

 

 

170 AD, Sardis, Turkey, Melito, On Baptism, fragment - "Are not gold, silver, copper, and iron, after being fired, baptized with water? One in order that it may be cleansed in appearance, another in order that it may be strengthened by the DIPPING....why is Christ also not washed in the Jordan?"

 

 

 

180 Antioch, Turkey, Theophilus, To Autolycus II.xvi - "Moreover, the things which CAME FROM the waters [at creation of earth] were blessed by God, in order that this might be a sign that men were going to receive repentance and forgiveness of sins through water and the 'washing of regeneration,' namely all those who come to the truth and are born again, and receive blessing from God."

 

 

 

190 Carthage, Africa, Tertullian, On Baptism 1, 7, 4, 12 - "We as little fishes, in accordance with our 'ichthys' Jesus Christ, are born IN water....Baptism itself is a bodily act, because we are baptized IN water, but it has a spiritual effect, because we are set free from sins.� There is no difference whether one is washed IN the sea or IN a pool, IN a river or a fountain, IN a reservoir or a tub, nor is there any distinction between those whom John DIPPED in the Jordan and those whom Peter DIPPED in the Tiber, unless that eunuch whom Philip DIPPED in the chance water found on their journey obtained more or less of salvation....It has assuredly been ordained that no one can attain knowledge of salvation without IMMERSION. This comes especially from the pronouncement of the Lord, who says, 'except one be born of water he does not have life.' "

 

 

 

195 Alexandria, Egypt, Origen, Homilies on Exodus V:5 - [in commenting on the crossing of the Red Sea speaks of Christian baptism] "The evil spirits seek to overtake you, but you DESCEND INTO the water and you escape safely; having washed away the filth of sin, you COME UP a 'new man,' ready to sing the 'new song.' "

 

 

 

In the same century that Constantine who built the first known separate baptistery and font, these early Christians wrote describing baptism as an immersion:

 

 

 

350 Jerusalem, Palestine, Cyril, Catechetical Lectures XCVII:14 - "For as he who PLUNGES into the waters and is baptized is SURROUNDED on all sides by the waters, so were they also baptized completely by the Spirit. The water, however, flows around the OUTSIDE, but the spirit baptizes also the soul within completely."

 

 

 

350 Caesarea, Palestine, Basil, On the Holy Spirit XV:35 - "How then do we become in the likeness of his death? We were BURIED with him through baptism....How then do we accomplish the DESCENT into Hades? We imitate the BURIAL of Christ through baptism. For the bodies of those being baptized are as it were BURIED in water."

 

 

 

380 Milan, Italy, Ambrose, On the Sacraments III.i.1,2 - "We discoursed yesterday on the font, the appearance of which in shape is like a TOMB, into which we are received, believing in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and we are PLUNGED and we LIFT ourselves UP, that is we are RESURRECTED....So therefore also in baptism, since it is a likeness of death, without doubt when you DIP and RISE UP there is made a likeness of the RESURRECTION."

 

 

 

390, Antioch, Turkey, John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions II;26; Homilies on John XXV:2, on John 3:5 - "When the priest pronounces, 'So-and-so is baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,' he three times puts the head DOWN and RAISES it UP, preparing you to receive the DESCENT of the Spirit by this mystical initiation....Exactly as in some tomb, when we SINK our heads in water, the old man is BURIED, and as he is SUBMERGED BELOW, he is absolutely and entirely HIDDEN. Then when we LIFT our heads UP, the new man again COMES UP."

 

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Only once in the 2nd century, once in the 3rd century, and once in the 4th century is anything preserved of writing saying baptism did not have to be immersion. They are as follows:

 

 

100, Syria, Didache 7 - "Concerning baptism, baptize in this way. After you have spoken all these things, 'baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,' IN running water. If you do not have running water, baptized in other water. If you are not able in cold, then in warm. If you do not have either, pour out water three times on the head 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' Before the baptism the one baptizing and the one being baptized are to fast, and any others who are able. command the one being baptized to fast before hand a day or two" [Notice the person is standing IN water and then water is poured over the head.]

 

 

250, Carthage, Africa, Cyprian, Epistle 75 [69]:12 - "You have asked also, what I thought concerning those who obtain God's grace in sickness and weakness, whether they are to be accounted legitimate Christians, because they are not washed with the water of salvation but have it poured on them....In the sacraments of salvation, when necessity compels, and God bestows his mercy, the divine abridgements confer the whole benefit on believers, nor ought any one to be troubled that sick persons seem to be sprinkled or poured upon when they obtain the Lord's grace....Whence it appears that the sprinkling also of water holds equally with the washing of salvation." [Notice this was in case of "sickness and weakness."

 

 

320 Caesarea, Palestine, Eusebius, Church History VI.xliii.14, quoting a letter from Cornelius of Rome, Italy, 251-253 - "[Novatian] fell seriously ill and was thought to be about to die. In the bed itself on which he was lying he received grace by water being poured around over him, if it is proper to say that such a one received it." [Notice, this was one instance when someone was ill. The text goes on to state that immediately Novatian was then made a bishop of the church. Neither was approved by the writer, Cornelius.]

 

 

 

It is obvious, then, from history that the views of pouring and sprinkling were not normally acceptable or accepted.