Updated: 19 hours ago
When we think of the word baptism we generally think of John the Baptist. I would venture to say that most Christians believe that the idea of baptism began with him. However, the concept of baptism is not a new thing that started with John the Baptist. Forms of baptism were being practiced way before his ministry began in the wilderness.
The Hebrew term for baptism is mikveh.
For followers of Messiah Yeshua it is a sign of repentance or being born again.
This being immersed in water was used by the Hebrews to cleanse themselves of any “ritually unclean” condition prior to being able to enter the temple or before they could approach God. They had to immerse themselves continually and on a regular basis for such things as: the ending of menstrual cycles, bearing children, having unclean skin lesions (that were now healed), priests before entering the temple for service, or anything listed as making a person unclean. Understand that these things were not sins, they simply made a person unable to approach a Holy God. Therefore, after they became “clean” or were “pronounced” clean by a priest or if a priest were about to perform priestly duties within the temple, the person first had to enter a mikveh bath.
In their culture, a person entered the mikveh pool and immersed themselves. No other person baptized you as in our modern churches. However, in many cases there was a witness present.
We read in the New Testament (Brit Hadashah) that disciples were baptized into the baptism of John, a baptism of repentance. When Yeshua came John instructed his disciples to leave him and to follow Yeshua. These disciples would then “mikveh” themselves in the name of their new Rabbi, Yeshua. We find evidence of this in several locations in Acts: Acts 2:38, Acts 19:5. We are commanded as believers to be baptized in Yeshua's (Jesus) name after we have accepted Him as our savior. His apostles were commanded to go into all the world and to baptize them in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Father, son and Holy Spirit are titles, not proper names. So what is the name? They were commanded to baptize "IN THE NAME of the father, son and Holy Spirit", so what is the name? Yeshua is the name! No where in the New Testament do we find His disciples baptizing in the name of the father, son, and Holy Spirit. We find them baptizing in the name of Yeshua (Jesus), because He is God in the flesh. Yeshua is a name- it is The Name above all names!
In the first century, according to the book "New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus" by David Biden,
"In a rabbi-disciple relationship, the disciple was expected to place himself in a position of total obedience and dedication to his rabbi and his philosophy. It was his desire to become just like him. This was said to be taking on the "yoke" of the rabbi". (1)
In his book, David Biden goes on to say that "yoke also could have been a reference to obedience to the commandments of the Torah, or to Jesus' interpretation of them". He then makes reference to a source (Hagner) which sites that "When Jesus invites people with the words.. 'take my yoke upon you', he invites them to follow his own teachings as the definitive interpretation of the law... The same point is stressed in the next clause ...'learn from me" (Matthew 11:29). (2)
Please read the scripture references below for clarity that the Apostle Paul found disciples that had been baptized into the baptism of John (meaning they had agreed to follow what he taught) and yet the Apostle Paul sees to it that they hear about Yeshua and then they are baptized (re-baptized if you please, because they had already been baptized by John) in Yeshua's name.
Act 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
Act 19:2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
Act 19:3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.
Act 19:4 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.
Act 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
We also find in I Corinthians 10:1-2 the following:
"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;"
These scriptures relate the same baptism analogy: that the children of Israel received a baptism into fellowship with Moses and what he taught them as their God sent leader. They agreed to be obedient to follow his lead.
Paul goes on in I Corinthians 1:13-17 to make it even more plain that no one was baptized in his name, for he wasn't called to baptism. Paul's converts were baptized in Yeshua's name- not his because he had no "new" yoke of Torah, for he taught and preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He preached Yeshua's Torah- Yeshua's yoke!
This process of being baptized is a very serious issue. When we are baptized in the name of Yeshua, we are announcing to the world that we are accepting His teachings and instructions, and that our goal in life is to be just like our Rabbi, Yeshua. It is a sign that we have accepted the Renewd Covenant.
The analogy of being born again means that we have put off the old man and have become a new man in Messiah. Then, when we are baptized in Yeshua's name it is a physical sign to the world of our inward cleansing and intention of becoming “little Messiah's” (Copies of the original). In fact, that is what the word Christian means, “little christs”.
This is why we always have witnesses at baptisms. You are announcing that you have entered into covenant with Him; to abide by His doctrines, teachings and standards. You are in agreement to follow or be in fellowship with Him. You agree to be “yoked” with Him.
In every area of the world where Jews have lived in communities, archaeologists have uncovered “mikveh” pools. This confirms the ancient practice.
(1) copyright 2007; Published by the En-Gedi Resource Center, Inc; page 23
(2) page 28, 32