As we mix and mingle with Orthodox Christians in Egypt, it is not irregular to discover items in the faith that do not square exactly with what we were taught in Protestant circles in America. This week, while at an end of year conference for the Coptic Bible Institute I have been attending, I learned that Jesus baptized the twelve disciples.
This probably isn’t a make-or-break point of theology, but John 4:1-2 appears to say the opposite:
The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.
The point came up in a discussion of John 13, where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. When Peter protests, Jesus states he must do this for Peter to have a share with him. Peter then swings to the opposite pendulum:
Then, Lord, not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!
But Jesus rebutted:
A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean…
The key point to the story is what does the ‘bath’ connote? According to Orthodox theology, it is baptism, by immersion, which makes one pure before God.
Protestants, by comparison, tend to believe that baptism is only a pictorial representation of one’s new identity as a Christian. As one descends into the water, he mirrors Jesus’ death, and when he comes out, he mirrors his resurrection. It is not the water that makes one pure, it is the faith expressed in Jesus which leads one to obey his command to be baptized.
This is not the site to build systematic theology, but it should be noted that Protestant explanation, though justifiable logically and Biblically, does not fit well with Jesus’ simile of a ‘bath’. Nor does it account well for this verse, from Acts 22:16, where the just-converted Paul is told:
Now, what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away.
Before one leans toward Orthodox opinion, however, we must return to the washing of Peter’s feet. The ‘bath’, for them, is baptism, and through it Peter became clean. But when? The gospels give no indication of Jesus ever baptizing. Many of his disciples were baptized first by John, but both Orthodox and Protestants agree this was a baptism of repentance from sin, in preparation for Jesus’ ministry, of whom John said would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
I am certainly not acquainted well with the details of Orthodox baptismal theology, but I learned that the traditions of the church state that Jesus did indeed baptize the twelve disciples. Jesus instructed his disciples to baptize, initiating them in a rite which they were to pass on to others. Logically then, Jesus must have baptized them, inaugurating the movement. Besides, it is baptism that makes one clean, and the disciples needed to be clean in order eventually to multiply the church.
Perhaps the verse quoted above, in which Jesus did not baptize, does not read absolutely. It could be that the Pharisees believed Jesus baptized this great number of followers, but that they were wrong about the multitude, even if right about the twelve. I don’t think it reads naturally that way, but it is possible.
The larger issue seems that Jesus himself defines what made the disciples clean only a short while later. In John 15:3 he states:
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Again, perhaps there is a puzzle in determining what this ‘word’ is, but it does not seem to be the baptismal ‘bath’. If anything, it would seem to align better with Protestant thought that it is faith in the word of Jesus that grants an individual salvation, making him clean before God.
Granted, this is only a very superficial treatment of a deep and often debated theological point. There are other sections of the Bible that can be marshaled in defense of baptismal purification, but on my first look, it does not seem to ground well in the story of Peter and the washing of feet, nor in the discipleship experience of the twelve.
Protestants tend to dismiss tradition too easily. Yet without second level study, I wonder if the tradition of Jesus baptizing the twelve was necessary to backtrack a developed theology of baptismal purification into the ministry of Jesus. Then again, just because a story isn’t told in the Bible does not mean it did not happen. John makes this clear at the end of his gospel:
Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Besides, who would know better about these non-recorded acts than ‘tradition’, preserved and passed down through the community of the church?
Those who have studied well on either side of the issue are invited to state their case in the comments of this post. For the rest, and perhaps especially for them, we do well to take care our developed views do not dictate understandings upon the written text. It is there to speak to us, not for us to speak through it.
For those outside the traditions of the Bible, the point is much the same. We cannot live life without adopting overarching explanations for our experiences. These explanations may well be right; we should take confidence in our best efforts to understand. We should teach what we learn, so the other may benefit. Yet humility must triumph, lest knowledge become cemented, along with the ‘other’, defined in opposition.
Humility is a chief point of the story. Jesus, the one who had the greatest claim on overarching explanations, stooped to serve those who knew less. Yet it takes humility also to be served; this is a trait Peter had in short supply. Eager to prove he had the situation figured out, he nearly rejected the one who could teach him the most, oddly enough, in deference to him.
Yet it was this interplay which gave us the story in the first place. As we live our messy lives one with the other, as long as we hold on to our togetherness, we will learn. So doing, we will teach others.
Along the way, may we all become clean, even as we disagree as to how this happens.
26 replies on “Jesus Baptized Peter, Others”
During Sunday school class we were discussing the book of John. One member stated that she didn’t think that Jesus ever baptized anyone. I said yes he did. But according to John 4:2 he didn’t. My thoughts later went to then who baptized the disciples. He gave them a command that they hadn’t experienced? God requires the same of all. I believe the washing of their of feet was indeed a form of baptism because the purpose of the cleasning and purifying of them is very clear.
Thanks Carolyn, for sharing your perspective. I hope it is helpful for other readers.
Didn’t Jesus baptize with water? What about John 4:22 – “After this, Jesus and his disciples wet out into the Judean countryside where he spent some time with them and baptized.”. Doesn’t this scripture prove Jesus did baptize?
Actually it’s John 3:22 Not chapter 4. But it clearly says: After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.
I can’t we just stand by Jesus have told us about his father and how he have left instructions for us to live and how he left us instructions on how we should love one another give one another trust passes and their inequities against another person and drop all this man-made thoughtfulness and ideology of what they think they know why can’t we just teach the gospel read it as is and teach to people to ask God for understanding wisdom and knowledge and watch receive the courage to have the faith to stay steadfast in the walk towards God and one day making it into heaven And I also agree with everything that you explained in this teaching about baptism again thank you
John 3:22- 27…. I believe Jesus certainly did some baptizing, but as part of His teaching He also taught His disciples many things according to the Word.
If Jesus can get baptized there should be no reason why as followers we should not be baptized the same way. Everything else about it is a non-issue. Love u.
Some Scripture on baptism with Jesus…..
1. Matthew 3 : 11 John the Baptist on the coming
2. Matthew 3 : 13-17 Jesus getting baptized
3. Matthew 28 : 19-20 Jesus commanded disiples and baptism
4. John 3 : 5-7 Jesus about being born of water
5. 1 John 5 : 6-8 Jesus on the Spirit water and blood
If you believe in Christ Jesus, get born again, baptized, turn away from your sins, and love Him the way He loves us. Trust Jesus and He won’t let you down. Love u.
All misunderstanding. Jesus did not come to continue John’s baptism. But the baptism of Jesus is spiritual. This is why Jesus said go ye therefore and teach All Nations baptizing them into the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Ghost. The baptism of Jesus as his word. Peter learned that an accident and when he said yet as I speak these words the Holy Ghost fall on all of them that heard the word. The scripture clearly tells us that we are Washed by the Water by the word. Peter very clearly talk about being born again and first Peter when he says be born out of the corruptible seed but by The Incorruptible seed by the word of God. The true baptism is in God’s word.
Tyrone don’t forget that even though the Holy Spirit came upon these men Peter still commanded them to be baptized in water in Jesus name. Acts 10:47 and 48
Coming to this discussion rather late seems to co-incide with my own late interest in this subject. I can’t believe that Jesus never baptized anyone, but I do believe he perhaps passed the responsibility on to the disciples. My imagination runs like this :
The author of John’s gospel is sitting down and writing his account (or else dictating his memories and a scribe is recording them).
He first of all makes this statement about Jesus & his disciples :” After this they went into Judea and there he remained with them and baptized”. Mistaken memory or not ?
Almost immediately, the author reiterates that in the encounter between a Jew and some of John the baptist’s followers : “…here Jesus is, baptizing, and all are going to him.” Another mistake, or not ?
Then, as if to confuse everyone, a few lines later he writes :”…although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples.” Confusing ? Why say something twice and then add a counter-statement ?
Traditional protestant belief follows the third statement in John that only the disciples baptized, but I think this doesn’t consider the previous two mentions. And if that is so, it also begs the questions of who then baptized the disciples and possibly whether some of them were not baptized at all ?
Just a few thoughts of mine, that’s all.
As usual James and John argued about who would baptize Peter but
he told them to flip a coin and decide but he was going to baptize both of them!(lol)
Do you have to be baptized in order to be saved, baptism for remission of sins ?
I’m in a bible study that has 2 Church of Christ preachers and 1 Christian preacher, were the apostles baptized, did JESUS ever baptize anyone ?
Jesus himself did not administer the actual dunking of baptism because He has another duty in all baptisms
that duty is to officially “witness” the baptism
while He was present on earth the apostles baptized only in His presence (note when He sent out the 70 to heal and cast out demons they were not instructed to baptize)
the reason Peter instructed all to be baptized in the name of “Jesus” is to invoke His active presence as “witness” to the baptism and that has not changed to this very day
while He was present in the flesh baptism wasn’t done calling upon His name since He was standing right there
just as on the Day of Atonement when the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies and called upon the Name the presence of God came upon it in a pillar of fire………so is his presence called through baptism in the name of “Jesus”
John says there are three that bear witness…the Spirit, the blood and water
it is the Spirit as High Priest of Christianity that sprinkles this blood witness and therefore it is first and foremost necessary to call upon the “Name” so He is present
previous to the day of Pentecost the Spirit of the Lord came “upon” the prophets of old, but only after Pentecost did the Spirit enter “in” the followers of Jesus
when the Spirit enters into a human this mode of manifestation to man is called the “Holy Spirit” and it should be noted the Bible consistently uses the term in connection with manifestation to or through a human (the Holy Spirit is a form of manifestation of the Father….not a separate person of the godhead)
when the angel announced to Mary she was to bear Jesus his words were that the Holy Spirit would come “upon” her and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her and THEREFORE that Holy Thing shall be “CALLED” Son of God
in other word since begotten by God it was technically “called” the Son
but as Jesus said repeatedly the Divinity indwelling that temple was the Father Himself
it is mind staggering that the Creator of all took on a human form thus becoming the creation (this is the Son of God who said “it is the Father within Me that does the works”)
so ……..the words “Hear all Israel the Lord is your God, the Lord is one” have had their meaning corrupted over time
the scripture says “he who BELIEVES and is BAPTIZED shall be saved”
once a person is lead by the Spirit to the truth of the godhead he can then call upon the Name of the ONE God who revealed Himself to man by these modes of manifestation (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) which is JESUS in order to be saved by baptism
any believer can baptize it doesn’t require an individual “ordained by men”
what it requires is to call upon “Jesus” by His Name to have His presence as a “witness”
That was amazingly said-and spot on!!
I believe baptism is the participation in the death,burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rom6:1-6. For us who are existing after his resurrection need to participate in it for salvation. Before his death he would forgive people their sins by expressing it verbally. The thief on the cross and the man carried by his friends on the roof experienced this. In John3:1-5, he explains to Nicodemus that He must be born again to see the kingdom of heaven. He further explains what that is and HE refers to being born of water and the Spirit. Before we are born physically water breaks from the womb. Flesh then gives birth to flesh. When we become born again,water (baptism) breaks and Spirit gives birth to spirit and we become children born of God (John1:12-13). The greatest commission by Jesus instructed his disciples to go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father,Son and the Holy Spirit(Matt:18-20)We see 3000 in Acts2:36 going through it to become the blue note of the church. Then we see many; Paul,Jailer and his household,Cornelius,Ethiopian Eunuch,Lydia and many more. 1Peter3 :21 says baptism saves us as the waters of Noah’ s time saved them. Col2:11-13 says those who are baptised have gone through circumcision of the heart. Think of how God used circumcision in the old testament to mark his nation. Mark16:16 says whoever believes and is baptised will be saved. It does not leave it out. So , yes we believe, repent and get baptised for salvation. For us after the resurrection it’s clear. As to Jesus’ ministry and the 12, it is not overly clear why they got baptised but John’s baptism was for repentance. The battle while Jesus was walking around the earth was for people2to just believe he is the messiah. He healed and and forgave at will. For us though baptism is key to our salvation.
If you really look into the verses you quoted, it still doesn’t give any proof that Jesus baptized the disciples. It seems more like assumptions. Just be careful when you interpret the word, once you start adding more and more assumptions then it gets twisted and becomes something it’s not.
Jesus himself didn’t come to baptize with water but with the holy spirit. So you can’t really say that Jesus baptized in water.
Matthew 3:11New International Version (NIV)
11 “I baptize you with[a] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.
Mark 1:8New International Version (NIV)
8 I baptize you with[a] water, but he will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit.”
Luke 3:16New International Version (NIV)
16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.
Jn 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” The new birth is important since it is our entrance in the kingdom of God, but what is the water and what is the Spirit?
Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless” Paul states clearly that Jesus cleansed and saved the Church (those who make up his body) through the washing of water with the word. This clarifies that in Jn 3 the water is Baptism, and that the Spirit is the Word of God. Other Baptism references (Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3-6, Gal 3:26,27, 1 Pet 3:20,21, Col 2:12,13)
I believed the original article referenced original traditions of the church passed down as a possible source to illuminate. You should always start with the Bible, but if you do utilize some outside material, remember the Truth will always come first, and then the distortion will follow. So it is not good enough to go to a restoration movement for justification. You want to go back as close to the 1st century church as possible.
Some Early Church writers worth investigation: (Polycarp – disciple of John martyred in 155 AD; Irenaeus – Polycarp disciple past 200 AD; Justin – executed 165 AD;Clement of Alexandria – 190 AD; Origen – Student of Clement; Tertullian – writings from 190 – 210 AD; Cyprian – beheaded in 258 AD; Lactantius)
If you investigate these writings you will find these men universally understood Jesus’s word to refer to water baptism. In their time there was a group the Gnostics who taught differently and were labeled as Heretics. Irenaeus say of them, “This class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God” and “As we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are thus spiritually regenerated as newborn infants, even as the Lord Declared :’Except a man be born again through water and the SPirit, he shall not enter in the Kingdom of Heaven”.
Clement of Alexandria says of baptism: “This work is variously called grace, illumination, perfection and washing. Washing by which we cleanse away our sins. Grace, by which the penalties of our sins are cancelled. Illumination by which the holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly.”
This is just a sampling of their writings. A further study of the early church writers, before all the “churches” from the Reformation Movement (beginning 1517) and even before the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church (606) or the first Human Creed (Nicene in 325 AD), will help illuminate the darkness that has permeated Christendom today. You will fine many universally accepted truths from these writers contrary to the mainstream today.
God Bless in your search to be pleasing to God. May this post be of some assistance.
Thanks for adding to the discussion, Ryan. Glad you call on early church writers.
This is such an important and interesting topic. It does seem like the disciples weren’t baptized, because the gospels don’t literally state it. But if Paul was required to be baptized, being what he himself considered to be the least of the apostles, then surly the twelve were. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, yet he was, thus setting the example for us. Why would the 12 be exempt? Why would Jesus tell them to do for others that wasn’t done to them (Matthew 29:18)? Maybe they were baptized by Jesus, even though the Scriptures are silent. Maybe it’s a test to see who will obey, and who won’t. And shame on us for looking for a loophole to get out of obeying. The best example anyone can find for not having to be baptized is the thief on the cross. That’s NOT a good example due to the extenuating circumstances. Obedience is better than sacrifice.
Am very happy reading on this site. My boss condemn roman catholic baptism & ask to attend foundation classes to be baptize at living faith church to become a born again if I will drive her. I said no. I better lose the job, I can attend church with her but cant be baptize a second time. Abaver Isaac.
Convictions are very important. So is truth, and we can get it wrong. But it appears you are walking honorably, and may God give you wisdom.
I appreciate this site. It is very unbiased. The should speak to us. We should not try to speak through the word, Amen🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾. In any case baptism is apart of the orthodox and the protestant movement. Atleast both movements agree that it is important.
Baptism Is “Blood” (Death To Self), Not Water (H2O). This beautiful revelation is like a diamond buried in the Word of God. A diamond has many sides, so the teaching of true baptism can be approached from many angles of Gods Word. The first angle that the Lord began showing me this wonderful truth began at the Crucifixion, where the soldier pierced His side, “and forthwith came there out blood and water”. Through revelation, the Lord began showing me patterns. The first angle He showed me was the birth of Eve. The Word reveals that a woman symbolically represents the Church. (there is a false church as well that God calls a whore). She was (birthed) taken from his side as he slept. Sleep is always a symbolic representation of death (1Th. 4:14 ) and the Word likens Jesus as the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:21,22 ). Rome and her children teach that water is symbolic of the grave. This is not so, The Word (Jesus, see Jn 1:1) teaches that Water is symbolic of Jesus The Word! Many times Jesus likened Himself to living water. “If any man thirst, come to me” He would say. JESUS IS THE WORD. Through His blood, His bride (the true church) was redeemed (see, Eph 1:) …. THEN….we are washed with His Word.
Eph. 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the WORD, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Once you realize that true baptism is being washed in His word, many things of understanding begin to fall into place. Such as, the washing of Peters feet at Passover ….or….. the Brazen Sea (Lavern) at the Tabernacle entrance of Gods throne, as also seen in Revelation. I hope I’m not boring you but I would like to expound on this understanding just a little bit and Ill show you how it ties into being baptized in the OBEDIENCE of Gods WORD.
EX 38:8 And he made the Lavern of bronze, and the base of it of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the women serving, who served at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Remember, Woman symbolically represent the Church. Just as woman serve…so does the Church. Water symbolizes Jesus the Word. Now, pay attention. The Lavern that holds the Water (the Word) was made from the bronze mirrors from the woman (the Church) that SERVED …at the door (Jesus) of the Tabernacle (Heaven) of meetings. Why bronze mirrors? Mirrors give a reflection of SELF, our biggest enemy in our walk with Christ. True baptism is dying to self through the washing of Gods word. We must decrease and He must increase. Our old man of flesh must be taken outside the city and stoned. God tried to convey this teaching in many ways.
I.E. Circumcision, the cutting away of flesh or Fasting and etc. Jesus said, pick up your cross and follow me (the word). We crucify our flesh daily…THROUGH The WORD. That man or woman that you see in the mirror is a self seeking enemy of God. In Romans 8:7 it says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so”. So my friend in Christ, this is what true baptism is. Its dying to self. We could talk about this subject for many day and just barely scratch the surface of this wonderful teachings….such as, Why did John Baptize Jesus? Did Jesus have sin? Why were the disciples not baptized in this manner? These are examples of more beautiful diamonds hidden in Gods word. But for now, understand that true baptism is dying to self. We put on the new man. Jesus was the first fruits and we should follow suite. Love your enemy as apposed to hating them. If anyone was blessed by my understandings and wish to commune through email, I would be humbled and embrace you as my fellow brother in Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Centrality of Baptism
God is the same yesterday today and forever Hebrews 13:8
Jesus was baptized Matthew 3: 11-17
Jesus taught that baptism was essential for salvation
Jesus baptized others (at least his Apostles but perhaps not others) John 3:22, John 4:1-2
Jesus looked on as his Apostles baptized John 4:2 and did not correct them as partaking in false doctrine, but in seeming approval.
Jesus commanded his followers to baptize Matthew 28:19
The first recorded revelation that Peter received on behalf of the church was that Gentiles desiring to join the church could also be baptized Acts 10:47-48
Jesus’ Apostles baptized Acts 19:1-7 & Romans 6:3-4
Jesus’ Apostles taught baptism Act: 22:16
So much so that members of the early church were baptized for the dead 1 Cor 15:29
So if God is the same yesterday, today and forever and Christ was baptized, taught baptism and his Apostle’s his teaching on the matter, even to the extent of seeing that the dead were baptized…when did that teaching become null and void?
Baptism, Baptize, Baptized and the other variants are mentioned 171 times in the KJV and some would believe that it is simply a “nice to do thing” an “outward symbol” but that is clearly open to debate and there are ample scriptures that contradict this and indicate its centrality to salvation. OF the early Apostles, those closest to Jesus, Matthew and John clearly teach it plainly or ascribe it to Jesus teaching it plainly.. Peter is ascribed its importance by Luke in Acts and Paul taught it numerous times in Hebrews, Romans and Corinthians.
The problem, it seems is that once someone accepts the teaching that ALL that is required to be saved is to accept the name of Jesus Christ and that redemption is exclusively through grace and that all works are as dirty rags, then one must discount or explain away many of the teachings that are plainly in the Scriptures, that require work on our part, and not just one or two places in the scriptures but throughout the New Testament.
Wow! One of many questions answered only by the One that knows. Will our questions matter even matter if we only believe, all will be settled in Eternity. Does it even matter? You sure gave me fresh insight. Thank you.
I feel that although the Bible does not categorically state that Jesus’ disciples were baptised, they must have been baptised by Jesus Himself; or else how would they baptise others without they themselves experiencing first hand what baptism was all about?