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Who can baptize?

You can! If you lead someone to Christ, you baptize them.

In most legacy churches, only the trained professional baptizes new believers. There is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate that only a trained professional or a leader can baptize. 

John 4:1-2 says this:  Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 

If Jesus didn't baptize anyone, but passed the job on to his disciples, why would we wait for a leader to baptize new believers?

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, says that he baptized only a few of them: Has Christ been divided into factions? Was I, Paul, crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not!  I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius,  for now no one can say they were baptized in my name.  (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) (1Corinthians 1:13-16)

Who baptized everyone else? In the book of Acts, in every case but one, the passive voice is used (the believers were baptized).  We don't know who did the actual baptizing. The only time we are told who baptized someone else is Philip who baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38), although we can often infer who did.

The important thing is that the person gets baptized.

On occasion, we have baptized someone who has then, in turn, baptized someone else they led to the Lord. We have baptized people in rivers, lakes,  hot tubs, even the bath tub.

What do you think?

Photo by Vicki Rogers

10 replies on “Who can baptize?”

How I remember the indignation of denominational leaders when asking members of the Baptist church of which I was then pastor, to baptize those who were close to them. The same with asking members of the church family to lead the Lord’s Supper.

I think it’s cool how the Lord left out of his Word the specifics of who does the baptizing, with the exception of the verses you cited. I, too, have been a part of baptizing new believers in lakes and swimming pools…isn’t it awesome?!

Let me join the chorus of agreement. Our family of 2 adults and three (now adult) children has generally been part of one or another denominational church, and 4 out of 5 were “baptised” as children. Yet all 5 of us decided, at all different times, to be baptised as adults (long after our decisions to believe in Jesus, but there was nothing we could do about that), and 4 out of 5 chose to be baptised in the sea by family ad friends without a denominational clergyperson in sight (unless one was lurking). There was no pressure on anyone to be baptised or to do it in a certain way, that’s just what each chose.

As a pastor of a traditional church, I couldn’t agree more with this post. However, if I keep giving away my responsiblities and privileges to the other brothers and sisters I might no longer be necessary. Hmmm…

Yes. When we hire out our duty to preach or teach or baptize we forego the blessing of obedience. Go make disciples. Let all believers experience their faith.

Hello! I just ran across this post, as I’ve been studying that topic. While there is no direct command on who should do the baptizing, every instance of baptism in Scripture is done by an Apostle – somebody with authority. Given that, it would seem to me that only those given authority in the church (ordained clergy) should baptize. Just my thoughts…

Thanks for your thoughtful comments on this subject.
I think there are examples that we can infer from the Scriptures where ordinary disciples baptized. For example, Ananias (specifically named a disciples in Acts 9) presumably baptized Paul. We know that Paul didn’t baptize most of the people in Corinth. What happened in the dispersion after Stephen’s martyrdom? Were the new believers made by the existing disciples forced to wait until an apostle came through town? Somehow I doubt it.
It sounds like you’ve only just come across my blog. I write from the standpoint of the simple/organic/house church movement which would not have ordained clergy in positions of leadership. So ordinary, common or garden believers do all the baptizing.

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