You may have heard of it – it is something associated with churches and religion. But what exactly is it?

The symbolism of baptism

It is essentially a symbolic act.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.    Romans Chapter 6:3-14

From this passage in scripture we can see that baptism is very similar to what Jesus did when he died and was baptised.

The following table shows what the act of baptism represents:

Died to sin   Before baptism we served sin. We thought about ourselves and not God.
Buried under water   Burial of our old self. We are symbolic letting the life of sin die.
Rise out of water   Resurrection into a new life in Jesus. Once the old life of sin is dead we then start a new life dedicated to God and Jesus.
New life in Jesus   We live our life serving God.

There are two ways we can view the symbolism of baptism:

1. Baptism is a burial

having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.     Colossians Ch.2:12

2. Baptism is a washing away of sins. 

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’      Acts Ch.22:16 

How should we be baptised?

You may have heard of some people being sprinkled with water whereas others are fully immersed in water. What is the correct way of being baptised?

In the first century full immersion was the way people were baptised.

And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.    Acts Ch.8:38-39

Baptism symbolizes the burial of your old self so a baptism that does not involve full immersion in water does not fulfill this symbolism.

The Greek word “baptize”, which is translated “baptise” in the English Bible, does not mean to sprinkle. It means to completely wash and immerse in a liquid. This word is used in classical Greek concerning ships sinking and being “baptised” (i.e. submerged) in water.

Other verses to prove submersion versus merely sprinkling:

Now John also was baptising at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptised.       John Ch.3:23

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.   Matthew Ch.3:13-16 

How does baptism change our life?

The act of baptism gives the person a freedom they have never felt before. This freedom comes from knowing that our natural self is really dead, and therefore Jesus is very actively living with us through our every trial.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians Ch.2:20

The baptised person experiences a peace and true spiritual joy which is indeed unique to only those who take the step.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.    John Ch.14:27 

Baptism means changing our behaviour to meet the needs of your new master.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.   Ephesians Ch.4:29 

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.      1 Timothy Ch.6:18 

Baptism puts you on the path towards eternal life in the future.

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”      Matthew Ch.25:46

Is baptism really necessary?

Some people say that you can be a believer and follow God without being baptised. It is something which you choose to do or not do.

The Bible makes it very clear what the true position is in relation to baptism.

Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.      Mark Ch.16:16

Baptism is essential if we are to be saved from sin and death and to be given eternal life.

How do you know when you are ready for baptism?

Baptism is the biggest decision you will make in your life so it is important to make it carefully.

Before you are baptised you must believe the gospel concerning Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. You must also repent of your past sins. If you honestly believe the gospel then your conscious will steer you towards being baptised.

and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,     1 Peter Ch.3:21 

Baptism is a symbolic act where you have said you will give a life-long commitment to God. You will join the family of God as one of his adopted children.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans Ch.8:12-17


Many of us look for purity in our lives. If you

buy a diamond you want it to be flawless – to be as close to perfect as possible. If you drink water you want it to be pure. Some people buy filtering machines to try and get it close to pure water – they don’t want it to be contaminated by chemicals or disease carrying  organisms. If we want these things in our

life to be pure then why shouldn’t we be trying to make ourselves pure.

What is purity? Purity is the condition or quality of being pure; it means freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.

Moral purification

A pure heart is what is needed in the future kingdom.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.  Psalm 24:1-4 

Those who will be accepted will have clean hands and pure heart. The clean hands signifies that the person’s actions during their life were godly. The pure heart indicates that they had good intentions in their mind during their life.

Reading the Bible is the only way of cleansing and purifying the mind. It implants the purity of God into our minds.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; Psalm 19:8   NKJV 

God wants us to be pure. He wants us to clean up our behaviour when we begin a new life with him at baptism.

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”?       Proverbs Ch.20:9

The way of a guilty man is perverse; But as for the pure, his work is right.       Proverbs Ch.21:8 

True purity comes from the heart

We must be careful not to fall into a common error of thinking we are pure and yet not seeing all the mistakes we are making in God’s eyes.

Equally we must be careful not to project a image of being religious and righteous to those around us and yet when no one is watching behaving in a ungodly way. For example, participating in activities that a true follower in Jesus would not do.

There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.        Proverbs Ch.30:12 

This was a trap the teachers of the law fell into.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  

Matthew Ch.23:25

True purity comes from the heart. The Pharisees strained their water so they wouldn’t accidentally swallow a gnat – an unclean insect according to the law. Meticulous about the details of ceremonial cleanliness, they nevertheless had lost their perspective on inner purity. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and religious leaders for outwardly appearing holy but inwardly remaining full of corruption and greed.

Living as a Christian merely as a show for others is like washing a cup on the outside only. When we are clean on the inside, our cleanliness on the outside won’t be a sham.

The source of purity

True purity comes from God.

Make them pure and holy through teaching them your words of truth      John Ch.17:17 The Living Bible 

A follower of Christ becomes sanctified (set apart for sacred use, cleansed and made holy) through believing and obeying the Word of God.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.       Hebrews Ch.4:12 

He or she has asked for forgiveness through Christ’s sacrificial death.

Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.      Hebrews Ch.7:26-27

But daily application of God’s Word has a purifying effect on our mind and heart. Scripture points out sin, motivates us to seek forgiveness, renews our relationship with Christ, and guides us back to the right path.

Spiritual purification through Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ was an example of a life of perfect obedience – of purity. Through his sacrifice it was made possible for personal and individual sins to be forgiven.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Hebrews Ch.1:3

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.       1 John Ch.3:1-3 

True worshippers are ever conscious that the time will come when they must present themselves before the judge (Jesus Christ) at the start of the kingdom. In preparation for that occasion they purify their characters by seeking forgiveness of their sins through Christ and by reforming their ways.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.     1 John 1:7

As the Israelites ceremoniously purified themselves prior to appearing at the Passover (see John 11:55), or as the nation of Israel was required to do in preparation to meeting God at Sinai (see Exodus 19:10-11), so Christ’s followers do morally in preparation for the Judgment Seat.

As Jesus Christ is pure, the same kind of purity is revealed today by those who are truly Christ’s, and the same degree of purity will be manifested in the kingdom, when such are clothed with divine nature. In their present pilgrimage, they aim for that degree of purity, seeing in the Son the ideal of God-likeness to which they aspire.

The actions of one wanting purity

What must we do to go through the act of purification?

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.     1 Peter 1:22

The effect of purity – wisdom

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.     James Ch.3:17

The wisdom of God is first and foremost pure – it is unadulterated. The Word of God is completely pure in itself, and purifying in its influence. This is the first effect of embracing the true, heavenly wisdom. The heavenly wisdom will open out a new perspective on life, a new way of thinking and feeling.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.      Psalm 51:10

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.      Ezekiel Ch.11:19 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.        2 Corinthians 4:16

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;    Romans Ch.7:22 

After baptism a new man or woman is created – one who is striving for purity.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.       Ephesians Ch.4:22-24 

since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.    Colossians Ch.3:9-10 

The new man or woman (after baptism) delights in the law and principles of God. He denies himself of all ungodliness and lusts of the world around him, and walks soberly, righteously and godly in the world. He aims for godly wisdom.

The objective of those striving for purity

The man striving for purity hopes for the glorious return of Jesus Christ to this world where Jesus will reign as King.

The man (or woman) striving for purity will truly love the appearing of Christ at the future kingdom. They will desire to be part of his Kingdom.

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.      2 Timothy 4:8

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.       Titus Ch.2:11-14

However, we are always reminded at this current time that when we sin that we are imperfect. We make mistakes and are always asking for forgiveness. But we can look forward to a time in the kingdom to come when the righteous will be resurrected to incorruptible existence in the Paradise of God.