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Household and Infant Baptism
Written by arkwriter   
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 14:33

Household  and  Infant  Baptism

Infant baptism is one of the most controversial subjects amongst the various denominations in the Christian Church.  Opponents insist on their position because they say there is no example of infant baptism in the New Testament.  While there is no description of an individual infant being baptized, the Bible describes five separate household baptisms:

 
The Household of Cornelius, Acts 11:13–14: “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.”
The Household of Lydia, Acts 16:15: “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.”
The Philippian Jailor’s Household, Acts 16:33: “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
The Household of Crispus, Acts 18:8: “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”
The Household of Stephanas, 1 Corinthians 1:16: “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas.”

 

Some further argued that while the Bible may say ‘household’ or ‘family’ this may not include children or infants. This argument is illogical and unbiblical.  How can anyone insist that a household or a family does not include the children or infants? The Biblical ‘household’ or ‘family’ always include children and infants.  And given the fact that we have five explicit references to whole households being baptized it is safe to conclude many such households that were baptized could also have included children and infants as well.   

God’s  Salvation  for  the  Whole  Household

The word ‘household’ in the Holy Bible includes every person that lives in the same house that is men, women, children and infants.  We must remember that a household always include children throughout the Scriptures. Every time God established or spoke about His covenant with the House of Israel, it included the whole of Israel - men, women, and children.

Noah’s whole ‘household’ was taken into the ark with him (Genesis 7:1).   Abraham had all the males in his whole household circumcised (Genesis 17:23), and specifically his son Isaac when he was eight days old (Genesis 21:4).  The whole household of every family was taken out of Egypt, and God’s institution of the Passover specifically included the children (Exodus 12:24–28).

The Bible teaches that under the Old Covenant, every male child was circumcised on the eighth day after birth.  With his circumcision, the child became a full and complete member of Israel and could partake of the Passover sacrifice. Circumcision, as we know from the First Council in Jerusalem was no longer necessary for the Gentile convert or his children (Acts 15:5; Acts 21:21). Baptism is called “circumcision made without hands . . . circumcision of Christ” (Col. 2:11-12).  Just as circumcision brought the infant into Israel in the Old Covenant, so baptism brings the infant into the Church in the New Covenant.

This principle of God’s covenant with His people given to whole households that include men, women, children and infants is carried over to the New Testament.  The event of Paul and Silas’ ministry to the Philippian Jailer is a good example of God’s salvation to the whole household through baptism (Acts 16:29-34).

 
29Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.
34Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

 

Paul and Silas said to the jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (verse 31)  The jailer was the first person in his household to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  After Paul and Silas had preached to him and his household “And immediately he and all his family were baptized.”   If the jailer’s family had children and infants every one of them would have been baptized.

Infants  are  baptized  for  the  Remission  of  Sin

There is not a single verse in the Bible that forbids or withholds baptism for reasons of age, race, or gender. The Early Apostolic Church has this clear instruction: 

 

“Then Peter said to them: ‘Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

 Baptism is for the remission of sins and this promise of salvation is given to adults and children as well.  Some argue that children cannot repent of their sins so they must wait until they grow up before they can be baptized.  The Bible states very clearly that even an unborn child inside the mother’s womb has sins.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”  (Psm. 51:5)

But where does the unborn child get the sins?  “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  (Rom. 5:12)  This is called the original sin.  Like adults infants also die.  This is the sure proof that infants are also under the curse of sin and death. No one, adult or children, can repent of the original sin that is inherited from Adam’s transgression.  Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can wash away all sins (Heb. 9:22).  This is the reason why infants also need to have their original sins washed away by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ during the baptism.

There is another type of sin that a person commits.  Personal sins can be forgiven through confession and repentance before the baptism (Mt. 3:5-6).  Infants that have not committed any personal sins do not need confession and repentance before the baptism, but they still have the original sins which can be remitted through the Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the reason for the baptism of infants.

John’s baptism is called the “Baptism of Repentance” which was valid before the Crucifixion (Mt. 3:11; 21:25-27; Acts 1:5).  After the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ John’s “Baptism of Repentance”  is replaced by the Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ  for the remission of all sins including the original and personal sins (Acts 19:3-5).  Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ is administered to believers and their children (Acts 2:38-39).

 

Notice the narrative clearly states: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized, and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41)  It does not say adults.  The word “souls” include adults and children as well.

Infants  also  need  to  be  Born  Again

Here we need to introduce a statement by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself on the subject of children and the Kingdom of God.  Some children were brought to Him to receive blessing. His disciples tried to interfere. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).  Some wrongly interpret this statement to mean that children and infants need not have to be baptized to be in the Kingdom of God.  This assumption is not correct.  When the Lord Jesus Christ made this statement the Kingdom of God has not been established yet because He had not died and also the Holy Spirit of God had not been poured out.  Under the Old Covenant only male children and infants need to be circumcised, but in the New Covenant every person – man, woman, child and infant need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God. 

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”  (Jn. 3:5)

“Born of water” does not refer to the natural birth as some would interpret because Jesus said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (Jn. 3:6).  The Bible states, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50).  If “born of water” refers to the natural birth which everyone on earth already has, then Jesus need only say “born of the Spirit”   The Lord Jesus Christ further explained “born of water” refers to water baptism and  “Born of the Spirit” refers to Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

“For John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:5)

Infants are born in sin during the natural birth, therefore they need to be “born of water” for the remission of sin.  Infants need to receive  Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ  in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

Abortion is the devil’s way of cheating and depriving the infant inside the mother’s womb to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.  Abortion is murder and destruction of the body and soul of the unborn child. 

Only  Infants  of  Believing  Parents  are  Baptized 

Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ should be administered to only infants of parents who are Christians because they need to be brought up in the true Christian faith.  Children can learn about the One True God at an early age.  This is what the Holy Bible states.   

“Whom will he teach knowledge?  And whom will he make to understand the message?  Those just weaned from milk?  Those just drawn from the breasts?  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isa. 28:9-10) 

“Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD our God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:4-7) 

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  (Pro. 22:16) 

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) 

Timothy learned the truths that are taught in the Holy Bible when he was a child.  This is what the apostle Paul wrote to him.  “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  (2 Tim. 3:14-15) 

Throughout the Scriptures we are told that Christian parents always made important decisions for their children.  When their children or infants got sick they would pray for them.  They would not wait for their children to grow up so that they can understand about faith in order to pray for them. There is nothing more important than the salvation of children, and that is to have their sins washed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ through water baptism.  In accordance with the biblical examples of household baptisms Christian parents should have every member of the family, including infants, receive Baptism into the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and entrance into the Kingdom of God. 

May God bless you

   

This article is a presentation of Paul Wong

to the ARK Forum on October 14, 2009.

For comments please write to:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   

                 Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International. 
                 His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
                 The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational

 

Last Updated on Friday, 26 May 2017 15:07