Baptism: Household

Dear Pastor Lawyer,
I was wondering about the Jewish Christians. Did they need to be baptized? I have come across a source that said they did not need to be baptized, their circumcision remained their sign of the Covenant, but that some of them would be baptized to seperate them from the circumcised yet unfruitful Jews. What of the children of the Christian Jews as well?
Thanks, KT

Dear KT,

Jews who came to believe in Jesus as the Messiah were baptized (e.g. Acts 9:18). The reason their children were not mentioned is because Christianity was/is and encompasses a covenantal relationship with God. This assumes a sort of group relationship under the leadership and headship of the father. If the father did a thing, the whole household was involved in the action. If it was good the whole household was blessed. If it was evil, the whole household was cursed. Thus when the father was baptized, the whole household was baptized.

This is the way it was throughout the Old Testament. If a man became a Jew, all the men in his household had to be circumcised. After Christ came everyone was baptized when the head of the household believed. If this had not been the case (assumed in the New Testament), there would have been a much greater, or different, change from the Old Covenant to the New. But there wasn’t. The Jews followed John, then were passed on to Jesus. When they believed in the Messiah, they were baptized into him.

This is the same picture Paul gives of Israel in the exodus when they passed through the cloud and sea (1 Co. 10). They were members of Moses and thus were baptized whether they had faith or not. As a result, because of individual unbelief, many of them died in the desert because of their unbelief—despite their baptisms.

If the Apostles had stopped baptizing children when their father’s believed, it would have been a change that would have made a huge stink in the early church. And if they had implemented credobaptism for Gentiles but not for Jews, it would have also created a huge stink. The fact that there wasn’t a over this issue shows that the shift from Old to New Covenants didn’t affect the covenantal aspect of the people’s relationship with God.

I hope this helps,
Mike

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One thought on “Baptism: Household

  1. Yes, it does. Thank you. As I wrote in the reply, I was reading a small pamplet/book, well, actually it was a large pamphlet or a small book, by Pastor Jim West. He was arguing that, just as the believer baptists argue that there are no infant baptisms, the infant baptists can turn it around and ask where the adolescent baptisms are, of youths that have made a confession of faith.Those are remarkably absent where one would expect many adolescent baptims after so many parents were converted. One must assume so many adolescents turned from their parents faith.Where as the reason there are no specifically infant baptims in the Bible, is as you pointed out, they were baptized when their family- their Covenantal Head was baptized. So, thank youKenny

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