Sprinkling refers to placing water upon the person, the administrating minister either dipping his fingers into the water and applying it to the forehead of the baptized or cupping water in his hand and placing it on the head of the baptized.
Pouring (or affusion) speaks of pouring water over the head of the baptized, the administrating minister using a type of cup or pitcher for this purpose. Most pictures of baptism in early church history show baptism being performed via this mode. The catacombs, for instance, where many Christians hid, died, and were buried during the persecution in Rome in the early centuries after Christ, reveal numerous pictures of baptism by pouring.
Immersion (or dipping) means to submerge the person's entire body under water and to raise him above the water again.
When examining the ten examples of baptism in the Book of Acts and the other New Testament examples, no description, recommendation, or prescription of mode is made in Scripture in any case. Several examples would be difficult to picture as taking place by immersion, but this does not mean that immersion is necessarily ruled out as a possible mode. Direct references to spiritual sprinklings and outpourings are made in Scripture, but there are no direct references to immersion. Other types of "baptisms" in Scripture are not performed by immersion, but again this would not clearly forbid the use of immersion. Of the three modes, however, immersion lacks the clear support of biblical reference and example that the other two receive. Let us examine these truths regarding the mode of baptism upon the basis of the following scriptural evidence:
a. The New Testament examples of baptism
b. The scriptural references to spiritual cleansing and con
secration by sprinkling and pouring
c. The modes of various types of "baptisms" in Scripture
Affusion - The act of pouring water upon
Catacombs - Underground burial places consisting of various caverns with excavated recesses fot tombs. A hiding and burial place for Christians in Rome during various Roman persecutions
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded His church:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
- Matthew 28:19
Did Jesus command His church to use
a cenain mode when baptizing?