was poured out upon the Gentiles in the household of Cornelius, he states, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15). After witnessing this, no wonder Peter confessed, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47). In other words, if they had received the fulfillment (the inward baptism of cleansing and consecration by the Spirit), they certainly may receive the outward sign (baptism by water).
Baptism by pouring or sprinkling maintains the clear connection between the outward sign and inward reality, between ritual and reality in the words of Peter and of John the Baptist. If either of them baptized by immersion, a discrepancy in mode between sign and fulfillment would be apparent.
Finally, Jesus gave a clear instruction to His church before departing into heaven. He said, "For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (Acts 1 :5). The analogy is destroyed if we imagine John's baptism as one of putting people into and under the water rather than the water being poured out or sprinkled from above and falling and resting upon the baptized.
John's baptism was a baptism of purification. It spoke of cleansing, of repentance from sin. All of Israel's purifications were performed by sprinkling (see the next section for examples). All their legal (as well as natural) washings were done by pouring. None were performed by immersing. John the Baptist was a priest by both his father's and mother's lineage. He waited until he was thirty years of age, as legally required, and then began his official baptizing work.
The Jewish people would all understand the connection between baptism and purification, as the ceremonial laws were full of various purifying sprinklings and pourings. It is understandable that we read, "Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying" (John 3:25). As John's baptism began drawing attention, the Jews sent the specialists in priestly baptisms, i.e. the
How does the prophet Ezekiel connect outward water baptism with inward Spirit baptism in the following verses?
Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I gIve you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.
How is the close connection between baptism and purification illustrated in the following portion of Scripture?
And John also was baptizing in AEnon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.
For John was not yet cast into prison.
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying.
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to Him.