Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
A NEW LOOK at Baptism and the Laying On of Hands
How should "baptism" be administered? How should it be performed? The Greek word for baptism, baptizo, means "to make whelmed," or "fully wet." It means, literally, "to dip repeatedly, to immerse, submerge." How should this be done? Should you be "re-baptized"?
by HOIM Staff
In ancient Judea, a person had to be in a state of ritual purity in order to enter into the Temple area. If a person had become ritually impure, he was required to undergo a ritual immersion in water -- t'vilah in Hebrew. The apostle Paul, and early Judean Christians, participated in this ritual (compare Acts 21:23-26; 24:18).
The Bible Commands Immersion
While many "churches" today baptize candidates by sprinkling (usually as babies) the Bible nowhere condones such a practice! Notice what Ted Weiland says in his booklet, Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More:
"Paul used the Greek word baptizo in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2. All Greek lexicographers agree that baptizo means to immerse, and immersion perfectly fits Paul's description of what occurred. He declared that the Israelites were baptized in the cloud and in the sea. They were surrounded above by the cloud and on both sides with water, just as someone is when immersed in water for the remission of his sins. There is no reason, therefore, to force sprinkling into a word that only meant immersion.
"The ancient Greek writings of Josephus, Polybius, Epictetus, Plutarch, and others reveal that baptizo was used to indicate immersion. Baptizo was the word they employed when writing about a sunken ship, a harpoon sinking in water, a hyssop branch dipped in liquid, a sword plunged into a body, an overwhelming debt, and people drowning. The Greeks clearly understood baptizo to mean immersion...
"If Paul had intended sprinkling or pouring, he would not have used the word 'in' when he wrote, 'and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.' Insert the words 'sprinkled' or 'poured' in place of the word 'baptized' and it does not make sense -- 'and were all sprinkled unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea' or 'and were all poured unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.' Insert the word 'immersed' and it makes perfect sense -- 'and were all IMMERSED unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea'" (Mission to Israel Ministries, 2005, pages 34-35).
Archaeologists have discovered almost fifty ritual baths called mikva'ot -- in the excavations around the southern wall of the so-called Temple mount in Jerusalem.
The Judean ritual of purification by immersion, the mikva, is undoubtedly a forerunner of the practice of baptism. In ancient Judaism, a cleansed leper, a woman after her menstrual period, any ceremonially defiled person, and a convert to Judaism, had to undergo the mikva and be immersed in water, prior to being declared "pure" and able to enter the Temple, or reenter society.
The first mention of baptism, as such, was that of John the Baptist. He came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, calling upon people everywhere to repent of their sins, telling them the kingdom of heaven was at hand. "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matthew 3:5-6).
The Example Set by Yeshua the Messiah
Even Yeshua the Messiah came to John the Baptist to be baptized by him. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17).
Yeshua set an example for each and every one of his true disciples and followers, to be baptized as he was (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). Baptism is a "type" of our complete "burial" of the "old man" who "dies" to the power of sin. As Paul wrote, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are BURIED with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death [by being immersed in water through baptism], we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:3-6).
When we come up from the watery grave of baptism, a type of "death," we are to live a new life to YEHOVAH God through the Messiah, even as Yeshua himself arose from the dead. As Paul continues:
"For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but ALIVE unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:7-13).
Importance of Baptism
Physical baptism, as an outward "sign" of inward repentance toward YEHOVAH God and cleansing from sin, and the power of sin, is a requirement for salvation. It is no trivial matter. Although YEHOVAH certainly could save someone without baptism, if circumstances prohibited baptism being performed, nevertheless, YEHOVAH clearly commands baptism to be performed in all cases where it is possible! Yeshua commanded: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature [person]. He that believeth, and is BAPTIZED, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:15-16). On the first day of Pentecost, when YEHOVAH sent the holy spirit, and it came upon all the disciples, Peter preached to the assembled Israelites at the Temple during the Holy Day, "Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Luke, the early church historian, records, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (v. 41). Thousands of Israelites were added to the Ecclesia, even as YEHOVAH God the Father called them through the holy spirit, they heard the word, believed, and were baptized.
But how was this act of "baptism" performed? When Yeshua began preaching the gospel of the kingdom of YEHOVAH God, calling people to repentance (Mark 1:13-14), those of Israel who responded were baptized. We read in the book of John: "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (though Yeshua himself baptized not, but his disciples,), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee" (John 4:1-2). Notice! Yeshua himself did not perform the ceremony, but he had instructed his disciples, and they were the ones doing the baptizing of new converts.
But again, how was this done? Obviously, it required an act of immersion or submergence under water -- like the ancient mikvah. However, although a ritual bath could have been used, at times John the Baptist, and Yeshua and his disciples, used the Jordan River as a place to perform baptism. In another case, when Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch came to "a certain water," the eunuch said, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36). Philip replied, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." He answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ [Yeshuah Ha Moshiah, in Hebrew, or, Yesou Christo, in Greek] is the Son of God." So they stopped the chariot, in which they were riding, "and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the spirit of the LORD caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:37-39).
Old Testament Baptismal Types
A type of "baptism" is found in the Old Testament Scriptures. As the apostle Paul wrote, "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (I Corinthians 10:1-2). These people were down in the Red Sea, although it was not touching them, but they were also under the "cloud." This was a type of baptism. They were leaving "sin city," or Egypt, as it were, and passing out of that country, where they were "free" from the fetters and shackles of Egypt (a picture of "sin"). It should be noted that they individually put themselves down into the passageway through the Red Sea. No man took them by the garments, or by the hand, and pushed, pulled, or shoved them. They did it on their own, under the guidance and direction of Moses.
In another example of "baptism" in the Old Testament Scriptures, we read the amazing story of Naaman the Syrian general who was a leper. The story is told in II Kings, chapter 5. Naaman came to Elisha the prophet to be cured of his leprosy, after hearing about him from an Israeli maid (vs. 2-3). He came "with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha" (v. 9). Naaman was a very important man, obviously, a powerful and honorable general, the "captain of the host" of the Syrian army (v. 1). Yet Elisha did not go out to meet him, as some might have thought a good thing to do to curry favor with the general. Rather, he merely sent a "message" to him, saying, "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean" (v.10).
Naaman was angry, and turned away in a furious state of mind, feeling humiliated and treated with disdain. As he left, he said to his attendants, "Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me [the prophet did not even do that!], and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a smoldering rage. But his servants, of a wiser state of mind and not caught up in the "vanity trip" of the glamour and adulation and egotism of their master, humbly asked him, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather, then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" (v.13).
Naaman got a hold of himself, controlled and subdued his emotions, and "took a chance." We read the chronicle: "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (II Kings 5:13-14).
The Hebrew word for "dipped" here is tabal, and means "to dip, plunge, immerse." In this verse, Naaman "immersed himself" in the Jordan River seven times! And his leprosy was cleansed. He was healed! But because of his original prideful, somewhat arrogant attitude, he almost lost out on YEHOVAH's blessing of healing, and almost condemned himself to leprosy for the rest of his life.
Naaman, like all of us, had to learn a lesson -- that we must obey YEHOVAH, no matter what He says, or how silly or foolish it may seem in our own human eyes. For, as YEHOVAH says through His prophet Isaiah, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).
The Mikvah in Ancient Israel
In ancient Israel, when a person became "unclean," he or she was required to "bathe" themselves (see Leviticus 15:5, 6, 7,8, etc.). When the High Priest on the Day of Atonement prepared to perform his duties, he was required first of all, before all else, to "wash his flesh in water" (Leviticus 16:5), and then to put on the holy garments. Later the same day, after performing his major duties, involving the cleansing of the sanctuary, the sacrifice of the live goat, and the confession of sin over the Azazel goat, and banishing it into the wilderness, he was required once again to take off the linen garments, and to "wash his flesh with water" in the holy place, and put on his garments, and make an atonement for himself and for the people (v. 22-24). The person who takes the Azazel goat into the desert also had to "bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp" (Leviticus 16:26). Any person who ate something that died of itself, or that was torn by beasts, also had to "bathe himself in water," and then would be ritually "clean" that evening (Leviticus 17:15). Anyone who refused to do this would "bear his iniquity" (verse 16).
The sacrifice of the "red heifer" was a special rite performed only a total of 7 or 9 times during the history of Israel and Judah, till the destruction of the Temple. It was sacrificed on the Mount of Olives, facing the Temple to the west, at the very spot where Yeshua the Messiah himself was later crucified, the red heifer being a "type" of the sacrifice of the Messiah for our sins. The High Priest, upon completing the sacrificial ceremony, was required to "bathe himself in water, and afterward come into the camp" (Numbers 19:7). The one who assisted the High Priest and who performed the actual killing of the red heifer, and who burned her flesh to ashes, also was required afterwards to "bathe his flesh in water" (v. 8).
The word for "bathe" in these verses is the Hebrew word #7364 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, the word rachatz, and means literally "to wash oneself," "to be washed." When one was commanded to "wash" or "bathe" oneself, it required a total bath or immersion in water. For this purpose, the ritual baths, or mikvah, was used. The whole being of the person was to be submerged, immersed in, and overwhelmed with water. This ritual bath later became the ancestral "type" of the New Testament act of "baptism."
Baptism -- A Self-Administered Rite
Now, back to baptism. The ordinance of baptism is patterned after the ritualistic mikvah or sacred bath. The practice of ceremonial immersion, the forerunner of Christian baptism, was a "self-administered" baptism, in which the person, or priest, walked out into the bath, or pool, and then immersed himself (or herself). In light of this, Dr. Robert Lindsey of Jerusalem has suggested that John the Baptist himself did not actually "baptize" people, by putting his hands on them and pushing them under the water. Rather, the baptism was a self-administered procedure to which John bore witness and supervised. Similarly, in the Jewish ritual of the mikvah, the person is forbidden to touch anyone else while in the baptismal pool or bath. Such touching would "contaminate" the process and render it "unclean" and unfit.
How does this relate to the Christian practice of baptism?
Yeshua the Messiah, John the Baptist, and the early apostles were all Judeans. They were well acquainted with the mikvah, and the rites of purification. It is undoubted therefore that baptism, which was based on and patterned on the mikvah purification ritual, should also be performed in a similar fashion, without human hands of another person interfering with the process. Baptism is literally between each man or woman and YEHOVAH God. It should be performed by the person himself, standing in water, and immersing himself! This should be done, of course, under the supervision of the one responsible for conducting the "baptism" ceremony -- but without that person actually "laying hold" on the individual being baptized. Thus, the vast majority of so-called "Christian" baptisms performed down through the years have missed the point, and failed to fulfill this ritual in the strict sense of the word.
To have another human being plunging another beneath the water is contrary to YEHOVAH's intent on two counts:
1) It interposes another human being between each person and YEHOVAH God: yet the word of YEHOVAH says, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). For one man to literally "baptize" another interposes a fallible human being in the middle of this divine relationship.
2) It interferes with total and complete ritual purity and the symbolism of true and complete "baptism" or immersion: When one man "baptizes" another, pushing him below the water, wherever his hands touch the individual or the clothing of the individual, that spot is not "washed," or "cleansed," but is prevented from being touched by the water. But even more important, baptism is a purely voluntary act, which a person decides to do of his own free will. Therefore, for another person to "plunge him under the water" implies he needs human assistance to do this, and perhaps is even forced or coerced into doing it. This obstructs the "voluntary" nature of the act itself, and contradicts the whole sacred meaning of a person choosing to immerse themselves in the water, to become cleansed of sin, and to become spiritually "purified" in the sight of YEHOVAH God.
Baptism is a symbol of our "death" in the water, and being raised by YEHOVAH to newness of life. In true death, no human being would be touching us. Also, no human being can raise us up to live again, in newness of life -- only YEHOVAH God can do that. Therefore, the symbolism is violated by a man plunging a person into the water, and then a man lifting us up out of the water.
How Baptism Should Be Performed
What is the purpose of a man, or minister of YEHOVAH God, "baptizing" another? Of course, ministers of YEHOVAH are commanded to "baptize" people who have repented of their sins. But what does this entail? What does it mean? How is it to be done? What if an ordained minister is not available?
Obviously, those in charge of the baptismal ceremony are actually there to SUPERVISE each candidate as they perform their own self-immersion, and to see to it that they do it properly, and go all the way under the water, in complete "burial." They need not touch the individual or his or her clothing in carrying out such supervision. They merely need to be attentive, and to watch carefully, insuring that the person being baptized completely fulfills the requirement.
Writes Ted Weiland --
"Paul understood that it does not matter who does the baptizing any more than it matters who delivers a baby at its physical birth. If a baby is conceived by Caucasian parents, it will not make any difference if a non-Caucasian is involved in the delivery -- the baby will still be Caucasian. Likewise, if the Word of God is planted in a human heart, it will not make any difference who does the baptizing -- a Christian will be the result, providing the baptism is scriptural and has been preceded by faith and repentance...The only thing that may be deduced from the Scriptures' silence concerning the qualifications of the baptizer is that it does not matter who performs the baptism" (Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More, p. 9).
The candidate and the person "baptizing" should both go into the water, as John the Baptist did with Yeshua, and Philip did with the Ethiopian eunuch, and then on confession of sin and repentance, the candidate should gently lower themselves all the way beneath the water, in a sitting position, and then rise up from that position out of the water. How simple. How plain. How divine and pure and sensible.
Too many times I have seen churches, and ministers of various churches, try to inject themselves, and their systematic theology, into the lives of people, commanding them to be baptized their way, and only in their church, insinuating their self-proclaimed authority over the new Christians. In this way they bring them into a state of religious "bondage" and spiritual slavery to their dictatorial and dogmatic "authority."
Such a system of baptism is definitely not YEHOVAH's way.
Although we at Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH) certainly do not endorse the common type of baptism (sprinkling) performed by most so-called "Christian" churches, we do not condemn baptisms done by immersion if they do not adhere exactly to points mentioned above. Rather, even though such baptisms may not have been "perfect," in a technical sense, still, we believe YEHOVAH accepts them, and honors them, as real baptism, so long as the person being baptized at the time of baptism, knew and accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, and repented of their sins, and committed their lives entirely to Yeshua as his servants and followers, completely. The inward motivation and genuine sincerity of the individual accepting YEHOVAH God as Savior, and repenting of their sins, and giving their life over to Him in total surrender of self-will and one's entire self, is the most important thing -- not the "mechanics" of the baptism having been performed "perfectly."
As Paul said to the Athenians, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). We accept such baptisms as valid and do not require "re-baptism" in such cases. However, for those who would like to be baptized over again, as a sort of "confirmation ceremony," that would be all right. Even as some married couples go through a "second" marriage ceremony, later on during their marriage, as a sort of "celebration" of their first marriage, even repeating the nuptial vows, and perhaps even having a "second honeymoon," in the same manner it would not be wrong for a person who has been baptized once to undergo the ceremony again, at a later time, as a "celebration" of their baptism, and as a "confirmation" of it. However, anyone who has been baptized by sprinkling in the past needs to be "re-baptized" by immersion.
When Do We Receive the Spirit of YEHOVAH God?
It is to be realized that baptism and the receiving of YEHOVAH's holy spirit is ONLY for those of the Adamic line -- those descended from Israel. Adam, when he was formed in Genesis 2:7, was given an earnest or measure of YEHOVAH's spirit -- notice!
"The EVER-LIVING GOD afterwards formed Man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils PERCEPTION OF LIFE, BUT MAN BECAME A LIFE-CONTAINING SOUL....The EVER-LIVING GOD then took the MAN and placed him in the Garden of Eden for the purpose of cultivating and taking care of it. And the LORD GOD instructed the MAN, saying, 'For food you may eat of the whole of the trees of the Garden..." (Ferrar Fenton Bible, Genesis 2:7, 15-16).
The most important difference between the mankind of Genesis 1:26 and Adam in Genesis 2:7 is that Adam received the Breath of YEHOVAH God in his nostrils. Later, when the procreative power of Abram and Sara was regenerated, the spirit of YEHOVAH God was embedded in their genes -- memorialized by the addition of the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet to their names. Salvation requires that the individual believes YEHOVAH God and that belief is a function of the indwelling spirit, NOT of the natural flesh -- as the Messiah said to Nicodemus "what is spirit is spirit." Hence there was no point in the Messiah dying for people who do not have the indwelling spirit and hence no ability to comprehend and believe the things of the spirit.
Philo the Jew understood the spiritual component of "the Breath of life" when he wrote:
"But he [Moses] asserts that the FORMATION of the individual man [Adam], perceptible by the external senses is A COMPOSITION OF EARTHY SUBSTANCE, AND DIVINE SPIRIT. For that body [of Adam] was created by the Creator [YEHOVAH God] taking a lump of clay, and fashioning the human form out of it; but that the soul proceeds from NO created thing at all, but from the Father and Ruler of all things.
"For when he [Moses] uses the expression, 'He breathed into,' etc., he [Moses] MEANS NOTHING ELSE THAN THE DIVINE SPIRIT proceeding from that happy and blessed nature [YEHOVAH God], sent to take up its habitation here on earth [in Adam and his descendants], FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF OUR [ISRAELITE] RACE, in order that, even if man is mortal according to that portion of him which is visible, he may at all events be [eventually] IMMORTAL according to that portion which is invisible; and for this reason, one may properly say that man is on the boundaries of a better and an immortal nature [after the resurrection], partaking of each as far as it is necessary for him; and that he [man -- descendants of Adam -- Israelites] was born at the same time, both mortal and immortal.
"Mortal as to his body, but immortal [eventually] as to his intellect" (The Works of Philo, translated by C. D. Yonge. "On the Creation, XLVI (134-135)).
Continuing in his discussion of the Breath of Life, Philo makes the following comments:
"...for there must be three things, that which breathes in, that which receives what is breathed in, and that which is breathed in. Now that which breathes in IS GOD, that which receives what is breathed in is THE MIND [of Adam], and that which is breathed in is THE SPIRIT. What then is collected from these three things? A UNION OF THREE takes place, through God extending THE POWER, which proceeds from Himself THROUGH THE SPIRIT, which is the middle term, as far as the subject.
"Why does He [YEHOVAH God] do this, except that we may thus derive A PROPER NOTION [idea, belief] of Him? Since HOW could the soul have perceived God if He [YEHOVAH God] had not inspired it, and touched it according to His power? For human intellect would not have dared to mount up to such a height as to lay claim to THE NATURE OF GOD, if God Himself had not drawn it up to Himself, as far as was possible for the mind of man to be drawn up, and if He had not FORMED it according to those powers which can be comprehended" (ibid., "Allegorical Interpretation, I, XIII (37-38))
From Adam to Abraham, Adam’s pure line contained the breath of spiritual life (see Job 33:4),
Through Abraham and Sarah, YEHOVAH God established the basis for Abraham’s seed to become the Sons of YEHOVAH God (John 1:12). YEHOVAH was making a new beginning with Abraham. None other than the seed of Abraham, through the son of promise, Isaac, has this opportunity or potential. Abraham’s seven other sons did not have this potential -- because they were born prior to Isaac. The descendants of Isaac were begotten of the spirit from their conception. This is why those among Isaac’s descendants who believe are regarded as being anointed by the spirit (Galatians 3:16).
Paul is able to declare, "now He which stablishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us is God who has also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22). In 1 Corinthians 2:7-16 Paul, confirming this, tells the brethren (kinsmen of the same womb of Sarah) that they have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit of YEHOVAH God (verse 12). He says that through this we might know (or comprehend) the things that are freely given to us, (the brethren), of YEHOVAH God. He goes on to further declare that the “natural” man (those not born of Isaac’s line, or of Adam) cannot receive the things of the spirit of YEHOVAH God. He affirms Yeshua’s statement that anyone who is not begotten of the original sowing (in the womb of Sarah) cannot see the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
Determining Where We Are
Making a “T” graph, as below, with a zero mid-point in between them will help us in what follows:
Death <-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------> Life
(Negative spirit territory) (Positive spirit territory)
Malice and hatred
Not having spirit renewed
Tends to sickness
Love and affection
Having spirit renewed
Tends to health
YEHOVAH’s people Israel are conceived with the earnest of YEHOVAH's spirit but are in negative territory. Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”.
When YEHOVAH’s people are “converted”, “spirit” is renewed in them and they are transferred from the left hand side and are placed on the start of the right hand side of the illustration. How does this happen? "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost [holy spirit]; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour" (Titus 3:5).
The word, “renewing” in this verse is Strong’s 341 “anakainoo”, a verb we can obtain an understanding from in Romans 12:2 which reads, "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind”. It happens in the mind! What we think transforms us. YEHOVAH God initiates this process through His Word.
How were we living before we were renewed in our minds? We read how we were living immediately before this verse just quoted, as follows: “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3).
When the kindness and love of YEHOVAH God appeared, our actions changed; there was the renewing of “spirit” -- “holy ghost -- holy wind” -- a breath of fresh air as it were, and of course a “new mind” given. This is what now “moves” us. We have been placed on the right hand side of the graph, so that in Him we can live and move and “have our being” increasingly more and more. This placement to the right hand side is done absolutely outside of any “works of righteousness which we have done”. When we are moved to the right hand side, we are said to be reconciled. Colossians 1:21, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled."
When placed on the right hand side, “works” are demanded: Titus 3:8, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
"Spirit” is Linked With “Mind”
“Spirit” is linked with “mind”. The word is emphasized in the verses below:
Ephesians 4:23: “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind”.
Romans 8:5: "For they that are after the flesh [those of the sixth-day creation -- Genesis 1:26-28] do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit [those of the eighth-day forming -- Genesis 2:7] the things of (the) spirit."
2 Thessalonians 2:2: "That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means."
We can be “shaken in mind” by the spirit of another person as expressed in written or spoken doctrine, and thereby be deceived. Paul says, “Let no MAN deceive you”! A few verses about the “mind” will help here. The word “mind” is emphasized.
Romans 8:7: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Colossians 2:18: "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."
1Peter 4:1: "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;"
1 Peter 1:13: "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Hebrews 8:10: "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them (a) God, and they shall be to me (a) people:"
1 Timothy 1:7: "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Romans 7:23: "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
Some versions use the word “purpose” instead of “mind”. This word tends to show a right slant not so clearly seen in the word “mind”. So in some of these verses we can see our responsibility to control the input into our minds. The relationship between mind and spirit are well known in psychology and medicine as well. A “purpose” is something with a consequence. That consequence can be “spirit”.
“Take Heed to Your Spirit”
When we are “forgiven” we are placed in a position of responsibility where we are told to take heed to (our) “spirit”. The word “our” is not there (is dative). In effect, this means we have to take heed to where we are on the graph, as it were, in regard to “spirit”.
Malachi 2:16: “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”
Firstly, when we have been placed on the right hand side of the graph, we have the ongoing choice to progress further to the right, or we can revert towards the left hand side. We can become unthankful and we can willfully sin and thus become unholy. If we become unholy and “fall away”, we are no longer on the right hand side of the graph. The justification process may then have to be repeated, but there comes a time, such as the unwise virgins experienced, when they found their lamps had gone out. Then they no longer had any oil in their lamps. Their action was too late. They no longer had “spirit” (This is symbolized by the word “oil”)! We have the continual ongoing choice to choose whom we will serve. This principle is expressed the same in the Old Testament in Leviticus 10:10, “And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean”. We can revert like the “swine that was washed to its wallowing in the mire”. When this happens we have moved back to the left hand side of the diagram.
The Laying on of Hands
In addition to being baptized in water, we also read about what appears to be another part of the baptism process in the Scriptures. It is often referred to as the "laying on of hands." What is this, and is it also necessary for a person to receive the holy spirit?
We read in Acts 8 of Philip preaching the gospel, and baptizing people in Samaria, performing great signs and miracles. The account in the book of Acts continues, "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they PRAYED FOR THEM that they might receive the holy spirit, because the holy spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the holy spirit" (Acts 8:14-17).
Why hadn't they received the holy spirit when Philip baptized them? Here was a man who even did miracles, signs and wonders, and yet the people had not received the holy spirit after they were baptized. The fact is that what is being talked about here is the fullness or an abundance of the holy spirit -- the Israelites that Philip had just baptized had the earnest of the spirit from birth, but were waiting for the FULLNESS of the spirit. If all that was needed was the "laying on of hands," then why hadn't Philip done this himself?
Two points we need to notice here: First, Philip preached the gospel vigorously, but he had not been ordained as an elder or minister. Furthermore, the gospel was being preached in a NEW AREA, where it had never gone before. Therefore, Philip did not have sufficient authority to "lay hands" on the new disciples so they would receive more of the holy spirit. Only the apostles at this time had such authority. No doubt that is why he did not perform this simple function. He could preach and even baptize, but he did not have authority to "lay on hands" so another could receive a full measure of YEHOVAH's spirit.
The account continues, "When Simon [Magus, the magician] saw that the spirit was given at the laying on of the APOSTLES' HANDS, he offered them money and said, 'Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the holy spirit'" (verses 18-19). Simon Magus recognized that the apostles had the authority to lay on hands, so that people could receive a measure of the holy spirit. He lusted after his power for himself, so Peter rebuked him for his evil attitude of trying to "buy" this power (verses 20-24).
This power to "lay on hands" so that people would receive more of the spirit of YEHOVAH God was only given to the apostles (or ordained ministers) at that time.
Is the laying on of hands necessary, then, when a person is baptized?
The answer is that if a person who is overseeing the baptizing is not sufficiently qualified for YEHOVAH God to use to give the baptized individual the holy spirit, then it is necessary for another qualified individual to "lay hands" on the baptized person. Some people may be qualified to counsel a repentant person, and to baptize them, but not qualified to "lay hands" on them, because they are not ministers of YEHOVAH God, but only a "lay person" in YEHOVAH's Ecclesia or another group.
On the other hand, if a true minister of YEHOVAH God, or an apostle or prophet, supervises the baptism of a person, it is evident that such people do NOT always need the laying on of hands -- because YEHOVAH honors the baptismal authority of such individuals. When Cornelius and his household received a fullness of YEHOVAH's spirit, even before they were baptized, Peter had them baptized anyway as a symbol of their repentance and conversion -- but they were not required to have hands laid on them, because they already had the holy spirit.
Therefore, the only reason why baptism itself had not been sufficient when Philip oversaw the baptism of the new believers in Samaria was he had not been an ordained minister of YEHOVAH God at that time. However, there is nothing said, in Acts 2, about the apostles laying on hands on the people they supervised for baptism on that first Pentecost, when 3,000 Israelites were converted. Evidently, only baptism was necessary at that time, since the apostles had monitored the baptism (Acts 2:38). Later, when Philip witnessed the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, there was no need for laying on of hands -- just baptism (Acts 8:38-39).
Similarly, when the Messiah himself was baptized in the presence of the prophet John, the fullness of YEHOVAH's spirit came upon him without the need of "laying on of hands." We read, however, that the Messiah had an abundance of the holy spirit as he was growing up (Luke 2:40). In the example set for us by the Messiah himself, such a thing was not done. Therefore, laying on of hands is NOT necessary in all cases when baptisms are performed. Laying on of hands only becomes necessary when the baptisms are done in an incomplete way or an extra measure of YEHOVAH's spirit is needed for a special purpose.
In Acts 19 we find a good example. When Paul arrived at Ephesus, he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the holy spirit when you believed?" They answered him, "No, we have not even heard that there is a holy spirit." Then Paul replied, "Then what baptism did you receive?" They answered, "John's baptism" (Acts 19:1-3.) Paul explained to them about Yeshua, and "they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the holy spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all" (verses 5-7). These Israelites, while having an earnest of YEHOVAH's spirit from birth, did not understand about YEHOVAH's active power, so they obviously didn't have an abundance of the holy spirit when baptized by John.
Notice that these men had not been baptized into the Messiah. When they were, and Paul laid hands on them, YEHOVAH gave them His spirit so much so that they spoke in tongues, or foreign languages, as the apostles had on Pentecost, and Cornelius' household had at Caesarea.
Is laying on of hands necessary, then, to receive the holy spirit? In most places where baptism is mentioned, in the gospels and the book of Acts, laying on of hands is not even mentioned. Yeshua did not command his disciples to baptize AND LAY HANDS on all repentant Israelites (Matthew 28:19-20), He just said to baptize them. That is all.
In most cases, therefore, when baptism is supervised by a true minister of YEHOVAH God, one whom YEHOVAH is using, the laying on of hands is not always necessary. In such cases, the act of baptism itself is sufficient. The only time this would not be the case would be in special circumstances where a non-minister did the baptizing, or where a new area was being opened up to the gospel, and those with greater spiritual authority were needed to validate the preaching which had been done. In the case of the men at Ephesus, they had not been baptized into the Messiah at all -- they only knew John's baptism. Therefore, they had to baptize themselves again, in the name of the Messiah, and to have Paul's hands placed on them, to receive an abundance of the holy spirit. YEHOVAH God thereby testified that Paul was indeed His servant.
The strongest proof that the "laying on of hands" is not necessary for a new convert in the Messiah when the baptism is supervised by an authorized person, or when the recipient is truly qualified, is, of course, the example of the Messiah himself. The only reason Yeshua was baptized under John was to "fulfill all righteousness" -- that is, to set us an example, showing that we, too, must be baptized! But in the Biblical account of the baptism of Yeshua, we find that after he came up out of the water, the spirit of YEHOVAH God descended upon him like a dove. NO LAYING ON OF HANDS WAS NECESSARY OR REQUIRED! Yet the entire purpose for Yeshua being baptized was to "set us an example," showing us precisely what we needed to do!
How clear, then, that when baptism is properly supervised, by a true servant of YEHOVAH God, with the authority to oversee baptisms and preach, the laying on of hands is not required or necessary.
Baptism 2,000 Years Ago
When Peter preached that first sermon on Pentecost, in 31 A.D., and 3,000 observant Israelite believers in the Torah repented of their sins, and accepted Messiah Yeshua as their Savior, it is interesting to note that this event was at the "Feast of Weeks"-- called "Shavuot," which occurred seven complete weeks and fifty days (running consecutively) after Passover. This was one of the three pilgrimage festivals, and that is why Israelites from around the Roman Empire were found in Jerusalem at this time. Josephus states that hundreds of thousands came to the festivals at these times.
When the spirit of YEHOVAH descended on those who were gathered "in one place," the Israelite pilgrims from throughout the Diaspora heard those local Judeans glorifying YEHOVAH God in various languages (Acts 2). Peter's call to repent and to be baptized would have been familiar to his Judean audience. When he explained this should be "in the name of Jesus Christ," they understood their repentance and purification would be in the context of the ministry and life of Yeshua, as Messiah.
Since 3,000 Israelites heard the message, and repented, and believed, and were baptized that day, where is it likely that such a crowd would have been gathered, to hear Peter? Where in Jerusalem would there have been sufficient water to baptize 3,000 individuals?
It is very likely that this message or discourse was delivered in the court of the Temple, to the East or South. The baptisms would most likely have been performed in the numerous ritual baths, or mikvahs, located near the entrance to the Temple area. These ritual immersion baths served the needs of the thousands of Israelite pilgrims who streamed into Jerusalem at the three major annual festivals -- Passover, Pentecost (Shavuot), and the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall.
It is surely not beyond the realm of possibility that these ritual immersion baths served the needs of the Messianic Community of the Early Ecclesia, especially on those days when thousands of Israelite converts accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. Three thousand were converted and baptized on Pentecost. A few days later, another 5,000 were added: "Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand" (Acts 4:4).
Thirty years later, in about 60 A.D., when Paul returned to Jerusalem on a visit, James and the other apostles at the headquarters church told him, "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews [Israelites] there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law" (Acts 21:20). The word translated "thousands" here is murias from which we get the English word "myriads," and means literally "ten thousands." It means "an innumerable multitude," "an unlimited number." The same word is used in Jude 14 where we read, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints" (Jude 14). These could have numbered between 50,000 and 100,000 or more before the Judean-Roman War of 70 A.D., a short ten years later. The ritual baths near the Temple site would have been a very logical place where many were baptized. Many others may also have been baptized in different pools around Jerusalem, such as the pool of Siloam, and many others in the Jordan River.
Have YOU Been Baptized?
Baptism symbolizes a person's "death and burial" of their human flesh and desires, the "old man," and their rising up out of that watery grave having obtained "new life" and becoming a "new man" in Messiah Yeshua. As Paul wrote, "That ye put off on concerning the former conduct the OLD MAN, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and that ye put on the NEW MAN, which after God is CREATED in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Baptism, then, is a vital and integral part of the Christian Israelite life. It is the beginning of a NEW LIFE -- a life destined to live for all eternity. When those of us of Israel are baptized, having repented of our sins and accepted Messiah Yeshua as our mediator, YEHOVAH God promises to give us more of His own holy spirit (Acts 5:38) -- a part of His very own Being, and Life, within us. From this point on the Messiah and his character is being "FORMED" IN US (Galatians 4:19). And if we grow, and endure, and remain faithful to the end of our lives, then we will inherit ETERNAL LIFE in the Family and Kingdom of YEHOVAH GOD!
Have you been "baptized"? Remember Peter's words:
"REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT" (Acts 2:38).
"REPENT YE THEREFORE, AND BE CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT YE, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).
Have you "repented"? Do you "believe"? Have you accepted the Messiah -- Yeshua -- as your personal savior?
What hinders you from being baptized?
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