Did water baptism stop after John the Baptist?

by Matt Slick

Occasionally there are those who for some unknown reasons will try and maintain that water baptism stopped after John the Baptist. Sometimes it is asserted that the true baptism is Spirit baptism which replaces water baptism. Sometimes Ephesians: four is cited which says there is "one faith, one Lord, one baptism." However, this verse does not negate the fact that in the New Testament there are accounts of water baptism well after the time of John the Baptist. Let's consider the following verses.

  • Acts 8:37,39, "As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him."
  • Acts 10:46-48, " For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 48 And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days."

In Acts 8:37, 39,  the Ethiopian eunuch is traveling and Philip meets him. He had been reading through Isaiah 53 which says...

  •  Isaiah 53:7, "He was led as a sheep to slaughter and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he does not open his mouth."

The context of Isaiah 53 is dealing with the suffering servant but what is interesting is that the final verse of chapter 52 says the following.

  • Isaiah 52:15, "Thus He will sprinkle many nations. Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him. For what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand."

Notice that if the Ethiopian eunuch had been reading the context of Isaiah 53, which has no chapter breaks in the original Hebrew text, then he would've seen the word "sprinkle" used. This could be a reference to Old Testament references such as...

  • Numbers 19:18, "A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the persons who were there, and on the one who touched the bone or the one slain or the one dying naturally or the grave."
  • Ezekiel 36:25, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

In Acts 10: 46-48 is clearly water baptism because it says that people are baptized in water. The context of this verse is where the Holy Spirit had moved upon the Gentiles, and they were speaking in tongues and glorifying God, and then water is to be given to them so they can be baptized. Clearly, water baptism was being practiced after the death of John the Baptist and the ascension of Jesus. So, we conclude that water baptism did not stop after John the Baptist.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.