Who can baptize people?

by Matt Slick

There is nothing in the Bible that states who can or cannot perform baptisms. But, generally speaking, it is the accepted manner to have clergy do them. One of the reasons is because the elders are the ones who are in charge in the church. They're the ones who rule and teach (1 Timothy 5:17). So it generally falls to them to perform baptisms and marriages since they are the ones who hold the teaching and disciplinary authority in the churches. So by proxy, they also perform baptisms.

But, as I stated at the beginning of this article, there's nothing in the Scripture that states that they alone can baptize. So, then we could conclude that a Christian father can baptize his son or daughter. Likewise, a Christian mother can baptize her son or daughter.

My concern is that we don't let tradition replace Scripture. Since I am so dedicated to the word of God and believe that we must trust what it teaches us and not go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6), then in my opinion, since nothing in Scripture says only elders can baptize, I conclude any Christian can baptize any other Christian.

Baptisms done by non-Christians

Let's say there's a Mormon who baptizes someone in his church in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Jesus commanded. Is that baptism valid? No, it is not because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) teach a false god, a false christ, and a false gospel. Therefore, their baptism has not a true baptism because it is done in the name of their false trinity, i.e., three separate gods according to Mormonism. In this case, their view of Jesus is that he is literally the physical offspring of God and his goddess wife who both came from another planet. Therefore, this so-called Jesus of Mormonism is not the true Christ and therefore their baptism is not a true baptism.

Atheist Pastor Baptism

Believe it or not, there are pastors of churches who are atheists.  They have become atheists over the course of their ministerial duties through the years but do not let it be known that they are atheist lest they lose their job.  Now, if such an atheist pastor were to baptize someone, is the baptism valid?  Yes it is. The reason it is valid is not because of the one who is doing it, but because of the authority in the person and work of Christ, not the pastor. After all, a proper baptism is done "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," as is referenced by Jesus in Matt. 28:19.  And, though the pastor in this situation might be an atheist he is performing the ceremony in a Christian context that affirms the true doctrine of the Trinity.


So I believe that since the Scriptures do not anywhere state who can and cannot perform baptisms, and since the Christian has the authority to be called a child of God (John 1:13), and since we are a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6), then I conclude that it is possible for anyone to perform a baptism. But would also like to add that we should not disregard the validity of the office of elder and its authority in the congregation there was baptism can obviously be administered.



About The Author

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