The What and Why of Baptism | 10 Bible Verses About Baptism

Baptism is not what saves you. However, it is significant and God’s Word has much to say about it.  The Bible is clear that it’s through faith alone in Jesus that we are saved, justified, and counted righteous, giving us peace and reconciling us to God. Bible verses about baptism and how we are saved shed light on the what and why of baptism. 

The Bible says this about faith…

  • Romans 3:28 says, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” 
  • Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” 
  • Romans 4:5 says, “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness…”

So then, why be baptized? Here are 10 Bible verses about baptism to help explain….

  1. Acts 2:38-41

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (emphasis added)

In Acts 2, Peter addressed the crowd after the Holy Spirit came. The crowd heard “them speak in his own language” after those filled with the Holy Spirit spoke in other tongues. The crowd wanted to know what was going on. Peter told them that what they witnessed and heard should be familiar to them, as it was spoken about by the prophet Joel. 

Peter didn’t stop there. He continued and explained the resurrected Jesus and His divinity. The crowd was “cut to the heart” and asked, “What shall we do?” They were deeply moved by Peter’s proclamation. 

This is a sign of God moving in the hearts of those who hear the Gospel. God’s Word gives clear direction on how we are to respond when we first receive the good news of salvation: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized.” 

  1. 1 Peter 3:21

“… when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…” (emphasis added)

Peter drew a picture of baptism in this passage. Noah’s salvation from judgment was not because of the water, but there was a connection to the water. Water destroyed the wickedness and disobedience in the days of Noah, and God started afresh, making something new.

Noah and his family had to enter the ark and trust it would protect them. Being enclosed in the ark cut Noah off from the world. Then the floodwaters came, and they were submerged. When they exited, new life was before them. 

Peter points out that it is not the actual water that saves, but rather the “answer of a good conscience toward God,” the completed work of Jesus. 

  1. Colossians 2:11-12

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (emphasis added)

The Christians in Colossae battled many false teachings. One teaching was the necessity to be physically circumcised. Paul wanted to clarify they had been spiritually circumcised, “by putting off… the sins of the flesh.” 

Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14). Paul wanted the Gentile Christians to know their true circumcision, a sign of their covenant, was an inward heart change, and an outward symbol of that heart change is baptism. 

  1. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” (emphasis added)

The Christians in Corinth received words from Paul about meat sacrificed to idols (discussed in the two previous chapters). Paul stressed the dangers of refusing to give up something that got in the way of finishing what God wanted to do through them. He used Israel’s exodus from Egypt to illustrate this point. 

God’s glory (in the form of a cloud and pillar of fire) covered and led Israel through their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They passed through the Red Sea, the water, as they identified with Moses. 

Israel was saved by the blood of the lamb and then passed through the water of the Red Sea. A Christian is saved by the blood of Jesus and then as an outward profession of that inward change,  “passes through the water” of baptism (see Romans 6:3-4).    

  1. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” (emphasis added)

Paul wanted the Body of Believers to know that through the presence of the Holy Spirit in believers, there is unity. He focused on the baptism of the Spirit in this passage. He wanted Christians to be immersed in the Spirit and in Jesus, which brought alignment and unity. 

  1. Acts 22:16

“And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (emphasis added)

Paul gave a defense in Jerusalem for his conversion. He described his supernatural experience on the road to Damascus. He wanted the Jews to know he hadn’t rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He wanted them to see how accepting Jesus Christ was accepting the God of their fathers. 

Paul also wanted them to know his response to his acceptance of Christ: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”

  1. Acts 11:16

“’Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’” (emphasis added) 

The Holy Spirit fell on Peter, and he “remembered the word of the Lord.” He remembered the same promised gift he received from God (the Holy Spirit) was also available to Gentiles. Because of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, many glorified God and repented. 

  1. Galatians 3:27-29

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Paul uses the picture of baptism to show what it means to have faith in Christ. Christians aren’t baptized into water, but instead, into Christ. When a person puts their faith in Jesus, they are immersed into Him. God wants us to be fully covered in Christ. 

  1. Ephesians 4:1-6

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (emphasis added)

There is to be unity of the Spirit because of who unified the Body of Believers. Christians share one body, Spirit, hope, calling, Lord, faith, baptism, and Father. These foundational truths are far greater than any difference. 

Regarding one baptism, Paul clarified that there aren’t separate baptisms for Jews and Gentiles, they are both reconciled to God in one body through the cross (Ephesians 2:16). 

  1. Matthew 28:19-20

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (emphasis added)

Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples and baptize them. As mentioned in Colossians 2:11-12 (see above), circumcision was a “putting off of the sins of the flesh.” Baptism was to be an outward sign of the covenant a Christian made with God. Jesus didn’t want the nations (Gentiles) to get caught up with rule-following and miss the freedom in Christ. Rather, He simply wanted them to be immersed in the name of God. In other words, He wanted to welcome them into the family of God. 

The Takeaway About Baptism

Baptism is…

  • A response to receiving the Gospel and making Christ your Lord and Savior
  • A reminder of the unity you have with other Christians
  • A picture of being immersed in Christ, fully covered in Him
  • A way to glorify God and tell others about Him
  •  A sign of the covenant you are in with Jesus

Baptism is not what saves, but it is a beautiful picture of how you are made new in Christ, born again of the Spirit, and have passed from death to life.