Rebaptism Impossible! [Excerpt] – Acts 19: 1-7


[Excerpt from “Rebaptism Impossible!” (S.T.D.), pp. 32-43:]

Apollos was never rebaptized.  He was mighty in the Scriptures and knew much about the baptism of John — even before his arrival in Ephesus.  We are told he there received further instruction in the Christian way85 — yet without rebaptism!    For we are never told he was ever rebaptized — either there, or elsewhere.   See my other article: ‘The Baptism of John’ and the fiery believer Apollos.

Yet water-washed unitarians still needed Christian baptism!

On the other hand, non-trinitarian washings (whether by immersion or by sprinkling) were never regarded — by the Apostolic Church — as Christian baptisms.  Hence, those previously immersed or sprinkled non-trinitarianly — but then converted to the Triune God — still needed to receive their one-and-only trinitarian baptism. 

Thus, the approximately twelve non-trinitarians who arrived in Ephesus — though previously washed with water by their fellow unitarians — had never even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.   That they learned — only after they first met Paul, when he too subsequently arrived in Ephesus.  Consequently, they then apparently still needed to receive Biblical baptism — for the very first time.

It seems this occurred after Paul had first preached the triune gospel to them.   For only thereafter, apparently, did he give any of them Christian baptism.86

God Himself really does seem to have given us, elsewhere, a vital — and indeed an inspired — comment on this "Ephesian" passage Acts 19:1-5.   As the Holy Spirit, through Paul himself, later declared — and precisely when writing specifically to the Ephesians — there can be but only "one baptism."

This one baptism, is triune baptism.  For there is only "only Father"; "one Lord" Jesus; and "one Spirit." There is only "one God" — the Triune God.  There is only "one body" — the Christian Church.  There is only "one faith" — the trinitarian faith.  Therefore, there is also only "one baptism" — triune baptism.

That triune or 'trinitarian baptism' is administered in the Name of the one and only Triune God.  He, as "Father of all, is above all"; He, as Son, is "through all'; and He, as Holy Spirit, is "in you all" — in all of you who believe.87   The trinitarian rite is thus the only baptism which can validly ingraft into the Christian Church.

Were any heretics ever rebaptized — at Acts 19:1-7?]

This is now the appropriate place to deal at length with the one and only passage of Scripture which some have thought permits, if not requires, the 'rebaptism' of converted heretics.  We refer, of course, to Acts 19:1-7.  At the very outset, we immediately give our own translation of this vital passage.

"Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus.  Then, finding certain disciples, he said to them: 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit, when you believed?'   However, they said to him: 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a holy spirit!'   So Paul said: 'Into what, then, were you baptized?'    And they replied: 'Into John's baptism!'

"Paul then said: 'It is indeed with a baptism of repentance that John really did baptize!  He said to the people that they should trust in the One coming after him' — that is, in [the Spirit-anointed] Christ!'

"Now when they heard this, they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus [Christ]….  Paul laid his hands on them….  All the men were about twelve" in number.

Here, Iooanees men ebaptisen baptisma metanoias clearly means: "John really baptized — with a baptism of repentance!"   For here, ebaptisen baptisma is probably the Greek-language version of a Hebrew infinitive absolute — such as taabool taabal.  It would then mean: "John thoroughly baptized (with repentance)!"   As also stated, there is some evidence (in p38 & D and some other manuscripts) — for the reading: "they were baptized into the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

So here, as the great seventeenth-century German-Swiss Reformed theologian Rev. Prof. Dr. John Wolleb(ius) rightly points out (while closely following the Frenchman John Calvin): "The Papists maintain that certain persons whom John had baptized, were rebaptized (Acts 19:1ff)." However, Wollebius himself then adds: "If they were 'rebaptized' by the apostle — it could only have been because previously they had been improperly 'baptized' by some imitators of John….  It ought not to be concluded from this text that they were ‘re’-baptized!"   Thus the Calvinist Wollebius (Compendium of Christian Theology, XXIII:1:xxi). 

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