P.: Not at all! There is no indication in Scripture that John – or any other baptizer – ever submersed anyone. In fact, there is far more indication that John the Baptist baptized by sprinkling. You see, the original Greek text does not say that John baptized people in the Jordan at Aenon near Salim because there was deep water or much water there, but “because there were many waters – hudata polla (plural) – there.” It should also be noted that the Hebrew ‘Aenon (‘ayn n) literally means ‘pure fountains or ‘springs – which rather precludes the possibility of submersion.
Nor do the prepositions used in expressions such as “in the Jordan” and “out of the water” necessarily imply submer-sion. For these same expressions are used in many Bible passages where the idea of submersion is totally excluded.
Thus, Gods word declares that the Israelites “stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan” after they went “into the Jordan” and before they “came up out of the Jordan” and entered into the promised land.12 And Gods Word also declares that Elijah too passed through the Jordan “on dry ground” but poured out water on the altar representing all the tribes of Israel (together with their infants) — just before all of them, both the penitent adults and their children, were sprinkled from above by the God-sent rain. And John ‘is Elijah!13
B.: Well, you will at least admit that Paul compares baptism to a burial in Romans and Colossians. And ‘burial does imply submersion, doesnt it?
P.: That isnt actually stated in Gods word either! What is stated, however, is: “Don’t you know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death”14 — and: “buried with Him in baptism, in which also you have risen with Him.”15
Now the chief thought here, is: “buried with Him.” Yet we know very well that Christ was not submersed under the earth in His burial, but laid down sideways on a ledge inside a cave or horizontally-excavated sepulchre — after His body had been sprinkled with spices.16
Elsewhere, we read that “as many of you as have been baptized into Christ — have put on Christ.”17 There, baptism is compared to putting on clothes — and even babies wear clothes! This too simply cannot be reconciled with submersion.
However, I dont believe that all these texts are primarily dealing with the mode or manner of baptism at all, but rather with the holy significance or meaning of baptism itself. The thought here is that we who have been baptized, have been incorporated into Christs death and resurrection. So that through Christs death and resurrection we too are to be dead to sin but alive unto God, and henceforth to live for Him alone. Incidentally, the original Greek word translated ‘buried in Romans and Colossians — thapto — doesn’t mean ‘to let downwards into an earthly grave and hence to submerse. It merely means ‘to honour with funeral rites — irrespective of the manner of disposal of the body.
B.: Wait a minute! Here are a few more texts for you. In First Corinthians, we read that the Israelites “were all baptized unto (or into) Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”18 And in the First Epistle of Peter, we are told that baptism is “the like figure” of the waters of the great flood.19
So you see, at the Exodus from Egypt the Israelites were baptized in the Red Sea. And the apostle Peter compared baptism with the great flood. That can only mean one thing: submersion in the Red Sea and in the waters of the flood!