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WHAT IS BAPTISM

”Baptize" is not an English word. It is a Greek word lifted out of the Greek text and inserted into our English Bibles. Other Greek words were translated into English; that is, their meanings in Greek were transferred into understandable equivalents in the English language. But the word "baptize" was not translated, but transliterated instead. They simply spelled out the Greek word in characters of the English alpha-bet. Therefore, we have baptize in place of baptizo.

If the meaning of the Greek word had been given, it would have been rendered as "immersion, dipping, or submersing." Another Greek word, luou, means "to wash the body;" another, rantizo, means "to sprinkle;" and yet another, cheo, means "to pour." None of these words is used with reference to the ordinance Christ commanded relating to salvation. Even though the Greek words for pour, sprinkle, and wash appear in the Greek New Testament, none is transliterated, all of these are translated.

What explanation can be given for this irregular procedure on the part of the translators of the Bible? A quick review of religious history gives the answer. For many centuries, only immersion was practiced. At first sprinkling was introduced only as a convenience for the terminally ill and even this was met with great opposition by most in the church. It was not until the fourteenth century that the Roman Church authorized sprinkling or pouring as substitutes for the act of immersion. The Greek Orthodox Church, which split from the Roman Church in 1054 A.D., continue to use immersion. Because this newer practice was attended with greater convenience, it came into general acceptance not only in the Roman Church, but also in the Church of England which broke away from Rome in the seventeenth century.

It was during this time that an English translation of the Bible was authorized by "The most High and Mighty Prince James, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith..." (see the preface in King James Version Bibles.) This version of 1611 A.D. came into common usage of English-speaking people around the world. By this time the majority of religious people were being sprinkled instead of immersed. To have translated the Greek word baptizo would have been extremely offensive to the dignitaries of both church and state, the Church of England being the official state church. Thus, the true and undisputed meaning of the word baptizo was obscured by transliteration.

The practice of pouring and sprinkling as a substitute for immersion has continued in the religious world; financial pressures lead translators and publishers of the Bible to follow the path of transliteration begun by the King James Version. Publishers of modem speech English translations confess their fear of offending should they translate instead of transliterating this significant command of Christ.

None of the English Versions, new or old, translate baptizo. In fact, one translation started by a southern denomination would not translate the word since it would take their name out of the Bible, even though they practiced immersion.

'Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" —Romans 6:4

•God has made a history of using the insignificant to accomplish the impossible.

•God never asks about our ability or inability—just our availability.