John’s Baptism


Sometimes people wonder whether or not the baptism of John should still be practised today. Some claim that they do practice John’s baptism.

‘While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when1 you believed?’ They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Paul asked, ‘Then what baptism did you receive?’ ‘John’s baptism,’ they replied. Paul said, ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.’ Acts 19:1-6

When Paul came to Ephesus on his third preaching trip, he found some disciples there and asked them whether they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed.

Paul evidently assumed they were already saved. If he had not, he would have asked them to begin with about their relationship with Jesus. Hence, Paul’s question implies he assumed they had been saved but might not have received miraculous powers of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 / Acts 8:12-19.

The men responded that they had never heard of such a thing as the Holy Spirit Acts 19:1-2. This would imply they did not know much about the gospel and specifically they had not heard of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

Since Pentecost, men had been preaching the gospel by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and had confirmed their message by miracles. The fact these men were ignorant of all this raised doubts about whether they heard the true gospel which was being preached since Pentecost, Acts 1:8. Therefore, Paul moved to the very basics and asked about their baptism.

The men then stated that they knew only about the baptism of John. Paul responded by explaining why John’s baptism was insufficient Acts 19:4.

John’s baptism, though it required repentance, yet looked forward to the coming of the One for whom John was a forerunner (Jesus). Jesus had not yet died when John baptized people. His was a baptism of preparation looking forward to Jesus’ death, Matthew 3:3.

This shows that John’s baptism cannot be the baptism which Jesus commanded people to receive under the Gospel, Mark 16:15-16 / Matthew 28:18-20.

The baptism of the Gospel looks backwards to Jesus’ death and resurrection as accomplished facts. We are baptised into His death, picturing His death, burial, and resurrection, Romans 6:4 / Colossians 2:12.

Clearly, John’s baptism cannot be Scripturally applied to anyone after Jesus’ death.


"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."