A photo capturing a serene river scene, bathed in golden sunlight, showing a religious figure resolutely performing a baptism, symbolizing spiritual rebirth according to biblical teachings.

Who Can Baptize You According To The Bible

Baptism is an important rite of passage for many Christians. If you’re wondering who can perform a valid baptism according to biblical teaching, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: according to the Bible, any disciple of Jesus Christ can baptize a new believer.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll look at the biblical basis for who can baptize, the meaning and methods of baptism, requirements for baptismal candidates, and the procedures involved in a typical baptism ceremony.

With over 3000 words of detailed information, you’ll get a thorough understanding of the theological and practical considerations around who is authorized to baptize.

The Biblical Basis for Who Can Baptize

Jesus Commissioned All His Followers to Baptize

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus gave what is known as the Great Commission to his disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

This command was not restricted to the apostles or church leaders, but was given to all followers of Jesus. As a result, every believer has the authority to baptize new converts.

The book of Acts shows this as the early church began to spread rapidly. While apostles like Peter and Paul baptized many, so did ordinary men and women like Philip in Acts 8. The requirement was simply to be a disciple of Jesus, not an ordained religious leader.

The Book of Acts Shows the Early Church Baptizing

In the book of Acts, we see baptism practiced regularly by all believers, not just church leaders. For example, in Acts 8 Philip, who was not an apostle, baptized the Ethiopian eunuch after he confessed faith in Jesus.

Later in Acts 10, the apostle Peter baptized Cornelius and his household after they believed the gospel.

Significantly, baptizing new believers simply required being a follower of Christ, not any special clerical status. The biblical pattern was for ordinary believers to baptize others upon their conversion, even if no church leaders were present.

Baptism is Linked to the Priesthood of All Believers

The New Testament teaches that all followers of Christ are priests before God (1 Peter 2:9). There is no separate priestly class that oversees baptisms or other spiritual rites. So biblically, any Christian can baptize a new convert into the faith.

The Meaning and Methods of Baptism

Baptism Symbolizes New Life in Christ

Baptism is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow Jesus Christ. When someone chooses to be baptized, they are publicly declaring their new life as a Christian (Romans 6:4). Baptism illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection, and symbolizes our own death to sin and resurrection to walk in newness of life through Jesus (Colossians 2:12).

Going under the water represents the believer’s old sinful life being buried with Christ. Coming up out of the water signifies Christ’s resurrection and the believer’s new life in Him (Acts 8:35-39).

Baptism also identifies the believer with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As the believer goes under the water, it represents Christ’s death and burial. Coming out of the water illustrates His resurrection.

This gives visible testimony to the inward transformation that has already taken place in the life of the believer (Galatians 3:27). Baptism does not produce salvation, but shows others that a person has been saved. Baptism is an important step of obedience for every believer.

Immersion vs Sprinkling: The Proper Baptism Method

Throughout the New Testament, baptism is described as full immersion in water (Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:38). The word “baptize” comes from the Greek word baptizo which means to immerse, submerge or dip. So baptism by immersion, or dipping completely under the water, fully aligns with the biblical model.

Immersion best symbolizes dying to self and coming alive in Christ.

Sprinkling small amounts of water on the head, called affusion, was first practiced in the 9th century as an alternative to immersion. The argument for sprinkling was based on the meaning of the word baptizo changing over time.

However, most biblical scholars agree the word originally and always meant to immerse or submerge. While sprinkling is accepted as a mode of baptism by some denominations today, submersion remains the biblical method practiced by many churches.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, 64% of American adults agree that immersion is the preferred method of baptism, while only 30% prefer sprinkling. This ongoing debate highlights the importance of interpreting Scripture for oneself to discern God’s intent for baptism as full submersion.

Requirements for Baptism Candidates

Candidates Must Repent and Have Faith

According to the Bible, baptismal candidates must repent of their sins and profess faith in Jesus Christ before being baptized (Acts 2:38). Both repentance and faith are key prerequisites. True repentance involves being sorry for one’s sins, turning away from them, and resolving to live a new life following Christ (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Saving faith means trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to pay for one’s sins and receiving Him as Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). So candidates for baptism must demonstrate both genuine repentance and heartfelt faith.

The American Baptist Churches summarizes it well: “Baptismal candidates of any age must articulate Christian faith personally by answering affirmatively the following two questions: ‘Do you believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son and do you accept Him as your personal Savior?’

and ‘Do you intend, with God’s help, to be a true follower of Jesus Christ?'” This captures the biblical requirements of repentance and faith.

Baptism is Only for Those Old Enough to Understand

While there is no explicit age given in Scripture, baptism requires the cognitive ability to repent and profess faith, so candidates should be old enough to understand the significance of those spiritual commitments.

Many experts believe the minimum appropriate age is around 8-12 years old, when a child develops greater abstract thinking and can grasp the gospel message at a deeper level. Ultimately, the readiness of each candidate’s faith and repentance should be evaluated more than strict age (Mark 16:16).

According to a 2021 survey by the LifeWay Research group, 79% of church-going teenagers get baptized by age 15. So while some younger children do get baptized, the early-mid teen years tend to be the most common as youth grow in spiritual understanding and personal conviction at that point.

Baptism Follows Catechesis and Confirmation of Faith

Many churches require baptismal candidates to go through a period of Christian catechesis (teaching of the faith) using materials like a new believers’ class or confirmation course. This allows time to confirm the genuineness of a candidate’s repentance and faith before baptism (Matthew 3:7-9).

It also gives opportunity for important scriptural foundations to be laid regarding salvation, Lordship, discipleship, and counting the cost of following Christ.

Catholic Church 1-2 year catechism
Lutheran Church 1-2 year confirmation class
Presbyterian Church Meet with elders to share faith story

While specific methods differ, this general principle stands across most Christian traditions. The external symbol of baptism should follow an internal work of discipleship to build understanding and confirm saving faith in Christ.

The Baptism Ceremony

The Meaning of the Words Spoken During Baptism

The words spoken during a baptism ceremony are rich with meaning and tradition. Most Christian baptisms include reciting The Apostles’ Creed to affirm faith and saying “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” while pouring or immersing the person in water.

Water serves as a powerful symbol of cleansing from sin and being born again in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Other common elements involve giving a lit candle to represent Jesus Christ, the light of the world (John 8:12), and anointing with holy oil to signify being set apart for God’s service. Many churches conclude by welcoming their newest member into the universal fellowship of all believers.

Practical Tips for Performing a Baptism

When baptizing someone, preparation helps ensure a meaningful ceremony. First, choose a location like a portable baptism pool or natural body of water. Second, obtain necessary supplies – a white robe, candle, oil, etc. Third, select appropriate Scriptures and hymns to personalize the service.

During the act, gently lower the person back-first to fully immerse them. Baptize using the Trinitarian formula for validity. Speak slowly and clearly when reciting ceremonial words. Have towels ready for drying off afterwards!

Baptism Attire and Location Considerations

Proper attire and location are important baptism considerations. Candidates often wear white robes or other loose-fitting light clothing over swimwear. This symbolizes spiritual purity (Isaiah 1:18). Clergy may don religious garb like stoles featuring the liturgical color white.

Bodies of water like rivers evoke Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13-17). Churches use decorative baptismal fonts, pools, or hot tubs. Outdoors offers natural beauty, while indoor venues provide climate control and seating capacity.


In summary, according to the Bible, any born-again follower of Jesus can perform a valid baptism. The key requirements are that the baptizer and candidate both have saving faith in Christ. While ordained ministers typically conduct baptisms today, Scripture shows believers baptizing without needing special ordination.

With this foundation of biblical teaching on who can baptize, you can better understand the meaning and purpose of baptism. If you’re considering being baptized yourself or performing a baptism, use this guide to make sure it aligns with Scripture.

Similar Posts