This isn't a topic of how to baptize by water. Instead, it is a topic of...
Is water baptism "for today"? I've read some stuff about water baptism, and how Christians now are not subject to it. Here is the line of reasoning. (Note: I'm not necessarily saying I am agreeing with all of these arguments, I am simply presenting them for the sake of discussion and consideration.)
- In Matthew 3.11, Mark 1.8, Luke 3.16, and John 1.26-27,33, John the Baptist says, "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
John is specifically contrasting water baptism with Holy Spirit baptism. John is specifically showing that he was a water baptizer, while Christ would, in contrast, be a Holy Spirit baptizer.
- In John 1.31-33, John the Baptist makes it a specific point that he was sent to baptize "with water" for the express purpose "that [Christ] might be revealed to Israel".
- Acts 1.5 again contrasts John's "bapti[sm] with water" to Christ's "bapti[sm] with the Holy Spirit", which by context, was the outpouring of the Spirit in Acts 2.
- In Acts 2.38, "And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'"
Water is not explicitly mentioned here; it is something people infer. On the other hand, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is specifically mentioned.
- In Acts 8, the baptism of the Samaritans, and particularly the Ethiopian eunuch,were allegedly "proselyte baptisms" (a Jewish practice that had arisen by the time, though I don't think it originated in the OT); this is based on the idea that the Ethiopian, who was a "God-fearer" (a non-Jew who followed the true God without entirely "converting" to Judaism), requested it, rather than Philip requiring it, and likewise with the Samaritans, who were not Jewish.
- In Act 10:47, Peter says, "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" But in Acts 11, Peter describes the events, "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"
Here, again, Peter recalls Christ's words, and explicitly contrasts the water baptism as performed by John with Holy Spirit baptism as established by Christ.
- Ephesians 4.5 says there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism".
If people are supposed to be baptized in both the Holy Spirit and water, shouldn't Paul instead say there are "two baptisms"? But he doesn't. He distinctly says there is "one baptism".
I think the consistent contrast between John's mode of baptism, that of water, and Christ's mode of baptism, that of the Holy Spirit (), as well as the addition of Ephesians 4.5 (there is "one baptism", not "two baptisms") provide strong points for a "water baptism is not for today" argument, but my specific concerns regarding the points above are these:
Many people (and Simon the magician) are baptized, but after this baptism, Peter and John go to them to "pray for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit". This would mean one of two things: either baptism in the Holy Spirit is different than receiving the Holy Spirit (this would seem contradictory to Acts 1.5, which indicates that the apostles' receiving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 is the same thing as baptism of the Holy Spirit), or it means that the people were baptized with water, then they were baptized with the Holy Spirit (which would be the same thing as them "receiv[ing] the Holy Spirit".
So two alternative questions come from this:
1) If this is a series of water baptisms (by Philip), followed by Holy Spirit baptisms (by Peter and John), what in the text indicates that the water baptism is "proselyte baptism", and not the water baptism that John [the baptist] practiced?
2) If this is a series of Holy Spirit baptisms (by Philip), followed by a receiving of the Holy Spirit (by Peter and John laying on hands), why does Christ refer to the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit as both being "baptized" with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.5) and "receiving" the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.8). According to Christ, being "baptized" with the Holy Spirit is the same thing as "receiving" the Spirit, so if Acts 8 depicts Holy Spirit baptisms followed by one-by-one receiving of the Holy Spirit (through laying on hands), wouldn't this be a contradiction?
Acts 11.15-16 is cited to show that the baptism of Acts 10 involving Peter and the Gentiles was not a water baptism. Yet, in Acts 10.47, Peter clearly states that water should not be "withheld" from those Gentiles, and in 10.48 Peter "commanded them to be baptized".
If Acts 10 is not water baptism, why did Peter so clearly "command" baptism with water? Acts 10.47 is explicitly making water the context of the baptism Peter "commands" in 10.48.