Are there Six Baptisms or just One?


A.        For at least 150 years there has been much controversy and confusion concerning the subject of baptism.

1.    It behooves us to carefully examine the scripture concerning this subject.

 1 Thess. 5:21, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

2.    The term “baptism is not found in the Old Testament; therefore, we must turn to the New Testament to learn what the Bible teaches about it.

3.    Actually, the inspired Word discusses six different baptisms.  Therefore, it is essential that we distinguish each of these baptisms and its respected purpose.

B.        Since God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), how do we harmonize the scripture when the Apostle Paul declared that there is only one baptism (Eph. 4:5)?

1.    There is not any contradiction in this matter in that of the six baptisms, four have served their purpose; a fifth baptism will not take place until the end of time.  Thus, there is only one baptism that is in effect at this time.

I.                    THE BAPTISM UNTO MOSES.

1 Cor. 10:1-2, “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all of our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;”

A.        This was a one time historical event (Ex. 14:5-30).

1.      Although the baptism unto Moses has already taken place, we can learn some valuable truths in relation to it.

1 Cor. 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples.”

                                    a. “By way of example” (RV).

                                    b.  By way of figure” (Footnote of RV).

                            2.   “Baptized unto Moses” (Verse 2).

                                       a. Those baptized unto Moses became subject to the covenant in    which he was the mediator.

                           3.     We are to be “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

B.        The baptism unto Moses was only typical.  Therefore, it cannot be the baptism of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16).

II.                 THE BAPTISM OF JOHN.

Matt. 3:1-2, 5-6, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”

A.        As the harbinger of the Son of God, John the Baptist prepared the way for our Lord.

Luke 1:76, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest:  for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;”

1.      In preparing the people for our Lord and Savior, John the Baptist declared unto the people:  “…Repent ye:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2).

B.        John’s baptism differed from that of the Great Commission.

1.      Those baptized by John had to believe on Him that was to come (Acts 19:4); but those baptized in the Christian dispensation confess their faith in Jesus as being the Christ that has already come (Acts 8:36-38).

2.      After Christ gave the Great Commission, those baptized were baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19); but it was not specified as to John baptizing in a name.

3.      John’s baptism was for Jews only, but not so with the baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16).

C.        The baptism of John the Baptist is not in force today.

Acts 19:1-5, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coast came to Ephesus:  and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?  And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?  And they said, Unto John’s baptism.  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

1.      This passage reveals that John the Baptist’s baptism is no longer to be administered.

2.      However, while it remained in effect, those who refused to submit unto it were rejecting the counsel of God (Luke 7:30).


Matt. 20:20-23, “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.  And he said unto her, What wilt thou?  She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.  But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask.  Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?  They say unto him, We are able.  And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

A.        Christ referred to the suffering in which He was to experience as a baptism.

B.    Baptism meant “to dip, to plunge, to bury, to immerse.

                  1.    The baptism of suffering is an immersion or overcoming.

Heb. 5:8-9, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the thing which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”

B.        Although the suffering and death of the Son of God was a one-time event, we may experience suffering as a Christian.

1 Pet. 4:16, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

Rev. 2:10, “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

IV.               THE BAPTISM OF FIRE.

Matt. 3:7-12, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father:  for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.  And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees:  therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance:  but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear:  he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:  Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

A.        John the Baptist was speaking to an audience made up of both disciples and impenitent sinners.

1.      Among those present on that occasion, some would become apostles and would receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

2.      While others such as the Pharisees and Sadducees would reject the Messiah, and therefore be baptized with fire.

B.        What is the baptism of fire?

1.      It did not happen on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

a.       Note that these tongues were not flames of fire, but rather had the appearance of being “like as of fire.”

2.      The baptism of fire is the final abode of the wicked, “hell fire” (Matt. 5:22).

3.      It is to be cast “into everlasting fire” (Matt. 25:41).

4.      It is to be cast “into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Rev. 20:10; 21:8).

C.        The baptism of fire is yet future; it has to do with being eternally condemned in a furnace of fire.

Matt. 13:41-42, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire:  there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”


A.        To whom did Christ promise the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  Answer:  the apostles whom He prepared for the apostleship.

John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him:  but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”

John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:  for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:  and he will show you things to come.”

B.        God had promised, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” (Joel 2:28).  In referring to the human race, Biblically, there are only two kinds of flesh—Jew and Gentile.

1.      The power of the Holy Spirit was poured upon the Jews (in the persons of the apostles) on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ.  This was also the day in which the Lord’s church was established.

Acts 2:1-4, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” 

2.      The power of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Gentiles in the household of Cornelius.  These were the first Gentiles converted to Christianity who had not already been proselytes of the Mosaic Law.

a.       Male proselytes had been circumcised; the males of the household of Cornelius were not circumcised (Acts 11:1-3).

Acts 10:44-48, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.  Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.  Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”

Acts 11:15-16, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.  Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” 

C.        There is only one baptism today, and it is not the Holy Spirit baptism.

1.      On Pentecost the Apostle Peter witnessed two baptisms; the Holy Spirit baptism upon the apostles and water baptism of the 3000 converts (Acts 2:1-4).

Acts 2:41, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized:  and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

2.      In A. D. 44 Peter witnessed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the household of Cornelius, and their baptism in water (Acts 10:44-48).

a.       There is no indication that the household of Cornelius had the equivalent power of the apostles.  The only supernatural power in which they exercised was the speaking in tongues.

b.      The direct outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the household of Cornelius served the one purpose of causing Jewish Christians to realize that God accepted Jew and Gentile alike.

3.      However, in A. D. 64 the Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration that there is “one baptism” (Eph. 4:5).

a.       When Paul wrote that there was one baptism, the Holy Spirit baptism had served its purpose and had passed away.


(Thus far we have studied five different baptisms.  Those five baptisms are:  (1) the baptism unto Moses, (2) the baptism of John, (3) the baptism of suffering, (4) the baptism of fire, and (5) the baptism of the Holy Ghost.  None of these are the baptism in which we are to submit unto today.)

A.        The baptism of the Great Commission is to last until the end of the age (which will be the end of time).

Matt. 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

B.        In carrying out the Great Commission, the apostles and the church of the first century administered water baptism to penitent believers.

Acts 8:36-38, “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water:  and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest, And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still:  and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.”

C.        What is the mode of the one baptism?  It is immersion!

Rom. 6:3-4, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  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.” 

Col. 2:12, “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 

D.        Who should be baptized for the remission of sins?

1.      Answer:  All in whom the Lord holds spiritually accountable.  Infants and small children have not reached the mental state of accountability.

Matt. 18:1-4, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

E.         When does a person become a candidate to be baptized?

1.      One who hears the gospel learns what they must do to be saved.

Acts 18:8, “And Cripus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

Matt. 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;”

2.      Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and realize the essentiality of obeying His gospel.

Mark 16:15-16, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

3.      Those who repent of their sins.

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

4.      Those who confess their faith in Jesus Christ.

Acts 8:37, “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

F.         Why be baptized?

1.      Because Christ commanded it!  (Matt. 28:19; John 14:15).

Rev. 22:14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

2.      Because baptism puts us into Christ (spiritual union with the Son of God).

Gal. 3:27, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

2 Tim. 2:10, “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

Conclusion:   Since four of the baptisms have served their purpose and have passed away, and a fifth baptism is to be administered at the end of time, that leaves the one baptism of the Great Commission.  All souls who are accountable are subject to this one baptism in water for the remission of sins.                                                   

–Dub Mowery