The Truth about the Bible » Bible Teachings » Baptism and Repentance

Baptism and Repentance

"He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Mark 16:16


Whenever baptism is mentioned in the Bible it is always by full immersion. There is no reference in the Bible to 'infant sprinkling' or 'head dipping' in a bowl. Acts 8:38 shows this: "and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptised him." If baptism did not require submergence, as the word itself suggests, then it would not have been necessary to go down into the water. Christ himself was baptised by being submerged - "And Jesus, when he was baptised, went up straightway out of the water:" To have come out of the water he must have been in it.

Baptism is also mentioned hand in hand with such necessities as belief, repentance and obedience. Some people teach that baptism is 'optional' and not necessary for salvation. This can hardly be the case as both Jesus and the Apostles commanded baptism for all believers. (Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38, 10:47-48, 16:33, 22:16)

The order is important. Belief must come before baptism (Mark 16:16). In the New Testament we only read about people who believed being baptised. There are no recorded examples of unbelieving people being baptised. It follows, therefore, that babies cannot be 'baptised' in the Biblical sense. You must be capable of making the decision for yourself. Nobody can make it for you.

Even our Lord who was sinless, submitted to baptism Himself, saying, "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Matthew 3:13-15


It can be seen from examples in the Bible that belief in the gospel message (see Gospel) preached by the Apostles was the motivation for true repentant baptism.

  • "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37
  • "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptised, both men and women." Acts 8:12



Repentance is the first step towards pleasing God. The way of salvation is only open to those who have repented for their past and are determined to please God in the future. Repentance is for past false beliefs, (2 Timothy 2:5), and for past sins. (Luke 13:1-5, 24:47)

By being baptised your sins are washed away: "Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16), "Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins," (Acts 2:38).

True repentance means a COMPLETE REVERSE from the direction of our previous life and is styled in Scripture as repentance of a "GODLY MANNER" (2 Corinthians 7:9) or "GODLY SORROW". "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." 2 Corinthians 7:10


The Bible also says that forgiveness of sins is part of the blessing of baptism to all those who would humbly accept this gracious offer from God and His Son. (See Acts 2:38, 22:16)


Baptism is presented in Scripture as a symbol of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. (Colossians 2:12) When we go down into the waters of baptism we are in a symbol enacting Jesus' death and coming out of the water we are symbolising His resurrection.

"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection," (Romans 6:3-6).

You also become heirs to the promises made to Abraham through baptism: "For as many of you as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. ... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise," (Galatians 3:27, 29).


The literal meaning of 'baptism' in the Greek language was: 'TO COVER WITH FLUID' or 'TO STAIN AS WITH A DYE'. The word 'baptism' comes from the Greek and was used to describe the process of dying clothing which naturally required 'full immersion' to be effective.

  • 'baptisma' is the Greek word that is translated 'baptism' in the following references in our English Bibles: (Romans 6:4; Ephesians 4:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 3:7; Acts 1:22; 10:37; 13:24; 18:25; 19:3-4)
  • 'bapto' is the root word for 'baptisma' meaning 'to dip'.
  • 'baptiso' is the Greek word that is translated 'baptise' or 'baptised' in English and originally described the dying of clothing, and the necessity for full immersion: (Acts 1:5; 2:38-41; 8:12-13, 16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47, 48; 16:15; 22:16; Galatians 3:27)