Have you wondered what the meaning of baptism is in different traditions? The Orthodox Study Bible explains the understanding first baptisms up until baptisms today in the Orthodox tradition. Below is an excerpt from this resource!

What is the meaning of baptism?

Simply put, baptism is our death, burial, and resurrection in union with Jesus Christ. It is a rite of passage, given by Christ to the Church as an entrance into the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

Apostle Paul

The apostle Paul describes the promise of God in this “mystery,” as most Orthodox call it, most succinctly when he writes:

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Romans 6:4

To baptize (Gr. baptizo) literally means “to immerse, to put into.” Historically, the Orthodox Church has baptized by triple immersion, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

John the Baptist
John the Baptist

In the Old Testament, baptism was pictured by the passage of God’s people with Moses through the Red Sea (1Co 10:1, 2). John the Baptist, the last prophet of the old covenant, baptized in water for repentance (Mk 1:4; Acts 19:4). Jesus received John’s baptism, thereby transforming the water and baptism itself. In the new covenant, baptism is the means by which we enter the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:5), are joined to Christ (Rom. 6:3), and are granted the remission of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

What results from baptism?

From the start, the Church has understood baptism as:

1. A first and second dying.

Our first dying with Christ in baptism was our death with Him on the Cross. In the fourth century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem instructed his new converts,

“You were led by the hand to the holy pool of divine baptism… and each of you was asked if he believed in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And you made that saving confession, you descended into the water and came up again three times. In the very same moment you died and were born.”

St. Cyril of Jerusalem
St. Cyril of Jerusalem
St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The second death of baptism is continual—dying to sin daily as we walk in newness of life. St. Paul writes to the Colossians concerning baptism (Col 2:12) and concludes by saying, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5).

2. The resurrection of righteousness.

This is our life in Christ, our new birth and entrance into God’s Kingdom (Jn 3:3), our “newness of life” (Rom 6:4). It is our being joined to Christ in His glorified humanity and indwelt by God Himself (Jn 14:23). Our relationship with God is not something static, a legal fiction given to us by a Divine Judge. Rather, this is a dynamic and real life in Christ, holding the promise of everlasting life. Our resurrection to new life now forms a prelude to the resurrection of our body at Christ’s second coming.

3. An intimate and continual communion with God.

We are raised to new life for a purpose: union and communion with God. In this sense, baptism is the beginning of eternal life. For this reason, Peter writes that baptism now saves us (1Pt 3:21)—it is not the mere removal of dirt from our bodies, but provides us with “a good conscience toward God.”

Because of these promises, the priest prays for the newly baptized, thanking God, “who have given us, unworthy though we be, blessed purification through holy water, and divine sanctification through life-giving chrismation, and who now also have been pleased to bring new life to Your servant newly illuminated by water and the Spirit, and granted remission of sins—voluntary and involuntary.”


This article on the meaning of baptism is excerpted from a study article in the Orthodox Study Bible.

Orthodox Study Bible

The Orthodox Study Bible

Orthodox Christianity is the face of ancient Christianity to the modern world. Also, it embraces the second largest body of Christians in the world. In this first-of-its-kind study Bible, the Bible is presented with commentary from the ancient Christian perspective. So, it speaks to those Christians who seek a deeper experience of the roots of their faith.

Features Include:

  • Old Testament newly translated from the Greek text of the Septuagint, including the Deuterocanon
  • New Testament from the New King James Version
  • Commentary drawn from the early Church Christians
  • Easy-to-Locate liturgical readings
  • Book Introductions and Outlines
  • Subject Index
  • Full-color Icons

13 Comments

    • Matthew Ray Reply

      Well, Gary: I read you opinion piece. You’re entitled to your opinions. I get it.
      You should flesh it out a li’l w/verses that pertain if you really want to entertain the frank discussion on the subject.
      It seems like it’s really just something you wanted to get off your chest. Like a pent up frustration.
      I get it. You’re not alone. I’m sure you’ve heard similar opinions that have fueled your fire.
      Your write up would do better quoting those.
      If you want to change Xians perspective, you have to meet them where they live. You’re talking challenging the Bible, so get at it.
      P.S. I’m not sure how the question of The Resurrection pertains to baptism(s), but, I understand that you want to address forums w/your POV.

      If we take your above statement, piece by piece:

      -The 1st topic is “Why did Jesus get baptized” Was is for the forgiveness of sins, or was it for anything else? According to the mindset behind your blog, I’m surprised you didn’t ask, “Did the baptism of Jesus ever really occur?”

      [Mat 3:15 NIV] 15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
      So, “forgiveness of sins”, wasn’t an issue. Clearly John was embarrassed, as he knew his cousin well enough to know that that wasn’t an issue. [Mat 3:14 NIV] 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

      -Then you mentioned that Jesus never claimed to be God. Except He did. Several times, several different ways, even in a court where announcing Godhood would be considered blasphemous, condemning himself to death.
      Here’s an example: [Jhn 10:30 NIV] 30 I and the Father are one.”

      -Lastly, you ask how historically reliable are the Gospels (I’m assuming you mean, the first four books of the New Testament, or “The Gospel of The Christ”. ) This is pretty amazing when you take into account, the amount of work that went into one of the greatest work of antiquity that history has ever known. People have died for those accounts, went to jail & no other story in history has had such a greater effect on more people than the telling of the life of Jesus from Nazareth.
      Compare those works to anything, in any quality of value, just on the physical, tangible value or accuracy and delivery of the story, and by far, no other works comes close. Not the Quran, not any of the history books, or mythological stories that has been passed on for centuries, save the Tanakh, which has been painfully protected more than any other book in existence.

  1. Jesus was baptized for the forgiveness of our sins (including yours) so that all righteousness might be fulfilled This is the rightousness that is imputed to you upon your acceptance of Him.

    • Dennis Koch Reply

      The article on baptism was theologically dreadful. If you baptize an unrepentant sinner you get a wet sinner. If you baptize an infant you get a wet baby. Baptism is an outward sign of an inner change, following your decision to give your life to Christ.

      • Matthew Ray Reply

        On the head Dennis. This article might be pandering to a sponsor for this site or something, cuz’ I can’t believe that there’s people who still adhere to such methodology anymore. This is Dark Ages stuff right here.

  2. Eric Coloney Reply

    Well, if this is all correct, one needs only to be baptized by another man to be saved. In other words, it’s what another man does that saves. So, a sinner doesn’t need FAITH nor does he need to BELIEVE in order to be saved…

    How many did Christ Jesus baptize (and thus save) while he was here? Me thinks rounded up that is zero.

    • You know what Ephesians 2:8 says (regarding necessary faith) and Acts 16:31 (regarding necessary belief), right?

  3. Baptism is our simple act of obedience. Our God and Master submitted Himself to be immersed prior to His earthly ministry. As if that wasn’t enough to lead us by example, He commanded and commissioned His disciples to make disciples of all nations by baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and to teach all the things that He had commanded them. Baptism is not salvation, but a sign that we understand our relationship with Jesus. What follows baptism is a life surrendered to Jesus and His teaching, and His cross.

  4. Wilson Camargo Reply

    In my believe baptism should be doing by of the immersion, first: in the Name of Jesus Christ (Acts apostles) and then in the Name of Father and the Son and holy Spirit, amen. And, it’s very important, only of the ministry who works volunteering, only per reason of love Him ( without looking at salary) to the Lord Jesus Christ who has real authority from Lord Jesus to baptism in the Name of Father and Son and holy Spirit another cristians . Or be, the ministry should have belong to the sound (sane) doutrin. Sorry my inglish my native language is Portuguese, the peace of God beloved brother

  5. Daniel Veler Reply

    There are three baptisms mentioned in the scriptures. One was water, one is the Holy Spirit and the other is Fire. A person must come to understand that salvation is a gift that requires faith and not works. If works were to come into play than salvation would no longer be a gift.
    The purpose water baptism was to show Israel that once they repented they would be cleansed from their sin and John used water showing this. Water baptism was also fulfilling God’s word.
    John the Baptist was sent to prepare the people of Israel to receive our Savior. Israel had always required a sign in order to understand. As it is written:
    1Co 1:22
    “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:”
    Even Barnabas wrote about water baptism as being Israel.
    Barnabas 11:1
    “But let us enquire whether the Lord took care to signify before hand concerning the water and the cross. Now concerning the water it is written in reference to Israel, how that they would not receive the baptism which bringeth remission of sins,”
    Israel received the sign of baptism and it was water but it was not intended to bring about the remission of their sin. It was designed to show them what would take place with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Listen to what John tells the Israelites, when questioned, about his baptism.
    Matthew 3:11
    “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.”
    John was telling Israel that they would have to receive the baptism that would come through our Saviour.
    So water was a sign to Israel representing a sign of the one to come.
    So then, why did our Saviour go to John to be baptized? What was the purpose? People argue that because our Saviour was baptized with water, we are obligated to do the same. But obligated by who? If this was so we make water baptism part of the righteousness process. This would make a fleshly work part of our salvation. The water baptism was a fulfillment of the word of our Father concerning our Saviour.
    Listen to what John said.
    John 1:33
    “And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.”
    John acknowledges that the Father sent him to prepare Israel for our Saviour.
    He also acknowledges that he didn’t know our Saviour but our Father gave him a sign in order for him to know the Savour. When he would baptize Christ, he would know his ministry was over. Fulfilling our Father’s word, which he had spoken to John. And as our Savour said with John was the last prophet. The prophecies were complete. Other words everything spoken by our Father was complete. There would be no new prophecies given after John. Does this mean we no longer need to search the scriptures? That all prophecies have been fulfilled? God forbid. Because there are prophecies still to be fulfilled. When prophecies are said to end with John it meant that everything has been said and there would be no knew prophecies. So these men who say they have received knew prophecies from the Father are lying.
    If John had refused to baptize our Saviour then our Father’s word would not have been fulfilled. When John told our Saviour that he had need of his baptism, our Saviour responded with “let all righteousness be fulfilled”, meaning let the Father’s word be fulfilled. It was through this event the Holy Spirit would be given by the Father to His Son.
    Mat 3:13
    “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
    In the Jewish New Testament, it is written as:
    John 3:13
    “Then Yeshua came from the Galil to the Yarden to be immersed by Yochanan. But Yochanan tried to stop him. “You are coming to me? I ought to be immersed by you!” However, Yeshua answered him, “Let it be this way now, because we should do everything righteousness requires.” Then Yochanan let him. As soon as Yeshua had been immersed, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, he saw the Spirit of God coming down upon him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him.”
    Peter confirms the baptism that would come from our Saviour:
    Act 1:5
    “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
    The Baptism of John ended with our Saviour and the baptism of the Holy Spirit was to take the place of water. The water was a sign to Israel and to fulfill the word of our Father.
    Paul says the following:
    1Co 1:14
    “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel:”
    Ask yourself this question. If Paul said “I thank the FATHER that I baptized none other”, why would Paul make such a statement? Why would he not at this time instruct us to continue to baptize with water? Why is it written that there is but one baptism?
    Eph 4:5
    “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,”
    Son, you must let the FATHER speak to you through his Holy Spirit concerning this matter.
    Now Son, let’s look into the baptism of the Holy Spirit and then the Fire. We know that the receiving of the Holy Ghost or Spirit is received when Jesus saves us. He has promised us to give us a comforter.
    Listen to the next verse:
    Ephesians 1:13-14
    “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
    So we understand the Holy Spirit is what we receive when we are saved. The Holy Spirit is the comforter that our Saviour said would come.
    But what about the fire? What was the purpose of the fire? In Corinthians we are told the purpose of the fire.
    1 Corinthians 3:13-15
    “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
    Do you see the purpose of the Fire? It is to destroy are bad works.
    This the conclusion: John was sent by the Father to prepare the way of our Savior and that everything has to be fulfilled to complete God’s path to righteousness. Teaching Israel they must repent of their sin and be baptized by our Saviour. He showed Israel a form of baptism that would not take away their sin but taught them of the one that would come. Now if water was essential to our salvation it would require a work on our part, making salvation works plus faith. But as the scripture has declared the just shall live by faith. All righteousness is in our Saviour in order for it to be a gift giving by faith.

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