How Do We Know Whether Or Not Romans 6:3-4 And Colossians 2:11-12 Are Teaching Baptism In The Holy Spirit Or Water Baptism?
How do we know Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:11-12 refer to water baptism when there is no mention of water? There are several reasons:
First, Paul wrote the epistles of Ephesians and Colossians in prison. These letters share a lot of the same themes and material. Paul wrote the book of Ephesians from the perspective of Christ's glorious body, the church, which was His eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:9-11). Paul wrote the book of Colossians from the perspective of Christ as the glorious Head of the church (Colossians 1:18; 2:10,19). In supporting the Holy Spirit’s platform of unity, Paul wrote in Ephesians that there is one baptism shared by all who become Christians (Ephesians 4:4). He further writes about the marital relationship between Christ and the church. Concerning the church in Ephesians 5:26, Paul states “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” There is no doubt that this is an allusion to water baptism. Furthermore, Ephesians and Colossians are often labeled the twin epistles because they share a lot of the same material. By implication, we can identify the baptism of Colossians 2 as being water baptism because Paul refers to that “one baptism” that is the “washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). This cannot be a reference to the baptism in the Holy Spirit because not everyone received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. [NOTE: Please consult our question for more information: What Are The Major Differences Between Immersion Into The Holy Spirit And Water Immersion?] Since there is one baptism shared by all Christians, and since it is described as the “washing of water by the word,” and since both Ephesians and Colossians are twin epistles, then it would be the case that Paul is referencing water baptism in Colossians 2:11-12.
Second, consider Paul's statements in Romans 6:3-4: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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.” Notice that by using the personal pronoun “we” Paul is including himself among those who were baptized into Christ. Paul/Saul gives a personal account of his conversion in Acts 22:16; Ananias commands him: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ “Be baptized” is in the imperative mood (as is “wash away your sins”) and was a command given to Saul if he wanted his sins washed away in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5; Hebrews 9:13,14; Colossians 1:14,20). Notice that Paul alludes to this baptism by calling it a “form” (or pattern) of teaching that they had obeyed. A commandment is to be obeyed. Water baptism is a commandment (Acts 10:48). But baptism in the Holy Spirit is not a command, but a promise to be received by only a few (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:5-8).
Since it is the case that Paul is including himself among those who were baptized, and since this baptism was commanded and was the way to wash away Saul’s sins, then it must be the case that Saul was water baptized to benefit from Jesus’ shed blood (Romans 6:3,4), thus being baptized into Jesus’ death (Romans 6:3,4). Therefore, Romans 6:3-4 must be referring to water baptism, not Holy Spirit baptism. The purpose of the immersion in the Holy Spirit was not to save people from their sins. [NOTE: Please consult our question: “Does Immersion In The Holy Spirit Save People From Their Sins?”]
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