And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Get up, and go toward the south unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. And he got up and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and stay close to this chariot. And Philip ran up to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, except someone should guide me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this,
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”
And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I ask you, of whom is the prophet speaking? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came to some water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what keeps me from being baptized? And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stop: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and Philip baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more: but he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.
Notice that the Ethiopian Eunuch needed someone to explain to him the scriptures and give him instruction. The Bible simply says Philip “preached to him Jesus”. It does not record his actual words. But the eunuch who understood nothing before Philip taught him, responded by asking to be baptized. This directly implies Philip taught him about baptism and baptism was a part of Philip’s message in “preaching Jesus.” Notice also that both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. And they came up out of the water. Philip did not “sprinkle” him. Philip fully immersed the eunuch in physical water. The word “water” is used four times! This was no “spiritual baptism.” And according to Ephesians 4:5 there is just ONE baptism. The baptism that was practiced on the eunuch and the baptism at Pentecost in Acts 2:38 and all throughout the book of Acts is the same baptism that is in force and is commanded of by God today.
Notice also, that after the eunuch is taught the gospel and hears the message, and he responds by asking to be baptized, Philip tells him he may be baptized IF he believes. Therefore, if a person does not believe, they may not be baptized! This applies to the situation of “infant baptism.” Infants are not qualified candidates for baptism because they do not believe. A valid, scriptural baptism involves the mental participation of the person being baptized. Biblical baptism is not something one person can “put” or foist upon another absent of their mental consent and participation. If infant baptism was valid then we could just shove Osama bin Laden under water, pronouncing some words over him and he would be baptized and be a Christian. No body in their right mind would call that a valid baptism because Osama does not believe and have faith in Jesus Christ, yet that is what the Catholic Church does with infant baptism. Infants do not believe and have no idea what is going on. Baptism without faith in Jesus Christ is meaningless.
For further discussion on the error of infant baptism see this page and see why infants are not in a lost state to begin with.
This page last updated: October 21, 2006