The Undeniable Facts—the History of Baptism
Historical Records and Writings of Early Christians
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The following are quotes that give us a clear look at exactly what the doctrine of baptism was from the earliest writings. Although these writings are not scripture (and therefore not inspired), they do nevertheless, clearly demonstrate that baptism was and is for the purpose of salvation and the remission of sins and has been around from the very beginning of Christianity. It is not a new teaching. Anyone who does not understand that the first Christians clearly taught and believed baptism was always an essential part of God’s plan of salvation, has not done their homework. To state that baptism was never required for salvation is to be blindingly ignorant of the facts and testimonies of Christians from the earliest times. To the contrary of modern critics, who claim the doctrine of baptism for the forgiveness of sins is outside the realm of traditional Christianity, it can be clearly proven that it is not baptism for the remission of sins that is outside the doctrines of traditional Christianity, but their false teaching that baptism is not a required component of God’s salvation plan that lies outside historical Christian doctrine!
110-165 AD Martyr "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, 'Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers' wombs, is manifest to all... And for this we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe." (Justin Martyr, "First Apology," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 183)
110-165 AD Martyr The "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles" also refer to John 3:5. There, the one who refuses to be baptized is to be condemned as an unbeliever, partially on the basis of what Jesus told Nicodemus…. "He that, out of contempt, will not be baptized, shall be condemned as an unbeliever, and shall be reproached as ungrateful and foolish. For the Lord says: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And again: 'He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned.'" (Justin Martyr "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, pg. 456-457.)
110-165AD Martyr "there is no other way [to obtain God's promises] than this-to become acquainted with Christ, to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins, and for the remainder, to live sinless lives." (Justin Martyr, Trypho chap. 44)
110-165AD Martyr "Those who are convinced that what we teach is true and who desire to live accordingly are instructed to fast and to pray to God for the remission of all their past sins. We also pray and fast with them. Then we bring them to a place where there is water, and they are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were regenerated. They then receive the washing with water in the name of God (the Father and Lord of the universe) and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, 'Unless you are born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven"' [John 3:5]. (Justin First Apology chant 61)
115-188 THEOPHILUS "On the fifth day the living creatures which proceed from the waters were produced, through which also is revealed the manifold wisdom of God in these things; for who could count their multitude and various kinds? Moreover, the things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also might be a sign of men's being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and laver of regeneration, as many as come to the truth, and are born again, and receive blessing from God." (Theophilus, "To Autolycus,", Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, pg. 101)
115AD Second Clement "For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find
rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment,
if we should disobey His commandments. . . . [W]ith what confidence shall we,
if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the
120-205 AD IRENAEUS "As we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord. We are thus spiritually regenerated as newborn infants, even as the Lord has declared: 'Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'" Irenaeus, "Fragments From Lost Writings", no. 34, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 574)
120-205 AD IRENAEUS "This class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole faith." (Against Heresies, bk. 1, chap. 21, sec. 1, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, pg. 345.)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "After the world had been hereupon set in order through its elements, when inhabitants were given it, 'the waters' were the first to receive the precept 'to bring forth living creatures.' Water was the first to produce that which had life, that it might be no wonder in baptism if waters know how to give life." (Tertullian, "On Baptism," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, page 670)
140-230 AD Tertullian "Baptism itself is a corporal act by which we are plunged into the water, while its effect is spiritual, in that we are freed from our sins" (Baptism 7:2).
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "But they roll back an objection from that apostle himself, in that he said, 'For Christ sent me not to baptize;' as if by this argument baptism were done away! For if so, why did he baptize Gaius, and Crispus, and the house of Stephanas? However, even if Christ had not sent him to baptize, yet He had given other apostles the precept to baptize. But these words were written to the Corinthians in regard of the circumstances of that particular time; seeing that schisms and dissensions were agitated among them, while one attributes everything to Paul, another to Apollos. For which reason the 'peacemaking' apostle, for fear he should seem to claim all gifts for himself, says that he had been sent 'not to baptize, but to preach.' For preaching is the prior thing, baptizing the posterior. Therefore the preaching came first: but I think baptizing withal was lawful to him to whom preaching was." (Tertullian, "On Baptism," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 676)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! A treatise on this matter will not be superfluous; instructing not only such as are just becoming formed in the faith... The consequence is, that a viper of the Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. Which is quite in accordance with nature; for vipers and asps and serpents themselves generally do affect arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our ikhthus, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water; so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water!" (On Baptism, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 669.)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "How mighty is the grace of water, in the sight of God and His Christ, for the confirmation of baptism! Never is Christ without water: if, that is, He is Himself baptized in water; inaugurates in water the first rudimentary displays of his power, when invited to the wedding; invites the thirsty, when He makes a discourse, to Himself being living water; approves, when teaching concerning love, among works of charity, the cup of water offered to a poor child; recruits His strength at a well; walks over the water; willingly crosses the sea; ministers water to his disciples. Onward even to the passion does the witness of baptism last: while He is being surrendered to the cross, water intervenes; witness Pilate's hands: when He is wounded, forth from His side bursts water; witness the soldier's lance!... True and stable faith is baptized with water, unto salvation; pretended and weak faith is baptized with fire, unto judgment." (Tertullian, "On Baptism," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 673, 674)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "The prescript is laid down that 'without baptism, salvation is attainable by none' chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says, 'Unless one be born of water, he hath not life.'" (On Baptism, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, pg. 674-675)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN "What more disgraceful than immodesties? If, moreover, even from a 'brother' who 'walketh idly' he warns the Thessalonians to withdraw themselves, how much more withal from a fornicator! For these are the deliberate judgments of Christ, 'loving the Church,' who 'hath delivered Himself up for her, that He may sanctify her (purifying her utterly by the laver of water) in the word, that He may present the Church to Himself glorious, not having stain or wrinkle' - of course after the laver - 'but that she may be holy and without reproach; thereafter, to wit, being 'without wrinkle' as a virgin, 'without stain' (of fornication) as a spouse, 'without disgrace' (of vileness), as having been 'utterly purified.'" (Tertullian, "On Modesty," 217 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, pg. 94)
140-230 AD TERTULLIAN This is in agreement to the context of the words of John the Baptist when he prophesied of the baptism of fire. Referring to Jesus, John said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (comment on Matthew 3:11-12).
150-200 AD CLEMENT "Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we
become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are
made immortal... This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and
perfection, and washing. Washing, by which we cleanse away our sins; grace, by
which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted; and illumination,
by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God
clearly." (Clement of
150-200 AD CLEMENT "But when the time began to draw near that what was wanting in the Mosaic institutions should be supplied, as we have said, and that the Prophet should appear, of whom he had foretold that He should warn them by the mercy of God to cease from sacrificing; lest haply they might suppose that on the cessation of sacrifice there was no remission of sins for them He instituted baptism by water amongst them, in which they might be absolved from all their sins on the invocation of His name." (Clement, "Recognitions of Clement," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 88)
150-200 AD CLEMENT "Now God has ordered every one who worships Him to be sealed by baptism; but if you refuse, and obey your own will rather than God's, you are doubtless contrary and hostile to His will. But you will perhaps say, 'What does the baptism of water contribute towards the worship of God?' In the first place, because that which hath pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because, when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so at length you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus hath the true prophet testified to us with an oath: 'Verily I say to you, That unless a man is born again of water, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Therefore make haste; for there is in these waters a certain power of mercy which was borne upon them at the beginning, and acknowledges those who are baptized under the name of the threefold sacrament, and rescues them from future punishments, presenting as a gift to God the souls that are consecrated by baptism. Betake yourselves therefore to these waters, for they alone can quench the violence of the future fire; and he who delays to approach to them, it is evident that the idol of unbelief remains in him, and by it he is prevented from hastening to the waters which confer salvation." (Clement, "Recognitions of Clement," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 155)
150-200 AD Clement "This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and perfection, and washing. Washing, by which we cleanse away our sins. Grace, by which the penalties of our sins are canceled. And illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly." (Clement Instructor bk. 1, chap. 6)
150-200 AD CLEMENT "We are washed from all our sins, and are no longer
entangled in evil. This is the one grace of illumination, that our characters
are not the same as before our washing... In the same way, therefore, we also,
repenting of our sins, renouncing our iniquities, purified by baptism, speed
back to the eternal light, children to the Father." (Clement of
150-200 AD CLEMENT "When he had given them these and such like precepts, he made proclamation to the people, saying: 'Since I have resolved to stay three months with you, if any one desires it, let him be baptized; that, stripped of his former evils, he may for the future, in consequence of his own conduct, become heir of heavenly blessings, as a reward for his good actions." (Clement, "Recognitions of Clement," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 132)
181 AD Theophilus of Antioch "Moreover, those things which were created from the waters were blessed by God, so that this might also be a sign that men would at a future time receive repentance and remission of sins through water and the bath of regeneration all who proceed to the truth and are born again and receive a blessing from God" (To Autolycus 12:16).
190 AD Irenaeus of
200 AD CYPRIAN "But what a thing it is, to assert and contend that they who are not born in the Church can be the sons of God! For the blessed apostle sets forth and proves that baptism is that wherein the old man dies and the new man is born, saying, 'He saved us by the washing of regeneration.' But if regeneration is in the washing, that is, in baptism, how can heresy, which is not the spouse of Christ, generate sons to God by Christ?" (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 388)
200 AD Cyprian of Carthage "While I was lying in darkness . . . I thought it indeed difficult and hard to believe . . . that divine mercy was promised for my salvation, so that anyone might be born again and quickened unto a new life by the laver of the saving water, he might put off what he had been before, and, although the structure of the body remained, he might change himself in soul and mind. . . . But afterwards, when the stain of my past life had been washed away by means of the water of rebirth, a light from above poured itself upon my chastened and now pure heart; afterwards, through the Spirit which is breathed from heaven, a second birth made of me a new man" (To Donatus 3)
200 AD HERMAS "And I said, 'I heard, sir, some teachers maintain that there is no other repentance than that which takes place, when we descended into the water and received remission of our former sin.' He said to me, 'That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case.'" (Hermas, "The Shepherd," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, pg. 22)
200-258 AD CARTHAGE "Novatus of Thamugada said: Although we know that
all the Scriptures give witness concerning the saving baptism, still we ought
to declare our faith, that heretics and schismatics who come to the Church, and
appear to have been falsely baptized, ought to be baptized in the everlasting
fountain; and therefore, according to the testimony of the Scriptures, and
according to the decree of our colleagues, men of most holy memory, that all
schismatics and heretics who are converted to the Church must be baptized; and
moreover, that those who appeared to have been ordained must be received among
lay people. (The Seventh Council of
200-258 AD CARTHAGE Dativus of Badis said: We, as far as in us lies, do not
hold communion with heretics, unless they have been baptized in the Church, and
have received remission of their sins." ("The Seventh Council of
200-258 AD CARTHAGE Felix of Bagai said: As, when the blind leads the blind,
they fall together into the ditch; so, when the heretic baptizes a heretic,
they fall together into death. And therefore a heretic must be baptized and
made alive, lest we who are alive should hold communion with the dead. ("The
Seventh Council of
200-258 AD CARTHAGE Nemesianus of Thubunae said: That the baptism which
heretics and schismatics bestow is not the true one, is everywhere declared in
the Holy Scriptures, since their very leading men are false Christs and false
prophets, as the Lord says by Solomon: 'He who trusteth in that which is false.
he feedeth the winds...' And in the Gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spoke with His
divine voice, saying, 'Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he
cannot enter the
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "But as often as water is named alone in the Holy Scriptures, baptism is referred to, as we see intimated in Isaiah: 'Remember not,' says he, 'the former things, and consider not the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, which shall now spring forth; and ye shall know it. I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry place, to give drink to my elected people, my people whom I have purchased, that they might show forth my praise.' There God foretold by the prophet, that among the nations, in places which previously had been dry, rivers should afterwards flow plenteously, and should provide water for the elected people of God, that is, for those who were made sons of God by the generation of baptism.... Christ... cries and says, 'If any man thirst, let him come and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture saith, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.' And that it might be more evident that the Lord is speaking there, not of the cup, but of baptism, the Scripture adds, saying, 'But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.' For by baptism the Holy Spirit is received... As also, in another place, the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman, saying, 'Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst for ever.' By which is also signified the very baptism of saving water, which indeed is once received, and is not again repeated.." (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 360)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "But if the baptism of heretics can have the regeneration of the second birth, those who are baptized among them must be counted not heretics, but children of God. For the second birth, which occurs in baptism, begets sons of God." (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 393)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "But what a thing it is, to assert and contend that they who are not born in the Church can be the sons of God! For the blessed apostle sets forth and proves that baptism is that wherein the old man dies and the new man is born, saying, 'He saved us by the washing of regeneration.' But if regeneration is in the washing, that is, in baptism, how can heresy, which is not the spouse of Christ, generate sons to God by Christ? For it is the Church alone which, conjoined and united with Christ, spiritually bears sons; as the same apostle again says, 'Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it, cleansing it with the washing of water.' If, then, she is the beloved and spouse who alone is sanctified by Christ, and alone is cleansed by His washing, it is manifest that heresy, which is not the spouse of Christ, nor can be cleansed nor sanctified by His washing, cannot bear sons to God." (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 388)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "For he who has been sanctified, his sins being put away in baptism, and has been spiritually re-formed into a new man, has become fitted for receiving the Holy Spirit; since the apostle says, 'As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.' (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 387-388)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "Moreover, Peter himself... has commanded and warned us that we cannot be saved, except by the one only baptism of one Church. 'In the ark,' says he, 'of Noah, few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water, as also baptism shall in like manner save you.' In how short and spiritual a summary has he set forth the sacrament of unity! For as, in that baptism of the world in which its ancient iniquity was purged away, he who was not in the ark of Noah could not be saved by water, so neither can he appear to be saved by baptism who has not been baptized in the Church which is established in the unity of the Lord according to the sacrament of the one ark. (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 389)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "Peter... said, 'In the ark of Noah, few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water; the like figure whereunto even baptism shall save you;' proving and attesting that the one ark of Noah was a type of the one Church. If, then, in that baptism of the world thus expiated and purified, he who was not in the ark of Noah could be saved by water, he who is not in the Church to which alone baptism is granted, can also now be quickened [made alive] by baptism. Moreover, too, the Apostle Paul, more openly and clearly still manifesting this same thing, writes to the Ephesians, and says, 'Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water.'" (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 398)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "Since, therefore, from the preaching and testimony of Christ Himself, the Father who sent must be first known, then afterwards Christ, who was sent, and there cannot be a hope of salvation except by knowing the two together; how, when God the Father is not known, nay, is even blasphemed, can they who among the heretics are said to be baptized in the name of Christ, be judged to have obtained the remission of sins?" (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 383.)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "What then, say they, will become of those who, coming from the heretics, have been received without the baptism of the Church?... But they... should be baptized with the baptism of the Church, that they may obtain remission of sins, lest by the presumption of others they remain in their old error, and die without the completion of grace." (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 395)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "Wherefore baptism cannot be common to us and to heretics, to whom neither God the Father, nor Christ the Son, nor the Holy Ghost, nor the faith, nor the Church itself, is common. And therefore it behooves those to be baptized who come from heresy to the Church, that so they who are prepared, in the lawful, and true, and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God, may be born of both sacraments, because it is written, 'Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'" (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 384)
200-258 AD CYPRIAN "Widely different is the faith with Marcion, and, moreover, with the other heretics; nay, with them there is nothing but perfidy, and blasphemy, and contention, which is hostile to holiness and truth. How then can one who is baptized among them seem to have obtained remission of sins, and the grace of the divine mercy, by his faith, when he has not the truth of the faith itself? For if, as some suppose, one could receive anything abroad out of the Church according to his faith, certainly he has received what he believed; but if he believes what is false, he could not receive what is true; but rather he has received things adulterous and profane, according to what he believed. This matter of profane and adulterous baptism Jeremiah the prophet plainly rebukes, saying, 'Why do they who afflict me prevail? My wound is hard; whence shall I be healed ? While it has indeed become unto me as deceitful water which has no faithfulness.' The Holy Spirit makes mention by the prophet of deceitful water which has no faithfulness. What is this deceitful and faithless water? Certainly that which falsely assumes the resemblance of baptism, and frustrates the grace of faith by a shadowy pretense. But if, according to a perverted faith, one could be baptized without, and obtain remission of sins, according to the same faith he could also attain the Holy Spirit; and there is no need that hands should be laid on him when he comes, that he might obtain the Holy Ghost, and be sealed. Either he could obtain both privileges without by his faith, or he who has been without has received neither. But it is manifest where and by whom remission of sins can be given; to wit, that which is given in baptism." (Cyprian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 381)
200-258 AD Cyprian, said of his own baptism, "Considering my character at the time, I used to regard it as a difficult matter that a man should be able to be born again.... Or that a man who had been revived to a new life in the bath of saving water could be able to put off what he had formerly been-that he could be changed in heart and soul, while retaining his physical body.... For as I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe that I could by possibility be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices, and because I despaired of better things, I used to indulge my sins as if they were actually a part of me, inherent in me. But later, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years was washed away, and a light from above-serene and pure was infused into my reconciled heart. Then through the Spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth restored me to a new man." (Cyprian To Donatus sec. 3, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 276)
203 AD Tertullian "Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life. . . . [But] a viper of the [Gnostic] Cainite heresy, lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism--which is quite in accordance with nature, for vipers and asps . . . themselves generally do live in arid and waterless places. But we, little fishes after the example of our [Great] Fish, Jesus Christ, are born in water, nor have we safety in any other way than by permanently abiding in water. So that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes--by taking them away from the water!" (Baptism 1).
203 AD Tertullian "[N]o one can attain salvation without baptism, especially in view of the declaration of the Lord, who says, `Unless a man shall be born of water, he shall not have life'" (Baptism 12:1).
215 AD Hippolytus "And the bishop shall lay his hand upon them [the newly baptized], invoking and saying: 'O Lord God, who did count these worthy of deserving the forgiveness of sins by the laver of regeneration, make them worthy to be filled with your Holy Spirit and send upon them thy grace [in confirmation], that they may serve you according to your will" (The Apostolic Tradition 22:1).
217 AD Hippolytus "The Father of immortality sent the immortal Son and Word into the world, who came to man in order to wash him with water and the Spirit; and He, begetting us again to incorruption of soul and body, breathed into us the Spirit of life, and endued us with an incorruptible panoply. If, therefore, man has become immortal, he will also be God. And if he is made God by water and the Holy Spirit after the regeneration of the laver he is found to be also joint-heir with Christ after the resurrection from the dead. Wherefore I preach to this effect: Come, all ye kindreds of the nations, to the immortality of the baptism" (Discourse on the Holy Theophany 8).
221 AD The Recognitions of Clement "But you will perhaps say, `What does the baptism of water contribute toward the worship of God?' In the first place, because that which has pleased God is fulfilled. In the second place, because when you are regenerated and born again of water and of God, the frailty of your former birth, which you have through men, is cut off, and so . . . you shall be able to attain salvation; but otherwise it is impossible. For thus has the true prophet [Jesus] testified to us with an oath: `Verily, I say to you, that unless a man is born again of water . . . he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven'" (Recognitions of Clement 6:9).
240 AD Testimonies Concerning the Jews "That unless a man have been
baptized and born again, he cannot attain unto the
250 AD Ignatius of
253 AD Cyprian: "Moreover, Peter himself, showing and vindicating the unity, has commanded and warned us that we cannot be saved, except by the one only baptism of one Church. "In the ark," says he, "of Noah, few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water, as also baptism shall in like manner save you." In how short and spiritual a summary has he set forth the sacrament of unity! For as, in that baptism of the world in which its ancient iniquity was purged away, he who was not in the ark of Noah could not be saved by water, so neither can he appear to be saved by baptism who has not been baptized in the Church which is established in the unity of the Lord according to the sacrament of the one ark." (Cyprian, Epistle 73:11)
253 AD Cyprian of
256 AD Council of Carthage VII "And in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ
spoke with his divine voice, saying, `Except a man be born again of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter the
256 AD Cyprian of Carthage "[I]t behooves those to be baptized ... so that they are prepared, in the lawful and true and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration, for the kingdom of God . . . because it is written `Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God'" (72:21).
260-315 AD METHODIUS "For thus will it be most certainly agreed that the Church is formed out of His bones and flesh; and it was for this cause that the Word, leaving His Father in heaven, came down to be 'joined to His wife;' and slept in the trance of His passion, and willingly suffered death for her, that He might present the Church to Himself glorious and blameless, having cleansed her by the laver." (Methodius, "The Banquet of the Ten Virgins," 260 to 312 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, pg. 319)
340 AD Aphraahat the Persian Sage "From baptism we receive the Spirit of Christ. At that same moment in which the priests invoke the Spirit, heaven opens, and he descends and rests upon the waters, and those who are baptized are clothed in him. The Spirit is absent from all those who are born of the flesh, until they come to the water of rebirth, and then they receive the Holy Spirit. . . . [I]n the second birth, that through baptism, they receive the Holy Spirit" (Treatises 6:14:4).
345 AD CYRIL "For all things whatsoever thou hast done shall be
forgiven thee, whether it be fornication, or adultery, or any other such form
of licentiousness. What can be greater sin than to crucify Christ? Yet even of
this Baptism can purify. For so spake Peter to the three thousand who came to
him, to those who had crucified the Lord, when they asked him, saying, 'Men and
brethren, what shall we do?' For the wound is great. Thou hast made us think of
our fall, O Peter, by saying, 'Ye killed the Prince of Life.' What salve is
there for so great a wound? What cleansing for such foulness? What is the
salvation for such perdition? 'Repent,' saith he, 'and be baptized every one of
you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, for the remission of sins, and ye
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' O unspeakable lovingkindness of God!
They have no hope of being saved, and yet they are thought worthy of the Holy
Ghost. Thou seest the power of Baptism!" (Cyril of
345 AD CYRIL "The Lord... has granted repentance at Baptism, in order
that we may cast off the chief - nay rather the whole burden of our sins, and
having received the seal by the Holy Ghost, may be made heirs of eternal
life." (Cyril of
345 AD CYRIL "When going down, therefore, into the water, think not of
the bare element, but look for salvation by the power of the Holy Ghost: for
without both thou canst not possibly be made perfect. It is not I that say
this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power in this matter: for He
saith, 'Except a man be born anew' (and he adds the words) 'of water and of the
Spirit, he cannot enter into the
350 AD Cyril of
350 AD Cyril of
360 AD Athanasius "[A]s we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened" (Four Discourses Against the Arians 3:26).
375 AD Basil the Great "This then is what it means to be `born again of water and Spirit': Just as our dying is effected in the water [Rom. 6:3, Col. 2:12-13], our living is wrought through the Spirit. In three immersions and an equal number of invocations the great mystery of baptism is completed in such a way that the type of death may be shown figuratively, and that by the handing on of divine knowledge the souls of the baptized may be illuminated. If, therefore, there is any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water, but from the Spirit's presence there" (The Holy Spirit, 15:35).
379 AD Basil the Great "For prisoners, baptism is ransom, forgiveness of debts, the death of sin, regeneration of the soul, a resplendent garment, an unbreakable seal, a chariot to heaven, a royal protector, a gift of adoption" (Sermons on Moral and Practical Subjects 13:5).
381 AD Ambrose of
381 AD Ambrose of
381 AD Ambrose of Milan "The Lord was baptized, not to be cleansed himself but to cleanse the waters, so that those waters, cleansed by the flesh of Christ which knew no sin, might have the power of baptism. Whoever comes, therefore, to the washing of Christ lays aside his sins" (Commentary on Luke 2:83).
381 AD Ambrose of
381 AD Council of
382 AD Gregory of Nyssa "[In] the birth by water and the Spirit, [Jesus] himself led the way in this birth, drawing down upon the water, by his own baptism, the Holy Spirit; so that in all things he became the first-born of those who are spiritually born again, and gave the name of brethren to those who partook in a birth like to his own by water and the Spirit" (Against Eunomius 2:8).
387 AD John Chrysostom "[N]o one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious? These [priests] truly are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God, and become members of that blessed Head" (The Priesthood 3:5-6).
388 AD Gregory Nazianz "Such is the grace and power of baptism; not an overwhelming of the world as of old, but a purification of the sins of each individual, and a complete cleansing from all the bruises and stains of sin. And since we are double-made, I mean of body and soul, and the one part is visible, the other invisible, so the cleansing also is twofold, by water and the spirit; the one received visibly in the body, the other concurring with it invisibly and apart from the body; the one typical, the other real and cleansing the depths" (Oration on Holy Baptism 7-8).
390 AD CRYSOSTOM "In the Law, he that hath sin is punished; here, he that hath sins cometh and is baptized and is made righteous, and being made righteous, he liveth, being delivered from the death of sin... For in Baptism the sins are buried, the former things are blotted out, the man is made alive, the entire grace written upon his heart as it were a table." (John Crysostom, "Homilies on Second Corinthians," 390 AD, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 12, pg. 307)
400 AD The Apostolic Constitutions "Be ye likewise contented with one baptism alone, that which is into the death of the Lord [Rom. 6:3, Col. 2:12-13] . . . [H]e that out of contempt will not be baptized shall be condemned as an unbeliever and shall be reproached as ungrateful and foolish. For the Lord says, `Except a man be baptized of water and of the Spirit, he shall by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And again, `He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believes not shall be damned'" [Mark 16:16] (Apostolic Constitutions 6:3:15).
419 AD Augustine "Those who, though they have not received the washing of regeneration, die for the confession of Christ--it avails them just as much for the forgiveness of their sins as if they had been washed in the sacred font of baptism. For he that said, `If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven,' made an exception for them in that other statement in which he says no less generally, `Whoever confesses me before men, I too will confess him before my Father, who is in heaven'" [Matt. 10:32] (The City of God 13:7).
75 AD The Letter of Barnabas "Regarding [baptism], we have the evidence
of Scripture that
80 AD Hermas "'I have heard, sir,' said I, 'from some teacher, that there is no other repentance except that which took place when we went down into the water and obtained the remission of our former sins.' He said to me, 'You have heard rightly, for so it is'" (The Shepherd 4:3:1)
CONSTITUTIONS "Let him, therefore, who is to be taught the truth in regard to piety be instructed before his baptism in the knowledge of the unbegotten God, in the understanding of His only begotten son, in the assured acknowledgment of the Holy Ghost.... Adore God, the Lord of the whole world, and thank Him for His creation, for His sending Christ His only begotten Son, that He might save man by blotting out his transgressions, and that He might remit ungodliness and sins, and might 'purify him from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,' and sanctify man according to the good pleasure of His kindness, that He might inspire him with the knowledge of His will, and enlighten the eyes of his heart to consider of His wonderful works, and make known to him the judgments of righteousness, that so he might hate every way of iniquity, and walk in the way of truth, that he might be thought worthy of the laver of regeneration, to the adoption of sons, which is in Christ, that 'being planted together in the likeness of the death of Christ,' in hopes of a glorious communication, he may be mortified to sin, and may live to God, as to his mind, and word, and deed, and may be numbered together in the book of the living. " (Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 7, pg. 475-476)
FIRMILIAN "But indeed you are worse than all heretics. For when many, as soon as their error is known, come over to you from them that they may receive the true light of the Church, you assist the errors of those who come, and, obscuring the light of ecclesiastical truth, you heap up the darkness of the heretical night; and although they confess that they are in sins, and have no grace, and therefore come to the Church, you take away from them remission of sins, which is given in baptism, by saying that they are already baptized and have obtained the grace of the Church outside the Church, and you do not perceive that their souls will be required at your hands when the day of judgment shall come." (Firmilian, "The Epistles of Cyprian," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pg. 396)
PHILIP "Nicanora having thus spoken, the Apostle Philip, along with Bartholomew and Mariamme and those with them, prayed for her to God, saying: Thou who bringest the dead to life, Christ Jesus the Lord, who hast freed us through baptism from the slavery of death, completely deliver also this woman from the error, the enemy; make her alive in Thy life, and perfect her in Thy perfection." ("The Acts of Philip," Author unknown, Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 498)
THEODOTUS "Now, regeneration is by water and spirit, as was all creation: 'For the Spirit of God moved on the deep.' And for this reason the Savior was baptized, though not Himself needing to be so, in order that He might consecrate the whole water for those who were being regenerated. Thus it is not the body only, but the soul, that we cleanse." ("Excerpts of Theodotus," Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, pg. 44)
The New Birth
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born
again, he cannot see the
I used to regard it as a difficult matter – particularly in light of my character at the time – that a man could be capable of being born again. Yet, this was a truth that the divine mercy had announced for my salvation. I used to doubt that a man who had been quickened to a new life in the bath of saving water could be able to put aside what he had previously been. I questioned whether a person could be changed in heart and soul while still retaining all of his bodily structure.
I said, “How could such a conversation be possible – that there should be a sudden and rapid putting aside of all those things which are innate in us and have become hardened in the corruption of our physical nature? Or, to put aside those traits we have acquired and which have become deep-rooted in us? These things are all deeply and thoroughly ingrained in us. How does the person who has been used to expensive banquets and sumptuous feasts learn to enjoy simplicity? Or, the person who has glittered in gold and purple and has been celebrated for his expensive clothes – how can he reduce himself to ordinary and simple clothing?
“How can the one who has experienced the power of rulership and the charm of civic honors help but to shrink from the thought of becoming a mere private and unknown citizen? It has always been true that the love of wine entices humans. Pride puffs us up. Anger inflames us. We are discontented because of covetousness. Cruelty excites us. Ambition delights us. And lust hastens us to ruin. These things are inevitable, and these allurements will never let go of the person they bind!” Yes, those were my frequent thoughts. Through the innumerable errors of my former life, I was held in bondage. And I did not believe that I could possibly be delivered from this bondage. As a result, I gave in to my various clinging vices. And because I’ve had no hope of anything better, I used to indulge my sins as though they were actually parts of me – native to me.
However, after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years was washed away (Acts 2:38). And a light from above, serene and pure was infused into my reconciled heart. And then, by the agency of the spirit that was breathed down from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man. Thereafter, in a wondrous manner, doubtful things soon began to assure themselves to me. Hidden things became revealed. Dark things were enlightened. What I had formerly thought impossible, now was capable of being achieved.
In short, I was enabled to see that my former life, born of the flesh, was a life of practicing sin. It was of the earth – earthly. But my life had now begun to be of God, and it was enlivened by the Spirit of holiness. Of this change, I cannot boast, but can only be grateful. We do not ascribe this to mans virtue, but declare it to be the gift of God. So now the beginning of the work of faith is that we no longer practice sin. The fact that we used to sin was the result of human error – not God. All of our power is of God. I repeat, of God. From him we have life. From him we have strength. While yet in this world, by his power, we foreknow the indication of things to come.
However, let fear be the keeper of our innocence, so that the assurance we have gained may not give birth to carelessness, and the old enemy end up creeping up on us again. Therefore, let us, through righteous submissiveness, keep the Lord in the chambers of a grateful mind, for out of his mercy he has flowed into our hearts thorough celestial grace.
Prove this statement wrong ►“The first Christians taught and believed water baptism was required for salvation.”
Since Aug 17, 2006, this page has been viewed
times and not a single person has e-mailed me to challenge the above statement!
This page last updated: November 8, 2007