Question:

Hello,

I looked at a page dedicated for questions and answers about baptism.

Could you read these two verses please, Numbers 32:11 and Deuteronomy 1:39, and tell me what is your understanding? Did you know them before? It seems that 20 years old was considered by God the age to know what is good and bad and, therefore, below this age He was not making one accountable.

Also, what do you think about comparing a marriage with a woman and one with God? How can a teenager (sometimes very young) be responsible for his relationship with God and living a daily disciple's life if he is too young to marry a woman and taking care of his relationship with her?

Thank you very much,


Answer:

It is true that in the case of the Israel's rebellion that lead to the wandering in the wilderness, God said He would not hold those under twenty responsible for the adult's sins.

"Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me" (Numbers 20:11).

The passage in Deuteronomy tells us why:

"Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it" (Deuteronomy 1:39).

From this we can derive that children are innocent -- that they have no knowledge of good and evil -- and that, in general, by the time that they are twenty they have lost that innocence. However, there isn't sufficient evidence from just these passages to say that this lose of innocence occurs on a person's twentieth birthday. At most we can conclude that twenty is a safe maximum that covers most people.

Your idea that one has to be an adult to be in a covenant with God is not true. We distinctly know of one young man who was baptized: Timothy.

When Paul wrote to Timothy and said, "Let no one despise your youth" (I Timothy 4:12). Timothy was still considered young when this letter was written, though an exact age cannot be determined. Even in the second letter Paul warns Timothy to "Flee also youthful lusts" (II Timothy 2:22). Timothy started traveling with Paul in Acts 16, about A.D. 50. He was already a Christian before Paul met him. "And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek" (Acts 16:1). I Timothy was written about A.D. 63. and II Timothy was written about A.D. 67. We have a span of at least 17 years when Timothy was still relatively young. If we say that Timothy was 29 when II Timothy was written, that means he was a Christian before the age of 12!

We don't know the exact age, but the point is that your contention that only full adults can enter a covenant with God is certainly not true in the case of Timothy.

There is no passage that speaks of an age limit for getting married. The Bible does mention the wife of ones youth (Proverbs 5:18; Malachi 2:14-15) and having children in ones youth (Psalms 127:4). The Hebrew word neurim, means the early period of a person's life from child to unmarried to newly married.

The idea that a young man or woman in their later teenage years or early twenties cannot handle the responsibilities of being a Christian and being married is clearly false since prior to the 1970's the median age for marriage was 21 and 23 for women and men respectively. There have been millions of married teenagers who have been followers of God in the history of man. Just because it is currently fashionable to delay marriage to the late twenties today doesn't mean it always was this way, nor can we assume that the current fashion is even good consider how rampant fornication is in society now.

First, thank you very much for taking your time to answer my questions. In fact, this is not my actual beliefs, since my daughter was baptized at the age of twelve, but rather the belief of one of my brothers in Christ. He is a very good friend and he was baptized at twelve years of age too, but then asked again to be baptized at twenty-one because he did not think he (fully?) understood what he did.

I think you make a good point by stating that twenty years old is a safe maximum that covers most people. Maybe that way, the people of Israel could not reproach God for making an unfair decision if the age was too low.

About Timothy's age, as you said, we are not sure if he was a teenager at his conversion, but it is still interesting to know how young he could have been.

I agree about your marriage comparison. You make a very good point.

Finally, there is no specific age mentioned in the New Testament to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. Therefore, that leaves it up to us and the candidate to determine if he is ready for this life changing decision.

Thank you again.