Infant Baptism

by Gus Nichols

The Scriptures nowhere even so much as mention infant baptism. Let those who may think I am in error tell us who ever baptized an infant in the days of the inspired apostles? Whose baby was it? When was it done? How was it done? The New Testament is as silent as the tomb on these ques­tions. This is why those who preach infant baptism cannot even convince their own members that they should have their infants baptized. Cases of infant baptism are becoming so rare as to make news for the papers. Parents know the sermons on the subject do not contain a single scripture mentioning infant baptism in any shape, form or fashion. They know if God had wanted them to baptize their infants he would have made the matter plain — would have at least mentioned the subject in the Bible somewhere.

Not in the Commission

The great commission contains all our authority to baptize now, and there is not a word of authority in the commission for infant baptism. They were to "Teach all nations, baptizing them," or as in the American Standard Version, "Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them" (Matthew 28:19). A "disciple" is "a learner" [Webster]. Hence the commission contains authority only for the baptism of those taught, or disciples or learners, and not infants. Furthermore, we are told in the commission that those taught and baptized are to be further taught after baptism to "Observe all things" commanded by Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Of course, infants could neither be taught, nor "Observe" anything commanded by Christ. Hence, to baptize an infant is a thing not commanded. To do it in the name of the Son, when the Son has not authorized it is forging his name to something which he has not required (Acts 2:38). Mark's record of the commission says, "He that beheveth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). Here we see that baptism in the commission is for those who have had the gospel preached to them and have believed it, and are in need of salvation. Infants need no salvation, hence, need no baptism. Baptism is for believers, and not infants. But some have argued that the Lord in giving the commission did not tell the disciples not to baptize infants, and we may therefore baptize them. This is poor logic and a perversion of scripture principles. He did not tell them in so many words not to baptize idiots either. Must we baptize them? Neither did he tell us not to baptize infidels and thugs. Are they also to be baptized? God did not tell Noah not to build the ark of pine. But he did tell him to build the ark of "Gopher wood," and this excluded all other kinds of wood (Genesis 6:14). So, in the commission we are authorized to baptize the taught, or believers, and this excludes infants. To obey God is to do what he commands, then stop, without adding to his word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19).

No Apostolic Example

There is no example of infant baptism under the preaching of the inspired apostles. On Pentecost they preached the gospel. When those who heard it asked what to do, Peter said, "Repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38). Infants can not re­pent, and have no sins to repent of, and hence are not to be baptized. Peter told these people to repent and be baptized "For the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Infants need no remission of sins, hence need no baptism. "They that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41). Infants do not "Gladly receive the word," and therefore, were not included in the number baptized on Pentecost.

Samaritans, the Eunuch and Saul

"When they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). These people were believers, and were men and women, not infants. Simon was also baptized, but he was a man and not an infant (Acts 8:13). Then the Eunuch, "A man of Ethiopia" was baptized upon a confession of faith (Acts 8:27-39). Likewise, Saul of Tarsus, a man, was baptized (Acts 9:18; 22:16).

Cornelius and His House

In Acts 10th and 11th chapters we read of the conversion of Cornelius and his house. It says he "Feared God with all his house" (Acts 10:2). Infants do not "fear God," therefore there were no infants in his house to be baptized. It says he "Commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). Infants cannot obey such a command, and, therefore, infants were not to be baptized. Furthermore, Cornelius' house was composed of those old enough to need salvation, for the angel said Peter would tell him words whereby "Thou and all thy house shall be saved" (Acts 11:13-14). Are infants lost and needing salvation?

Lydia and Her Household

Many have thought that Lydia's household is a clear example of infant baptism. It says, "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which wor­shipped God heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there" (Acts 16:14-15). Those composing Lydia's household were old enough to be called brethren, and were not infants. We are told that Paul and Silas, "Entered into the house of Lydia, and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed" (Acts 16:40). Are infants "brethren?" Could infants receive gospel "Comfort?" Lydia was of Thyratira and was away from home at Philippi as a peddler, "a seller of purple" (Acts 16:14). Who can imagine she had infants with her on such a journey? The wish is father of the thought. I have baptized "households" and I have never baptized an infant. There is no proof Lydia was ever married. Many fine ladies maintain a "household" who are not married, and have no children. If she had relatives with her in her business of selling purple, they would have made up her household. To assume that there were infants in her household is to beg the question in controversy.

The Jailer's House

Some also think they have an example of infant baptism in the jailer's house. Of their baptism it is said, "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house" (Acts 16:33-34).

It is said that all baptized were believers. After the baptism, the jailer "Rejoiced, believing in God with all his house" (Acts 16:34). Or, as the American Standard Version says, "Rejoiced with all his house having believed in God." Hence, no infant baptism in this case, either.

The Corinthians Baptized

"Many of the Corinthian hearing believed, and were baptized" (Acts 18:8). Those here baptized, first heard and believed the gospel.   Hence, no infant baptism here.

Household of Stephanas

Paul says, "And I baptized also the household of Stephenas" (I Corinthians 1:16). Those in this house were all old enough to personally serve the Lord. Paul says, "Ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they .have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints" (I Corinthians 16:16). Infants cannot minister to the saints. Hence, there were no infants in this "house" or "household." Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Did he mean he and his infants would "serve the Lord?" We are told that Noah "Prepared an ark to the saving of his house," and God said, "Come thou and all thy house into the ark" (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 7:1). Yet all in Noah's "house" were married (Genesis 7:13).

We have examined all the cases of baptism in Acts of Apostles, and found no hint of infant baptism.

If God had wanted parents to have their infants baptized, surely he would have made such a matter so plain that, "Wayfaring men, though fools"  should "not err therein" (Isaiah 35:8). But there is not one word of scripture for such practice. The scriptures must be distorted and perverted, and made to teach something they do not say a word about, in order to present the idea. Assumptions must make up for what is lacking in the record, so as to make a show of sustaining the theory.

Samples of Method Used

We have seen the method used in the case of household baptisms, and how they assume the very point to be proved, that is: that there were infants in the families said to have been baptized. But we found that only believing families were baptized (Acts 16:33-34). Noah's "house" was saved in the ark (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 7:1). But the children were not infants, but all married (Genesis 7:13). Hence, the fact that a family was baptized is no proof infants were baptized, for the majority of families have no infants. By their method of reasoning, I could prove infants believed, and make out a much stronger case than theirs. The nobleman had a "son" and this son is called a "child," and yet the record says, of the nobleman and his family, "And himself believed, and his whole house" (John 4:49, 53). Hence, the "son" or "child" believed. Of course, he was not an "infant." Yes, all the jailer's "house" were baptized, but the record says, "all his house" believed in God (Acts 16:30-34). Therefore, there were no infants in any house baptized.

Brought Little Children

Another example of making out a case by assumption, is that of children brought unto the Savior. "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence" (Matthew 19:14-15). Luke says the "little children" were "infants" (Luke 18:15). Yes, here is a plain case of "infants" brought to Jesus, but for what purpose? The advocates of infant baptism assume what is lacking in the record, that is; the infants were brought for Jesus to baptize them. But the Bible says they were brought "That he should put his hands on them, and pray" (Matthew 19:13). It says, "And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence" (Matthew 19:15). It does not say they were brought to be baptized, neither does it say he baptized them. Baptism is not hinted in the entire story anywhere. This is assumed and added to the story to make out a case where there is none.

Israelites Baptized

The advocates of infant baptism tell us that infants were baptized, the same as their parents, in crossing the Red Sea, when it is said "They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea" (I Corinthians 10:1-3; Exodus 14:29-30). This, they claim, is a type of infant baptism today. But let us examine the case more fully: If the fact that infants passed through the sea and received this figurative baptism is proof that they should be baptized today, then we should also baptized cattle, bread and trays, for these too, like the children, were brought through the sea. That which proves too much, proves nothing. But it may be said that the cattle could not believe, and those baptized were called "our fathers," and were called "believers" (Hebrews 11:29; Exodus 4:30-31; Psalms 126:12; I Corinthians 10:1-3). Neither could the infants believe, any more than the cattle, nor be called, "our fathers." Also the Israelites were not saved out of the hand of the Egyptians until they crossed the sea, and were "baptized unto Moses" (Exodus 14:29-30). They sang the song of deliverance after crossing the sea (Exodus 15:1). Are infants saved in being baptized? Of course, not. They are not lost, and have no sins from which to be saved. Jesus was not addressing babies when he said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Neither was Peter addressing infants when he said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38)

Circumcision Assumption

The advocates of baby baptism assert that baptism came in the room of circumcision, and since infants were circumcised under the law, they should be baptized under the new covenant. This is more assumption. No inspired writer of the New Testament ever made such an argument. Baptism did not come in the place of circumcision, for Christ and the apostles were both circumcised and baptized (Matthew 2:21; 3:13-15). The one did not come in the place of the other.

No Similarity Between Them

Circumcision and baptism are not similar at all, but are almost wholly unlike each other.

  1. Circumcision of the Old Law was performed by man, and was by human hands, as all know. But the spiritual circumcision of the new covenant is performed by Jehovah, and is "without hands," and consists in cutting us loose from the guilt of sins when we are baptized into Christ in whom it takes place (Colossians 2:11-13; Romans 6:3).
  2. Circumcision was for Jews and those bought with their money (Genesis 17:13) But baptism is for all nations (Matthew 28:19).
  3. Circumcision was performed on children eight days old (Genesis 17:12). But baptism is for those who can hear and believe the gospel (Mark 16:15-16).
  4. Circumcision was only for males, while baptism is for both "men and women" (Acts 8:12).
  5. They did not have to have faith to be circumcised, but only believers are to be baptized (Mark 16:15; Acts 8:12; 18:8; Hebrews 11:5).
  6. Circumcision was in no name. But baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).
  7. Circumcision had nothing to do with salvation or remission of sins; while baptism is "For the remission of sins" and "Doth also now save us" (Acts 2:38; Mark 1:4; I Peter 3:21).
  8. Circumcision pertained wholly to the flesh, while baptism is "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (I Peter 3:21). Of course, infant baptism could not be the answer of their conscience.
  9. Circumcision was in obedience to the "Law of Moses." But baptism is commanded in the law of Christ (Acts 10:48). They are in two different covenants, the one not like the other (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13).
  10. All in the new covenant know God, and do not have to be taught to know the Lord, for they already know him. Therefore, infants are not inducted into the new covenant by baptism.
  11. The uncircumcised was cut off from his people, but the unbaptized baby is not excluded from anything that the others have, as all admit.
  12. The circumcised infant went on its way crying, we suppose; while the baptized believer "went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:36-39).

No Innocent Practice

In the Bible God has given us "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). But therein is no authority for infant baptism.   Therefore, it does not pertain to "life and godliness."

Paul declared all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27). But he nowhere declared infant baptism. Therefore, it is no part of the counsel of God, and is only in the counsel of men.

The scriptures thoroughly furnish us "unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:16-17). But they do not furnish infant baptism.   Therefore, it is not a good work.

We cannot please God without faith which comes by hearing God's word (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:6). But infant baptism does not come by hearing God's word. It is therefore not of faith, and cannot please God.

Whatever is done as an act of religion without scriptural authority is called vain religion (Mark 7:3-13; Matthew 15:9). But infant baptism is without scriptural authority, and is vain.

God will not be with one in doing what is not in the doctrine of Christ. Therefore, God will not be with people in such a practice (II John 9).

Infant baptism is like vaccination against small pox — keeps one from taking the real thing—keeps one from ever be­ing scripturally baptized at all — prevents believers baptism, the one commanded (Acts 10:48; Mark 16:15-16).

If all parents were to have their infants baptized this would entirely do away with believer's baptism — the baptism commanded. Such a course is not harmless, for it thwarts the very plan of God to have all nations first taught then baptized (Matthew 28:19).

Infant baptism has nothing to do with faith, repentance, confession, or obedience to God, since God nowhere authorized it. It is an empty performance, and does not do the infant one bit of good. While the baptism of believing penitents is "for the remission of sins" and in baptism they enter "into Jesus Christ," where salvation is (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3; II Timothy 2:10; Acts 4:12).

The only thing the baptized infant has that the unbaptized one does not have is water, and very little of that, since it is in fact only sprinkled, and not truly baptized.

Infant baptism is in doubt — is in controversy — and there is such a division over the practice. That the Lord's prayer for unity never can be answered until it is abandoned in teaching and practice, or else scriptural authority given for it. The latter cannot be done (John 17:20-22; I Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:3; Romans 16:17).

The baptism of believing penitents is not in doubt — not in debate, neither is there any division over it. All endorse it, and accept it as scriptural. There is no division over it, and we are commanded to follow after things which make for peace (Romans 14:19).

Infant baptism is not even mentioned in the scriptures — not a single time. But believer's baptism is mentioned time and again (Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12; 18:8).

Infants are safe, not sinners, and need no baptism, nor salvation for they are not lost (Luke 19:10). "Of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:14). But accountable beings must believe and obey from the heart, or understanding, the form of doctrine to be freed from sin (Romans 6:17-18). These things are presented in love of the truth, and not for the sake of merely differing from others. May God help us to all love, teach and obey the exact truth, as revealed, on all matters.