“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16)
Such a motivating verse right! As much as this verse is promising the washing away of sins, and encouraging all of us to get baptized, there is a claim that nowhere does the Bible command infant baptism, and nowhere does the Bible mention a particular baby being baptized. Another objection would be that Baptism requires the declaration of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, children have not reached the age to be fully responsible for their decisions, and therefore they should only be baptized when old enough to make a decision.
In this article, we will reply to these claims by explaining why the Christian Orthodox Church insists on baptism of children. But first, let’s define baptism according to the Christian Orthodox faith.
Baptism, which is one of the holy sacraments, is the act of immersion. The Orthodox church believes that it’s not a mere sign, but rather a true spiritual gift through the Holy Spirit. It’s the power of washing away sins where the baptized person dies to this world and is born again through the resurrection of Christ into eternal life. So, it’s not just a “tradition” or a “show” kind of practice. Baptism has power, grace and real transformation qualities.
So, is baptism of children Biblical? The answer is yes, it is, for the following reasons
- Jesus Himself embraced and blessed children and welcomed them in His Kingdom:
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17)
- The baptism of households and whole families that definitely include children:
(A) The baptism of the household of Cornelius: “Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (Acts 11:13–14)
(B) The baptism of the household Lydia: “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (Acts 16:15)
(C) The baptism of the household of Stephanas: “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas” (1 Corinthians 1:16)
- Saint Peter’s sermon at the day of Pentecost that made it clear that everybody should be baptized:
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39). Notice that St. Peter explicitly mentioned that the promise will also reach their children. How then can they be left out of this grace of baptism?
- In the Old Testament, where Moses was leading the Israelites, who were both adults and children, through the Red Sea is seen as a symbol foreshadowing baptism as St. Paul explained:
“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1-2)
- There weren’t any scriptures that prohibited children baptism, but rather commands all people to get baptized
(A) “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
(B) “So, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days” (Acts 10:48)
- A person can receive spiritual gifts through the faith of others, and therefore children can also receive baptism through the faith of their parents.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus healed a paralytic man and forgave his sins based on the faith of his friends: “…they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you”.
If the faith of the paralytic man’s friends got him forgiveness of sins and healing from paralysis, how much more would the faith of parents bring the gift of Baptism to their own children?