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Particulars of Christianity:
309 Baptisms

No Record of Paul's Water Baptism

Preface for Baptisms Article Series
Baptisms: Introduction and Historical Background
Original Proclamations about Baptism
Two Baptisms Occurring Separately
Baptizo: Two Baptisms, One Greek Word
Synonymous Phrases: Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Water Baptism in Jesus' Name
No Record of Paul's Water Baptism
Is Baptism Essential to Salvation?
Acts 1: Parallel Account of the Great Commission
Necessity of Water Baptism: 3 Common Arguments
Survey 1: Baptisms in Acts
The Baptism of Crispus (and Assuming Evidence)
Survey 2: Baptism from Romans to Revelation
Baptism and Hebrews 10:22
Conclusions: When and How Are We Reborn?
Survey 3: Baptism and the Ante-Nicene Authors
Closing: Water Baptism for the Right Reasons

We will now take a moment to establish that, in fact, there is no record of Paul ever being water baptized. There are only two passages in the entire New Testament that mention Paul being baptized. But which baptism did he receive?

Acts 9:17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

We must keep in mind that the same Greek word is used for both baptism with water and baptism in the Holy Spirit throughout the New Testament including by such individuals as John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and Paul. So, we cannot simply assume that the word "baptism" in verse 18 refers to water baptism. And we have also established that the phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit" would have been synonymous with "baptism in the Holy Spirit." Therefore, from this chapter itself, we find strong evidence that the baptism Paul received was baptism in the Holy Spirit, not water baptism.

Notice that in verse 17, Ananias states there are two things he has been sent to do. First, he has been for Paul to receive his sight. Second, Ananias says he has been sent so Paul would be filled with the Holy Spirit, which unequivocally is a reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit. Then, immediately following that statement, verse 18 records that scales fall from Paul's eyes and he gets up and is baptized. The logical assumption is that 18 is recording the occurrence of both items Ananias was sent to accomplish. And there is no reason from the context to assume otherwise. So, judging from just this passage in chapter 9, we would assume Paul's baptism was not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.

Later in Acts 22, Paul himself recounts these events to a crowd.

Acts 22:11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.12 "A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him. 14 "Then he said: 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'

The only change in this account of Paul's baptism from the account in chapter 9 is the inclusion of the phrase "wash your sins away." The presumption is that by mentioning the idea of "washing," Ananias must have been referring to a baptism utilizing water.

However, with only one simple step, we can clearly disprove this presumption. Does "washing" indicate water baptism over baptism in the Holy Spirit? The answer is no.

When we look up the Greek word for "wash" here, we find it occurs only one other place in the entire New Testament. The word for wash is "apolouo" and it is defined as follows.

628 apolouo {ap-ol-oo'-o}
from 575 and 3068; TDNT - 4:295,538; v
AV - wash away 1, wash 1; 2
1) to wash off or away

Here is the only other occurrence of this word in the New Testament. Notice how it completely reverses the presumption concerning which baptism would be indicated by the phrase "wash your sins away."

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I Corinthians clearly states that we are washed by the Spirit. And in the phrase "by the Spirit," the Greek word for "by" is "en." It is defined as follows.

1722 en {en}
a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), i.e. a relation of rest (intermediate between 1519 and 1537); TDNT - 2:537,233; prep
AV - in 1902, by 163, with 140, among 117, at 113, on 62, through 39, misc 264; 2800
1) in, by, with etc.

Compare the use of "en" in the following passages where it is also used with "the Spirit." Notice that all six of these occurrences are in the very verse where both John the Baptist and Jesus distinguish between the two baptisms.

Matthew 3:11 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16 he shall baptize you with [1722] the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:33 he which baptizeth with [1722] the Holy Ghost.

Acts 1:5 but ye shall be baptized with [1722] the Holy Ghost not many days hence.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by [1722] one Spirit are we all baptized [907] into one body...

All six of these passages exactly parallel I Corinthians 6:11 in the Greek. So, in reality, I Corinthians 6:11 directly states that we are "washed...with the Spirit of our God." It is unequivocally a reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And this is the only other occurrence of this Greek word for "wash" in the entire New Testament. So, we can only conclude based on the two items Ananias was sent to accomplish and the use of this Greek word "wash" that the baptism Paul received in Acts 9 was baptism in the Holy Spirit, not baptism with water.

The point of this short exercise is only to prove that we have no evidence that the apostles, the rest of the 120, Apollos, or Paul were ever baptized with water in the name of Jesus. These facts present a compelling case that baptism in water in Jesus' name was not considered necessary for salvation.