Radio Show

The History of Baptisms


A listener calls in with a question about the origins of the Sacrament of baptism: “When Jesus was baptized at the River Jordan by John the Baptist, [John] was already baptizing people — so how long has baptism been going on before Jesus was actually baptized?”

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Father Dave gives some historical background: “In various forms, a sort of spiritual/ritual cleansing using water [has existed] in Judeo-Christianity as far back as the [writing of the] Book of Leviticus. So, that’s thousands of years before Christ. It would not have been looked at in the same way — in the way of atoning for sins — and in fact, in the New Testament, we hear people talking about ‘the baptism that John preached,’ meaning that this was the first time that this washing of water was kind of an entrance into the Kingdom of God. It was forgiveness from sins.”

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Next, Father Dave describes the evolution of the concept of baptism from Leviticus to John the Baptist: “Baptism, as we call it now, certainly had its origins in Leviticus … because it’s such an obvious thing to do. Most people wash at some point, so to make that connection of washing, being clean, and starting over [is not a far leap].” (Original Air 09-05-17)