Baptism In The Early Church

I’ve recently been posting citations from the Early Church Fathers / Patristics (as well as some major reformers) related to the practice of baptism. In these posts, we have seen most clearly that the practiced mode, or method, of baptism was by far that of Biblical immersion. Many of the Patristics (and even Reformers) were quite clear about the definition of immersion – being submerged in water just as Jesus was submerged into the earth in His Burial. In several of the other posts, we looked at how baptism of infants was treated. The very earliest post-New Testament teaching document that we have, The Didache (from ~150 or earlier), did not include any mention that infants were to be baptized. The very next writing we are aware of, which was by Tertullian around 201, actually stated his disagreement that infants were to be baptized. There are, of course, other things they stated which are not found in Scripture – such as how many times should one be immersed and for what reasons are they immersed thrice.

Below, you can find the posts in the series (in chronological order) so that you can see them for yourselves.

The Didache (~150): Baptism is by Immersion and for Converts
Tertullian (~200): Children should not be baptized until they can ask for salvation themselves (In the earliest mention of infant baptism in all of Church history, caution is given that little children should not be baptized as the church should wait until after they have asked for salvation.)
Tertullian (201): Baptism is By Immersion (Immersion was handed down as an ancient practice from The Gospel)
Tertullian (~208): Baptism Should Be By Immersion (Immersion in the name of the Trinity)
Hippolytus on Baptism (Infants and Adults) – Should We Follow His “Apostolic Tradition”? (A discussion of Hippolytus’ statement that infants could be baptized. There were around 18 different practices he related to us from a baptism service. Of those, only 3 – or 4 if you count infant baptism – are practiced by Protestants today.)
Cyprian: Baptize By Immersion (Baptism is properly by immersion, but if one is sick sprinkling could be substituted if necessary.) 
Cyril of Jerusalem (350): Baptism is by Immersion (As one is immersed in baptism, this properly signifies Romans 6:4-5)
Basil (375): Baptism is by Immersion
Canons of the Apostles (4th Century): Immerse Thrice or Forsake the Bishopric
Gregory of Nyssa (~375): Baptism Should be by Immersion
Gregory Nazianzan (381): It’s Better to Wait to Baptize Children (Little Children should only be baptized if they are in mortal danger. Otherwise, wait until after their 3rd year when they can answer questions about Baptism and have some reason.)
Leo the Great: Immersion Imitates Lying in the Tomb
Jerome (397): Jesus Was Baptized by Immersion
In response to “Augustine: Infant Baptism Is The Apostolic And Universal Practice Of The Church” (In response to a post by Dr. R. Scott Clark, I show how a quote that he used by Augustine about the “Apostolic Practice” does not mean that Augustine thought such things were directly from the Bible. In the same work of Augustine, he stated that “Apostolic Practice” meant either that it was part of Scripture of of some other unwritten tradition of their practice.)
Sozomen (440): Baptism is By Immersion
Gregory the Great (~600): Baptism is by Immersion
John of Damascus (~730): Baptism by Three Immersions Reflects Christ’s Entombment
Martin Luther (1519): Restore the Practice of Immersion
Martin Luther (1520): Baptism By Immersion Was Instituted By Christ
Zwingli (1525): Baptism By Immersion Signifies Christ’s Death and Resurrection
John Calvin: Baptize Means to Immerse
Francis Turretin: Immersion Properly Signifies Baptism

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