Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What are the baptisms of Hebrews 6:2?

Somebody asked me, what are the baptisms of Hebrews 6:2?

Here is my answer.

The context goes back into chapter 5:12,

[after talking about priesthood]
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Heb. 5:12-6:2)

The context is the "first principles of the oracles of God" and "the word of righteousness", which are references to the Old Testament (Rom. 3:1-2, Acts 7:38).

This includes:

1.) the doctrine of Christ (Deut. 18:15-19, Num. 24:17, Micah 5:2, Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7, 52:14-15, 53, etc.)

2.) repentance from dead works (Heb. 7:12, 8:8-13, 9:14, with Jeremiah 31-32, Ezek. 14:6, 18:30, etc.)

3.) faith toward God (Deut. 30:10, Hab. 2:4, Mat. 23:23)

4.) doctrine of baptisms ( water: Num. 8:7, Exod. 29:4, 30:20, 40:12, Lev. 8:6, Numb. 19, Ezek. 36:25; Spirit: Joel 2:28-29, Ezek. 36:26-27, Jer. 31:33, 32:39-40; fire: Joel 1:19-2:5 with Luke 17:29-30, Isa. 66:24; unto Moses: Exod. 14:29 )

5.) laying on of hands (Numb. 8:10, 27:18-23, etc.)

6.) resurrection (Isa. 26:19, Job 19:25-27, Ezek. 37:1-14, Ps. 17:15)

7.) eternal judgment (Isa. 60:15, 66:24, Ps. 9:17, etc.) 

Everything listed is Old Testament according to the context ("first principles of the oracles of God", "the word of righteousness"). I believe that water baptism is clearly an OT practice of the Jews, one that they were familiar with (John 1:25). John wrote his gospel and called baptism "purifying" (John 3:25-26). By comparing scripture with scripture, we can know that baptism was a variant of the already established practice (Num. 8:7).

Some folks have said that cross referencing John 3:25 with Numbers 8:7 is a stretch, but I don't believe it is. Look at how John used the term "purifying" in his gospel.

"And thus shalt thou do unto them, to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purifying upon them, and let them shave all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean." (Num. 8:7)

"And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece." (John 2:6)

"Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him." (John 3:25-26)
--Eli Caldwell

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