Baptism

Further, what says He? “And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever.” This means, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.11

“Before a man,” said he, “has borne the name of [the Son of] God, he is dead; but when he has received the seal, he lays aside his deadness, and resumes life. The seal then is the water: so they go down into the water dead, and they come up alive.” Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 49

For Christ also said, “Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Isaiah the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean…” Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.183

Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the layer the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.183

Further, what says He? “And there was a river flowing on the right, and from it arose beautiful trees; and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever.” This means, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit. Barnabas (A.D. 70-130) ch.11

And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. Didache (A.D. 80-140) ch.7

But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.” Didache (A.D. 80-140) ch.9

Let no man do aught of things pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop… It is not lawful apart from the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve, this is well-pleasing also to God; that everything which you do may be sure and valid. Ignatius: to the Smyrnaeans (A.D. 35-105) ch.8

“Before a man,” said he, “has borne the name of [the Son of] God, he is dead; but when he has received the seal, he lays aside his deadness, and resumes life. The seal then is the water: so they go down into the water dead, and they come up alive.” Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 49

As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, “Except you be born again, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Now, that it is impossible for those who have once been born to enter into their mothers’ wombs, is manifest to all. And how those who have sinned and repent shall escape their sins, is declared by Isaiah the prophet, as I wrote above; he thus speaks: “Wash you, make you clean.” Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.183

But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person… There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks … Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.185

“And dipped himself,” says [the Scripture], “seven times in Jordan.” It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: “Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 574

Lest any one think that we are dealing in mere argumentative subtleties, I shall turn to that highest authority of our “seal” itself. When entering the water, we make profession of the Christian faith in the words of its rule; we bear public testimony that we have renounced the devil, his pomp, and his angels. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 81

To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey, and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and commanded to be taken by all alike. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 94

He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names. [see Compiler’s Note in section III] Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.623

And so it is becoming that learners desire baptism, but do not hastily receive it: for he who desires it, honors it; he who hastily receives it, disdains it: in the one appears modesty, in the other arrogance; the former satisfies, the latter neglects it; the former covets to merit it, but the latter promises it to himself as a due return; the former takes, the latter usurps it. Whom would you judge worthier, except one who is more amended? Whom more amended, except one who is more timid, and on that account has fulfilled the duty of true repentance? For he has feared to continue still in sin, lest he should not merit the reception of baptism. But the hasty receiver, inasmuch as he promised it himself (as his due), being forsooth secure (of obtaining it), could not fear: thus he fulfilled not repentance either, because he lacked the instrumental agen

t of repentance, that is, fear. Hasty reception is the portion of irreverence; it inflates the seeker, it despises the Giver. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.662

With so great simplicity, without pomp, without any considerable novelty of preparation, finally, without expense, a man is dipped in water. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.669

For why is it necessary–if (baptism itself) is not so necessary–that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfill their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, “Forbid them not to come unto me.” Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the “remission of sins?” More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine! Let them know how to “ask” for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given “to him that asks.” … If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 678

For the Lord after His resurrection, sending His disciples, instructed and taught them in what manner they ought to baptize, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” He suggests the Trinity, in whose sacrament the nations were to be baptized. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 380

 

And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. Justin Martyr (A.D. 160) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.183

“And dipped himself,” says [the Scripture], “seven times in Jordan.” It was not for nothing that Naaman of old, when suffering from leprosy, was purified upon his being baptized, but [it served] as an indication to us. For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean, by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, from our old transgressions; being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes, even as the Lord has declared: “Except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 574

Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal. “I,” says He, “have said that you are gods, and all sons of the Highest.” This work is variously called grace, and illumination, and perfection, and washing: washing, by which we cleanse away our sins; grace, by which the penalties accruing to transgressions are remitted; and illumination, by which that holy light of salvation is beheld, that is, by which we see God clearly. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.215

And there are two methods of correction — the instructive and the punitive, which we have called the disciplinary. It ought to be known, then, that those who fall into sin after baptism are those who are subjected to discipline; for the deeds done before are remitted, and those done after are purged. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.438

For it is not the soul which is sanctified by the baptismal bath: its sanctification comes from the “answer.” Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 582

That baptismal washing is a sealing of faith, which faith is begun and is commended by the faith of repentance. We are not washed in order that we may cease sinning, but because we have ceased, since in heart we have been bathed already. For the first baptism of a learner is this, a perfect fear; thenceforward, in so far as you have understanding of the Lord faith is sound, the conscience having once for all embraced repentance. Otherwise, if it is (only) after the baptismal waters that we cease sinning, it is of necessity, not of free-will, that we put on innocence. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 662

Happy is our sacrament of water, in that, by washing away the sins of our early blindness, we are set free and admitted into eternal life! Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg.669

“Wash you, and seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and plead for the widow. And come and let us reason together, said the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, I shall make them white as snow; and though they be like crimson, I shall make them white as wool. And if you be willing, and hear my voice, you shall eat the good of the land.” Do you see, beloved, how the prophet spoke beforetime of the purifying power of baptism? For he who comes down in faith to the layer of regeneration, and renounces the devil, and joins himself to Christ; who denies the enemy, and makes the confession that Christ is God; who puts off the bondage, and puts on the adoption, he comes up from the baptism brilliant as the sun, flashing forth the beams of righteousness, and, which is indeed the chief thing, he returns a son of God and joint-heir with Christ. To Him be the glory and the power, together with His most holy, and good, and quickening Spirit, now and ever, and to all the ages of the ages. Amen. Hippolytus (A.D. 225) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.237

We next remark in passing that the baptism of John was inferior to the baptism of Jesus which was given through His disciples. Those persons in the Acts who were baptized to John’s baptism and who had not heard if there was any Holy Ghost are baptized over again by the Apostle. Regeneration did not take place with John, but with Jesus through His disciples it does so, and what is called the layer of regeneration takes place with renewal of the Spirit; for the Spirit now comes in addition since it comes from God and is over and above the water and does not come to all after the water. Origen (248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.9 pg.367

 

This class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and thus to a renunciation of the whole [Christian] faith. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg.345

But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned. Irenaeus (A.D. 180) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.1 pg. 346

“For so shall you pass through the water of another;” reckoning heretical baptism not proper and true water. “And you shall pass over another’s river,” that rushes along and sweeps down to the sea; into which he is cast who, having diverged from the stability which is according to truth, rushes back into the heathenish and tumultuous waves of life. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.322

The flesh is not, according to Marcion, immersed in the water of the sacrament, unless it be in virginity, widowhood, or celibacy, or has purchased by divorce a title to baptism, as if even generative impotents did not all receive their flesh from nuptial union. Now, such a scheme as this must no doubt involve the proscription of marriage. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 393

I am not bound to recognize in them a thing which is commanded on me, because they and we have not the same God, nor one – that is, the same – Christ. And therefore their baptism is not one with ours either, because it is not the same; a baptism which, since they have it not duly, doubtless they have not at all; nor is that capable of being counted which is not had. Thus they

cannot receive it either, because they have it not. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.3 pg. 676

(Compiler’s Note: Tertullian describes a baptismal mode of dipping three times, most likely a reflection of his heretical Montanist leanings as he himself describes it as “a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed.”) To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presense of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey, and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and commanded to be taken by all alike. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol. 3 pg. 94

For I know not by what presumption some of our colleagues are led to think that they who have been dipped by heretics ought not to be baptized when they come to us, for the reason that they say that there is one baptism… And he who of his own authority grants this advantage to them yields and consents to them, that the enemy and adversary of Christ should seem to have the power of washing, and purifying, and sanctifying a man. But we say that those who come thence are not re-baptized among us, but are baptized. For indeed they do not receive anything there, where there is nothing. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 377

Therefore, dearest brother, having explored and seen the truth; it is observed and held by us, that all who are converted from any heresy whatever to the Church must be baptized by the only and lawful baptism of the Church, with the exception of those who had previously been baptized in the Church, and so had passed over to the heretics. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 389-390

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