WHO BAPTISED THE APOSTLES?
In ‘The Christian Age,’ one R. Brown writes to its editor, and asks, in relation to John 3: 22, ‘whether Jesus baptised the Twelve Disciples, or who did baptise them?’ Evidently unable to answer the question, the Editor, in what he calls a ‘reply,’ says, ‘I suppose you mean who baptised the twelve at Ephesus! ! !’ Would such a supposition ever enter thy head, O reader, from such a question? When a man asks, ‘Did Jesus baptise Twelve Disciples?’ would any man in his senses suppose he meant, ‘Did Jesus baptise twelve disciples at Ephesus twenty-five years after his ascension?’ R. Brown wants to know about those disciples mentioned in John 3: 22, and not about disciples mentioned in Acts 19; but editor D. S. Burnet supposes he inquires about what Jesus did at Ephesus, although, as the lesser light of ‘this reformation,’ he ought to know, that Jesus was not sent to the Gentiles, but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and was therefore never at Ephesus, nor in any of the cities of the Greeks. It will not help the editor out of his bewilderment to say, that he supposed the twelve at Ephesus were twelve of the disciples named in John 3: 22, who, twenty-five years after, were found by Paul at Ephesus. The only disciples mentioned in the New Testament, called ‘the twelve,’ are the Apostles. R. Brown wants Mr. Burnet to tell him, if Jesus baptised the twelve disciples, and if he did not, who did baptise them? But he does not even suppose that the Ephesian twelve were of the disciples named by John, for he says, ‘I am disposed to think that Apollos, who then only knew the baptism of John, baptised those twelve at Ephesus.’ He has a disposition to think this, and consequently does not think it; and therefore has no demonstration to offer: in other words he is stone-blind upon the subject, which is sufficiently obvious.
But why not have the candour to confess his ignorance? A man, though an editor and a satellite, had better do this, than publish such an egregious blunder as that before us. Does he think that the intelligence of his readers is so completely prostrated and perverted by Bible, missionary, college, and publication speculations, that he can safely publish any absurdity without liability of detection? Men, like himself and brethren, experimented after this fashion even in the days of the apostles and succeeded; and from the signs of the times among ‘reformers,’ we discern that the experiment is being repeated and with like success. We were informed lately by letter from Washington, D. C., that many of the members of the Campbellite church there believe the things we advocate, to some extent, but dare not avow it publicly for fear of Alexander Campbell! Alas! And do such people call themselves free Americans, to say nothing of their being free-men because the truth has made them free! Afraid of A. Campbell! O ‘tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph!’ In this same church a member in speaking made use of Daniel and the Apocalypse in reference to setting up the kingdom, but he was told he had no business to use Daniel and the Revelation, as they were highly figurative! Thus the testimony of God is silenced, and intellectual torpor is the result. ‘Reformers’ have apathetically surrendered themselves to their scribes, among whom there is not one who dare tell them truth unpalatable to their Bethanian Papa. Instead of adding ‘knowledge’ to their faith and goodness, they are fast letting slip the little they ever knew. Their periodicals are a standing proof of their deep declension. Their ‘pure literature,’ as D. S. Burnet styles it, is puerile and unreadable; and if read, leaves the reader as much in the dark concerning the thoughts and purposes of Jehovah, as if the page were a perfect blank. Some of their editors lament that the scriptures have fallen into neglect among them. This testimony is true; and as a consequence, editor D. S. Burnet can, with impunity, suppose any sort of reply to questions he pleases, even to the supposition that his brother, R. B., is an ignoramus, and that John 3: 22, had a reference to twelve disciples at Ephesus!
After telling R. Brown he supposed he meant the Ephesian twelve, when he asked about Jesus and the twelve, he refers to John 4: 2, as proof that Jesus did not baptise with his own hands; from which the reader is left to infer that Jesus neither baptised the twelve at Ephesus, nor the twelve apostles. But R. Brown inquires ‘Who did baptise the Apostles?’ for he asks no question about the Ephesian disciples at all. In his ‘reply’ to this query, his ‘dear brother Burnet’ deposeth not a word! He gives it the go-bye as completely as though R. B. had never made the inquiry. It is fair then to conclude that the editor of the C. A. knows nothing about the matter; and as he gives it up, probably as ‘an untaught question and speculation,’ untaught that is in his divinity, we will see what we can do with it for the instruction of D. S. B., his brother Brown, and our own beloved and right worshipful readers.
Who then baptised the Apostles? The answer to this question is emphatically, John the baptiser. The apostle Andrew is styled by the apostle John, one of John’s disciples—John 1: 35, 37, 40. This testimony is decisive as to him; but how are we to get at the certainty that the twelve were all baptised of John? We reply, that John’s baptism divided the Jews into two classes—the first class comprised ‘all the people that heard, and the publicans;’ the other, ‘the Pharisees and Lawyers.’ The former class was very numerous; for ‘Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, were baptised of John in Jordan, confessing their sins.’ Referring to the completion of this work, Luke says,
‘Now when all the people were baptised, it came to pass that Jesus also being baptised, and praying, the heaven opened.’
The other class being composed of the ‘upper ten thousand,’ were ‘respectable’ and few. They were ‘the righteous,’ who, in their own estimation, needed no physician, having no occasion for repentance. As a class, they despised the people as cursed, knowing not the law. They regarded a baptism of repentance for remission of sins as quite unsuited to them; so that ‘they rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptised of John;’ while the people, on the contrary, who thought more humbly of themselves, ‘justified God, being baptised with his baptism’—Luke 7: 29-30.
The testimony saith that ‘the publicans,’ or tax-gatherers, were baptised of John as well as all the people. Now the apostle Matthew was one of the publicans of Judea, and styled in the list of the twelve, ‘Matthew the publican;’ we may therefore safely infer that he, as well as Andrew, was baptised of John.
The apostles were all attendants upon John’s preaching. One of them says,
‘That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life * * that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you.’—
1 John 1: 1-3.
John affirms this of himself and the rest of the apostles. Matthew and he have written accounts of some of the things they saw and heard ‘from the beginning’—a beginning indicated by Mark as characterised by the commencement of John’s baptismal proclamation, which he styles ‘the beginning of the glad tidings of Jesus Christ’—Mark 1: 1. All the apostles were ‘witnesses unto Him,’ therefore what John and Matthew and Andrew saw and heard, they were all able to testify to from personal observation. John and Matthew heard John preach, saw him immerse Jesus, saw the Spirit descend upon him, heard the Father’s voice, &c.; and because they saw and heard these things they were able to declare them. Peter also intimates, that he and the ten were well acquainted with the things that pertained to ‘the beginning;’ and declares that it was necessary that the candidates for the twelfth place in the apostleship should be as familiar with them as themselves.
‘Of these men,’ said he, ‘who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness of his resurrection’—Acts 1: 21-22.
He must be able to testify the things concerning Jesus in connexion with John’s baptism as well as with his resurrection. If he were unable to do this, how could he testify that God had anointed him, or made a Christ of him? The conclusion, then, is certain that all the apostles heard John’s proclamation that the King of Israel was about to appear, and that they should prepare to receive him; that he came baptising in water to the end that God might set his seal or mark upon that one of the baptised whom he should choose for king; and that having witnessed the promised sign descending upon Jesus, he testified that Jesus was the Son and Lamb of God, whom he had chosen to take away the sin of the world. The apostles all heard this, and having heard it have declared it unto us.
This being admitted, then, it is equivalent to admitting also that the apostles were baptised of John’s baptism; for the testimony we have already quoted says, ‘all the people that heard justified God, being baptised with the baptism of John.’ The apostles were of the people, not of the ruling class, they heard, and believed what they heard, and were therefore baptised in the hope of the king’s making his appearance soon. Nor were they long held in suspense. When John pointed to Jesus as the king, Andrew and another introduced themselves to him and had the honour of an invitation to spend the day with him at his abode. On leaving, he sought his brother Simon Peter, and told him they had found the Messiah, that is, the Anointed. Peter then went to see him, and having entered his service received a change of name. After this Philip, a fellow-townsman of Andrew and Peter, was enlisted. Philip then told his friend Nathaniel, ‘we have found him, of whom Moses and the prophets did write;’ and when Nathaniel had conversed with Jesus, he recognised him as Son of God and King of Israel.
But it is further certain that the apostles were all disciples of John, (and they only were his disciples who were baptised of him.) before they were disciples of Jesus, from the consideration evinced in the answer to the following question—From which of the two classes above mentioned is it certain Jesus would select his apostles? Would it be from that class which rejected the counsel of God against themselves in not being baptised? From the Pharisees and Lawyers? No; these were they upon whom he pronounced his woes. It follows then that he selected his apostles from those who ‘justified God in being baptised with John’s baptism.’ There is no other conclusion open to us. It is this or none at all.
But one may say, Were the apostles not afterwards rebaptised in the name of Jesus, and if so who immersed them? No, they were clean without it. Their case was peculiar, and cannot occur again. Jesus did not baptise in his own name. Indeed there was no baptising into any name before Pentecost There could be none; for although Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins, his name had not acquired a sin remitting efficacy, because he had then as yet neither died nor risen again. John’s baptism was the immersion of believers into repentance for remission of sins; so was the baptism Jesus preached. The difference existing between them was in that believed by the disciples of John and of Jesus. Both classes believed in the Hope of Israel; John’s, however, expected the coming of Messiah to put the nation in possession of its hope; while the disciples of Jesus believed that he was already come, and that Jesus was he. Many of John’s disciples, it is likely, though expecting the King whom Jehovah had provided, did not receive Jesus as that personage; but to ‘as many as did receive him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.’ Among these were the apostles, and those on Pentecost and afterwards ‘who believe on his name.’ The faith that served for baptism before Pentecost would not suffice on that day. It must expand, for it had to comprise the king’s death for sin and his resurrection for justification unto life, in addition to what was believed before. The baptism of believers into repentance for remission of sins was the nature off the three baptisms administered first by John, then by Jesus, and afterwards by the apostles on Pentecost; while the faith of John’s disciples was positive; that of Christ’s, comparative; and of the apostolic converts, superlative.
The case of the apostles, we have said, was peculiar. John the Baptist was not immersed at all; not even by Jesus: but Jesus was immersed by him, how much more necessary therefore for the apostles. They had all bathed religiously in Jordan’s bath. After this Jesus took them under his especial care. He instructed them in ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of God,’ and indoctrinated them with the divine testimony. This had a cleansing effect upon eleven of them, but not upon Judas. As the three years and a half of his ministry drew to a close, he proceeded to perfect the work he had commenced upon them. Two days before the Passover, being at Bethany, he supped at Simon the leper’s. After supper he began to wash the apostles’ feet, for a double purpose; first, to complete their cleansing; and secondly, to teach them a lesson of humility. Peter, however, objected, judging that Jesus was humbling himself too much. He did not perceive what was intended by the act; but his Lord told him he should know afterwards. He still declined, saying, ‘thou shalt not wash my feet unto the age;’ to which Jesus replied, ‘If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me;’ that is, in that age. It is evident from this remark, that there was more in this particular feet-washing than a mere lesson of humility. Peter’s salvation depended on his compliance; for to tell him he should have no part with Jesus, was the same as telling him he should be lost if his feet were not washed by Jesus. When Peter heard this all objection not only vanished, but he rushed into an extreme of willingness, offering not only his feet, but his hands and head. But Jesus reminded him that this was unnecessary, on the ground that he and the rest had already bathed, and bathers when they had left the bath needed only to wash their feet, and were then clean every whit. His words are, ‘He that is bathed (ho leloumenos) hath no need but to wash (nipsasthai) the feet.’ This being the case with the apostles, Jesus refused to do more than wash their feet. John had bathed them in Jordan, and Jesus completed their investiture by the word he had spoken to them, and the washing of their feet. Their feet were now ‘shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’ Before, they were girded with truth, and had on the breast-plate of righteousness; but they were not shod. The word spoken to them by Jesus let them into the mysteries of the gospel of the kingdom, which are ‘the preparation of the gospel;’ for no man can have part with Jesus in that kingdom, which is his joy, unless he is prepared by indoctrination into the Mystery. Thus indoctrinated, bathed and washed, Jesus addressed them saying,
‘Ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.’
But Judas had heard the same things, been bathed by John, and washed by Jesus, why was he not clean even as the rest? Because, not being a man of honest and good heart, the word sown there could not germinate and grow. What he understood had no genial influence upon him. It found him a thief and left him a thief and a traitor, therefore his bathing and washing proved of no account. But it was not so with the eleven. After their washing Jesus said to them,
‘Ye are now clean through the word which I have spoken to you.’
Their cleansing was complete and permanent by the water through the word.
Thus by reasoning on the testimony we come to the full assurance that the apostles were baptised of John, and cleansed by Jesus with water and the word. He exhorted them to wash one another’s feet, as a memorial, doubtless, of their being shod, and of the humility he exemplified for their imitation. Such a feet-washing was never before or since, nor will ever be again. The lesson inculcated remains in all its force. Jehovah’s future king of the world washing the feet of the thief, who he knew, within two days, would sell him to his enemies that they might put him to death! No meekness and humility ever exceeded this. But here we must pause till a more convenient season.
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He who makes an idol of his interest, makes a martyr of his integrity.