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Question #186

Is an ordained minister the only person who can baptize someone?

Is an ordained minister the only person who can baptize someone?

The Answer:

(This response also applies to Question 197.)

In a short word, no. The scripture gives no qualifications for the person doing the baptism. The commands are all for the one being baptized – he or she must be a penitent believer. Moreover, while “ordination” is often used in the denominational world and required for those who would preach, such a requirement is not found in Scripture.

It is true that the word “ordain[ed]” is used in Acts 14:23 of elders. The American Standard uses the word “appointed” rather than “ordained. Strong’s defines the word used here as:

5500 cheirotoneo { khi-rot-on-eh’-o}

from a comparative of 5495 and teino (to stretch); TDNT - 9:437, 1309; v

AV - ordain 3, choose 1; 4

GK - 5936 { ceirotonevw }

1) to vote by stretching out the hand 2) to create or appoint by vote: one to have charge of some office or duty 3) to elect, create, appoint

It is used in 1 Timothy 2:7 of Paul as a preacher and an apostle. Here again the American Standard translates “appointed.” Strong’s defines the word used here as:

5087 tithemi { tith’-ay-mee}

a prolonged form of a primary theo { theh’-o} (which is used only as alternate in certain tenses); TDNT - 8:152, 1176; v

AV - lay 28, put 18, lay down 12, make 10, appoint 6, kneel down + 1119 + 3588 5, misc 17; 96

GK - 5502 { tivqhmi }

1) to set, put, place 1a) to place or lay 1b) to put down, lay down 1b1) to bend down 1b2) to lay off or aside, to wear or carry no longer 1b3) to lay by, lay aside money 1c) to set on (serve) something to eat or drink 1d) to set forth, something to be explained by discourse 2) to make 2a) to make (or set) for one’s self or for one’s use 3) to set, fix establish 3a) to set forth 3b) to establish, ordain

Other Greek words are used in other passages such as Titus 1:5, which, again, are not translated “ordain” in most versions, though that translation is found in some footnotes.

Most translations follow the American Standard. The King James was influenced by the denominational practices of its day. That practice continues to this day in most denominations. This is perhaps influenced in part by the fact that denominations in general have central governing bodies who pass on the qualifications of those who would serve as preachers among its congregations. Such central governing bodies are not found in the New Testament. Each congregation is autonomous and governed by local elders (also known in scripture as pastors, bishops, and shepherds) who are responsible for seeing that that which is taught the congregation over which they have the oversight is scriptural. They will answer to the Lord in judgment for that oversight. Hebrews 13:17. These elders are free to determine the qualifications and soundness of one that they select to serve as a preacher and evangelist for the congregation.

For a further answer to this question, please see Lesson 4, question h.

One word of caution on Question 197. It is always dangerous to begin an inquiry setting out to prove what you want to prove. This is eisegesis (reading your preconceived conclusion into scripture), not exegesis (searching scripture to see what it teaches). Thy Word Is Truth does not seek to support perceived beliefs; it seeks to find out what the Scripture teaches on the subject under consideration. After all, it is not “my word is truth,” but “THY WORD IS TRUTH”!

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)