Is infant baptism scriptural?


Early Christian Practice

In modern Christianity babies are “christened” (or what is called “baptized”) weeks after being born. It might come as some surprise to know that this practice of baptizing infants is not found in the Bible. This was not the practice of the early Christians.

The Bible states that a belief is necessary before baptism takes place. Consider this example from the Lord Jesus Christ:

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. Mark 16:15-16

So before a valid baptism then firstly a belief in the gospel must be held. A baby cannot believe something they cannot understand. In the Bible we have grown men studying their Bibles and being preached to before they understand and believe it – so for a baby it would be impossible.
Here’s another example:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls”. Acts 2:38-41

Notice that these people first received the word which Peter taught (which was the gospel) and then were baptized.


There are examples in the Bible where we read of peoples “households” being baptized. Some argue that because there are “households” which are baptized that this must have meant infants also were baptized. However if the passages that are brought forward to support this claim are closely examined it will be seen that they exclude infants. For example here is a classic passage which is sometimes referred to:

” And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” Acts 16:25-34

So to be saved the jailer and his house had to be baptized. However they also had to “believe” the words that Paul spoke unto them – namely the gospel message. This excludes infant being meant in the term “household” as infants couldn’t understand, let alone believe, the words which Paul would have spoken. We have to really read into the text if we want to believe that infants were also baptized. It is not there so why is it practiced?


Another unscriptural practice is that the infants have water sprinkled over them. Why is this unscriptural? Because the Bible clearly states that baptism is the sign of somebody going down into a symbolic grave and then rising up out of that grave as Christ rose form the dead (read Romans 6). This requires the whole body to go under the water not to have the water sprinkled over them. See these examples:

“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” Acts 8:38

“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water…” Matthew 3:16

“Buried with him (Christ) in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Collosians 2:12

Notice in the first two examples vast quantities of water are required. Why is this if a simple sprinkling would be acceptable?!

The word translated “baptize” comes from a greek word “bapto”. This means “TO DYE – To dip into any coloring liquid for the sake of the effect”. For a cloth to be completely dyed it has to fully immersed in water. The dye is not sprinkled on it! So by understanding the Greek word a little better can see the idea behind baptism and can understand that infant sprinkling is not scriptural.


So we can see then that infant baptism is neither valid in the eyes of God or scriptural. The idea that a person wishing to identify themselves with the work of Jesus Christ and Gods mercy in raising him from the dead has been corrupted.

To find out more about what the Bible teaches about baptism see click here »