Immersion in Water

"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ ... not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the teaching of immersions, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment ...," Hebrews 6'1-3.


Being immersed in water comes next in the building of a new Believer's spiritual foundation. The going down into and coming up out of the water symbolise being identified with Jesus in His death and His resurrection and are crucial spiritual understandings.

Immersion in water is not intended to be a stand alone experience. The person who desires to be immersed should be demonstrating repentance (the new way of thinking) and faith toward God (believing His Word). Also the understanding of being part of the Body of Christ (His Called-Out People) should be evident.

Paul reminds the Colossian Believers of the crucial understandings that are symbolised in being immersed in water. Explains that they had been "buried with Christ in immersion, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead," Colossians 2'12.

So this immersion is very significant spiritually. Jesus was immersed in water even though He didn't have to be. (Incidentally, John said that he, John, "came immersing with water,” so that Jesus “should be revealed to Israel," John 1'31):

"Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be immersed by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I need to be immersed by You, and are You coming to me?' But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed Him," Matthew 3'13-15.

The Lord's reason for both of them was "to fulfill all righteousness". And, in this awkward moment between the two anointed men, Jesus was setting the example for God's Children of doing things simply because they are right in the eyes of their heavenly Father.

And at the same Jesus shows that these things express the first commandment to "... love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength".

"When He had been immersed, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased',” Matthew 3'16-17.

Being immersed in water is an act of righteousness. It is about confessing faith in Christ and more because it's about death to sin and resurrection to righteousness. It's a Kingdom act:

"... for the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God ...", Romans 14'17-18.


As has been said, being immersed in water symbolises powerful understandings. They are blessings, but they are blessings that can be missed through ignorance, or by misunderstanding God's grace and mercy. One likely result is loose living. Paul, who had been immersed, had received those understandings about immersion and was astounded when he heard about some "misunderstanding".

So he comments, and immediately reveals the first of those amazing blessings/understandings: that we are dead to sin:

"How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death?
Therefore we were buried with Him through immersion into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body," Romans 6'2-12.

We who died to sin! And that is certain. Yet the wonder of what the Lord did for us on the cross increases as Paul reveals: it fulfills the Old Testament circumcision and the requirements of the Law have been wiped out by it. And, the powers of darkness have been disarmed by it:

"... in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in immersion, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it," Colossians 2'10-15.

By the Holy Spirit, Believers can receive these wonderful spiritual understandings and walk in newness of life, fresh every day remembering that "you are complete in Him" ... "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness," 1 Peter 2'24.


Elders were given for the oversight of the congregation in the light of the Word of Christ, which they also minister. That means they are responsible to the Father for overseeing the spiritual state of His People:

"Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock," 1 Peter 5'2.

"Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you," Hebrews 13'17.

As already said, immersion in water was important to Jesus, that He understood what He was doing and that it was part of the overall example: that He was "leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps," 1 Peter 2'21.

So among the last things He spoke of He urged them to: "... make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you," Matthew 28'18-20.


"Go into all the world and preach the good news to every creature. He who believes and is immersed will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover,” Mark 16'15-18.

All that Jesus said is still crucial for today. Following the Day of Pentecost the Disciples/Apostles, who became the first Elders/Overseers, were responsible for overseeing those who received Christ and teaching them the first principles of the oracles of God, the elementary principles of Christ which, of course, include immersion on water.

It's important that Believers are immersed for the right reasons and imperative that Elders oversee immersions, not only to ensure that they are carried out in accordance with the word of Christ but to be on hand should the Holy Spirit move in some way.

They could ensure that no one is immersed because they feel they ought to be or because others are. Or anyone thinks that being immersed might help overcome some spiritual problem or may help with personal needs. However, free will and fully understanding what they are doing are paramount.


When should a person be immersed in water? Some say that it should be immediately following a person's prayer of repentance and faith in Christ for salvation. However, there needs to be more because understanding and behaviour are to be considered.

If a person prays those things and receives Christ into their lives they are born again. And that should show. Other Believers close to the new Believer, and perhaps their Elders, will see changes and obedience to the Lord and speaking about their experience. These observers will agree with their desire to be immersed.

The act of being immersed in water is, in itself, a genuine Believer's confession or declaration of faith in Christ. It's an act of obedience. By being immersed in water, believers demonstrate their union with Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and being cleansed from sin.

When He was immersed Jesus understood what He was doing. Elders should make sure that every Believer who wants to be immersed in water understands what he or she is doing and is acceptable to God.


Next: Immersion in the Holy Spirit.