Who has the Authority to Baptize?
Any believer has the right in baptizing a person. But we serve a
God who desires for us to do everything in order. 1Corinthians 14:40 "Let all
things be done decently and in order."
I would like to start at the beginning of the New Testament and point out some
scriptures that would defend my position to this question.
1. John the Baptist first initiated the command of baptism in a calling for all
to repent of their sins. The baptism at that time was an outward sign of a person
who knowingly committed sin in his life and a need to cleanse himself of sin. Since Jesus did not
yet die on the cross , sins were not forgiven as
you and I know our sins are forgiven.
A. Mt 3:5-12 "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region
round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said
unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to
come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say
within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God
is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax
is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not
forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with
water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose
shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and
with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and
gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with
B. John the Baptist was not a priest who could perform animal sacrifices in the
Temple. He was called of God to perform a ministry of repentance. Perhaps that
is why the Pharisees and Sadducees were upset with him, because they did not
fulfill the ministry that God had called them to do, so God choose someone who
was not puffed up in spirit and elevated in stature.
2. Jesus called his disciples and told them to go out into the villages to: Mt
28:18-20 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go
therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing 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; and lo, I am with you always, even to the
end of the age."
A. After Jesus death and resurrection, he gathered his chosen disciples together
and gave each one a ministry of baptizing, healing and teaching. Not one
disciple had the Levitical Priesthood bestowed on them, but as mere men they did
have the calling on their life.
3. In the book of Acts: 2:38-41 "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every
one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you
and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God
When a person recognizes who Jesus Christ really is, the result is the desire is
to do what He commands. The first action that Jesus recommends of a new believer
is baptism (see Matthew 28:19). Baptism is the outward expression of inward
faith. Believers are baptized in view of God's work of forgiveness, not in order
to receive that forgiveness. God's forgiveness in Christ gives baptism its
significance. Baptism is a public declaration that a person's sins have been
forgiven because of the finished work of Christ on the Cross.
Anyone who is a disciple of Jesus can baptize others. The one who baptized Paul
who later became a great apostle was an ordinary disciple called Ananias whom we
do not ever hear again from(Acts.9:10,18).
Associate Director Biblical Questions
If you would ask this question of folk that are caught up in denominational
politics you would with out a doubt get a variety of answers and most would put
the authority to baptize in the hands of those that are ordained by the
In my state years ago a baptismal certificate could be used as a birth
certificate. This was possible because of the great number on children that were
born at home. Thus the state required that the certificate be signed by a person
of some authority such as an ordained minister. I am not certain if that
statement remains true today.
From a biblical point of view I personally believe that anyone that is saved
could baptize an individual and be in the will of God.
John the Baptist baptized and his only authority came from God, however he was
one of the only three lifetime Nazarites in the Bible. Samuel and Samson being
the other two.
I don’t know of any in the scripture that baptized with any more authority than
to be prayed over by the apostles and receive the laying on of hands.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
If verse above is considered the great commission, and if we believe that the
great commission was given to every child of God, then we each have the
authority to baptize and have that baptism recorded in heaven.
If there are those that can enlighten me on this subject, I would welcome their
Any Christian can baptize.
John 1:25 "And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are
not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 John answered them, saying, “I
baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know."
John 4:2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), John 3:23
"But John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, for there was an abundance of
water there, and the people kept coming and being baptized."
Acts 8:12 "But when they believed the good news (the Gospel) about the
kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) as Philip preached it,
they were baptized, both men and women."
Acts 8:38 "And he ordered that the chariot be stopped; and both Philip and
the eunuch went down into the water, and [Philip] baptized him."
Acts 10: 47 "Can anyone forbid or refuse water for baptizing these people,
seeing that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? 48And he ordered
that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Then they
begged him to stay on there for some days."
Acts 16:33 "And he took them the same hour of the night and [b]bathed [them
because of their bloody] wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all [the
members of] his [household]."
As long as one is Holy Spirit filled and a disciple of Christ, he or she has
the authority to baptize. One does not have to be part of a clergy for this
rite. All are equal in the eyes of God.
Mark 10: 42 "But Jesus called them to [Him] and said to them, You know that
those who are recognized as governing and are supposed to rule the Gentiles (the
nations) lord it over them [ruling with absolute power, holding them in
subjection], and their great men exercise authority and dominion over them. 43
But this is not to be so among you; instead, whoever desires to be great among
you must be your servant, 44 And whoever wishes to be most important and first
in rank among you must be slave of all."
This is a very good question. Most Christian denominations and communions
have policies on who may baptize based on Christian tradition and, most
After His Resurrection, Jesus gave the apostles special authority to baptize:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey
everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end
of the age." Matthew 28:19-20 NRSV
The apostles were the New Testament counterpart of today's priests and
pastors. Baptisms should be officiated at by a Christian clergy member during a
public service, as baptism also signifies entry into the Church. However, in an
emergency, I believe any Christian should be able to baptize.
Christ's disciples. (Mt 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have
commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.")
Pastor EJ de Waard
Any ordained and/or licensed minister
has the authority to baptize. But, within the Bible, anyone can baptize in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Rev. Jabe Fincher
Coden, Alabama, USA