Occasionally Christians will discuss baptism
and confidently proclaim that infant baptism isn't a biblically valid concept.
This may or may not be the case, but what concerns me most about the topic
is not so much whether a person believes or disbelieves in infant baptism.
The concern is that those who condemn it often do so in such a way as to
show little grace and in their condemnation they inadvertently aid in bringing
division in the body of Christ by encouraging a subliminal or even deliberate
negative reaction against infant baptism and those Christians who hold to
Those who say that they know infant baptism is not true because it is not
recorded in the Bible, have made a potentially fundamental error in biblical
examination. The doctrine of the Trinity, as an example, is not explicitly
laid out in the Scriptures, yet Christians believe in it. Why?
because it is systematically arrived at. Now, let's look at the possibility
of infant baptism.
But first understand that
I am not trying to convince anyone in this paper that infant baptism is
a biblical truth. What I'm trying to do is convince you, if you don't believe
in it, that there is a sound reason for accepting infant baptism (not for
salvation but as a covenant sign). I am concerned more with a person
understanding the argument, and if they disagree, fine. But, they
should outright reject it without first hearing a defense of it. This
is important because it helps bring unity in the body of Christ when we
see that others we disagree with have rational reasons for their beliefs.
Furthermore, this opens us up to the possibility of being wrong ourselves
on a position and encourages us to be more gracious with those who disagree
I have produced an outline laying out an argument for infant baptism.
If you want to understand the argument quickly, than just read the points
God works covenantally.
- A covenant is a pact
or agreement between two or more parties. God undoubtedly
works covenantal. A quick computer Bible search in the NASB
shows that there are 300 verses that have the word covenant in them.
By contrast, dispensation(al, ism, s) occurs a total of one
time in Zech. 7:9. obviously, God works covenantally.
God's covenants have covenant signs.
- The covenant with Adam
had the covenant sign of the tree.: "And the LORD
God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the
garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die,’"
- The covenant with Noah
had the sign of the rainbow, (Gen. 9:9-17).
- The Covenant with Abraham
had the sign of circumcision: "And I will bless those
who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you
all the families of the earth shall be blessed,” (Gen. 12:7).
- There are other covenants
and covenant signs..
The Abrahamic Covenant included infants
and the sign of their entrance into that covenant was circumcision.
- The fact is that infant
males were included in the Abrahamic covenant via the sign of circumcision.
- Females were included in the covenant via federal headship,
the doctrine that the male head of the family represents his descendents.
Heb. 7:7-10 is a good example of this.
- "The federal
headship view considers Adam, the first man, as the representative
of the human race that generated from him. As the representative
of all humans, Adam’s act of sin was considered by God to be
the act of all people and his penalty of death was judicially
made the penalty of everybody."1
The Abrahamic Covenant is called the gospel
in Gal. 3:8
- "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would
justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to
Abraham, saying, “All the nations shall be blessed in you.”
Therefore, the Abrahamic Covenant is still
- Since the covenant
is that in Abraham all the nations shall be blessed and that is
called the gospel by Paul, then the Abrahamic covenant is still
- To say the Abrahamic
covenant is not in effect now, is to contradict what Paul said when
he called it the gospel. Remember, God's covenant promise
was to bless all nations in Abraham. This is a reference to
the coming Messiah in whom we have redemption.
were included in the Abrahamic Covenant which is still in effect.
- Whether or not
infants understood what was occurring in their participation of
the covenant sign is immaterial since it was God who ordered that
the infants be included in the Abrahamic covenant.
- Since the Abrahamic
covenant is still in effect -- by being equated with the gospel
- infants should still be included in that same covenant.
Where is the biblical admonition to
exclude infants from the same Abrahamic covenant that is still in effect?
- There is no command at
all to exclude infants from the same covenant that is still in effect.
Baptism is the New Testament covenant
sign and is to be applied to infants.
- Since the normal biblical
pattern is to include infants in the Abrahamic covenant, doesn't
it make sense to continue to include them in that same covenant?
Yes. The new covenant sign is now baptism which is why Paul equates
baptism and circumcision.
- "and in Him you
were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in
the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you
were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God,
who raised Him from the dead," (Col. 2:11-12).
- Then why are then no
accounts of infants being baptized in the New Testament?
- Actually, there are.
Acts 16:15, "and when
she and her household had been baptized,"
Acts 16:31, "he was
baptized, he and all his household."
- The term household does
not necessary mean infants are included.
- If this is so, do
you think that in all the households that were being baptized
in Israel that none of them had infants? (Remember, covenant
Jews were commanded to have children - see Gen. 2-3).
- What is the natural
thinking of a Jew regarding infants and God's covenant?
The natural thinking is that they were included in God's covenant
Would you have us now believe that the Jew who became a Christian
would then say something to the effect of, "Now that the
promised Messiah has come and God's covenant of promise in Abraham
has been realized, I now understand that I am to exclude
my infants from God's covenant work and promise."
Of course not. This is why it says in Acts 2:38-39, "And
Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39
“For the promise is for you and your children..." Notice
that Peter includes children in that fulfilled promise of God...and
baptism is part of the subject.
Where is the command in scripture to exclude infants from the very
same covenant that is still in effect; namely, the Abrahamic
Covenant which is called the gospel by Paul in Gal. 3:8?
If you cannot find a command to restrict them, then don't do
- Infants are not circumcised
- Because the covenant
sign is now baptism, Col. 2:11-12. "and in Him
you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands,
in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision
of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism,
in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the
working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Since
the blood of Christ was shed, the blood-sign-of-circumcision
has been fulfilled in the Federal Head known as Christ.
This means that Christ represented us on the cross. Covenant
blood-shed is no longer necessary. Now, the covenant sign
is baptism which is why Paul equates the two in Col. 2:11-12
- In Acts we only see people
get baptized who have first believed.
- This is true only
if you assume that of all the households in Israel that were
baptized, none included infants. This is an assumption
that is without substance especially since we know that good
Jews were to obey God's command to multiply and replenish the
- Also, remember that
the context in Acts is mass conversions and of course you'd
see the great majority of accounts of baptism after belief.
But this does not mean that God's covenant system of including
infants is negated.
- Finally, many epistles
were written to correct error. Why do none of the epistles
include a restriction of infants being included in God's covenant
via baptism? Why? Because theologically, infants
were included in the covenant of God and since the Abrahamic
covenant is equated with the gospel,
- Doesn't this then mean
that infants were saved if they are baptized?
- No. Infants
in the Abrahamic covenant in Old Testament times were not guaranteed
salvation anymore than infants baptized into the same covenant
today are promised salvation.
- It is the error of
the Roman Catholic church and some cults that teaches that baptism
The primary reason for writing this article
is not convince anyone that covenant infant baptism is biblical. The primary
reason I wrote it is to try and convince people to be more gracious in their
opposition to this doctrine. It is perfectly fair for someone to examine
the argument and not accept it. But it would be better if once the argument
is rejected, that the person who does so sees that there is a reason that
people have for believing this teaching and that when disagreeing with the
position, that graciousness and humility would be combined with a disagreement
Finally, I would suggest anyone who disagrees with the argument to provide
an answer as to why we should now exclude infants from the same Abrahamic
covenant, that is still in effect per Gal. 3:8. Remember, God commanded
that infants be included in this covenant. What justifies anyone from changing
God's command on this?
1. Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge
Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983,
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Copyright by Matthew J.
Slick, B.A., M. Div., 2012
I welcome your comments via E-mail at email@example.com