Baptism is an essential rite of passage in Christianity. It symbolizes that sins have been washed away and a new life has begun.
In the Bible, there are several individuals who were baptized more than once. These included Simon Peter, the disciples in Ephesus, and Apollos.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a ceremony that people of all ages may attend to mark an important turning point in their spiritual life. It symbolizes forgiveness and new beginnings, identification with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, as well as guidance for believers until He returns.
The Bible reveals that baptism is a commandment of God for all people and should be practiced as an act of obedience to Christ and means for receiving His Holy Spirit. Furthermore, it serves as a sign that one belongs to the new people of God – true Israel.
Through the biblical story, God has often begun major changes in relationship with His people through water and Spirit. Noah brings his family out of the flood by water; Moses leads his people out of Egypt by water; John the Baptist inaugurates baptism by the Lord through both water and Spirit.
In each of these instances, someone is being saved from sin and brought into a new relationship with God. This is why Jesus so emphatically demanded that His followers be baptized – it’s an integral part of being a Christian.
Christians today practice baptism in various ways. Each church has its own rituals that express the gospel truths clearly and effectively, all with the goal of drawing people into an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
As a Christian, you should make the personal choice to follow Jesus and then ensure you understand what baptism entails before having it performed. Once done, baptism should be seen as an exciting milestone as you proclaim your faith in Jesus before joining with other Christian believers.
Peter was one of Jesus’ earliest disciples and, as such, became a “pillar” in the church (Galatians 2:9). Though an energetic, strong-willed, impulsive individual with an impatient streak, God gradually shaped Peter into the man He wanted him to be.
Peter was an admirable friend of Jesus, despite his weaknesses. He served as a “pillar of faith” in the early church and, through his example, helped shape other believers (Galatians 2:9).
Peter’s early life is obscure in the Bible. However, he was likely born into a Jewish family in Bethsaida or Capernaum during Augustus Caesar’s reign (Cullmann and Thiede). Growing up during such turbulent times as these, with vast political and religious movements taking root around the globe, is likely why we know so little about him today.
He was likely a fisherman in a small fishing community and his original name was Simon, which comes from a Greek word meaning “rock” or “stone.” But when Jesus met him, He gave him another name: Cephas – an Aramaic variant of Kephas. Paul generally uses this term throughout most of his letters except for 1 Corinthians 11:1 and Galatians 2:7 which use Kepa (G3064).
Jesus was baptized twice in the Bible – once during His earthly ministry and again after becoming an apostle and “pillar” (1 Peter 5:13; Acts 8:12). Through this second baptism, he publicly professed his belief in Jesus Christ as Son of God which saved him for eternity. This new practice among early churches led to it being considered the first instance of Christian baptism.
The Disciples in Ephesus
Acts 19:1-7 records twelve men in Ephesus who were described as “disciples.” They had already been baptized with John’s baptism, but when Paul laid his hands on them they received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Paul began his ministry among the Ephesians, where they had already heard John the Baptist preach and were eagerly awaiting the coming of Messiah, whom they expected would come soon.
As the gospel of Jesus spread, people became increasingly aware of their need for repentance and salvation. These believers had been living under the Old Testament economy for too long and knew they needed a savior.
Some believers, particularly Jewish exorcists (see Luke 11:19), began casting out demons in Jesus’ name. They believed they could do this because of their faith in God and knowledge that Paul had done so successfully.
Priscilla and Aquila, two believers in Ephesus, took them aside to better explain the way of God. After that, they became apologists for Jesus Christ.
But the question still remained: were these 12 disciples really Christians? Despite their remarkable gift of the Holy Spirit, they still had much to learn.
Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, knowing full well that they weren’t yet born-again. However, he saw their faith was weak and lacking in power of the Holy Spirit, so he prayed that they would receive it.
Apollos was a disciple of John the Baptist and believed in Jesus as Messiah. Although he remained loyal to John and the Bible, he wasn’t sure what it meant to be baptized in Jesus’ name (Acts 19:1-6).
After hearing Paul preach in Ephesus, Priscilla and Aquila decided that Apollos needed more instruction than what John was providing him. So they took him aside to explain the way of God more precisely.
They gave him a deeper comprehension of Jesus and His death, burial, and resurrection–the core elements of the gospel message. Once he realized these truths, he became an excellent preacher.
Apostles begged Apollos to return to Corinth, but Apollos refused due to his anger at the division within that church. Instead, he traveled to Crete with Zenas – a lawyer.
Paul spent time in Crete, aiding Paul as he spread the Word of God. In his letter to Titus, Paul instructed: “Do whatever you can for Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way – see that they have everything they need” (Titus 3:13).
He may have eventually returned to Corinth, where he would become one of the leaders of that church. Unfortunately, this detail is not recorded in the Bible.
This case illustrates someone who was twice baptized, yet they weren’t truly reborn as Christians until they received the Holy Spirit at baptism. Though they had believed in John’s gospel and heard about its promise of the Holy Spirit, it wasn’t until after receiving baptism that brought about this transformation that made them Christians.
Paul was an influential figure in the early Christian movement. He traveled throughout the eastern Mediterranean, spreading the Gospel of Christ and founding many churches.
He was baptized twice, once in the name of John and again in that of Jesus. The first baptism symbolized repentance – death to sin and self in order to follow Christ; while the second one represented hope in Christ’s resurrection and eternal life after physical death.
Paul spent several years in Ephesus after his baptism, teaching the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles (Acts 19:8). Additionally, he traveled to other cities throughout Asia to share the message with other groups of believers.
In his later years, he achieved notoriety as an evangelist, preaching the Gospel to non-Jewish communities. He wrote numerous letters to these congregations in which he addressed their various queries and difficulties.
Despite his prominence, it took him some time to truly grow in faith (Acts 9:26). He persecuted nascent Christians, especially those who weren’t repentant (Acts 5:34), making it difficult for him to fully trust and follow Christ.
His identity as a Jew had been deeply embedded, yet upon conversion on the road to Damascus it became clear that this identity no longer applied. Before becoming a Christian, he had been called a “Hebrew of Hebrews”, but this title became an epithet defining who he became as an individual rather than something to define his ethnicity.
After his conversion, Paul dedicated himself to traveling the world in order to share Christ’s Good News and show those who weren’t Jewish that they did not need to become Jews in order to be saved. This shift in identity led him to be affectionately known as “Paul of Gentiles”.