The Baptism of John

Submitted by FatherAthanasios on Wed, 01/12/2022 - 08:45

I was trying to figure out why the reading was what it was today from the Acts of the Apostles. I don’t see any Apostolic name in the Saints of the Day. I don’t see any historical event on the calendar. Then it occurred to me. We are still celebrating Epiphany and the reading references the “Baptism of John.” I thoroughly enjoy how the Church walks us through the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition of the Church during the year.

I also try where possible to find comparisons in the history and Sacred Tradition of the Church and Holy Scriptures between modern Christianity and ancient times. I believe today I may have discovered another link to the past to help better understand Protestant Christianity. I know Protestants baptize. I also know for most if not all Protestants, the baptism is a symbolic gesture rather than an ontologically changing event in the life of a believer.

There are several references to the “Baptism of John” in the New Testament, and in each of them it does not include the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We Orthodox refer to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as Holy Chrismation. In the Church, Chrismation is bestowed through the authority of the Church as given by God to the Holy Apostles.

IN THOSE DAYS, when Paul had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesos. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus. – Acts 18.22-28

I believe that we can reach out to Protestants in the way Saint Paul reached out to Apollos and others in the ancient world who knew about God, Jews and early Christians, but didn’t know the fullness of the Church until the Church taught them. I believe we can compare the Baptism of Protestants to the Baptism of John. It isn’t complete without the Holy Spirit, which is given by the Church. As Orthodox Christians, we can (and should) teach more accurately, as did Priscilla and Aquila.

The first stop of every missionary effort of Saint Paul was the synagogue where he spoke to pious Jews who knew about God. He then taught them more accurately about Christ and Holy Trinity. Then he went to early believers and taught them more accurately. It is why we have his letters as the bulk of the New Testament. We all need to learn more accurately about God.

Of course, nobody can accept the idea they need to be taught more accurately without a dose of humility and faith from God. So, instead of treating all Protestants as ‘mere heretics’ we need to treat them as those who know about God, but may never have been taught the whole story. They believe in the Baptism of John. Let’s teach them about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.