New Testament

Gospels and Acts of the Apostles

Why did John baptize people?

John and the people who came to him were Jews. The concept of being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was unknown to them. So what was the significance of baptism to them? It had to do with “mikveh,” or traditional Jewish ritual cleansing. Becoming spiritually clean by water dated back to the time of Moses, and was a common practice among Jews. Mosaic Law specified that certain life events such as menstruation, childbirth, having sex, and touching a dead person required cleansing with pure water. John took it a step further. His baptism expressed repentance in the face of imminent judgment.


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