Contend Earnestly: Can a Woman Baptize People?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Can a Woman Baptize People?

Last night I taught on water baptism and then I opened it up for questions. We had many good questions about baptism but the one that struck me was the question of, "Is there anything wrong with a woman who baptizes someone?"

From my studies on baptism I noticed one thing that was apparent in Paul's ministry. He did not put much attention on the one doing the baptism. So much so, that he made sure to condemn those who were caught up and bragging about who baptized them.

Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name. Now I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.
1 Corinthians 1:12-17

Paul is trying to explain that the person who baptized you is not the most important, but as he says in verse 17 speaks of, the gospel is of the utmost importance, not baptism. Paul says that Christ sent him specifically to preach, not baptize. This does not mean that baptism is not important, but the gospel is of first importance.

In my old churches that I have spent time in it was always the lead pastor who baptized people, which is fine, but he is not the only one who should be allowed to baptize. We find in the Scriptures that Philip the deacon baptized the Eunuch in Acts 8 and that in all probability Ananias baptized Paul (even though we do not know for sure). Ananias was just called a "disciple" meaning he was no more than a mere Christian in the early church and yet he was commissioned to baptize someone who was going to write most of the New Testament.

The point is that those who we find baptizing people were not only elders in the New Testament. We also find no where in the Scriptures that forbids the woman baptizing anyone. What we do find is that those who lead the person to a faith in Christ was more than likely the one who would baptize someone. Because I have no issue with women teaching Sunday school, sharing the gospel and being on the mission field, there would be many instances where someone would feel compelled to have that woman baptize them.

In the end, I have never seen a woman baptizing another, but as long as she is humble, like any man should be when baptizing, I find no Scriptural basis on why a woman couldn't baptize someone.


Anonymous said...

"I find no Scriptural basis on why a woman couldn't baptize someone."

That's the whole point - but yet you'll find that the 'tradition' will trump this .... maybe more so in so called reformed churches.

Then again you've now left you blogg open for the paedo-baptist to step in to condemn you....

This q of women doing the baptism is close to the question of who is to undertake the Lord's Supper. (Now that's a big problem for Anglicans).

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