Hugh’s News & Views (Were The Twelve Apostles . . . ?



After Christ had been crucified for the sins of the world, buried, and resurrected, He appeared to His apostles and charged them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). The Book of Acts shows the apostles being faithful to that charge. They preached the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, and commanded them all to be baptized (Acts 2:38; Acts 10:48).

But were the twelve apostles themselves ever baptized? I know of no passage of scripture that speaks specifically of the baptism of any of the original twelve apostles. Thus, the question of their baptism is sometimes raised, and while it has no bearing on one’s salvation today, it is an interesting question to consider.

We know that the apostle Paul—“as one born out of due time,” (I Corinthians 15:8)—was baptized to have his sins washed away (Acts 9:10-19; Acts 22:16; Acts 26:12-19). We also know that following the suicide of Judas Iscariot, when the disciples met to choose the one to take his place that Peter said, “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up, one of these must become a witness with us of the resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). It is interesting that there were two qualifications one had to meet in order to be an apostle: 1) Accompanied the other apostles from the baptism of John the Baptist, 2) A witness of the resurrection of Christ. Why the requirement to have been with the other apostles “from the baptism of John”?

John the Baptist came to prepare a people for the coming of the personal, earthly ministry of Christ. He came to “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17), to “go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways” (verse 76). In preparing the people for the coming of Christ, John preached repentance and baptism (Matthew 3:1-6), a “baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). Jesus Himself, though without sin (I Peter 2:22), submitted to John’s baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). He did this in order to avoid the appearance of there being two teachers from God (John and Jesus), with one being out of step with the teaching of the other! Jesus was baptized of John the Baptist in order “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15), and all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalms 119:172).

Since John’s mission was to prepare a people for the coming of Christ, is it not reasonable that when Jesus began to choose His apostles He chose them from among people who had prepared for His coming rather than from among those who had not prepared for His coming? In the light of His own baptism by John, it seems highly unlikely that Jesus would choose those who had not submitted to John’s baptism.

Still further, Luke tells us that the “Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him” (John the Baptist) (Luke 7:30). Is anyone so naïve as to believe that Jesus chose men to be His apostles who had rejected the counsel of God by refusing to submit to the baptism of John the Baptist?

God communicates His will to mankind in the Scriptures by various kinds of statements (declarative, imperative, hortative, interrogative, etc.), by divinely approved actions (examples), and by logical conclusions (necessary inferences). I believe that when all the Bible information about the work of John the Baptist is assimilated and when all the qualifications of an apostle of Christ are considered, we may necessarily infer that, yes, the twelve apostles were all baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist!

John’s baptism was later superseded by the baptism commanded by Christ in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Those receiving John’s baptism before the inauguration of the great commission received a valid baptism that continued to be valid after the inauguration of the baptism of the great commission. But, those who received John’s baptism after the inauguration of the great commission received an out-of-date and invalid baptism, and were required to be baptized again “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:1-7).

All people today must hear and believe the gospel of Christ, repent of their sins, and be immersed in the name of Christ for the remission of sins (Romans 10:17; John 8:24; I Corinthians 15:1-5; Acts 2:38). While we can be confident that the original twelve apostles of Christ were all baptized with the baptism of John the Baptist for the remission of their sins (Mark 1:4) in preparation for the coming of Christ in His personal, earthly ministry and the shedding of His blood for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28), the thing about which we should be most concerned is whether we have been baptized with the baptism commanded by Christ for the remission of our sins.

Hugh Fulford

May 14, 2019

Speaking Schedule:

May 18-19: Mentor Church of Christ, Mentor, OH

(Note: On Saturday, May 18, I will speak four times at the Men’s Day program of the Mentor church where our son serves as one of the elders. On Sunday morning, May 19, I will speak to all adults at the morning Bible school hour and preach at the morning worship service. We look forward to these times with the Mentor congregation, and to a few days with our son and his family. There will be no “Hugh’s News & Views” next week).