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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, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; …. (NKJV)
We are to baptize disciples that we (not the Lord) have made.
In the original KJV its not so clear: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: ….(KJV) The ‘baptizing them’ now refers to ‘all nations’, and not the sub set that have chosen to be disciples. Others say that ‘all nations’ means literally everyone. So without need for people to accept teaching first, this command is interpreted to require babies to be baptized.
‘make disciples’ or ‘teach’? The Greek word translated ‘make disciples’ / ‘teach’ occurs 4 times in NT: Mat 13:52 Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe [which is] instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure [things] new and old. Mat 27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple : Act 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and [to] Iconium, and Antioch, Note all the other instances of this word require participation by the subject. Root: a learner, pupil, disciple – from to learn, to understand. (Strongs 3100 root 3101 root 3129) I would suggest ‘teach’ is a translation error that has been corrected to ‘make disciples’ in the later translation.
‘ all nations’ – literally everyone? Examining usage of ‘nations’ in Matthew Nations would include babies in following verses Mat 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides [his] sheep from the goats. Mat 21:43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Theoretically yes, but practically No.)
‘ all nations’ – literally everyone? Nations would Not include babies in remaining usage: Mat 24:9 "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. Mat 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Mat 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Mat 28:19 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, Need to consider the context to decide if reference to individuals is relevant On balance reasonable to conclude babies not included.
Street preachers Speak in the hope that they are heard. This is not teaching, but a call that the spirit can use to open the hearers ears or harden their hearts. We can do the teaching independently, but to be effective requires pupil to be engaged, and the Lord to supply the Faith to accept the teaching.
Street baptizers If we went round flicking water over passers by and pronouncing them baptized would they be baptized? Or would we be sinning by doing something without authority that is causing offense?
Peter’s View of Baptism 1Pe 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us-- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) , through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Babies are pure Mat 19:14 But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven ." Implies babies are part of Kingdome without being baptized. Mat 18:10 "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven . Implies there will come a time that that person’s angel(s) will not all ways see the Father. Why is that? Because they will grow into sinners? as Jesus says: Mat 9:13 ……For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
What about Tradition? Reference to household baptisms in NT, assumed these included the babies. But references in the OT to all the household going to battle, would exclude babies. Long tradition of baptizing babies at birth, due high levels of infant mortality. We no longer believe that un-baptized babies are in danger of Hell fire as have better understanding of Gods grace. We are not slaves to tradition. We can chose to apply our understanding to develop tradition.
Full Immersion or Sprinkling? If we fully immerse a baby is this going too far?
What about Christenings? Unfortunately no clear definition of what a Christening is: to baptize in the name of Christ. or to give a name to.
Why does it matter that we baptize babies? Christenings are a time to thank God and celebrate the birth. Opportunity for the church to be introduced to new member But what of the pain that is suffered when an adult baptism is subsequently denied? The consequence of doing something without the authority. Mat 18:7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!
Conclusion The Great commission Matt 28:19-20 gives authority to baptize disciples only.