Tag Archives: Baptism

Was God’s Law blotted out and nailed to the cross? Misunderstandings regarding Col 2:11-17

Paul’s letter to the Colossians contain one, if not the most famous of verses used to prove that God’s Law is done away with Christ’s death. While many Christians quote this passage, not many of us pay proper attention to the words used by Paul – which ultimately leads us to read our own doctrines into the text. Peter was right to warn believers to be careful when reading Paul’s Letters, as many were distorting his words in their day(2 Pet 3:15,16). Nothing much has changed, as the letters and words of this Misunderstood Apostle are still unwittingly distorted by many. Let’s try to put our preconceived ideas and beliefs away so that we can approach the text afresh, and see the true meaning of Paul’s words to the Colossians.

This study is broken down to the following areas
1. Introduction (Col 1:1-2:9)
2. The meaning of Principalities and Powers (Col 1:16, 2:10,15)
3. Circumcision made without hands (Col 2:11)
4. Buried with Him in Baptism (Col 2:12)
5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances (Col 2:14)
6. Let no one judge you (Col 2:16)
7. A shadow of things to come (Col 2:17)
8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men (Col 2:18-23)
9. Conclusion

Abraxas. Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

Abraxas.
Egyptian-Roman amulet, 100-400

1. Introduction
The congregation at Colosse was most probably established and had not even seen Paul face to face(Col 2:1). Paul greets them and thanks God for their faith, telling the Colossians that his prayer is for them to increase in the knowledge and understanding of God. He then thanks God for making them part of His kingdom through Christ. Paul explains that everything in Heaven and on Earth were created through Him, whether it be thrones, dominions, principalities or powers. (This proclamation of authority whether it be in heaven or earth, being under Messiah will be an important thought to consider when we come to the verses in question, as the letter deals with who has authority over the Colossian believers) He goes onto explain that Christ is above all things, being made the head of the body of believers. His blood made peace, reconciling everything to God. Even though the Colossians were aliens before God, when they were doing things contrary to God, Messiah had reconciled them to God through His blood. Paul then explains his ministry to the gentiles of revealing Christ in each and everyone who believes, which was a mystery revealed in their day.

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

Gnostic Gem Showing the Lion-Faced Deity Laldabaoth (Sophia’s Son). From L’antiquité Expliquée et Représentée en Figures, by Bernard de Montfaucon (Paris: F. Delaulne, 1719)

In the second chapter Paul once again speaks of the mystery of God, and how wisdom and knowledge is hidden in Him. He asks them to beware of being deceived by persuasive language – in context of Knowledge and wisdom. It is apparent reading the letter thus far, that the Colossians were being persuaded by some party or parties in the realm of wisdom and knowledge. There is a strong probability that these were Gnostics who believed in “Hidden Knowledge” (Gnostikos in Greek meant “Having Knowledge”) – they were known to shun the physical/material world and wanted to embrace the spiritual world. Gnosticism could also be likened unto the “traditions of the elders” which practiced justification through certain works. Gnostics believed that gnosis (knowledge, enlightenment or ‘oneness with God’) may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for knowledge/wisdom by helping others. Outwardly, it looked like a good way of life, but inwardly it did nothing to help believers, being just man-made ideas. This will be apparent when we reach the end of Chapter 2.

Paul advises them to be rooted and built up in Christ, and be steadfast & established in the faith they had received. In Col 2:8, Paul once again tells them to beware of philosophy, empty delusions which are according to human traditions and principle of the world. And then proclaims once again that all “principality and power” is under him, as the fullness of divinity resides in Him. In other words, their is no higher authority than the savior and lord of our lives, Yeshua the Messiah.

2. Principalities and Powers
At this juncture, before proceeding to verse 11, we must identify the true meaning of “Principalities and Powers”. The usual explanation is that these are spiritual entities which had authority over humans, before Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Let’s test this against the writings. Paul uses this phrasing 3 times in the letter to the Colossians, denoting a certain importance of said phrase to the point he is trying to make.

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Principalities – Strong’s Dictionary – G746 – ar-khay’ – From G756; (properly abstract) a commencement, or (concrete) chief (in various applications of order, time, place or rank): – beginning, corner, (at the, the) first (estate), magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule.

Powers – Strong’s Dictionary – G1849 – ex-oo-see’-ah – From G1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, that is, (subjectively) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery (concretely magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence: – authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.

The use of the phrase “Principalities and Powers” in the New Testament 
Luk 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates(G746), and powers(G1489), take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 20:20  And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power(G746) and authority(G1489) of the governor.
1Co 15:24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule(G746) and all authority(G1489) and power.
Eph 1:21  Far above all principality(G746), and power(G1489), and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities(G746), and powers(G1489)in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities(G746), against powers(G1489), against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Tit 3:1  Put them in mind to be subject to principalities(G746), and powers(G1489), to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,

These two Greek words “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” are mostly used for rule/authority/governance in an earthly sense, as in magistrates, governors, rulers, etc. In the letter to the Ephesians Paul uses the same words to speak of spiritual rule and authority, but he clearly mentions “high places” or “heavenly places” to explain that he is not speaking of it in an earthly sense. Luk 12 and Titus 3 are clearly speaking of earthly rulers and authorities using the same Greek words. Looking at the above evidence, it is most likely that Paul was speaking of an earthly “Arkhay” & “Exooseeah” in the letter to the Colossians. Colossians 1:16 further explains the fact that he was speaking of earthly rulers and authorities as well as the heavenly.

3. Circumcision made without hands
Returning to the Letter to the Colossians, we see Paul suddenly addressing the topic of circumcision. One of the main concerns in the 1st century was whether gentile believers in the faith should be circumcised or not before they were accepted as believers – in other words, some were saying that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved. The 15th Chapter of Acts shows the conflict and the resolution created by the Jerusalem Council. Many of Paul’s letters directly tackle this idea of “justification by Works” – in other words “being saved because of becoming circumcised”. And it is the same argument that Paul brings to the Colossians. Just after explaining that Christ is above all so called rulers and authorities, he explains that the Colossians have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands – The circumcision of the heart – both spoken by Paul(Rom 2:29) and God Himslef(Deut 10:16, 30:6, Jer 4:4) in the Old Testament Scriptures. Circumcision of the heart was repentance and turning from your iniquities towards God.

4. Buried with Him in Baptism
After explaining that they have received “salvation” (putting off the body of sins of the flesh) without physical circumcision, Paul then turns to baptism. Explaining that they have died to the old life in baptism (burial in water) and being resurrected through the faith in God, Paul writes that they were dead in sin and uncircumcision – but have now been forgiven their sins.

It is important to note that the Jewish Rabbinic authorities believe a proselyte(convert to Judaism) must engage in Circumcision and Baptism before they are regarded part of the congregation ([A] Refer discussion by Maimonides on Yevamot 47a-b). This is still considered mandatory and is in practice even today. It is proven through archaeology that there were ritual baths (special places for baptism) even before the time of Christ, so it is safe to say Jewish Proselytes were circumcised and baptized before they were accepted into the community, even in the 1st Century. It should now be apparent to you why Paul discusses Circumcision and Baptism in his letter to the Colossians. These were new converts into the faith, and most definitely, the rulers/authorities wanted them to adhere to the customs/traditions of their day. In the eyes of these “principalities” and “powers” a proselyte was to be physically circumcised and then baptized before they were part of the faith. The Jerusalem Council had announced this was not necessary to become part of the congregation as one is saved only by faith and the grace of God. Circumcision was never a requirement to approach God. In fact it was a commandment for parents, as they are the one who circumcised a child on the 8th day.

Paul explained that the Colossians had been circumcised with a circumcision done without hands, and with baptism to Christ – so that they did not need any further acts to be done in accordance to the principalities and powers of their day.

5. The meaning of Handwriting of Ordinances
As we step into the main verses in question, the context leading to this verse becomes all the more important. Christians are quick to say that the phrase “Handwriting of Ordinances” refers to the “Law of God” or “Law of Moses” or “The Old Testament Scriptures”. Nothing can be further than the truth.

Handwriting – G5498 – khi-rog’-raf-on – Neuter of a compound of G5495 and G1125; something hand written (“chirograph”), that is, a manuscript (specifically a legal document or bond (figuratively)): – handwriting. This word can only be found in Col 2:14

Ordinances – G1378 – dog’-mah – From the base of G1380; a law (civil, ceremonial or ecclesiastical): – decree, ordinance.
Luk 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree(G1378) from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
Act 16:4  And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees(G1378) for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem.
Act 17:7  Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees(G1378) of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances(G1378); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

The phrase “handwriting of Ordinances” is only seen in the letter to the Colossians. The word “Ordinances” (Dogmah) is seen 5 times in the New Testament and 3 of those occasions clearly refer to “man-made Decrees”.

Eph 2:15 stands out amongst them, as Paul connected it to the “middle wall of partition” (also known as the soreg). While God had given Commandments and His Law, the word Dogmah stood for man-made Decrees/laws/ordinances. If Paul was indeed speaking of God’s Law & Commandments, he would not have needed to use the word “ordinance”/”decree”(dogmah) in his letter. These “ordinances” which were prescribed by the principalities and powers, were hostile to the worship of God, as they restrained anyone other than “Jews” (as per their definition) from worshiping God. These ordinances made a clear separation between Jew and Gentile, by elevating one above the other, to the extent where gentiles were looked down upon and disassociated, by Jews everywhere (Joh 4:9,27, 7:35, Act 10:28, 11:2,3, Gal 2:12).

Coming back to Col 2:14, we see that which is blotted out and nailed to the cross is “Dogmah” or man-made decrees, and not any parts of the Scriptures. Just as Paul explains in Eph 2:15, these were hostile towards us. He repeats those words to the Colossians by saying that those decrees were against and opposed to believers of God. In the same breadth Paul explains these rulers and people of authority(principalities and powers) who create and subject others to these man-made decrees had been made powerless by Christ, as He alone held authority over all.

6. Let no one judge you
One of the most misunderstood and misused verses in the New Testament, this verse is commonly used as a proof text to say that the Sabbath and feast days that God called “His Feasts” are now discarded after Christ. Let’s look at the verse a little closer.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Paul writes that “therefore”, hinting at the so called rulers & authorities (principalities and powers) who are powerless because of the true person who has authority over all of God’s children; For this reason the Colossians should not let anyone judge/condemn them. They were under a higher authority. But what were these Principalities and powers condemning the Colossians for? This verse can be read in the following ways:

A) Let no man therefore judge you FOR NOT ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.
B) Let no man therefore judge you FOR ADHERING TO Food Laws, Holydays, New Moon days and Sabbath days.

The majority of Christians understand this verse to be read according to “reading A” in which Paul is asking the Colossians to let no one judge them for not keeping God’s Law. The inverse maybe true as well. As per “reading B”, Paul could also be asking them to not let anyone judge them for adhering to God’s Law.

According to the context, it is clear that these gentile believers were being influenced by the Jewish authorities of their day in the realm of adherence to their man-made laws and authority. Paul had already explained that these “dogmah” ordinances/man-made laws were done away in Christ. It is likely that these “principalities and powers” were judging these new Gentile believers for keeping Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons and Sabbath days without proper adherence to their laws which were made for proselytes. In their eyes, these proselytes were keeping the ways of God before being officially accepted into the fold. They were acting outside their authority, and that was not acceptable.

7. A shadow of things to come
Paul concludes the advice about not letting anyone judge them by saying that the Food Laws, Holy days, New Moons & Sabbaths “are” a shadow of things to come. Note that Paul did not say “were” but “are” indicating they are still a shadow of things to come. The next part of the verse is written “But the body is of Christ”, which can also be translated as “and the body is of Christ”. However it is translated, it is apparent that Paul is saying that the Shadow is cast by a body which is Christ. Meaning that these Laws “are” a shadow of the coming Christ and His Kingdom.

8. Being subject to Ordinances – the commandments and doctrines of men
Paul completes his advise on coming under authority/rule of men and obeying their man made laws/doctrines/commandments by speaking of the Gnostic influence on the Colossians once again. We saw that he had mentioned the pursuit of wisdom at the start of the second chapter possibly indicating influence by Gnostics. Now paul speaks of asceticism (a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals), worship/religion of angels, pride in wisdom and intrusion into the unknown. These were all Gnostic ideas/teachings, making it obvious that one of the main parties trying to influence the Colossian believers were indeed the Gnostics.

Paul reminds them to be firmly connected to Christ, the head of authority, who nourishes all believers in faith. And also to not be in subjection to principles of the world or doctrines/commands of men that say do not touch, taste, handle – which appear to be wise, but is self-made religion and asceticism which neglect the body, but do nothing to stop the indulgences of the flesh. In other words, they seem to be spiritual commands but are man-made ideas which does nothing to bring you closer to God. Some see these verses to be speaking of God’s Law, such as the food laws… but Paul is very clear in saying that these are “commandments and doctrines of men”.

9. Conclusion
The Colossians were a group of new believers who were being influenced and criticized by certain authorities. These “principalities and powers” as Paul put them, were in places of power but had no authority over the Children of God, as Christ was the head of the body. Through His sacrifice, He had put those man-made ordinances/doctrines to shame by triumphing over them. There was no more barrier for Gentiles to approach God in repentance. These proselytes need not be subject to the ways of man anymore. The second influencing factor were the Gnostic thoughts in their day. These ideas rejected the earthly life altogether for Spiritual knowledge and wisdom, in worshiping angels and in asceticism.

The Colossians who were most likely being pushed, bullied and rejected by both Jews who held onto the “Traditions of the elders” and the Gentiles who were peddling Gnostic thought, were being influenced in the middle – to which Paul writes to strengthen them in the Gospel they have heard and to advice them to separate God’s Word from the Word of man. Separate God’s eternal Law from the temporary man-made commands and doctrines. Separate Christ who has full authority over them to the powerless “principalities and powers” of their day.

It is important to dissect Paul’s words carefully, and to always remember that we do not fully know the backgrounds of the assemblies he wrote to, nor the troubles and conflicts they faced. We must understand that Paul adhered and walked according to God’s Law, and that his common rebuke was against justification/salvation through the doing of the Law. When taken in context there is no doubt that Paul was speaking of man-made doctrines being nailed to the cross and being blotted out, and not God’s eternal Law.

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[A]”By three things did Israel enter into the Covenant: by circumcision, and baptism and sacrifice. Circumcision was in Egypt, as it is written: ‘No uncircumcised person shall eat thereof’ (Exodus 12:48). Baptism was in the wilderness, just before giving of the Law, as it is written: ‘Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes’ (Exodus 19:10). And sacrifice, as it is said: ‘And he sent young men of the children of Israel which offered burnt offerings’ (Exodus 24:5)…When a gentile is willing to enter the covenant…He must be circumcised and be baptized and bring a sacrifice…And at this time when there is no sacrifice, they must be circumcised and be baptized; and when the Temple shall be built, they are to bring a sacrifice…The gentile that is made a proselyte and the slave that is made free, behold he is like a child new born.”

Is Baptism a New Testament ritual?

Reading the Gospels, I was always under the impression that Baptism started with John the Baptist. Was John the inventor of Baptism? Or did Baptism originate before him? Where did Baptism really come from? What is the true meaning and purpose of it? These are some of the questions I had myself.

The issue this study will try to address mainly, is that Baptism did not suddenly appear after John and Yeshua, but that it existed and has it’s roots in the Old Testament Scriptures.

It is a fact that the word “Baptism” does not appear in the Old Testament Scriptures. It seems to be an alien ritual that John suddenly starts out of nowhere, and people take part of, in the thousands(Mat 3:5,6). Even the Pharisees and Sadducees who were vehemently opposing Yeshua, wanted to take part in it(Mat 3:7).

An interesting point to ponder on, is in John 1:25. Here some asked him “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”(Joh 1:25). If Baptism was a completely new idea, why did they ask why John is Baptizing, instead of what is this thing called the “Baptism” that you are doing?

————————————————–The sum of this study——————————————————
Since this study delves deep into the Greek words written in the original manuscripts, I have compiled a summary of sorts for everyone who would find the evidence below a bit too advanced or time consuming.

The English word “Baptism” is a “Cognate” word. What this means is, that the English word “Baptism” comes from a similar sounding word from Greek, which is “Baptiszo”, which originally means “to make fully wet, whelmed or wash”. The reason we do not find Baptism in the English translation of the Old Testament, is a simple one; The English translations that we have of the Old Testament, was translated from Hebrew, while the New Testament was translated from Greek.

Even though 2000 years later, we see the English cognate word “Baptism” as a “ritual” that was started by John and Yeshua, the Greek word “Baptiszo” simply meant “to make fully wet, fully whelmed or wash”.

Further to this, “Baptism” is one of the main 3 acts performed by whomever wants to become a proselyte of Judaism. The Jewish Baptism (also called immersion), is identical to the “Baptism” recorded in the New Testament. And this act of Jewish Baptism predates John, Yeshua and the Christian Baptism. (Refer, Ablution, Jewish Baptism, Jewish proselyte baptism).

The act of Baptism, is believed to originate from the commandment God gave to His people before the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:10). This act can be seen further in Leviticus 8:6, where Aaron and his sons were washed when they were ordained as priests to minister in the holy tabernacle.

Baptism is an important step in the life of anyone who believes in Yeshua. It depicts how we are dead to our old sinful self, and is born in Christ’s image (Rom 6:3,4). Baptism cannot save anyone, in the same way circumcision cannot save anyone. Both are outward acts that show an inward change. The person with the repentant heart alone will be saved through God’s grace. I am in no way, saying that Baptism is of no use. It is an ordinance made by Messiah to proclaim to the world, what has happened inside of a person who gets baptized in his name. In other words, you are showcasing the inner change to the world by the act of immersing yourself in a body of water, which is “Baptism”.

Just because we start seeing the English word “Baptism” in the Gospels first, does not mean that the act of Baptism wasn’t there before John or the Gospels. Getting caught in a word has blinded us to the reality of Baptism or Immersion in Water, as an act of re-birth and purification which was there, long before Christianity. This has in turn, led to the erroneous idea that Yeshua, our saviour introduced a complete set of new rules and regulations, and that baptism was also a new law that came with the New Covenant.
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Study of Greek words in the Original Manuscripts using the Strong’s Concordance
Now let’s look at the 3 main Greek Words used in connection with the idea of Baptism in the Original Greek Manuscripts. I have showcased all of these words (even though 2 of them originate from the first word) and their corresponding translations to English, as well as highlight key verses for discussion and shedding insight into the act of Baptism.

1) G907 – βαπτίζω – baptizō – bap-tid’-zo – From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptize, wash.

G907 is translated as “Baptize”, “Baptized”, “Baptizest”, “Baptizing”, “Baptizeth” in  – Mat_3:6; Mat_3:11; Mat_3:13; Mat_3:14; Mat_3:16; Mat_20:22; Mat_20:23; Mat_28:19; Mar_1:4; Mar_1:5; Mar_1:8; Mar_1:9; Mar_10:38; Mar_10:39; Mar_16:16; Luk_3:7; Luk_3:12; Luk_3:16; Luk_3:21; Luk_7:29; Luk_7:30; Luk_12:50; Joh_1:25; Joh_1:26; Joh_1:28; Joh_1:31; Joh_1:33; Joh_3:22; Joh_3:23; Joh_3:26; Joh_4:1; Joh_4:2; Joh_10:40; Act_1:5; Act_2:38; Act_2:41; Act_8:12; Act_8:13; Act_8:16; Act_8:36; Act_8:38; Act_9:18; Act_10:47; Act_10:48; Act_11:16; Act_16:15; Act_16:33; Act_18:8; Act_19:3; Act_19:4; Act_19:5; Act_22:16; Rom_6:3; 1Co_1:13; 1Co_1:14; 1Co_1:15; 1Co_1:16; 1Co_1:17; 1Co_10:2; 1Co_12:13; 1Co_15:29; Gal_3:27;

It is also translated as “wash” in Mar 7:4 and as “washed” in Luk 11:38.
Mar 7:4  And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Luk 11:38  And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
These verses should ideally read as given below:-
Mar 7:4  And when they come from the market, except they baptize, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Luk 11:38  And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first baptized before dinner.

This is clear proof to the fact that the Greek Word “G907 – βαπτίζω – baptizō – bap-tid’-zo” clearly meant “wash”. Since this Greek word has been translated to “Baptism” in English, which is a “Cognate” word, (meaning a similar sounding word which has originated from it’s Greek counterpart) it has caused people to think that the act of “Baptism” is a completely new idea only found in the New Testament. The fact is, that this word originally meant “wash” or “immerse” in the Greek.


2) G908 – βάπτισμα – baptisma – bap’-tis-mah
– From G907; baptism (technically or figuratively): – baptism.

G908 is also translated as “Baptism” in Mat_3:7; Mat_20:22; Mat_20:23; Mat_21:25; Mar_1:4; Mar_10:38; Mar_10:39; Mar_11:30; Luk_3:3; Luk_7:29; Luk_12:50; Luk_20:4; Act_1:22; Act_10:37; Act_13:24; Act_18:25; Act_19:3; Act_19:4; Rom_6:4; Eph_4:5; Col_2:12; 1Pe_3:21;

G908 – baptisma originates from G907 baptizō


3) G909 – βαπτισμός – baptismos – bap-tis-mos’
– From G907; ablution (ceremonially or Christian): – baptism, washing.
Mar 7:4  And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
Mar 7:8  For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Heb 6:2  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
Heb 9:10  Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Just like G908 – baptisma, G909 – baptismos also originates from G907 baptizō. This word which is translated as “baptisms” in He 6:2, is translated as “washing/s” in Mar 7:4, 7:8 & Heb 9:10. This further proves the fact of “Baptizo/Baptism” being the equivalent of “Wash”.

Baptism in Judaism predating John and Messiah
Any and everyone who wants to become a proselyte of Judaism has to go through 3 main acts over and above studying. The 3 acts are “Circumcision”, “Baptism” and offering of “Sacrifice”. In today’s context, as the Temple in Jerusalem is no more, they have to accomplish the first 2. It has been so, even before John & Yeshua according to historical documents.  And this Jewish Baptism (also called immersion), is identical to the “Baptism” recorded in the New Testament. (Refer, Ablution, Jewish Baptism, Jewish proselyte baptism). Furthermore, they even believe that the person who goes through “Baptism” is like a newborn child, which is very close to the idea of born-again, used by Christians.

“Baptism”(G907 – baptizō ) found in Septuagint
The “Septuagint“, which is a Greek Translation of the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures, contains G907 – baptizō  in 2 Kin 5:14.
2Ki 5:14  Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

In this verse Naaman the Syrian, who had a skin disease washed/immersed himself 3 times in the Jordan as per Elisha’s instructions. It is translated as “dipped” in our English Bibles, though the Greek scholars who translated the Hebrew to Greek for the Septuagint, 2 centuries before Yeshua, used G907 – baptizō  in this place. This is a clear indication, that G907 – baptizō  meant to “wash/immerse oneself”. And that the word itself was there 2 centuries before Yeshua, even though the English word “Baptism” came to be, only much later in time.
Origins of Baptism or Ritual Washing/Immersion
In Exodus 19:10, God tells Moses to tell the people to wash their clothes in preparation of hearing God speak and receiving His Commandments. This is the first instance there is any mention of a ritual of washing.

Leviticus 8:6 records that Aaron and his sons were washed with water when they were ordained as priests to minister in the holy tabernacle, according to God’s Command. Again, in Leviticus 16:4, God commands Aaron to wash himself before he ministered in the Holy of Holies.

The first Temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon had a large circular pool of water, which was called the “Sea of Solomon”. This was used by the priests for cleansing/washing and is mentioned in 1Kings 7:23 and 2Chron 4:2.

Baptising or Washing/Immersing ourselves today
Baptism in itself is only an act. It is the heart of the person that gets Baptised/Immersed/Washed that matters. Baptism cannot save anyone, in the same way circumcision cannot save anyone. Both are outward acts that show an inward change. The person with the repentant heart alone will be saved through God’s grace. Baptism is an important step in the life of anyone who believes in Yeshua. It depicts how we are dead to our old sinful self and is born in Christ’s image (Rom 6:3,4). It is an ordinance made by Messiah to proclaim to the world, what has happened inside of a person who gets baptized in his name. In other words, you are showcasing the inner change to the world by the act of immersing yourself in a body of water, which is “Baptism”.

Concluding words
A person can very well say, that “Baptism” is first seen in the Gospels. This has led to the idea that Yeshua, our saviour introduced a new set of rules and regulations, and that baptism was also a new law that came with the New Covenant.

Just because we start seeing the English word “Baptism” in the Gospels first, does not mean that the “act of Baptism” was started by John in the Gospels. As we have seen above, “Baptism”, a cognate word, originating from it’s Greek counterpart literally means “immerse/wash”.  And washing as an act of renewal and cleansing has been there from Old Testament times.

Finally, I hope this article adequately shows you that the act of “Baptism” was not created by John or Yeshua, and that it is not something that anyone can use to separate the Old Testament from the New. If at all, this act brings the Old Testament Scriptures closer to the Gospels and epistles, of the New.