Does Ezekiel 36 teach the doctrine of baptism by sprinkling?

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Ezekiel 36:25-26

Some claim that Ezekiel 36 supports the doctrine of baptism by sprinkling. But what is Ezekiel 36: 25-26 talking about?

“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Purifications of the Mosaic Law

In the Old Testament there were various purifications ordered in the Mosaic ceremonial law in which water was used (Numbers 8:7; 19:9, 17, 18). Let’s examine these refereces closely:

Numbers 8:7 – “Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: Sprinkle water of purification on them, and let them shave all their body, and let them wash their clothes, and so make themselves clean.”  In this passage, Moses was instructed to set the Levites apart for the priesthood. This ceremony was to be done for them before they entered upon their holy duties.

Numbers 19:16-18 – “Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain by a sword or who has died, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. ‘And for an unclean person they shall take some of the ashes of the heifer burnt for purification from sin, and running water shall be put on them in a vessel. A clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water, sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, or on the one who touched a bone, the slain, the dead, or a grave.

In this passage, it talks about certain unclean people who touched dead bodies and were isolated until they had been sprinkled with the water of purification. It is clear that these Old Testament ceremonies had nothing to do with the ordinance of baptism.

The New Covenant

Under the New Covenant, the Mosaic ceremonies of sprinkling were done away with (Ephesians 2:15). The apostle Paul wrote, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

The Mosaic ceremonies were external as they offered only ceremonial purity. They didn’t offer true spiritual rest of soul (Hebrews 3:11). In the New Covenant, believers can find peace in Christ through faith in His blood and by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the life.

Baptism

The word “baptism” comes from the Greek word “baptizo.” It means “to dip under or submerge or immerse.” There are eight different Greek words in the New Testament used to describe the using of liquids. But among these various words–meaning to sprinkle, to pour, or to immerse–only the one meaning “to immerse” (baptizo) is used to describe the ceremony of baptism.

The Bible teaches that the only true mode of baptism is by immersion. “Jesus … was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened” (Mark 1:9, 10). John always found a place to baptize where “there was much water” (John 3:23), so it would be deep enough for baptism. Therefore, in carrying out the ceremony of baptism, we should follow Jesus’ example (1 Peter 2:21).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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