The following is an excerpt from article DB040 from the Christian Research Journal by Hank Hanegraaff. The full text of the article can be obtained by clicking on the link for the PDF below the excerpt.
History of Baptism- The Background
The background of baptism can be traced to Old Testament times. As far back as the first book of the Bible eight people were saved from the great flood of God’s judgment. Peter pointed out that the water of the flood “symbolizes baptism that now saves you” (1 Pet. 3:21).2 Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and David likewise used water as an external symbol for internal cleansing (Isa. 1:l6: Ezek. 36:25ff; Ps. 51:2).
History of Baptism-John the Baptist
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John the Baptist was the final prophet of the Old Covenant. As John baptized Jesus in the Jordan, he was ushering in the messianic fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Behind the symbol of baptism is the substance of baptism, which is the blood of Jesus Christ removing our sinfulness. As water cleanses the outer man from soil and sweat, so the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses the inner man from the stain of sin.