The baptism of the eunuch, which we have just considered is one of many indications that Christian baptism, was taught and practiced by the early church (Acts 2:38; 22:16). It was not the same as John’s baptism, which was a baptism indicating repentance (13:24; 19:4). Rather, it was a public confession of identification with Christ.
It invariably followed conversion (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 18:8) and was for women as well as men (8:12) and Gentiles as well as Jews (10:48). Households are said to have been baptized (10:47; 48; 16:15; 16:33), but in at least two of these cases, it is implied that all the members of the household had believed. It is never stated that infants were baptized.
Believers were baptized very soon after their conversion (Acts 8:36; 9:18; 16:33). Apparently, it was from their profession of faith in Christ. No probationary period was required to manifest the reality of their profession. Of course, the threat of persecution probably restrained people from making professions lightly.
That baptism did not have saving value as is seen in the case of Simon (Acts 8:13). Even after professing faith and being baptized, he was “poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity” (8:23). His “heart” was “not right in the sight of God” (8:21).
As has been mentioned, the mode of baptism was immersion (Acts 8:38, 39) – “both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water … when they came up out of the water.” Even many present-day advocates of sprinkling and pouring admit that immersion was the practice of the first-century disciples.
Twice baptism seems to be linked with the forgiveness of sins. On the day of Pentecost Peter said, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins …” (Acts 2:38). And later Ananias said to Saul, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord …” (22:16).
In both instances, the instructions were given to Jews; no Gentile was ever told to be baptized for the remission of sins. In believer’s baptism, a Jew publicly repudiated his connection with the nation that rejected and crucified its Messiah.
The basis of his forgiveness was faith in the Lord Jesus.
The purchase price of his forgiveness was the precious blood of the Lord.
The way in which his forgiveness was administered was through water baptism because his baptism publicly removed him from Jewish ground and put him on Christian ground.
The baptismal formula, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19), does not appear in the Book of Acts. The Samaritans were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16), and the same was true of John’s disciples (19:5).
However, this does not necessarily mean that the triune formula was not used. The phrase, “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” may mean “by the authority of the Lord Jesus.”
John’s disciples were baptized twice – first with John’s baptism unto repentance, then at the time of their conversion, with believer’s baptism (Acts 19:3, 5). And this provides a precedent for the “rebaptism” of those who were christened or baptized before they were saved.
Believer’s Bible Commentary