Recently I read D. Broughton Knox’s fascinating teaching on baptism. I wish to quote some of what he says here. Due to the brief nature of blogs I can’t give the overall teaching contained in those pages, but will focus on the Great Commission.
By way of introduction Knox states: “There is no other doctrine or practice in which differences of opinion are so diverse among Christians”. It would seem to me therefore that Bible believing Christians would do well to keep their views on baptism very firmly in a secondary (or lower) place.
Knox examines the Scriptures on baptism to see how our church practices line up. While he does not deny or disparage our church practices, it seems that they do not line up with Scripture (on almost any view of baptism).
In the Great Commission Jesus said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Many Christians assume from this statement that our practice of water baptism is here commanded. Knox categorically denies this, claiming that Jesus is giving a “fully metaphorical use of the concept of baptizing as discipling” and that this statement “contains no reference to administering water baptism”.
Knox’s conclusion is based on many observations, among them the following. Jesus spoke of baptism twice concerning his death, both of which were clearly metaphorical references (Luke 12:50; Mark 10:38). When Jesus spoke of the disciples being baptised it was also metaphorical (not speaking of water, but baptism by the Holy Spirit): Acts 1:5. When water baptism is practiced in Acts it is not in the name of the Trinity (cf 1 Corinthians 1:13); if it were a result of the Great Commission, baptism would be in the name of the Trinity. The words “disciple”, “baptise” and “teach” in the Great Commission are synonymous: “Jesus is commanding his apostles to bring the whole world into the knowledge of the true God”.
These are interesting observations, but for me, this one is the clincher: Paul’s remarks about baptism in 1 Corinthians 1. Paul only baptised a few people, for “Christ did not send me to baptize”. Knox comments that it “is inconceivable that Paul could have said this if the Lord had commanded his apostles in his last solemn commission to administer water baptism”. How could Paul not obey the Great Commission as the apostle to the Gentiles?!
 Pages 263-316 in K. Birkett (ed.), D. Broughton Knox Selected Works (Vol. 2; Kingsford: Matthiasmedia, 2003). Knox’s fuller view can be obtained by reading these pages.
 Page 263, ibid. Knox means Bible believing Christians here.
 Page 278, ibid.
 Baptism in Acts and 1 Corinthians 1 refers to a continuation of John’s water baptism
 Page 280, ibid.
 Page 281, ibid.
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