Home>Theology and Spirituality>Where In The Bible Does It Talk About Infant Baptism

Where In The Bible Does It Talk About Infant Baptism Where In The Bible Does It Talk About Infant Baptism

Theology and Spirituality

Where In The Bible Does It Talk About Infant Baptism

Written by: Rasla Loftin

Discover the biblical references to infant baptism and explore the theological perspectives on this practice in Christianity. Gain insight into the significance of infant baptism in theology and spirituality.

(Many of the links in this article redirect to a specific reviewed product. Your purchase of these products through affiliate links helps to generate commission for Christian.net, at no extra cost. Learn more)

Table of Contents


Where in the Bible does it talk about infant baptism? This question has been a topic of debate and discussion among Christians for centuries. The practice of infant baptism has been a longstanding tradition in many Christian denominations, while others believe that baptism should be reserved for those who can make a conscious decision to follow Jesus. In this article, we will explore the history of infant baptism, the theological perspectives surrounding this practice, and the biblical passages used both to support and oppose infant baptism. Whether you are a curious seeker or a devoted believer, understanding the biblical foundation of infant baptism can provide valuable insight into this sacred Christian ritual.


The History of Infant Baptism

  1. Early Christian Practices: The practice of infant baptism has its roots in the early Christian church. Historical evidence suggests that infant baptism was a common practice as early as the 2nd century. The early Christians viewed baptism as a means of cleansing from original sin, and this belief led to the inclusion of infants in the sacrament of baptism.

  2. Emergence of Infant Baptism: As Christianity spread and gained prominence, the practice of infant baptism became more widespread. The idea of baptizing infants was closely tied to the concept of original sin, inherited from Adam and Eve, and the belief that baptism washed away this sin. This understanding contributed to the acceptance of infant baptism as a means of securing a child's salvation.

  3. Inclusion in Church Doctrine: Over time, the practice of infant baptism became firmly established within the doctrine of various Christian traditions. The Council of Carthage in the 3rd century and the Council of Trent in the 16th century both affirmed the validity of infant baptism, further solidifying its place within the church.

  4. Divergence of Views: Despite its widespread acceptance, the practice of infant baptism has not been without controversy. Throughout history, there have been dissenting voices within Christianity, such as the Anabaptists in the 16th century, who rejected infant baptism in favor of believer's baptism. This divergence of views has contributed to ongoing theological debates surrounding the practice of infant baptism.

  5. Continued Practice: Today, infant baptism remains a common practice in many Christian denominations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. The historical development of infant baptism has shaped the beliefs and traditions of these Christian communities, reflecting the enduring influence of early Christian practices on contemporary faith expressions.


Theological Perspectives on Infant Baptism

  1. Covenant Theology: One theological perspective supporting infant baptism is rooted in covenant theology. According to this perspective, baptism is seen as the New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament practice of circumcision. Just as infants were included in the covenant community through circumcision in the Old Testament, proponents of infant baptism argue that baptism serves as the sign of inclusion into the covenant community of faith in the New Testament era.

  2. Sacramental Grace: Another theological perspective supporting infant baptism emphasizes the concept of sacramental grace. Advocates of this view believe that baptism is a means through which God imparts grace to the recipient, including infants. They argue that baptism is not solely a human act but a divine action, and as such, infants can receive the grace of God through this sacrament, even before they are able to comprehend its significance.

  3. Corporate Identity: Proponents of infant baptism also emphasize the communal aspect of the sacrament. They view baptism as not only an individual expression of faith but also a rite that incorporates infants into the larger community of believers. From this perspective, infant baptism symbolizes the child's inclusion in the faith community from an early age, nurturing their identity as part of the church.

  4. Family Faith: Some theological perspectives on infant baptism underscore the role of the family in nurturing the child's faith. Advocates of this view argue that infant baptism reflects the family's commitment to raising the child within the Christian faith, providing a foundation for spiritual growth and development from infancy. The sacrament is seen as a communal affirmation of the family's dedication to instilling Christian values in the child's life.

  5. Continuity of Tradition: Within certain theological frameworks, infant baptism is upheld as a practice that maintains continuity with the historical tradition of the church. Proponents of this perspective emphasize the importance of preserving the ancient practice of baptizing infants, viewing it as a link to the early Christian church and a reflection of the ongoing faithfulness of the Christian community across generations.

These theological perspectives offer diverse insights into the significance of infant baptism within Christian theology, reflecting the rich tapestry of beliefs and interpretations that shape the practice of this sacred sacrament.


Biblical Passages Used to Support Infant Baptism

  1. Household Baptisms: One of the key biblical passages cited in support of infant baptism is the account of household baptisms found in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, several instances of entire households being baptized are recorded, such as the baptism of Lydia and her household (Acts 16:15) and the baptism of the Philippian jailer and his household (Acts 16:33). Proponents of infant baptism argue that the inclusion of households implies the baptism of children and infants, as they would have been part of the household unit.

  2. Jesus Welcoming Children: In the Gospels, there are accounts of Jesus welcoming children and emphasizing the significance of childlike faith. In Mark 10:13-16, Jesus expresses the importance of children in the kingdom of God and encourages the acceptance of God's kingdom like a child. Proponents of infant baptism draw from these passages to support the idea of including children, including infants, in the faith community through the sacrament of baptism.

  3. Household Salvation: The concept of household salvation, as mentioned in the New Testament, is often cited in support of infant baptism. In Acts 2:38-39, Peter's proclamation at Pentecost includes the promise of the Holy Spirit for "you and your children." Similarly, in Acts 16:31-34, the Philippian jailer is told that he and his household will be saved. Proponents of infant baptism interpret these passages as indicating the inclusion of children in the covenant community, thereby justifying their baptism.

  4. Circumcision and Baptism: The parallel between circumcision in the Old Testament and baptism in the New Testament is a significant biblical argument for infant baptism. In Colossians 2:11-12, the apostle Paul draws a connection between circumcision and baptism, stating that believers have been circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, namely, through baptism. Proponents of infant baptism see this linkage as a basis for including infants in the covenant community through baptism, similar to the Old Testament practice of circumcising male infants.

  5. The Great Commission: The Great Commission, as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, is often referenced in discussions about infant baptism. Jesus instructs his disciples to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Proponents of infant baptism argue that this universal command to baptize all nations encompasses people of all ages, including infants, as part of the disciple-making process.

These biblical passages form the foundation for the theological argument supporting infant baptism within certain Christian traditions, offering scriptural insights into the practice of baptizing infants as a part of the faith community.


Biblical Passages Used to Oppose Infant Baptism

  1. Personal Faith and Belief: Opponents of infant baptism often point to the New Testament emphasis on personal faith and belief as a basis for their position. They argue that baptism is portrayed as a conscious decision and public declaration of faith in Jesus Christ. In passages such as Acts 2:41, where those who received Peter's message were baptized, the emphasis is on individuals responding to the message with repentance and belief. This individual response is seen as incompatible with the practice of baptizing infants who are unable to make a personal profession of faith.

  2. Understanding and Repentance: The New Testament accounts of baptism frequently highlight the importance of understanding and repentance as prerequisites for baptism. In Acts 8:12-13, the Samaritans believed Philip's message and were baptized, indicating a conscious acceptance of the gospel. Similarly, in Acts 2:38, Peter's call to repent and be baptized is directed at those who can comprehend and respond to the message. Opponents of infant baptism argue that these passages underscore the need for individuals to understand and embrace the gospel before being baptized, a capacity that infants do not possess.

  3. Symbolism of Baptism: The symbolic nature of baptism is another point of contention in the debate over infant baptism. In Romans 6:3-4, the apostle Paul describes baptism as a symbolic participation in Christ's death and resurrection. Opponents of infant baptism argue that this symbolism is best expressed through the conscious decision of believers who understand and embrace the significance of their baptism. They contend that infants lack the cognitive ability to grasp the symbolic meaning of baptism, leading them to advocate for believer's baptism as the appropriate expression of this symbolic act.

  4. Teaching and Discipleship: The New Testament emphasizes the role of teaching and discipleship in the process of baptism and Christian initiation. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus instructs his disciples to make disciples and teach them to obey everything he has commanded. Opponents of infant baptism argue that this commission implies a process of teaching and nurturing individuals in the faith before they are baptized. They contend that baptism should follow a period of instruction and discipleship, allowing individuals to comprehend the teachings of Jesus and make a personal commitment to follow him.

  5. Accountability and Decision-Making: The concept of accountability and decision-making in matters of faith is a central concern for opponents of infant baptism. Throughout the New Testament, the call to faith and discipleship is presented as a conscious choice that individuals must make. Passages such as Acts 17:30, which calls for repentance, and Acts 2:40, which urges hearers to save themselves from a corrupt generation, emphasize personal responsibility and decision-making in responding to the gospel. Opponents of infant baptism argue that infants are unable to exercise this level of accountability and decision-making, making believer's baptism the appropriate expression of personal faith and commitment.

These biblical passages form the foundation for the theological argument opposing infant baptism within certain Christian traditions, offering scriptural insights into the practice of reserving baptism for those who can make a conscious decision to follow Jesus.



The question of where the Bible addresses infant baptism has sparked extensive theological discourse and scriptural interpretation within the Christian faith. The historical development of infant baptism, rooted in early Christian practices and doctrinal affirmations, has shaped the diverse theological perspectives surrounding this sacred sacrament. Proponents of infant baptism draw from biblical passages highlighting household baptisms, Jesus' welcoming of children, and the parallel between circumcision and baptism to support their position. Conversely, opponents of infant baptism emphasize the New Testament emphasis on personal faith, understanding, and decision-making as prerequisites for baptism, leading to a divergence of views within Christian traditions.

Ultimately, the debate over infant baptism reflects the complex interplay of historical, theological, and scriptural factors that inform Christian beliefs and practices. Whether one embraces the tradition of infant baptism or advocates for believer's baptism, the exploration of biblical passages and theological perspectives serves to deepen our understanding of the significance of baptism within the Christian faith. As Christians continue to engage in thoughtful dialogue and study of the Scriptures, the question of infant baptism will remain a topic of enduring relevance and theological inquiry within the broader tapestry of Christian tradition.

Was this page helpful?

Related Post