What Is the Symbolism and Importance of Water Baptism?

Charles Stanley

2010 9 Aug
What Is the Symbolism and Importance of Water Baptism?

Meaning of Baptism

Pictures frequently communicate in ways that words cannot. For example, a photo or painting may bring emotions that words can’t describe. In the same way, baptism is a powerful picture of our salvation experience.

The meaning of the Greek word for baptize (baptize) is “to dip, plunge, immerse” or “bring under the influence.”

When we enter the waters of baptism, we’re proclaiming the gospel message.

1. Water symbolizes a believer’s death to sin.

Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and lives again. By proclaiming His message, we’re identifying ourselves with Him. Romans 6:4 says we have been buried with Him through baptism into death. We’re now dead to the power of sin.

Russel Moore said in his video below, “If you go under water, you can’t breathe. It’s a picture of death and the grave and always has been, biblically.

  • “The Flood: God floods the world. That is a baptism, Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3.
  • “Jonah God sends Jonah into the deep – into the water. It is his judgement upon Jonah.

“When someone is going down into the waters of baptism, that person is confessing: I deserve death.”

2. Water symbolizes a believer’s resurrection in Christ.

Being raised up out of the water expresses our new life in Christ and our union with Him. Our heavenly Father physically raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him life. And He’s done the same for us spiritually. Our unbelieving family and friends need to “see” this message in our life.

Baptism is also a public declaration of our faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in our own future resurrection. After appearing on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven to take His rightful place at His Father’s side. Someday we’ll receive a resurrection body and live forever with Him.

The Image of Baptism

The image of baptism serves as a reminder of what the Savior has done for us. It points to the truth that there’s life beyond the grave. Everlasting existence in the presence of the Lord is waiting for every person who chooses to trust in Christ.

Baptism is a commandment, not an option. As such, it’s both an obligation and an awesome privilege. Have you publicly identified yourself with Jesus through the act of baptism?

Excerpted from "The Picture of Baptism" by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).


Christiantiy.com, “What Does Baptism Mean?” Dr. Ray Pritchard.

Photo Credit: GettyImages/Evan Schneider