Infant Baptism Is Not Biblical

The Bible reveals that a person must do certain things before he can be baptized. If these things are not done, then the baptism would not be Scriptural. So we ask whether or not a baby can fulfill the Scriptural prerequisites of baptism.

Note that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34,35; Rom. 2:11), so there are not two sets of prerequisites for baptism - one for babies and one for adults. Whatever the Bible requires of some people to be baptized, it requires the same of all people.

A. Before Baptism One Must Hear and Understand the Gospel.

Mark 16:15,16 - All who are baptized, must first have the gospel preached to them. But what good would be done by preaching to a baby?

John 6:44,45 - No one can come to Jesus without being taught from the Father. This does not just mean simply hearing sounds. One must "learn"; he must understand the meaning of what is being taught. Can babies do this (cf. 1 Cor. 14:20)?

Acts 2:36,41 - This example shows what it means for people to learn the gospel before they are baptized. The people were given evidence that Jesus is God's Son (v14-36). They were told that, on the basis of this evidence, they must "know assuredly" that Jesus is Lord and Christ (v36). Those who were baptized were those who gladly received this message (v41). Can babies hear and learn in this way?

B. Before Baptism One Must Believe the Gospel.

Mark 16:15,16 - Every creature who is baptized must first believe the gospel which they have been taught. Baptism is only for those who are capable of hearing and believing the gospel. No one is included in the command if they cannot first hear, understand, and believe the gospel. Can a baby do these things?

Galatians 3:26,27 - However many people are baptized, all of them must do so by faith. Everyone who is baptized must first understand the gospel well enough to believe it.

Acts 8:12 - When the people of Samaria gave heed to the gospel that was preached (v5,6), both men and women were baptized. When were they baptized? When they believed, not before. Can babies believe? If not, they should not be baptized until they do believe.

In all Bible examples of baptism, people were baptized only when they personally had full faith, based on their own understanding of the gospel. Never were they baptized on the basis of someone else's faith, such as their parents. No one else can believe for us, just like no one can be baptized for us.

[See also Acts 8:36-39; 18:8; Rom. 1:16; 10:13-17.]

C. Before Baptism One Must Repent of Sins.

Acts 2:38 - Every person who is baptized ("every one of you") must first repent. Repentance is a change of mind - a decision to turn from sin and begin to live for God (cf. Matt. 21:28,29). This decision involves a commitment to put God first, and to live all our lives faithfully serving Him.

Note that the person who is baptized is the same person who must first repent. This is a personal choice. No one else can make this decision for us. Can a baby make this choice? (Note that we will see later that babies do not even have any sins to repent of.)

Some people claim that "children" in v39 means babies are included in those to whom this "promise" was made. But "children" simply means offspring, regardless of age (note Matt. 3:9; 10:21; 21:28; John 8:39). The "promise" here is for those who repent and are baptized (v38); but babies cannot repent, nor can they do other things required in the context (v36,40,41,42). The "promise" to the "children" was fulfilled when they were old enough to do what God requires, not while they were babies.

[See also 2 Cor. 7:10; Mk. 1:4,5.]

D. Before Baptism One Must Confess Christ.

Romans 10:9,10 - To be saved, one must believe in his heart and confess Christ with his mouth. How can a baby confess Christ when it cannot even speak?

Acts 8:35-39 - Here is an example of confession before baptism. The candidate for baptism must make an understandable statement, so that the one who does the baptizing knows they are baptizing someone who has faith. Babies cannot communicate regarding their faith in any understandable way, therefore it is not Scriptural to baptize them.

Churches that baptize babies often have a practice called "confirmation." People are baptized as babies, but later when they get old enough to understand and make their own choice about serving God, they are taught and are asked to publicly "confirm" their faith and their desire to live for God. The very existence of such a practice is an admission that the child did not understand, believe, and repent before he was baptized.

We have now learned four things which the Bible says every person must personally do before he can be baptized. God is no respecter of persons, so the plan is the same for everyone. Before anyone can be baptized, he must hear and understand the gospel, believe it, repent of sins, and confess Christ. Little babies cannot do any of these things. Therefore, the command to be baptized is not addressed to them. To baptize them anyway would be to act without God's authority. It would be doing something different from what God says must be done.