The Strangest Scripture in the New Testament

by | Feb 12, 2014 | Israel & Jewish Roots

As a Jewish person, I can tell you that the word baptism conjures up horrible images for my people. From the early years of Catholicism, Jews were forced to be baptized as Christians. Sometimes it was under the threat of death. Other times the consequences of not being baptized was “merely” being thrown out of your home and country.

For example, the Spanish Inquisition declared that Jews who would not convert to Catholicism (and thus be baptized) must leave the country.

In some cases, Jews were kidnapped and forcibly baptized—one being the son of a rabbi in 1762. The worst case was in Russia just two centuries ago. The Russian empire kidnapped Jewish males from the age of 12 for military service. “The number of forced or virtually forced baptisms which resulted, probably exceeded all similar cases in other lands throughout history.”

He Did What?

Because of this thuggish history, Jewish people tend to cringe when they simply hear the word baptism. When news gets out of a Jewish person coming to faith in Yeshua and willingly getting baptized, they are disgusted. And it’s understandable, based on the history. But it wasn’t always like that.

And that leads us to what I consider to be the strangest verse in the entire Bible: 

 “How can anyone object to these people being baptized in water?” (Acts 10:47).

Who are “these people,” and who is talking? The speaker is the Jewish apostle Simon Peter, and he is referring to Gentiles at the home of Cornelius. It was a major controversy for Gentiles to be baptized as believers in Yeshua. This had not yet been done. For the first nine years, the gospel was preached exclusively to Jews.

Simon Peter, after a vision and a word from the Lord (Acts 10), slightly confused, goes to the house of this Roman soldier and shares with the people in the house the message of Yeshua. The Holy Spirit falls upon these people in the midst his sharing. The Jewish believers witness this and are stunned—Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit!

Simon Peter declares, “How can anyone object to these Gentiles being baptized in water?” This was a major controversy that wasn’t settled for another 10 years at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15).

Reverse Controversy

But since when is baptizing Gentiles controversial? Can you imagine someone objecting at, say, First Baptist Church that they are baptizing non-Jews? That would be ridiculous. However, if they were baptizing large numbers of Jews, that might make some waves.

What most people—Jews and Gentiles—do not know, is that baptism (or water immersion) is Jewish. Long before Queen Isabella sought to compel the Jews of Spain to convert and be baptized, the Jews of Israel would wade through the waters of immersion.

When John the Baptist, the Jewish prophet, came preaching repentance through baptism, we have no record of anyone protesting, “What is this strange new tradition you are evoking?”

Water immersion was already a major part of Judaism. The Torah teaches that priests would need to be immersed in water as part of their consecration (Ex. 29:4-9). Before any Jewish man could bring a sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, he would first have to walk though a mikvah, a water immersion tank, to symbolize ritual cleansing.

Immersing 3,000 People Without a River

Furthermore, have you ever wondered how Simon Peter and the apostles immersed 3,000 Jewish men in one day in Jerusalem? Jerusalem is not Tel Aviv or a city in Galilee, where the Mediterranean Sea or the Jordan River could be utilized. Jerusalem sits on a mountain. There are no lakes, rivers or seas nearby. However, archeologists have unearthed nearly 50 mikvot—immersion tanks—that were used in temple worship. With 50 tanks receiving 60 people each, 3,000 could be immersed in a matter of hours. Without these Jewish mikvot, it would have been impossible.

Today, mixing Judaism with an act of water immersion, as we see among the Jews of the New Testament, is like mixing oil and water. But in the first century, it was not like that. The controversy of their day had nothing to do with Jews being immersed, but Gentiles! And Simon Peter heard from other Jewish people almost immediately after he did the “unthinkable”—baptizing Gentiles into the body of Yeshua.

The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” (Acts 11:3)

How strange is this?

Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, released last year. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.

For the original article, visit messiahsmandate.org.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Jenny Weaver: How to Affirm Godly Kids in a Social Media World

Jenny Weaver: How to Affirm Godly Kids in a Social Media World

In an age where children are growing up with electronics glued to their fingers, understanding how to raise Godly kids is crucial. As a parent you are breaking the mold of the generations that came before you, and fighting the spiritual war being waged on social...

‘Give Me Jesus Right Now!’: Revivals Breaking Out in Bakersfield

‘Give Me Jesus Right Now!’: Revivals Breaking Out in Bakersfield

In a world filled with sin lurking around every corner of society, one can miss the signs of light shining bright against the darkness. This very thing is happening in Bakersfield, California, with evangelist Mario Murillo inviting the presence of the Lord to change...

How to Achieve Great Mental Health

How to Achieve Great Mental Health

Do you desire to achieve complete mental health? One method to reach and hold on to optimal mental health could be taking a journey of discovery into which foods add to the quality of your life and which foods aggravate mental issues. Good mental health has to do with...

Satanic Worship Headlines Grammys

Satanic Worship Headlines Grammys

Surrounded by dancers with long black hair cloaked in red robes, English singer Sam Smith was center stage at the Grammys glorifying satanic rituals in a skin tight leather outfit as he sang "Unholy." Smith identifies as non-binary. His performance at the Grammys...

A Pastor’s Grace Shines After Carjacking

A Pastor’s Grace Shines After Carjacking

Parenting is not easy, and living in these tech-heavy times bring unique challenges unlike any other generation before it. Yet core, biblical principles do not change with the times, and ensuring a child is held accountable for their wrongdoing is paramount to...

Messianic Rabbi: For Crying Out Loud

Messianic Rabbi: For Crying Out Loud

The crossing of the Red Sea is one of the most powerful and miraculous events that we read about in the Bible. Just thinking about the millions of Israelites and the mixed multitude walking up to the sea with the Egyptian army chasing them. They had just experienced...

The Lord Says, ‘Don’t Speak Words of Self-Sabotage’

The Lord Says, ‘Don’t Speak Words of Self-Sabotage’

One of the most important things a Christian can learn is that our God is a God who speaks. He wants us to know we can hear His voice. Prophecy is the basis for an on-going relationship with God. It deepens our walk and releases God’s power in the earth. Here is a...

The Foul Smell of Rot From Washington DC

The Foul Smell of Rot From Washington DC

One of the enduring conceits of our time is that we still have a semi-functioning two-party system in American politics. Most people still don't believe their lying eyes. They can smell the rot in Washington, DC, as far away as Sitka, Alaska. But they have been so...

RECENT ARTICLES

How Believers Can Work Together to Restore Pre-COVID America

On April 16, 2021, I traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the request of a local business leader, Clay Clark. He asked me to speak at a conference focused on ending the COVID lockdowns. Clay is a...
What Is Your Prophetic Warning?

What Is Your Prophetic Warning?

God wants to anoint you with His grace through your unique prophetic wiring to impact the body of Christ in the place He has called you! He will do that in as many diverse ways as there are people, personalities, and gift mixes across the face of the earth. I cannot...

The Lord Says, ‘It’s Payback Time’

The Lord Says, ‘It’s Payback Time’

If you’ve been following any of my recent posts, you’re probably aware that my husband and I are selling the property we’ve lived on for the past 21 years and buying a ranch. Interestingly, we have also been led to engage in three other real estate transactions at...

Pin It on Pinterest