Baptism in the Apostolic & Patristic Period Pre Constantine & Nicaea Era II

“there is a little redundancy in considering the “economy of salvation” after the plan. In fact, in the letter to the Ephesians, the English word plan is actually used to translate the Greek term oikonomia, the root for economy. In one sense, God’s plan is oikonomia or, in English, the economy ” of salvation. But there is reason in distinguishing the two. Put succinctly, if the plan is the Father’s intention to bless us by drawing us to himself, CCC#31 then the economy is the how he brings that intention about in time and space.”[1]

“What we have called the economy is this staged, gradual disclosure in history of the plan of God to save us in Christ. Note, too, that it is realized simultaneously by “deeds and words”. God doesn’t just tell us things, he shows us.”[2]

Augustine, “The word is brought to the material element, and it becomes a sacrament.”

By limiting ourselves to the pre-Constantine era, we will miss the rich insights of some of the Fathers (Augustine, Athanasius, Aquinas to name a very few).

Seed that blooms. Need understanding of where we came from. Time period might be going a stray, return to first principles.

Word & deed, fundamental element, incarnation important within our theology.

Others can have an esoteric approach to God. Deny Christ’s denied. Hypostatic union fundamental, under opining of our theology. Active in words and acts. His word is alive.

II. Jesus


Baptism = Baptizo meant to dip, usually a thorough submerging, but it also meant to overwhelm and so could be used whether the object was placed in an element (which was more common) or was overwhelmed by it (often in the metaphorical usages)[3].

John’s Baptism compared to Christian baptism

“John’s baptism was like Christian baptism in its being a one-time administered immersion for the forgiveness of sins. It differed, however, in being accompanied by a confession of sins rather than a confession of faith. Related to the latter is the connection of Christian baptism with the name of Jesus. New Testament writers made the distinction that instead of calling for faith in Jesus, John taught people to believe on the one to come. The major difference that was stressed, in addition to the connection with faith in Jesus as the Messiah who had come, was the offer of the Holy Spirit in Christian baptism.”[4] (Mk 1:4; Lk 3:3; Acts 13:24)

  • Baptism in the Jordan, gives an example though no need for it. Humility & importance

all 4 Gospels record this act. Very few events recorded similarly [5] (feeding of 5,000, Resurrection other examples)

  • Great command to baptize the nations Mat 28:19

Broad chasm in understanding of purposes.

John the Baptist confession of sins, believe on name to come

Perhaps Baptism is akin to John’s. Impartation of grace seems lacking and forgiveness of original sin. More external but not an efficacy within.

External action bringing internal grace.

Without sacramental confession, one then needs another mechanism for atonement.

[1] Innerst, 39

[2] Innerst, 42

[3] Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Hundred Years (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI 2009) 59

[4] Ferguson, 89

[5]  accessed Feb 1, 2022

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