Christ Has Commanded Us
Narrative Biblical Accounts
Matthew 28:19 - "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"
The phrase "all nations" has always understood to mean "everyone" No distinction of race, color, sex, age, class, or education. Christ makes no exceptions.
Acts 2:38-39 - And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.'
Acts 16:14-15 - One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. She was baptized along with other members of her household and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.
Acts 16:31-34 - They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.
I Corinthians 1:14-16 - I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.)
The word used is “household” (Ancient Greek οἶκος means family) refer to a domestic unit consisting of the members of a family who live together, obviously INFANT are included.
(a) Covenant of God: Entering into a Family of Faith
Infants should be incorporated into the Body of Christ. If parents are members of the Church, there could be no reasons why their children cannot be members with them. If the parents are practicing their faith, their children should be raised in the same faith as one family.
The word “Covenant” literally means “a Coming Together”. Because of Abraham’s faith, God made a covenant to him: Abraham and his entire household enter into God’s family as a “Chosen People”:
Genesis 17:9-14Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner — those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised has broken my covenant."
In a clear view, we can distinguish between the Chosen People from those who are not – because they are circumcised. Same with the covenant of Christ, those who are not baptized are not part of him and as Apostle Paul continued, baptism is an entry rite to bring even a newly born child objectively into the family of God. [Since baptism is a new form of circumcision where in an Eight-days-old baby is included so must be with infant in baptism] 1
Colossians. 2:11-12 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not
administered by hand, by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ. You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
1 Luke 18:15-17"Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it"
When we are baptized, our soul is filled with God's sanctifying grace. Literally, God dwells in our souls, and we become adopted sons and daughters of God.
(b) Forgiveness of Sin
The corruption and guilt of Adam and Eve’s sin is passed on to every human being at conception – original sin that brings curse to the whole human race. Humanity lies under the condemnation of death The divine counterpoint is the redemption work of Christ in whom all live [Romans 5:17;18;21]
Psalm 51:5 - Surely I was born sinful, a sinner when my mother conceived me.
That’s why Christ says in his teaching "Flesh gives birth to flesh" [John 3:5] but through baptism the original sin will be cleanse:
Psalms 51:2 - "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin".
Ezekiel 36:25 - Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away,
Zechariah 13:1 - "In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity".
Acts 22:16 - Be baptized, and wash away your sins.
We don’t ask an infant if it needs a bath, we simply give the infant a bath when it is dirty. Babies are born with original sin that needs to wash away.
Believed and be baptized?
Is it not necessary for the one who is to be baptized to believe first ?
(a) A New Covenant builds upon the Old
(a) A New Covenant builds upon the Old
If we read through Old Testament, Infant and Children were always included in the covenant even before they could express any faith of their own; this too is what occurs under the new covenant. Let us compare it:
Old Covenant: Circumcision
New Covenant: Baptism
The covenant was between God and Abraham.
This is my covenant with you
New Covenant between Parents [Adult Hearers] and Christ
For the promise is for you
your descendants after you,
and for your children
For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner
and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.'
Accordingly, the covenant was not only for Abraham who had faith already to God but also for his household which are:
an infant who could not express any faith of his own.
In comparing Baptism with the covenant of circumcision the eight-day-old infant is included; we can say now that even ‘baby’ must be included to the covenant of Christ even before he/she could assent any faith of his own.
'Repent and be baptized’ or ‘Believed and be baptized’
Apostle Peter was addressing in Public whose audiences were Adult people who did not know who Christ is or in other words those who don’t have any faith yet to Christ, so by comparing it in Gen.17:9-14, Peter was referring to his adult hearers to imitate Abraham, have faith [believe] in Christ and they will enter [be baptized] to a covenant and the sanctifying graces of this covenant is also for their Children and to their entire Household as we read in [Acts 16:14-15; Acts 16:31-34; I Corinthians 1:14-16]
So in Catholic Church an adult [example a Muslim wanted to convert in Christianity] belief in Christ is necessary before baptism taking place.
(b) Bringing others to faith
Based upon the faith of another
1Corinthians 7:14 - "The unbelieving husband is sanctified by the believing wife; and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband; otherwise your children should be unclean; but now they are holy."
For an infant, they are incorporated to Christ Body by water and spirit based on their parent's faith, not on their own decision [which is obviously not possible].
Luke 7:7 - "say the word and my servant will be healed"
Consider the following examples:
Acts 16:15 - Paul baptized Lydia's household based on Lydia's faith.
Matthew 9:2 / Mark 2:3-5 - The paralytic was cured based on another's faith.
Matthew 8:5-13 / Luke 6:10 – Because of Centurion’s faith his servant was cured.
Mark 9:22-25 – Because of the Father’s faith to Jesus he brought his son to remove the demon.
Exodus 12:24-28 – The life of the First-born son [to spare or slay] was depend on the parent's faith to God’s instruction.
Joshua 5:2-7 – same with Exodus 12:24-28; [based on parent's faith].
(c) Baptism: Conveying God’s grace
Faith is a gift from God [Ephesians 2:8-9] not acquired through reading and learning. That’s why Baptism is a Sacrament – an OUTWARD and visible sign of an INWARD and spiritual reality.
“Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.” [Catechism of the Catholic Church (1084)]
"Since the Lord is no longer visible among us…everything of him that was visible has passed into the sacraments." [St. Leo the Great, A.D 450]
Through baptism, an infant will receive the gift of faith from God that will dwell in his/her soul, [which draw him/her closer to God] as he/she grows with the help of his/her Parents’ faith.
Colossians 2:12 - "burned with him in baptism … raised with him [in] faith"
A Cultural Background
In discussing this subject; it is worthy to note the historical and cultural background where the Early Christian communities live and grow [prior to apostolic time all the way down to second century]. Through this, we can see and give weigh how the young Church confess their faith when it comes to INFANT:
Infant in Ancient Society: The case of Infanticide
Infanticide was common in all advanced ancient cultures, such as Greece and Rome according to www.wikipedia.org. This gruesome act of murdering infants was legal and even encourage. In Ancient Greece and Rome, it was openly practiced:
Carthaginians offered up their own children and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs of young birds; meanwhile the mothers stood by without a tear or moan." [Plutarch [Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus ] c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist.]
"Deformed infants shall be killed" [The Twelve Tables of Roman Law]
"Know that I am still in Alexandria.... I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered (before I come home), if it is a boy keep it, if a girl, discard it." [Spartan Letters to his wife] According to Rodney Stark, "this letter dates from the year 1 BCE, but these patterns persisted among pagans far into the Christian era." [The rise of Christianity: a sociologist reconsiders history]
The Patria Protestas granted the father the right to dispose of his offspring as he saw fit.
But Christian Community who lived at that time was different: "He shall stand as a Sign of Contradiction." [Luke:2:34] Christians condemned the act of killing and or degrading innocent child!
That’s why one of early Christian manuscript [Didache 90-110A.D.] an instruction manual for Christian converts explicitly commanded that: "You shall not commit infanticide." And the [Epistle of Barnabas [130A.D]] condemned and prohibit this barbaric act as a “way of light”.
They strongly voiced their condemnation:
"We have been taught that it is wicked to expose even newly-born children." [Justin Martyr, First Apology [155 A.D.]]
"[we do not expose] an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child murder." [Athengoras, letter to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius]
"And I see that you at one time expose your begotten children to wild beasts and to the birds; at another that you crush when strangled with a miserable kind of death. . . . And these things assuredly come down from your gods. For Saturn did not expose his children but devoured them." [Minucius Felix, letter to Emperor Claudius]
Although these small communities [Christians] were subject from persecution at that time still manage to act in faith: "in many instances Christians rescued exposed infant, baptized them, and brought them up with the aid of community funds." Will Durant – a secular Historian (Christ and Ceasar, 1943):
With this in mind, therefore we can say that Infant Baptism is highly regarded by Early Christians in expressing their faith to God, contrary to the secular world where they live. They treat Infant with same status an adult has; Infant are belong and part of Community.
And when a child has been born to one of them [Christians], they give thanks to God [baptism]; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who as passed through the world without sins." [Aristides,Apology,15(A.D. 140)]
And for [water baptism] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed. [Justin, First Apology 61(A.D.155)]
He came to save all through means of Himself—all … who through Him are born again to God—infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission [Irenaeus, Against Heresies II:22:4 (A.D.185)]